Less than 32 hours to go!
The past 24 hours since I boarded the flight from San Francisco to Portland and driving from Portland to Astoria has been nothing short of overwhelming. First I had to overcome the initial hours of aloneness - bidding my husband goodbye as I checked myself in the airport gates, wandering about by myself looking for food (a plain croissant costs $3.50 at the airport!), encountering non-smiley faces of fellow flight passengers desiring to get to their respective destinations with as little fuss and human interaction as possible, and catching an hour's worth of shuteye in the plane.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was still light at 9.10 pm when I landed at Portland International Airport. This is why I'm riding across the country this time of the year - long summer days where the sun peeks hello at 5am and bids goodbye past 9pm.
The next day, I arrived in Astoria - where the ride would begin on June 7.
Since my arrival in Astoria and meeting with other cyclists who would ride across America as part of the Trans America Bike Race, I have been trying to wrap my head around the raw idea of bike packing and camping - carrying only basic necessities consisting of nothing more than a pair (sometimes two) of cycling apparels, sleeping bags and cycling tools, these guys (and some girls) are gonna be camping along the route, roughing it out in the wild and going for days and weeks without shower. How will they clean themselves, you ask? Well, come across any gas station, find a water outlet and hose yourself down, wipe yourself with baby wipes, and off you go! Seriously? Yes. These bike packers are serious no-frills campers.
The legendary ultra endurance (some call un-human) cyclist, the one and only Mike Hall cycles up to 200 miles each day for consecutive days at each stretch, surviving only on 2 hours of sleep each night. In 2012, he smashed the world record by circumnavigating the globe on his bicycle in 92 days. He is a man in a race for time, all the time, on his bicycle. When he does, he rides with nothing more than the only cycling apparel on him - he carries no extra clothing. By the end of his multi-day ride/race, usually lasting 12-14 days where he would always come in first (because he rides through the night while everyone else catches up on sleep), he would have worn that one piece of attire during the whole time, and taken no proper shower in between those days.
Why am I telling you this? Because this is exactly what many of the cyclists on this self-supported Trans America Bike Race, of which I am a part of, are doing. They'd pack all their necessary equipment, apparels and necessities in small packs secured on the bike, cycle 150-200 miles each day, find a secluded spot to camp the night, catch 7 hours of sleep, wake up the next morning, pack up their sleeping bags, and keep on riding east till we get to the finish line 4,233 miles later in Yorktown, Virginia. And in between then, they would shower at most once a week, if not never till they finish the entire race (gulp).
For a girl who prides herself as a nomad and a minimalist, I sure am in for a rude shock, hearing these stories from my cycling friends.
And to be honest, I feel a little pressured to do the same - to abandon the luxuries of life and rough it out on the road like they do. But, I am not sure if I am mentally prepared to do so. You'll have to stay tuned for this as I update my progress on the road after June 7.
This one thing I do know though - I am looking forward to living minimally - discarding what's unnecessary, keeping only what's absolutely essential from day to day.
I have only a small saddle pack attached to my bike seat post, and I can't afford to carry anything more than 2 sets of clothes, toiletries and cycling tools.
The long and short of these past 24 hours of meeting these fascinating cyclists and learning about bike packing is this - I learnt that:
Civilization has made us such materialistic people. It creates a delusion that we can't do with little. The fact is, we can.
And before I sign off for now, with less than 32 hours to go to the start of the big ride across America on Saturday, June 7 at 5:00am, allow me to repeat myself like a broken record:
I deeply appreciate all the encouragement, well wishes, support and prayers I'm receiving from everyone, near and far, local and overseas. ;)
Remember, this bike ride and documentary need your help. To donate or share, go to www.angieacrossamerica.com/support