I walked into my boss’ office and plopped down in a chair. “I’ve got an idea. My girlfriend and I are going to ride our bicycles from Vancouver to Tijuana this fall.”
A cyclist himself, my boss paused and thought for a second. “So what in the hell made you want to do this?” Before I could answer, he followed up with, “Do you have any idea how bad your ass is going to hurt?!”
“You’re just jealous!” I fired back. The fact of the matter was that I wasn’t entirely sure how I’d come up with this new idea, but I’d mulled it over enough and was committed to it and knew that I’d find a way to make a memorable adventure out of it.
Days after deciding that this would be the next great adventure, Chelsea and I set out to find suitable steeds to take us the whole way. We both dropped by University Cycles in Boulder where we were informed by our new friend Nick of the logical options for the trip. After some brief research, we both settled on which bikes would be best for us. I’m riding a Salsa Fargo, while Chelsea is sporting a teeny-sized Specialized Tri-Cross. The criteria for selecting the bikes were fairly simple. The bikes had to have the ability to attach panniers and racks easily as well as be stout enough to take some bumps all while being as efficient as possible. Both bikes get the job done admirably, though Chelsea’s is faster while mine is more robust.
Neither Chelsea nor I were cyclists when we decided to do the trip, but we are now. In my expert opinion, the term ‘cyclist’ refers to a person who wears uncovered spandex while riding. Thanks to Brian at Pearl Izumi and Kevin at Panache, we’ve been lucky enough to enjoy the full spandex experience. Brian recommended I wear bibs, which I thought looked like some sort of WWF wrestling attire. While they do look a bit odd, they are unbelievably comfortable and I haven’t ridden without them in months. We also got a set of jerseys, which are very nice as well, however I’ve had to learn to take a jersey off in a proficient fashion. Several times I ended up with my arms pinned behind my back while trying to pull the sleeves off on the arm of a sofa. I’m getting better.
I’ve owned a good mountain bike for a few years and have enjoyed bouncing around the trails outside of Boulder and Moab, as well as, riding to various bars around town in the wee hours of the night. Chelsea has experience on beach cruisers mainly, but is blessed to have an avid cyclist for a father who is up to speed on things (far more than I am) and has helped us with our gear selection.
We have a series of maps linking Vancouver and Tijuana that are designed specifically for bicyclists. These will serve as our rough guide for the adventure but are by no means a set of hard and fast rules for us. After all, if everything’s planned out, then it isn’t an adventure.
Our training program was fairly low-key. We basically rode whenever we could. I amassed 450 miles of training rides while Chelsea hit about 210. Most of my training was done in the middle of Kansas where I’ve been working on a project at a salt mine. Paved roads are few and far between and the Salsa’s beefy tires performed well on the many miles of gravel road. Central Kansas does not come with many benefits; however, cycling out there wasn’t bad since cars were virtually nonexistent. I’d frequently flush pheasants while on my training rides and only occasionally had to pull over to let large combines pass during harvest.
We’ve heard a wide variety of what we need to do as far as training for this trip but have settled on riding as much as we can in a reasonable fashion. I have a friend who rode both islands of New Zealand with absolutely zero cycling experience while overweight and riding a pawn shop special. He tried to return his bike after day one, but was talked out of it and ended up spending seven months exploring the country. At the same time, I have another friend who efficiently traversed the entire US after months of intensive training. We chose a logical middle ground and trained when we could. I also like to point out the fact that I’ve been resting as much as possible prior to the trip as well as building up my fat reserves like a bear going into hibernation.
Upon telling friends and family of our new adventure, we’ve consistently been greeted with the same response….the eyes squint and the forehead furrows then the chin drops before asking what made us want to do such a thing. The answer is simple- we want some adventure in our lives. If we wanted a vacation, we would have spent a month in Bali, but in my experience, vacations don’t do much for a person. Adventures, on the other hand, can be life-changing events.
While the goal is definite the actual route is yet to be fully determined, and that’s how we want to keep it. Flexibility to meander where we want and spend extra days where we please is a priority. In any case, it’s going to be an adventure. Chelsea was enthusiastic and optimistic as always and required zero persuasion. (The last sentence has been added mainly for liability purposes.)
Taking the time off wasn’t much of an issue as I’d negotiated it months earlier. Endless months of working 70+ hrs per week underground in a salt mine in the middle of Kansas would require some significant time off. Chelsea is lucky enough to be working for a company whose motto is to “follow your passion” and ZEAL has allowed her to work on the road.
We hope this blog is informative and inspires you to do something you will remember in 50 yrs. So get off the couch, out of your daily routine and adventure more.