We were told that all the training we did leading up to the summer would get us ready for the first week and that the first week would get us ready for the next few weeks.
I think the training goes day by day.
Every day comes with its challenges. Something goes against the plan. I hesitate to use the word “wrong.” Nothing goes wrong, because in an adventure like this one, there is no right way for things to happen. So even when events take place that we didn’t intend to happen, I know that we will laugh about them later and that it’s the hard times that make this adventure so worth it.
So what if a van got stuck in the dirt for 30 minutes and a random stranger had to give us some tips on how to get it out? Maybe it was a good thing that the piece to connect the grill to the gas went missing; the team had a reason to go into the city to get food! I’m not too bummed that my group today got lost for 10 miles trying to find the way into Springfield, because I got to converse with my teammates more. Even though I got last place in the race to the Missouri border, I set the pace in front of the group for a good mile and a half, and it was so exhilarating to push 30 mph while looking over my shoulder to see how far in the lead I was.
It’s crazy what our bodies have gotten used to. Five hours of sleep to bike 70 miles? No big deal. Get off the bike after a long day and still have enough energy to talk to the hosts, give presentations, and even go for a little swim in a nearby river? That’s just par for the course. I love riding in some the first groups to leave, because if you can keep a decent pace, you can explore a lot more. I still remember the day getting into Hot Springs and being able to take about 30 minutes to pull off the road and go jump in a creek that was just too inviting not to jump in. We still managed to get there in good time even with the break. Being fast has benefits!
Exciting update on gear: I was getting tired of getting flats all the time. Arkansas in particular had nasty roads with lots of discarded tires on them. The tires would have wires sticking out that would pierce right through our bike tires and slowed us down a lot. The joke I made was that Arkansas needed to work out because it had lousy shoulders (I know, pretty lame joke). I was inspired to buy tire liners to go along with my Gatorshell tires, so I’m feeling pretty invincible. I just put the tire liners on tonight, so we’ll see how it goes tomorrow.
So far, Missouri seems to be more bike friendly; there are a lot more bike lanes—even some protected bike lanes with a sidewalk on either side so you don’t have to worry about cars. It’s pretty nice. I can’t wait to get to places like Chicago where biking is a very big thing. The most exciting thing is that people are asking us what we’re doing everywhere we go, and we get to tell them. It’s awesome to see the way we touch these people’s lives. The exploration is great and the adventure is amazing, but it really comes down to inspiring people to take action for their own health and getting involved to help stop this disease, and that’s exactly what we’re doing with people who have never before heard of Texas 4000. I think that’s been the most rewarding thing of all.