"How do you train for that?" is one of the first questions I get when I tell someone I'm about to ride my bike across the country. I wish I knew. I hope I have. As many of you know, I've been running regularly for five or so years now, training for races from 10k to the ol' 26.2 miles. Aaron and I have figured that cardiovascularly, I'll be fine for the trip, more or less. We'll be referring back to this in a few weeks when I'm weeping, halfway up a mondo hill.
Anyway, I've spent the last few months getting the feel of my bike: figuring out how to best use my gears on hills, getting my butt used to my seat (which was complicated because I purchased a semi-faulty seat that couldn't be returned/exchanged), learning how to not fall (much) when clipped into my new pedals -- just 2 spills so far, and various other logistical bits. I spent more time than usual in the weight room too, working on my quads, my calves and on core strength: a nod toward injury prevention. Aaron and I took a few longer rides together: to Atlantic City, to Frenchtown, New Jersey and back, mainly just to prove to ourselves - or, so I, the far less experienced cyclist, could prove to ourselves - that it was possible. Other days, I've gone out to Fairmount Park and to ride up and down and up and down a series of hills near the Belmont Plateau, where I get to enjoy views like this:
Then there's the issue of the panniers. [Panniers = saddlebag-like items that will be mounted to a rack over our back wheels. That's where we'll carry all our worldly possessions for 2 months.] Once I felt like I was getting the hang of the bike, I decided to see how I'd do with added weight. How did I accomplish this? I filled my panniers with these bad boys:
A great use of my Norton Anthology of American Literature and unabridged French dictionary, both of which haven't seen the light of day since college, I should add. (Aaron's training included heavy doses of case law books, naturally.) Balancing on the bike with the weight of my book-filled panniers was a bit tricky, but no disasters yet.
In all, I haven't done a ton of training geared specifically toward this trip. Part of that has to do with schedule - I was committed to focusing on running through May 1 because of the Broad Street Run, then we were away for a week, then I just spent 10 days in Vermont for grad school and couldn't take my bike with me - but I cross-trained, to say the least, running many miles on hilly roads. You could say I really haven't been out of general "training" since, oh, the spring of 2007 when I started running races regularly. Yeah, let's say that. I've thought of this week as my "tapering" period. No need to overexert myself on the eve of departure. And the first few weeks of the trip will kind of be like training, right? RIGHT?! Here's hoping.