Saturday, March 31, 2007

Part 2..First Cross Country

The reality of riding across the country was starting to sink in by the second day. Even though I had trained by doing many fast double century rides and even some 24 hour events over 400 miles, I was not ready for the pounding pace of cross country riding. I remember getting back on the bike the second morning and riding up the hills on Rt. 40 through Frostburg, Maryland and Uniontown, Pennsylvania. These were the steepest and longest hills I had ever ridden. My 42 x 21 gear wasn’t enough. It was now Monday morning and I asked the support crew to go looking for a bike shop and find a 13 x 26 Suntour Ultra-6 freewheel.

A couple hours into the day our motor home was set up beside the road. It was time for breakfast. I stopped and my mom had made me a big plate of french toast. I welcomed the chance to sit down and eat. Most of my meals during the first week of the Double Transcontinental would be full plates of food eaten inside the motor home. It would not be until we had traveled almost 2,000 into New Mexico that we refined our pace and efficiency to eat most of my meals on the bike.

As I coasted into Frostburg, Maryland on Rt. 40 I had a strange sense of Daja vu. I felt that I had been there before doing the same thing. I then remembered a dream I had when I was about 16 years old. I had told about that dream to my parents and Susan years later of how I got interested in cross country riding. In the dream I was on a cross country trip. I was coasting down a steep hill of the eastern mountains with one hand on my hip and my upper body turned slightly to the left. During the dream I remember that I was at total peace with the bike and the fact that I would be riding across the country many times. My bike was white in the dream. I bought a white AMF Scorcher 10 speed bike for $69 later that summer in 1974. I always remembered that dream, even though most dreams disappear in a few hours. Riding into Frostburg made me realize dreams do come true. I was tired today but at peace on the bike. This was just the start of many more strange experiences that would evolve during the Double Transcontinental.

As the support car went shopping for a new freewheel at a local bike shop, I just kept riding on Rt. 40. We were pretty relaxed about keeping the support crew near me and they would catch up to me later. I was by myself riding through town when my rear tire punctured with a loud pop. I inspected the tire and found a large piece of glass had made a one inch gash in my tire. There was no way to repair the tire with even a boot or new tube. In a way I was relieved. I would use this opportunity for a nap. I took off the wheel and laid my bike down near the residential sidewalk under the shade of maple tree. I was comfortable on the soft grass and maybe fell asleep for a few minutes. I was awoke by my support car stopping by the curb and yelling. They thought I had been hit by a car. I said I was fine and showed them the tire. We put on a spare wheel and I was riding again with new energy after my nap.

The crew had found a 13-26 freewheel and I changed wheels again. I wasn’t riding that strong and I needed the lower gears. It started to rain in the late afternoon. We entered Wheeling, West Virginia and splashed through the flooded streets. It was nearing sundown I was thinking about stopping for the night. All three of our support vehicles were waiting at a wide spot on the side of the road in a residential area. The owner of the house where we had stopped came out and said he had been expecting us. We had no idea who he was. He introduced himself as the president of the local Lion’s Club. He had heard about the Double Transcontinental Record from my local Harvard, Illinois Lion’s Club. I had given a bike talk to them about my plans and we were using the Record Attempt as a way to raise money for the National Lion’s Club eye glasses program. Wheeling is a big city and it was just by chance that we stopped front of the Lion Club’s President’s yard. We talked for 15 minutes and he gave us directions of an RV park in the area. I had only ridden 200 miles today from 6:00 AM to about 8:30 PM. I was really tired wanted to get out of my wet clothes and sleep in a dry bed tonight.



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