Summer is the time for epic rides: Race Across America, Tour de France, Giro d’Italia. Thirty years ago, I was lucky enough to have experienced my own epic ride and am now re-living it day by day via my crushed and musty journal. Starting in the San Diego airport and concluding at home in NY State, my dad, a friend and I pedaled, self-supported, across the USA in seven and a half weeks.
I’m glad I kept that journal; there are so many rich details I had completely forgotten which came flooding back as I read the entries. Such as the family of squeaky little spotted skunks that stole our food on our second night. Discovering quick-sand. Making a cardboard sign that read “Vegas” and hitching a ride to get out of the heat of the desert. Sleeping on the side of the road next to sagebrush or rocks or in a gully; wherever we could find a flat place to lay our tired bodies. Taking a hike in the desert and discovering a spring-fed dreamy oasis of palm trees, crystal clear cold water and blissful relief from the scorching sun.
Other things I remember clearly, such as the brutal heat of the Mojave Desert in the worst heat wave in 50 years. The disappointment upon discovering that Joshua Trees are not in fact trees at all and don’t provide a lick of shade. I remember the Ranger escort as we cycled through the 1.1 mile Zion National Park tunnel and the cheering crowd who greeted us as we emerged. And I’ll never forget the eight miles of switchbacks to the top, and then 20 plus miles of downhill as we descended Wolf Creek Pass in the Rocky Mountains.
We were just three little people traversing this enormous and diverse country of ours, but in my mind, we were rock stars! Re-living this journey day by day is giving me restless legs. It’s been 30 years – time to start planning the next great adventure!