Saturday, March 31, 2007

Part 3 Lon's First Cross Country

Day 3
Leaving Wheeling, West Virginia I entered into Ohio. The worst of the mountains were behind me. I continued on Rt. 40 toward Columbus and I was looking forward to the flatter roads of Indiana. By mid morning a slight breeze started from the west. The drudgery of a headwind was slowing my pace as much as the mountains yesterday. I wasn’t thinking about riding to California. I was just riding from town to town.

Navigating across the country was very basic by current Race Across America standards. Our crew didn’t have a pre scouted route listing all the turns in each town. My dad had made a overview of the route with the turns listed only when we needed to get on a new highway. My route was Rt. 40 to Indianapolis, Indiana, then Rt. 36 to Springfield, Illinois, then take Rt. 54 across Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas to Tucumcari, New Mexico. Then get on I-40 to Flagstaff, Arizona to Rt. 89 south, then Rt. 60 west before getting on I-10 into Los Angeles. We were able to cross the remaining 2,500 miles of America with only six turns. Or so it seemed on our route sheet.

As it turned out our crew did a great job of following the road signs as each highway made dozens of turns and merges with other routes in each state. At times the lack of route details was a little frustrating, like the day against the headwinds in Ohio. I was standing and grinding against the wind wondering how far it was to the next town and a chance for some shelter from the wind. I waved the following support car up along side me. My mom was navigating in the passenger seat. I asked her how far before I arrived at the next turn or town and relief from the wind. She began looking at our route on the AAA Map as the support car dropped back behind me. After ten minutes I waved the car up beside me and I asked my mom again how far it was to the next turn or town. She said “’s just a ways”. That remark pretty much summed up our degree of route details across the country.

As we proceeded across the country I tried to memorize the route. I knew I would need to return on the same roads in a few weeks. I made mental notes of the intersections, bridges, direction of the wind on the flags and most importantly the distances between the towns. Our crew was also documenting new route notes for the return trip. During the whole westward crossing we would only be lost twice for about 30 minutes. On the return trip we stayed on the correct route the whole way. We were learning as we went of how to race across the country. We made our share of mistakes but by the fourth day we were now in a good routine.



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