I’ve been wondering about the sights on my bike ride across the US, so I found a few online. The pictures below show some highlights, at least for the comfortable parts. After the pictures, I’ll use words to describe some less comfortable parts, with a little Malikowski/Wenderski humor.
Just like all parts of life, pretty sights and comfort come with challenging sights and less comfort. On long bike rides, or any endurance sport, you feel all of it more. The first few hills are usually fine, but after a few more, your legs start talking to you.
It really is like a conversation. After some long hills, muscles and nerves that you didn’t know about introduce themselves. With a mild ache, the muscles and nerves say something like, “Excuse me, hi. Um, we’ve lived nearby for a while, but we don’t know each other very well. We just want to let you know that we’re here.”
Since that introduction is a mild ache, it’s like hearing from someone you’re not fond of. In that case, it’s not polite to entirely ignore the introduction, so I respond to the muscles and nerves with a something similar to a brief glance or nod.
That can be fine, as long as the hills don’t continue, but hills have a way of continuing. In that case, the nerves and muscles talk a bit more. “Hello again. We’re very sorry to speak up, and honestly, we’d rather just quietly relax done here, but relaxing has become difficult, since you have not stopped pedaling hard. We’d greatly appreciate it if you’d stop that.”
Since I’ve been on a few bike tours, this is a familiar conversation. I’ve learned to respond back with a calm and quiet acknowledgement, “Everything’s going to be fine. There’s a curve ahead, and I’m sure the hill ends there.”
I cycle around the curve, look up, and don’t see sky, only more hill. Of course, that leads to another comment from my legs. “Excuse us! We’re pretty sure you said the hill would end after the curve. It feels like that has not exactly happened, and brain is not responding to our request for more information.” During moments like this, I like being in control of brain.
I’ve been sitting on my bike seat during this conversation so far. I stand up in my bike to peddle with different muscles. That tells my legs, “There, I gave some of you a break, please calm down.”
That works for a while, but I can’t stand and peddle for very long. After a short while, the other muscles say, “Uh, right. Nice try. We’re done.” They send an ache I can’t ignore, so I sit down again and peddle.
All this has worked pretty well in my past bike tours, stubborn conversations with my legs and changing the way I pedal. Unfortunately, those trips didn’t go over mountains.
I’ll be having some long conversations with my legs when we go over the Rockies, but I’ve heard that the really hard parts will happen in the Appalachian Mountains, since the roads are much steeper. I’ll describe those hills and conversations in a later blog post, and of course, the pretty sights from the mountains will help.
Now for my version of a commercial. One reason I’m cycling across the US is to raise money for cancer research, since I have cancer. Please consider making a donation.