30 days to go!

So it’s been bit since I last checked in, but the 30-day mark till I head east to begin this thing feels like a benchmark worth a blog post. I haven’t really felt the need to say anything since hammering out my rough plan for the tour, but I’ve still been getting ready to go. Most of that has involved spending money on gear and riding my bike as much as I can.

The thing about touring gear (and outdoorsy gear in general I suppose) is that it can be pricy but it will generally last if you buy right. I’ve been trying to do my acquiring with Mike Watt’s idea of doing it econo – buy it right, buy it once. Don’t get cheapo crap to save some shekels only to have it fall apart in a fortnight, but don’t spend any more than necessary either. Still, the outlay of cash stings a bit. I’ve started thinking about how anything I spend is money I’m not spending on the road, which while anxiety inducing, is still a healthy mind frame to have. I just want to be ready for what the road throws at me without all the bells and whistles. Just last night I installed new racks on my bike, and I’ve gotten a stove, cookset, and front panniers I have to play around with over the next month. I’m building a new set of wheels for the ride, and I need to put them together but being a bike mechanic without a shop with tools to work in, combined with a work schedule that complicates heading to Mobo for open shop hours, has put that off a bit. Like everything else though, I’m running out of time to get this done. I can’t wait to ride my dynamo front wheel and see how that works. I’m sure I’ll write plenty on that later.

I’ve slowly but surely been getting rid of life clutter. There’s a little hoarder in all of us I feel, and making a life decision that involves shedding all but the absolute essentials can be pretty instructive on that front. I’m ever the procrastinator, but I feel that most of what has stopped me from being more proactive about purging is that I find selling stuff on Craigslist or eBay is a true pain in the ass rather than me being overly sentimental for material possessions. But who am I kidding. That’s there too. Once you start shedding the excess it feels pretty fantastic though. I’ve gotten a taste of it already and it’s generally felt good. I didn’t like selling my books, but donating random junk and selling stuff worth my time to sell feels cleansing and refreshing. Today I sold a bunch of disc golf stuff to Hazy Shade in Dayton, OH, and told them the plan. They threw in a t-shirt for me to wear out on the road, which was awesome of them.

That brings me to an idea I had for the tour – I’ve loved disc golf for as long as I can remember, and I’ve gone through waves of obsession with it over the last 20 years or so. I haven’t played in a while, mostly because of my collarbone surgery. But I’ve been missing it, and part of that has involved recalling how one of the times I drove cross-country I prioritized stopping at great courses along the road. That was an absolute blast. Then I realized that disc golf courses would make excellent places to free camp while out there, so I’m going to bring a couple discs with me and make a list of good courses along my route that would be worth stopping at for a night. I’m sure I won’t be able to play a whole lot. Most of my days will be spent riding of course, but even if I hang the hammock in some trees on the course and wake up the next morning and throw a couple holes to shake out the legs and wake up a bit, that seems worth it to me. So over the next month I’ll be scouting out some courses in my down time before bed or something, and I know just the place to find what I’m looking for on that front.

The biggest priority of all right now and in the past month or so has been training. Now, I don’t like the idea of “training”. I don’t like the idea of following a script of activities I’m supposed to do robotically with 10% incremental increases and all that nonsense. If it works for you, fantastic. But not me. I just want to ride my damn bike, and if it feels like too much, I’ll back off. If not enough, I’ll amp up. I know how much time I’ll be riding come May, so my goal is to be comfortable on a loaded bike for at least 4-5 days in a row, minimum. As the winter cold has broken I’ve been riding more and more. I definitely lost a bit in the legs through the winter, but that’s my own fault for being stubbornly prejudiced against indoor trainers. I have been swimming laps at the gym pretty regularly, but not as much as I should have. I got a bit nervous over my bad shape on my first few rides, but I’m getting the groove back. I’ve got some 40-60 mile days in the saddle, and I’ve completed one bike overnight so far in 2016 up to Yellow Springs and John Bryan State Park, the first place I ever toured to last fall. I’ll probably do it at least one more time before I head for New York, but I’m not sure my work schedule combined with selling stuff will allow for more than that. I will be doing one small “trial run” tour before I go for sure though. Pearl Jam is playing Lexington, KY April 26, which is 100 miles from Cincinnati. I’ve got four days off work to ride down there, see the show, and ride back. I’m going to treat it as if it were my cross-country tour, meaning I’ll have all the gear I plan to bring for that and aim for the same daily milage and all that good stuff. Can’t wait to see Seattle’s finest again. It’ll be my fourth time seeing them, and my first time touring to a show. I’ll be blogging from the road for the first time too.

And finally, where has my head been in all this? Winters are rough for me, and this last was no different. Even though I’ve been as excited as ever to begin this next chapter, I kind of lost sight of it a bit over the past couple months and it became hazy and abstract with the winter blues. I’m very, very happy that that is no longer the case. This tour is becoming less and less abstract by the day, and I’m in a very good headspace I feel. I’m nervous, to be sure, but more times than not I’m giddy and anticipatory. I don’t know what the road will bring me, but everything in me tells me that the road is exactly where I need to be right now in my life. It’s not a feeling I know how to articulate too well, but it’s potent nevertheless. I’m resolute. I know it’ll be the experience of a lifetime. I just have to remain focused on making sure everything is in order before I get on that train to New York.

-J

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