I didn’t even get to ride yesterday. Some days I don’t get to ride as much as other days, but I fool myself into being okay with the shorter distance by doing harsher sprints and workouts. Mental power is such a strange phenomenon, which brings me to the next A.C.T. 2010 keypoint: Preparations – Training, Mental and Research.
Self-supported bicycle touring is not like a lot of other tasks, hobbies or jobs. In general, they take a great deal of will power and mental strength just to overcome common day normalities. The endless hours alone, carrying your whole ‘life’, self propelling your ‘life’, the unknown (where you will sleep, where you will get your next food/water, etc) and logistics are just a few things that can make a head-case out of any of us. An expedition-esque trip like the ACT2010 is the next level of that. I will be forced to go slower, and walk many hills that I wouldn’t if I was on a conventional bike. I will have to extremely micro-manage my journey and good. As I’ve said before, rare is it that someone does a round trip of the Dalton Highway. That alone calls for the high attention to fine detail in planning calories and weight/space management. Preparations are what help build the mental strength necessary to tackle such a task though. Training under harsh conditions and pushing yourself to your extremes are the best way to find what you can do under pressure (or what you need to work on). Endless research fills my days – something I feel more than invaluable – and is the easiest way to feel mentally fit. Knowing what you’re up against, and being able to plan around the troubles of that makes you feel positive of your goal.
When first gazing to this dream, it was so far past understandable or even graspable in my mind. Even though I have a fairly good history or survival and the outdoors, I was not comfortable with myself. The age of billion book libraries and countless internet sites help shine a light on things that otherwise would have been a large question-mark in the past. The Milepost is bar none the most incredible piece of research material for anything this monumental. I still find the Fairbanks to Deadhorse round-trip overly daunting, but that mostly comes down to figuring out food (and food I want to eat). I’ve come to some new, great conclusions and ideas for food on the route, but it will take some more research and brainstorming to put to life. I should have a much better idea in the coming weeks (and definitely coming months), but it’s so very complicated. The unknown is undoubtedly a living, driving factor of my life. Conquering something completely foreign to my life is a fantastic feeling.
Maybe part of me is just distressed by the weather. It’s mid-November and it’s still well over 30C/90F every day; matching records (and breaking them in some cases). My family grew up in cold places, while I quite the opposite. I see the very vast opinion due to this. My dad even mixes up winter and summer in his speech (winter being the ‘bad’ weather and summer being the ‘good). The heat is depressing to me. Many people who live in gloomy and/or cold regions feel the same about their weather. The climate in Phoenix can be nice, but this is pure ridiculousness. Forecast calls for snow at the Grand Canyon tonight. That’s 350km away, yet it’s nearly half the boiling point of water down here.
Things have been hectically busy for the last few days. Final touches to a work project that is seemingly taking forever has been leeching the most of my time. The extra hours I find in my days have been spent reading The Milepost, getting an online photo gallery up and running (purchasable prints!), plotting out my adventure & future and crafting more granola than I know what to do with. At this point I’ve made between 8 and 10 batches (which is around 2 liters per batch). I’m quite content in stating I finally feel positive in my perfection of creating this however. Each recipe is different, and the experiment of ingredients is always a fun test. Even a failed attempt isn’t a full fail, as I reuse it as a binding / filler / protein agent in future recipes as well; food processors are amazing things.
A common question when confronted about traveling long distances with Pene is about carrying gear. Most of my rides around here are between 30 and 50 miles, which leave very little use to carry much more than small supplies and water (or nothing – leaving me parched!). Another frequent question (or accusation) is about being the first person to want to do this kind of long distance trip via a penny, which is far from the truth. In fact, a few different people have done it, dating all the way back to 1884. Thomas Stevens, the first person to bicycle across the United States, as well as around the world accomplished this in the late 1800s. Most recently, Joff Summerfield cycled around the globe, visiting 23+ countries, completing over 22,000 miles and visiting such majesties as the Taj Mahal, Everest Base Camp and The Great Wall. Both are great inspirations and show nothing but proof of great feats, amazing travel and endless possibilities. While Stevens left San Francisco with little more than socks, a spare shirt, a raincoat that doubled as tent and bedroll, and a 38 Smith & Wesson, Mr. Summerfield knew he would need a little more than that when visiting places like Everest, Tibet, etc. Below are the three styles of carrying baggage possible with a penny.
You are given very few choices when traveling by bicycle to carry your gear. Traditionally, racks can be attached to the rear and front which allow attachment of bags. With a penny farthing, you have to try a bit harder. Some people prefer trailers, which are also a possibility with a penny. The thing about a penny rather than a conventional bike is the reduced space for niceties. Your load must be very compact and efficient. With a conventional bicycle, you have a lot more room for gear and bags. Remote places like the Yukon Territory and Alaska beg for perfection in rationing, gearing and preparation. Miscalculating the amount of food I need to pack along with me means going hungry for a meal (or more). With limited space, this is even more crucial. I’m actually stumped at the moment of trailer versus spine-mounted versus rack-engineering. Short time will tell, as I wish to do some shorter test tours, including one to see my friends from the northern route of the 42 Ride, Jo and Bryan, who continued their US cross-country trip and are now in Mexico. They are a huge inspiration to me as well.
(All pictures are of Joff Summerfield’s penny, with different bag styles he used throughout his travels)