Final Route Map, SF, CA - Montauk, NY

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Friday, April 30, 2010

Mile 63.69 - The journey begins

Day one and the adventure has already begun. I got my feet and Penny's tires wet in the Pacific at Bakers Beach and then crossed the Golden Gate. Things were rolling along until I crested the hill going into San Raphael. I had started the descent and I heard what no cyclist ever wants to hear: a loud pop from the back tire. Pardon my French, but fiddlesticks.

I slowly pulled a 3" wood screw out of my tire. It had gone clean through the tube, either the entrance or the exit wound was sufficient to kill the tube. If I had cheaper rims, it probably would have wrecked that too.

Thankfully, my rescue came in the form of a lovely local named Michelle who rode back to her place and then returned with a spare tire and a real pump. Thank you,thank you, thank you.

With her road tire, I got into town to a bike shop and got a new tire more appropriate for the load bearing I require of it. Anyway, 2 hours and $70 later I was back on the road.

I went around the marshland at the top of the bay (alongside the traffic on 37) and then climbed a really tall bridge into Vellejo. I got across the town and, as the sun was sinking inexorably in the sky, I found a cheap motel and am now bivouacked for the night.

Day 1, San Francisco, CA - Vellejo, CA
63.69 miles today, 63.69 miles total, top speed 40.1 mph. Climbing speed a little bit slower.

Mile 0.0

It is now 7:30 am (pacific time) on April 30th 2010. I'm typing from the comfort of my Uncle Jim's air mattress in San Fransisco. I will shortly be getting up, taking my last warm shower for who knows how long and enjoying a nice hearty breakfast.

Then it begins.

My plan in SF is to ride unloaded across town from where my uncle lives in Potrero Hill, take some of the awesome bike lanes this city provides, including The Wiggle, through Golden Gate Park to Baker Beach. There, Emily and Jim will meet me with my panniers, take a picture or two of Penny at the Pacific Ocean, then load up, and go up across the Golden Gate Bridge. I would like to make it through to Davis today, though that might be a little ambitious. It totally depends on how long it takes me to get out of SF.

Ok, kids. It's on.

Oh, also, I got a toy that should help me in my journey yesterday. I got a droid. I can now use that as wifi for my laptop wherever I get cell reception which means I;ll be able to blog from most anywhere in my trip. Woohoo, more fun for you.

Time to get this party rolling.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Day -1

If Friday is Day 1 of the tour, that makes tomorrow Day 0 and thus today Day -1. Plans for today include driving up the coast of CA back to San Fransisco. Not much new to report other than that I haven't had much of an appetite for the last several days and still haven't been sleeping quite as many hours as I might otherwise. I think both these issues will resolve themselves in a couple days, once I've been riding for 8-12 hours a day.

Time to make some breakfast

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


I got a call from Mike's Bikes. Penny is reassembled and ready for me to pick up. I probably won't get back to SF in time to get her tomorrow, so first thing Thursday morning, I go pick up my girl.

Get ready, kids, it's almost here...

T -3 days

Five days since I left my kitty in Brooklyn, 3 day left until I start the tour.

Yesterday Emily and I drove down California's central valley from SF to LA. I watched the progression of mountains to the east, knowing that in a couple more days, I'll have the opportunity to climb them. Eep.

It was a bright, sunny, beautiful day for the entire drive until we got into Las Angeles. There, we were met by a wall of grey overcast+smog and the temp felt like it dropped about 15 degrees. And then, later in the evening, it started to rain a bit on us. If that's how LA feels about my presence, fine. According to the weather forecast, the overcast will break tomorrow morning, right around when we are planning on leaving. That's fine, SF will have nice weather again for me when I get back there.

I'm starting to get more excited/nervous about the trip. I had a very hard time sleeping last night because of spare excited energy. I think that energy will get consumed by the actual biking once that starts

Ok, i'm off to throw crap into a tar pit just to watch it sink.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

And here my troubles begin

I made it to San Fransisco. My bike is en route to Mike's Bikes to be professionally reassembled and looked over before I begin. Right now I'm hanging out in SF, though Monday-Wednesday I'll be in LA before coming back here.

The trouble: as we were flying over Utah & Nevada, there was a lot of snow in the mountains. Getting into SF, I was talking with my uncle Jim who posited that it would be impossible to cross the sierras on a bike if there's 4' of snowpack still on the ground. Well, we'll see. I'm going to wait until next tuesday or wednesday and call the appropriate county departments of transportation and ask them if the roads are passable. If not, the alternate is to do an end run around the sierras, going south to Barstow before heading east. This would add 500 miles, at least a week, and two deserts to the trip. I'm not sure if this is what I really want to do. If I can get through Tahoe and Carson City, that's still my preferred route.

We shall see.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Mile 0.0

It begins. I'm leaving for JFK to fly to San Fransisco. Oh boy oh boy oh boy. the panniers are all loaded up in my check in bag and we're ready to fly.

See you in california

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Route is done

I have made it all the way across the country! On a map, anyway. You will now notice two proposed route buttons, as apparently mapmyride gets less stable after 3500 miles.
The two maps together total 3796.7 miles. That's ending in Brooklyn, I'll add on the bit to Montauk when I have time.

A week from tomorrow I start riding 38 centuries. This is exciting. But now that the route's done, I need to do a final repack and get ready for my flight early tomorrow morning.

Wow wow wow, it's starting.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I had a daydream that shocked me awake when I realized it. I was was updating the route map through Indiana and passing the row after row of neatly portioned county roads. I was thinking of how easy it will be to gauge miles out there and thought of the many times I've flown over such land. Then I continued in the flight to the mountains. Lots and lots of mountains. And then some more mountains. And I propose to cross them on a bicycle.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Getting there, Part 1

Well, today was kinda the unofficial beginning of my trip acorss the country. Today I took Penny apart, put her in a box and shipped her off to San Fransisco. I'm somehow going to have to get the bike back home from SF, so I might as well ride it. I made some friends at the UPS store. They thought I was kinda nuts to do this. I think they are correct.

On Friday I fly to SF and then a week later I start on the adventure. Oh, I am not fully prepared for this.

Friday, April 16, 2010

let there be lights!

One of the pieces of equipment that I've been slowest in getting for Penny is a set of lights. On the mountain bike, I have a set (well, half a set, someone stole the front light) of relatively inexpensive, lightweight Planet Bike lights that have the advantage of taking AAA batteries. Since I'm taking my battery recharger and spare AAA take up neither volume nor space, that would be nice instead of having to find new lithium batteries on the road.

The other thing I had seen in the past was lights powered by the energy created in the act of pedaling. That would be great, I'm certainly going to be generating energy, the only problem was the generator thing was kinda bulky and heavy, and there'd be wires from it to both lights.

Well I found something else, something I can totally get behind. It's a set of solar powered bike lights. They are bright, smallish (the model name is Flea, after all), and come with a little USB solar panel. The lights also can be charged from a normal USB connection. I imagine that I will find plenty of sunlight though. Now I just need to figure out where on the bike to keep the panels so they get optimal sun.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


One of the things I like to do as I pass through towns is guess the high schools sports team name. Or, rather, make suggestions as to what they should be.
The Paramus Screaming Mallrats.
The Grand-View-on-Hudson Voyeurs.
The Stony Point Chisels
The New City Population. (New City, to me, sounds like they never changed the file name. Go Population!).
One I really like is the Tenafly Swatters. It'd be good for the baseball and softball teams.

Just a game I play in my head as I spin the miles away.

Training and not training

Yesterday, I wanted to ride up to Hyde Park. Lisa accompanied me to Nyack and intended to turn around there. It was windy and cold and my shoulders were so tense, they were sore all night. Once we got to the hills I encountered the real problem. I had no power up the hills. I tried high gear, I tried low gear, I tried to find just the right one, but as I crested each hill, I would see Lisa a quarter mile ahead if I saw her at all. My legs weren't in pain, they were just dead. I knew I didn't have 104 miles of hills in me that day. So I settled for 65 and headed back to Brooklyn.

Today I did a couple laps of Prospect Park with the bags full. I then took off the bags and rode up to Queens on an errand. I had forgotten how fast Penny is unencumbered. I had little problem passing traffic on many of the roads.

Then, a surprise. There was a box that came for me and when I opened it, there was a GPS with a handlebar mount. Apparently, Emily's parents thought I might find it useful. Once I convinced the GPS that I was, at the moment, In Brooklyn, NY, not Portland, ME, I wanted to test it's functions. So I grabbed Penny and headed to the park. my lap was 12:09 with a top speed of 27.5mph, mostly because it was the time of day that cars are allowed in, so I couldn't really hit the fast bits. I did pass several people on training looking bikes as I climbed the hill. That's right, unencumbered, we go faster. I'll have to keep that in mind when I'm in the salt flats.

Anyway, thank you, Emily's parents. I'm going to try to play with it as much as possible before I have to ship the bike.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Penny and I survive our first century

I got up at 7 this morning for an 8:00 start. My aim was Bear Mountain, 20 miles further north from Nyack. I escorted Emily most of the way through her second time riding in Manhattan. At one point, she had to remind me that it was her second ride. I wonder now, with over 5 years of training riding my bike in Brooklyn, Manhattan and queens, if anything on the tour is going to intimidate me. What does Casper, Wyoming have to throw my way that I haven't seen three times on a daily basis? I left her at her turn at 34th street and continued up the Hudson Parkway

I got to Nyack in a typical time, just short of an hour and a half from the GWB, with a break long enough to eat a banana. I cruised around downtown Nyack and up into the real hills. The first clue is turn left on Old Mountain Rd. Penny and I couldn't get up only a couple hills, and one of them we got about 80' from the top of what felt like a mile long hill.

Right before Bear Mountain, the marked Bike Route 9 goes off from 9W. The bike route hits the end of a dead end road and then becomes a rock and dirt trail. Since I've never ridden Penny on this kind of trail and I may wish to use something like it on the tour, I ventured forth. And walked much of the path. If I was on my mountain bike I would have been hesitant with some of the soft dirt studded with large rocks. But then, the parts where the trail was more or less even, I did ride, and it was just fine.

I got to Bear Mountain, took a couple photos of the area immediately around the entrance. There was a plaque and little map commemorating Doodletown, a fortified British village on the spot in the 1760's and 70's. There was also a pleasant little waterfall not far along the path. I then rode a little bit down the road into Iona Island Marsh for a couple more photos. I left Bear Mountain at 2:30 and started back up the hills. For every little climb I achieved I was rewarded with a nice curving descent and the opportunity to climb again. The miles started to flow by again, and soon enough, I was back in Upper Nyack. I continued down resting for a while outside Strictly Bikes, the shop 3 minutes from the GWB.

The whole time from when I got off the George Washington Bridge at 10ish AM till I got back to the bridge at 6ish PM, I didn't use my bell once. Then, I reentered Manhattan.

This was the first time that I've ridden her over 100 miles in one shot. Tomorrow I need to spend time cleaning her.

Anyway, here's the route.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

picture dump

I've been taking some photos of my training, but haven't been uploading too many. So here, have some photos.

The first is Penny, loaded with about 70lbs of whatnot, taking a break between laps at Prospect Park. The next is Emily and me at my favorite beach in New York, Unprotected Beach at Jacob Riis Park. Clearly Emily is about to uppercut me with her back tire.
Here is me at the Kissena Park Velodrome. Woo! Fast!

Ok, there is photographic evidence that I do, in fact, ride a bike. Later

and more training

Instead of killing myself on endless laps of Prospect Park, I decided yesterday to do a perimeter ride of Brooklyn and Queens. Well, perimeterish. I was accompanied by 'Coach' Lisa again. This one thing I have learned to be true: even with a bike map and an iphone at one's disposal, it is all too easy to get lost in eastern Queens. It is just not laid out with cycling in mind, though I'm not sure that we would have been better off with a humvee and military gps.

I place some of the blame on Fredrick Law Olmstead for dying before Flushing Meadows was fully designed, some of the blame on the botanic gardens for not being in a more conspicuous location and not letting us ride through, some blame for the various community boards of eastern queens and the DOT, and even a little bit for my precious NYC bike map which lied to us outright on at least two occasions. Unless concrete walls now qualify as bike infrastructure.

We did eventually find the Kissena Velodrome and both took a couple laps. I removed the panniers and their 50lbs of whatnot for it. I like the velodrome and that it's open to the public during the week in nice weather.

Finally, after 38 miles, we wound our way around to the shore parkway bike path. A roughly 600 yard stretch of the path was washed away during some winter and spring storms we've had, which I discovered last week on the ride out to the Rockaways. That part I knew we would have to dismount and walk, but other than that, I expected this to be the easiest part of the ride. It's more or less level, I know the route well and there is no motor traffic. What I didn't expect was the 25mph wind gusting up to 35 or all the dust kicked up from various construction projects along it. Nothing like licking dust off your teeth a mile later.

Finally, we made it across to Coney Island, stopped at Nathan's for some large drinks and a hot dog, then rode back up Ocean Parkway toward home. Altogether, it was somewhere around 55 miles. It's supposed to get rainy later today, so instead of training, I'm going to spend the day inside working on some of the non-riding preparations I still need to do.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

miles, miles, miles

I started the day earlier than usual, getting up to spend an hour an a half trying to survey cyclists coming off the Williamsburgh Bridge. We got maybe one out of every twenty cyclists that went by even though we were just asking one question which would take 20 seconds to answer. Still, there were lots and lots of cyclists that went by, so we did get a decent volume of responses. I would take 20 seconds to improve bike infrastructure around that bridge.

I spent most of today in Prospect Park. I got home from the morning volunteering, loaded 70lbs into the panniers, and set out to enjoy a day at the park. 19 laps of the park is 100 kilometers, so that was my goal. My previous high had been five. Most laps were 13-14 minutes, which I'm ok with.

From laps 7-10 I was talking to a guy who went from Oregon to Georgia last year. It was nice to pick his brain and get some advice. There's plenty that I'm sure I'll just learn the hard way on the road, but I'll listen to whatever advice someone is wont to give. Whether I heed that advice is a different matter.

I took a break after lap ten, coming home to watch the end of a netflik I had started, then headed back to the park. I was joined by Emily for a couple laps too. Apparently if you give me the handicap of 70lbs and 16 previous laps, she is faster at the uphill than I am.

Tomorrow I need to take another full load ride somewhere, at least 50 miles. Maybe I'll go down to Coney Island, then across to Far Rockaway, just because I don't feel like navigating manhattan in the morning.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Yesterday I rode with a number of friends to Riis Park, then back around Jamaca bay to home. All around, about 39 miles. Today, my friend 'Coach' Lisa and I rode up to Nyack and back. That was somewhat over a metric century round trip. So, between the two days, a little over 100 miles.

Two things that I learned, going uphill when loaded with 60lbs of gear, there's a lot more pressure on my knees on the uphills. Also, I have resigned myself to the fact that I will be crossing the country at an average of 14 miles an hour.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

the button at the top

At the top of the blog you will notice a button that you can click to view the route map. I am currently working on the putting the the entire proposed route up (I'm mapped thought Utah so far). When I am riding, this will probably be replaced by the actual map, so you can follow along at home, at work, on the bus, at the beach or wherever you are when you feel the burning need to see where in the country I am.

So there. Map