Before I say anything else, I want to thank all those people who gave me words of encouragement and goodwill while I was attempting the Trans Am bike race. I couldn’t respond at the time as Microsoft had stopped me accessing my email account- thinking I was a security risk as I was trying to get into it from a different location than home. I tried to amend this but to no avail, so thank you for your lovely thoughts and wishes.
I have no regrets about pulling out and it was definitely the right decision at the time.
How come my bike weighed 1 and1/2 kilos more on coming home from the USA than going there? Surely I had the same load? I had to pay $70(US) for being over my weight allowance. I unloaded everything and pulled out 8 lithium batteries that I bought to keep my spot tracker going across The States. They were expensive and I wasn’t going to throw them out, so was my tube of sunscreen, UV protection face cream and container of Anti Chaff. Then there was the extra summer clothes I wore on the plane going there, but had to be packed away in favour of some winter trousers and jacket I bought to come home in, for the middle of winter temperatures. OK I can see where the 1 and ½ kilos came from now.
Well it is lovely being home, even though it is the middle of winter. It is not too cold to ride my bike though. I have thought a lot about the last month and asked myself if I would have done anything differently to have finished the Trans Am, apart from the obvious: not sticking to my original game plane - if I had done that I would have finished.
|I had too much stuff.|
Yes, I should have taken less stuff for a start. I thought I had perfected my load but once a cycle tourist – always a cycle tourist and I took things I thought were indispensable but proved to be the opposite. I shouldn’t have taken a tent and sleeping bag – they may have been light weight but motels were the accommodation of choice, and a bivy bag would have done the trick for those occasional times of wilderness. I took far too much first aid stuff – that could have been reduced by 2/3rds and I didn’t need insect repellent – I wasn’t still long enough for insects to bite me. I didn’t need a knife and fork but I did use the spoon and plastic cup I took - a lot, as motels have coffee making facilities but no cups or spoons and it was useful for eating cereal and yogurt out of. I don’t regret taking 3 drink bottles as you can always leave them empty when in an area of plenty of shops, but when you need a third drink bottle it is indispensable.
I should have been more flexible with my riding; I should have ridden through the evening, night and morning until the motels opened for the day and slept through the heat of the day. If I had kept cooler I wouldn’t have got so saddle sore and the creams wouldn’t have melted straight off like they did.
I should have had a Garmin or loaded the route onto my phone instead of using 12 heavy maps that needed to be constantly checked for directions and needing turning over to the next map. I wasted such a lot of time with my maps and if I had the route downloaded – I wouldn’t have got lost as it would have told me I had gone the wrong way.
I was fit enough – my training was great, but I needed to ride more through the night and to constantly push the distance as you get caught up in the hype of the event and your original ideas of daily distance gets abandoned in favour of keeping up with everyone else.
But what I have learnt – I can pass on to Niel who is still keen to do it next year.
Next year…… I have given it a lot of thought, and decided I want to be a ‘credit card’ tourist- doing big mileage but taking very little gear and using motels / hotels. Being away cycling for 3 weeks this way would cost the same as being away for 6 weeks and doing 100kms a day and camping the whole time. I am thinking about riding from Bangkok to Singapore.
|Planning for next year already.|
I met some lovely people while I was away, and I am very grateful to my lovely friends Jan and Reed from Olympic Peninsula near Seattle, who ‘rescued’ me and put me up for a week. It is often the people who make a trip not the scenery or physical achievement. Having said that though , I am very proud of myself for how I rode – not many middle aged women could ride 200kms a day carrying the weight of a child on their bike, in 40 degree heat barely eating and in constant discomfort from saddle sores and surviving on an average of 5 hours sleep a day.