As I write this, I am sitting at a table at the Best Western in Pawleys Island, South Carolina. The air conditioner is buzzing and the room feels a bit stuffy- I am drinking cheap red wine out of my camping mug. Our bikes are pushed against the far wall, and Kyle is currently on the phone ordering pizza to be delivered. It is 4:45pm on our 2nd zero day of our first two weeks. Last night, we slept for over 10 hours, and woke up feeling this strange mixture of rested and exhausted. We didn’t plan to take a zero day, so it has been incredibly wonderful to just lounge and rest. And eat. We do a LOT of eating. However, we are both feeling ready to get pedaling tomorrow morning. Let me backup a bit and share our journey since my last update!
The days are beginning to blend together. We have gone from the Southernmost point in Florida to Georgia to South Carolina and now we are almost in North Carolina! At this point, we have traveled 1,084.1 miles. Each day is so similar that without the photos and log book, I wouldn’t be able to differentiate between them. Our mornings start with the alarm going off at 5am. We usually snooze it until about 5:15. Then we have the same conversation.. every. single. morning. It goes like this:
“Do you want to make coffee or do the tent?”
“Hmm.. I’ll do the tent this morning, you good with coffee and breakfast?”
*(“do the tent” means: deflating the sleeping pads and then rolling them up and putting them in their stuff sacks, putting away the sleeping bag, gathering all the little items that accumulate in the tent (headphones, headlamps, kindles, earplugs, chapstick, toothbrushes, etc.) and putting them in their corresponding dry sacks, setting everything outside of the tent, moving everything from outside of the tent to the picnic table, and then taking the tent down, and putting it in it’s bag, unplugging the bikes and setting aside extra battery)*
Somewhere during the breakdown of the tent the person who made coffee has brought it over to the person in the tent (usually Kyle makes the coffee and I do the tent). By about 6am all of our dry bags (we have a lot.. like 20) are laid out on the picnic table and our panniers are on the bikes empty. Before we left, we weighed all of our stuff so our panniers could have the same amount of weight on each side of the bike. Once we had the weights the same, I labeled all the dry bags either: K #1, K#2, D#1, D#2. I then labeled our panniers. So now, once everything is out on the picnic table, we just start putting it into the corresponding pannier. This assures our weight stays evenly distributed and it also makes packing up much faster. While packing up, we eat breakfast which lately has been protein oatmeal and a protein shake. Sometimes we get fancy and make breakfast burritos, but that’s only happened like twice.
Anyway, by about 6:45am we are fed, coffee’d, packed up, and then it’s time to start the sunscreen/technology/Guinness checklist which I made and then laminated:
-Both gopros on
-Both GPS trackers on
-Log book filled out (location, start time)
-Face sunscreen applied
-Hand and leg sunscreen applied
-Bike chains lubed
-Ride Spot (bike route tracking app) on
-Water bottles filled
-Look over campsite to make sure we didn’t forget anything
And then by about 7am we are pedaling away! This is what we do every single morning. And then at night, it’s the opposite procedure.
Once we leave, the days again, are quite similar. I ride in the front (I can’t keep up with Kyle) and he rides 5 bicycle lengths behind me. I do all the navigating and my phone GPS tells me where to go. Kyle and I check our route every morning to choose the most bicycle friendly looking roads on Google satellite and to make sure the route makes sense. GoogleMaps is pretty good with bicycle routes, but not perfect. We usually take about 4-8 breaks a day. I know this, because I have to document each break, why we took it, how many miles so far in the day, the location, and the time. During those breaks we eat snacks, go to the bathroom, check our route, and rest. These breaks take place in a variety of places: on the side of the highway/rural roads hidden in the trees, gas stations, parks, recreation areas. If we see something beautiful, we sometimes stop, but the problem is we see beautiful things most of everyday, and we can’t stop that much! So mostly we just oooh and ahh while on the bikes, sometimes get brave and use one hand to take photos or videos, and enjoy the scenery.
Honestly, it’s really hard. Our butts aren’t quite as sore anymore, they have adjusted, but I don’t think they’ll ever adjust to sitting on a bike seat for 6-10 hours a day. Our legs are so sore. And sometimes all the traffic is mentally exhausting. The days are long. The wind has been against us. We can’t use very much pedal assist on the bikes or else we won’t have enough battery to make the long days we are trying to do (they last a very long time- pretty incredible for normal use- but we are pushing them a bit hard) and so the pedaling is exhausting.
But the thing is, it’s supposed to be hard. As Kyle always says “if it was easy, everybody would do it.” And as someone recently wrote on a post I made “hard things are hard”. And while that is so simple, it was a great reminder. What we are doing is hard. In so many ways. But the thing is, it’s supposed to be. And we are prepared for it. Well as prepared as we could be. And we have done hard things before. And every day right around the 50 mile mark I start thinking “I want to be done for the day!” but then I keep pedaling and I push through and then when we get to camp, I am so proud. I am proud of myself for pushing through, for testing my limits. I am proud of me and Kyle for working together as a team. The cold beer or first lay down in the tent at the end of a long day are 100x more meaningful to me after a hard day of pedaling. The hot shower, which usually isn’t even a very nice shower, is absolutely incredible. The shelter of the tent, every night, makes me so thankful to have a home. So while things are really hard (I have quit like 5x – not seriously, but in the moment felt serious 😆), they are also really good. Like all the little things that I normally don’t even notice, are so amplified. The greenness of the trees, the white puffy clouds, the clean shoulder of a highway, my first sip of coffee in the morning, a campsite with a good view, a hot shower, fresh water, lunch, food in general! It all feels very special, and for me, that’s a big part of why I like to do things like this. They provide such a contrast to my “normal” life. Something I look forward to working on when we are done with this trip, is finding the magic in all the little things regardless of if I’m on an expedition or not.
Anyway, the last few days leading up to today were particularly hard. They were into a 20 mph headwind, extra-long mileage days due to lack of available campsites, and yesterday it rained for 4 hours at the end of our day. But despite them being hard, we had a great time. For whatever reason the rain really lightened our moods and we laughed and sang and pedaled across from each other on these large rural roads. We had reserved a night at a Best Western because we couldn’t find a campground, and it was our first hotel of the trip. We found it quite fitting that the first day of rain we had, ended us at a hotel. By the time we got checked into the hotel I was so freezing and wet that the shower was life changing. We found out it was going to rain and have North winds again today, so we made the decision to take a zero day in the hotel. Tomorrow, the wind is shifting to the South so it’ll be behind us (finally!) and it will be nice and sunny.
Overall the morale is high. The bikes are performing better than we could have hoped for, and for the majority of the time, we are having fun. We are just about to start hitting some elevation so our daily mileage will lessen a bit, but we are excited for some new views and vistas. Life is good. Thanks for following. -D