Monday, October 27, 2008

Part 21 Lon's First Cross Country in 1981

Part 21
The middle 1,000 miles of the United States is beyond the excitement of the start and too far from the anticipation of the finish. Reaching the middle third of the country is always a good time to philosophize about “why am I doin’ this?” I rode the first 1,000 miles in a little under four days. The final 1,000 miles wouldn’t begin until the Mississippi River.

In future years moods of depression would be typical for RAAM racers riding across the middle third. Not only was the middle third located 1,000 miles from the start or finish, there was nothing else to look forward to in the middle 1,000 miles. The short term goals of crossing the desert and climbing the western mountains was over. The goal of the middle third was just another grain mill tower eleven miles straight ahead.

I was having the same thoughts as when I had ridden the opposite direction more than eight days earlier. The only difference now is that I knew what waited ahead in each town. The winds were favorable but not as strong as the headwinds when I was heading west. Last week the winds were rocking the motor home and blowing the hats off crew members. Now the winds barely bending the long grass that lined the road.

I had plenty of time to think about why I was out riding my bike eighteen hours per day. While I was riding down the road at 17-20 miles per hour I bet their were thousands of better cyclists capable of going faster. The only thing that made me unique is that I was here doing it.

As I continued riding I thought about all the training and logistics it took to get this record attempt together. I thought about my parents taking out a loan to get the extra $10,000 we needed to start the trip. I thought about the six crew members who were donating 35 days of their time including travel to the start and finish. I had been training 20,000 miles per year for the past three years. All I had been thinking about for three years was doing this record attempt. Now I was doing it. Now I was out here in the middle of the New Mexico prairie heading toward Texas.

To be here was an unique opportunity. There were thousands of cyclists who could be doing this but they weren’t. As I kept riding I thought about this opportunity and why I better not waste everything that made this ride possible. As I started riding across the middle third of the country I had a new focus to keep going and make the most of a special chance to ride back and forth across America.



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