Checking in from Milford, UT

Tags: , , , — Jeff @ 09:47

I’m in Milford, UT right now after a night in a hotel. It’s been eight days of biking so far at a fairly stiff pace, out of necessity due to the 37-day cap. Nevada (particularly) and Utah are so spread out and empty that most of my days have been 100+ through it, including one 135 mile day (and, perhaps surprisingly, an even worse day yesterday at 118 miles, due to the first real headwind of the trip). And don’t forget there’s no water between towns, and often no houses, even. But this is what’s between the west coast and the east coast, so you make it work. What must be done, can be done. (In my case, using two completely-filled 100oz. water bladders, which yesterday was just enough to get me through the longest waterless stretch on the route at 84 miles. Although I was sucking dry for the last dozen miles of it, which happily coincided with a long downhill stretch where I didn’t miss the water too much.)

I said I’d try to occasionally post here, but I’m finding that for this trip Twitter’s a much better medium both in terms of ease of use and suitability for pictures plus a few words, so look there for future updates. They’re pretty intermittent, tho — cell coverage out here is very sparse, and by all accounts T-Mobile is the worst provider in the world to have out here (rookie error on my part), so I tend to save up drafts and post them all at once when I do find coverage.

Anyway, back to riding now. Onward through Utah to the Continental Divide, and to the Great Plains beyond!


37 awesome days

I tend to take very long vacations. Coding gives me the flexibility to work from anywhere, so when I travel, I keep working by default and take days off when something special arises. Thus I usually take vacation in very short increments, but very occasionally I’ll be gone awhile. And when I’m gone awhile, I’m gone: no hacking, no work, just focused on the instant.

My last serious-length vacation was August-September last year. And since then, I’ve taken only a day and a half of vacation (although I’ve shifted a few more days or fractions thereof to evenings or weekends). It’s time for a truly long vacation.

Screenshot of a browser showing Mozilla's PTO app, indicating 224 hours of PTO starting July 18
Yeah, I’m pretty much using it all up.

For several years I’ve had a list of long trips I’ve decided I will take: the Appalachian Trail, the John Muir Trail, the Coast to Coast Walk in England, and the Pacific Crest Trail. I’ve done the first two in 2008 and 2010 and the third last year. The fourth requires more than just a vacation, so I haven’t gotten to it yet. This leaves one last big trip: biking across the United States.

Tomorrow I take a much-needed break to recharge and recuperate (in a manner of speaking) by biking from the Pacific to the Atlantic. (Ironically, the first leg out of San Francisco is a ferry to Vallejo.) I have a commitment at the back end August 25 in San Francisco, and a less-critical one (more biking, believe it or not!) August 26. The 24th must be a day to fly back, so I have 37 days to bike the ~3784 miles of the Western Express Route (San Francisco, CA to Pueblo, CO) and part of the TransAmerica Trail (Pueblo to Yorktown, VA). This is an aggressive pace, to put it mildly; but I’ve biked enough hundred-mile days before, singly and seriatim, that I believe it’s doable with effort and focus.

Unlike in past trips, I won’t be incommunicado this time. I’ll pass through towns regularly, so I’ll have consistent ability to access the Internet. And I died a little, but I bought two months of cell/data service to cover the trip. So it goes. I won’t be regularly checking email (or bugmail, or doing reviews). But I’ll try to make a quick post from time to time with a picture and a few words.

I could say a little about gear — my twenty-five pound carrying capacity in panniers on a seatpost-mounted rack, the Kindle I purchased for reading end-of-day (which I’ve enjoyed considerably for the last week…as has my credit card), the 25-ounce sleeping bag I’ll carry, the tent I’ll use. I could also say a little about the hazards — the western isolation (you Europeans have no idea what that means), the western desert (one Utah day will be 50 miles without water, then 74 miles without water), the high summer climate, the other traffic, and simple exhaustion. But none of that’s important compared to the fact that 1) this is finally happening, and 2) it starts tomorrow.

“And now I think I am quite ready to go on another journey.” Let’s do this.