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In this prelude to the adventure, Bunni (who will be sending updates from the road) tells us about the ride and her preparations for it.
One (hopefully bright) morning in early March of this year, I will -- at the age of 55 -- bicycle east from San Diego, California and the Pacific, heading for St. Augustine, Florida and the Atlantic -- with another woman whom I'll meet face-to-face for the first time at dinner the night before departure. For roughly six years, I have been looking for a way to cycle across the country along one route or another. Mainly, I was seeking a piece of time, a window large enough to make a trip such as this. I always rather assumed I'd do it alone, because I most always ride alone. But family and friends would protest on safety grounds and -- in truth -- I really couldn't defend the idea. It just seemed unlikely that I would find a companion whose schedule and pace would match mine. So I bided my time, reading the Companions Wanted column of Adventure Cycling, and dreaming of heading out.
And then I found it -- in the Nov-Dec issue (1995) was the ad: "5O's woman seeking companion(s)..." Wow!! Right age; right time of year for my needs. I began scheming in my mind: who would live in the house, care for dogs and property, pay the bills? In short, how could I cover my fanny while at the same time pedalling it across the country?? I bounced it off my companion. He was supportive. Ditto for family and friends. It began to take shape in my mind. I finally decided to do it, and placed the call. From the very outset we seemed compatible. Pace, habits, eating patterns, etc. etc. I'm not so naive as to believe we will spend 8-10 weeks without discord of some sort. But even the best of friendships can dissolve under stress, so I don't feel myself at a disadvantage with a "stranger." C. will turn 6O on our departure day, and has been planning for 5-6 years to begin this ride on that day. But her family and friends reacted as mine had, and even though she had planned to go alone, she finally succumbed and placed the ad that will make the fantasy a reality for both of us.
I normally ride about 100 miles a week anyway; she does a bit more. But then she's retired and I'm not. We hope to average some 50-ish miles a day, less during the first month, which is mountainous, and more after Austin, Texas. But we'll see. 50 a day is basically not much, even for days on end. But carrying 30-ish pounds of gear on the bike rather changes things. So daily increments will kind of sort themselves out on the road. We start out with a 4000 ft. mountain pass right out of San Diego, and an 8200 ft. peak in New Mexico, with lots of smaller up and down in between. After El Paso, elevation changes are not even profiled on the maps. We are doing a "Southern Cross", the only viable route this early in the year. This means about 900 miles of Texas, across the widest point. I have dear friends in Austin, with whom we'll relax for a couple of days before continuing. Then on through the bayous and along the gulf to the east coast. We anticipate 9-10 weeks, but we won't race. We'll be camping about three-quarters of the time, and motelling only when laundry calls or when we really need showers. This increases the weight of the load. So be it.
Departure is still over a week off, but my head is ready to go now. I'm tired of "training rides" with my fake load: reference books in the panniers. But I still have lots of prep work to get done around here before leaving. Given my druthers, I'd have preferred to plot my own route starting from my front door. If there's a next time, I'll do it that way. But right now I can't wait to get this show -- quite literally -- on the road. This is the dream. It's here. I'm ready. We're going to do it.
© 1996 BFZ
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