The Bikin' Fools


Thinkin’ About It


For the better part of ten years I commuted to Calistoga on my bike. It is a seventeen mile ride. It is nearly ideal in many ways. It starts out level, then climbs gradually, then steeply for two miles. At the end of the climb there is a six mile, delightful downhill.

Near the five mile mark on the ride, I always begin to feel good. The body has warmed up and the oxygen is flowing freely to the brain. It is early and still in the positive, "life is good" mode of the day. Often times I thought; "If only I could just keep on going…"

There is an element of escape in our dreams and desires. How nice it would be to just drop everything and hit the road. Fantasy for sure. The notion frequently lingered in my mind. It danced across my thoughts dressed in bright colors.

As the time for the journey approached, my thoughts began to crack and wrinkle as the reality of what could actually transpire took some footing. I began to have doubts about the advisability of the undertaking. The catalyst for the journey was my 40th high school reunion. I had looked hard and long at the 35th but did not act. My boys were younger and my life was a little more hectic. This time I had a green light if I could find the courage to say yes to big adventure.

I spent several months preparing my equipment. I have bike touring experience so it was just a matter of fine tuning. I oriented everything towards lightweight. I wanted to be able to cover as many miles as possible. I would not have unlimited time. Originally I wished to ride from California, but time constraints and the daunting prospect of Nevada and Utah in the summer altered the grandiose scheme. I decided to take the train to the western slope of the Rockies in Colorado and ride from there. Leaving in early June, I estimated that I would have to ride at least fifty miles per day average to make it to State College Pa. by July 12, 2003.

As the day approached, I became more apprehensive. I have done most of my bicycling by myself. Not necessarily by choice. I didn’t cherish the idea of being alone for so long. Yet I accepted the notion. I had no biking partners able to join. That is until Austin, one week before departure, indicated that he might like to go. It took a little scrambling, but within days we had a bike, gear and two short practice rides. Austin had not ridden a bike in more than six months. He had been snowboarding all winter and working at altitude on the ski slopes. He was strong and would get his wind in one day. The day from Keystone to Boulder.

I had waited for some reason to buy the train ticket. Maybe I was going to flake out, maybe the universe was making me wait for Austin. At any rate, when I laid down the bucks for first class train tickets to Glenwood Springs Colorado, I knew the vacillation was over. The commitment was made. Now I couldn’t afford to back out. Slowly but surely the tide of doubt began to recede and an inkling of excitement and benediction began to roll in.