Don's Bike Across America
Astoria, Oregon to Portsmouth, New Hampshire
June 19 to August 7, 2006

Don's Blog: August 1: It is the Humidity

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Sometimes even hackneyed phrases contain some truth. One of those often used, throwaway remarks, “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity” falls into that category. As we have moved across the country, the humidity, almost completely absent out West, has steadily increased as we have moved toward the East. The effects have not been too difficult to deal with, mostly because: 1) the humidity has not been that high; 2) the temperatures have been moderate; and 3) a cloud cover has kept the sun from beating down full bore.

Today, however, beginning the final week of the trek, all three factors conspired to create a pretty miserable day for riding, or doing anything outdoors, for that matter. The temperature was in the 90s, the humidity over 80 percent, and the sun was out in full force. The one saving grace was that we had a steady tailwind, which kept the effort level of cycling at a solid pace under control.

After leaving Niagara Falls, the route was rather non-descript, along country roads in upstate New York. For a half-dozen miles after the tourist area near the Falls, we dodged broken glass on the side of the road as we passed through the run-down city of Niagara. On a side note, we saw our very first Dunkin Donuts store of the entire trip. Much to my amazement, we had traveled more than 3,000 miles without seeing a single Dunkin Donuts. They are so ubiquitous in the Boston area, you think they would be everywhere. Apparently though, they are located only in the Northeast.

We could have used a little more support on the road, but had to settle for two sag stops: one at mile 30 and another at mile 60, before finishing after 80 miles in the town of Henrietta. Our motel is just off the highway, with very little to see or do, other than to keep cool in the air conditioned rooms. This will likely be the case as we cross the state of New York this week.

At the start of the month, I looked ahead to what was to be my biggest ever month of cycling. Before July of 2006, the most mileage I had ever accumulated in one month was about 900, which I did in May of this year. I may have come close to that when training for an Ironman triathlon, but surely did not exceed it. During the month of July this year, I cycled some 2,270 miles, more than two and half times as much as the previous high. Now I can see why I had not done anything close to this kind of mileage before: it is difficult to get anything else done, aside from the cycling!

As I mentioned in the last blog, all of this cycling has been somewhat mentally wearing. A day off in Niagara definitely helped in that regard, as I had more enthusiasm for cycling today. Much like a cell phone that is only partially recharged however, I am operating at far below 100 percent. But it is still great to be out here seeing the country; I am always aware this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

A week or so ago, I asked the question, “Are there any other towns, aside from LaCrosse, Wisconsin, that are also the names of athletic events?” Our cycling group came up with two: Rugby, North Dakota (and Tennessee), and Marathon, Greece. (There is also a Marathon, Florida.) Congrats to the guys in the group that came up with those answers!