Today, day four of my Atlantic Coast Cross Country Cycling Tour, we passed the 250 total mile mark! One-tenth of the journey is complete – nine more 250 mile segments to go!
Here’s the scoop on what I’ve doing these past four days.
Getting the Right “Weight”
Thankfully, no, that doesn’t mean my weight! The tour limits us to 50 pounds total luggage each. When I first weighed the bags, I was four pounds over. So, I went to work “winnowing” down.
Non-negotiable must-haves: electronics, chargers, my infinit drink mix, my hollow core roller and my yoga tune-up balls. About 15 pounds of stuff, before I even start clothes and toiletries!
- One item from each “stuff sack” – bike jersey, bike shorts, cotton shirt, cotton shorts, bras. From my cold weather gear, gone were the tights and fleeced lined long sleeved jersey. (Hoping to see those again via overnight shipping.)
- The wallet and purse.
- The biggest sacrifice – my electric toothbrush. I’ve gone to a low tech, light weight “manual” toothbrush. EGAD! Bob wondered whether I would get carpal tunnel syndrome from the labor, but I am tough, so out it went.
With that, my luggage weighed in at a svelte 48 pounds – I was UNDER!
Getting to Know the Group
Of the 32 women on the tour, only five of us have never done a cross-country cycling tour! Many of the women rode together on other Woman Tours cross-country tours, and have a strong sense of camaraderie. So after the welcome dinner, I was apprehensive about whether I would “fit” in.
No need to worry! It is an awesome group of women, from all over the country, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The women come from a wide variety of backgrounds – teachers, a doctor, an air traffic controller, a lawyer, a mechanical engineer, a head of environmental, health and safety, a runner of 97 marathons and so many more.
But there is a common thread – they all love being active and having an adventure!
Everyone is welcoming, supportive and a heck of a lot of fun!
I love being able to room with a different person each night. It is great to have a chance to get to know each of them better.
Getting in a Rhythm
The next order of business is getting into a rhythm. Breakfast is at 7:00 a.m., “wheels down” by 8:00 a.m. Dinner at 6:00 p.m. So I’m figuring out what routine works best to get sufficient rest and be ready to go in the morning.
For those who know me, it is no surprise that I re-pack most of my bags after dinner, and set my alarm for 6:30 a.m. (30 minutes is plenty of time to get ready, right?). Optimally, I take the bike outside and pump the tires before breakfast. After breakfast, back to the room to brush my teeth, finish packing and take my bags down to load in the van. While wheels down is 8:00 a.m., my roomie and I learned the second night that if we are ready to go at 7:45 a.m., we will be the last ones out the door! So I’m learning to move the clock back a bit!
I’ve found that I do best on the days that I stop with a group at a restaurant for lunch around mile 40-45. It is a great respite to the body and the spirit to get off the bike, drink something icy, and have a little lunch, in lieu of “sports food.”
The sag vehicle brings us cold water and snacks every 20-25 miles. It allows the guides to learn where people are on the course and check in with everyone.
I get to the next hotel between 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. It varies depending on when I leave, who I ride with along the way, how many picture stops, and lunch.
Get into the room, shower and change. Decide what to do about laundry. My roomie Susan empowered me to dump hand washing daily for what I preferred – a washing machine every 3-4 days. Thank you Susan!
Around 5:30 p.m., we head down to chat with the group before dinner. After dinner, the guides review the route for the next day and hand out cue sheets.
My first three roomies have a blog, so each posted to their blog about the days activities before going to sleep. Lights out about 9:30 p.m. most nights.
We started through the Gold Coast and the Treasure Coast of Florida. Much of this area is marked by its extravagant mansions and grounds. You know you are not in Kansas when the homes have separate “service entrances” and are “offered”, rather than “For Sale.” The gates are worth more than most houses elsewhere!
Lots of ocean and intercoastal canal views. Lots of bridge crossings, with the dreaded “metal grates.”
Our trip through the Space Coast was most notable for miles of narrow, winding, tree lined streets along the Indian River. Beautiful houses, but more “approachable.” You think, I could live there! I wanted to walk up and stay a while, with their shaded swings and porches overlooking the river.
The first three days were sunnier than predicted, but with a headwind most of the time coming from the north.
Today, we had more time on US 1, a four lane road. (For those of you who have done the Augusta half ironman, very similar to the four-lane there.) Luckily, the traffic was not too heavy, the shoulder sufficient and we were blessed with a tailwind, which made riding at 17-18 mph feel like a pretty easy pace.
Thank you wind! That is, until the last seven miles, where we started with a strong cross wind and then turned directly into the headwind for the last three miles. You can’t have everything!
Tomorrow – on to St. Augustine and our first day off on Monday! Woohoo!