23. Our Routine

As in most everything I do,  I begin with the end in sight in planning our daily rides. 

Shelly and I want to finish our rides no later than 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.  By then, we are ready to get off the bikes for the day.  Finishing mid-afternoon gives us time to clean up, perhaps explore at least a little of wherever we are by foot, eat dinner, relax, and get to bed early. Finishing in that time frame usually also allows us immediately to check in to a motel.  Unless we are camping, finishing too much sooner than that is sometimes problematic because we have nowhere to go to pass the time, other than restaurants, city parks, and other places that are open to the public. 

What time we start pedaling depends mainly on the ride before us and the weather. (I cannot remember ever having paid more attention to weather forecasts or, as we ride, paying more attention to the ever-changing sky, and wind speed and wind direction.)  We generally average about 10-12 miles per hour while riding.  We  take a five to ten-minute break every 10 miles (and more frequent breaks than that when the riding is difficult), and we take about a 30-minute break for lunch.  So, to meet our goal of finishing by mid-afternoon, our general rule of thumb is that if we have about 40 miles or less to ride, we will begin riding no later than 9:00 a.m.; 50 miles, no later than 8:00; and 60 miles or more, no later than 7:00.  Of course, this can change. For example, to beat the heat and avoid the worst of the  winds in Kansas, we sometimes began our rides as early as 5:00 a.m., in the dark with our headlights on, no matter how many miles we intended to ride. 

Breakfast is usually modest: coffee, orange juice and a breakfast sandwich purchased from a convenience store the night before; oatmeal and coffee when we camp; or the standard motel-breakfast.  Rarely have we eaten breakfast in a restaurant. 

We consume fluids constantly during the day.  We drink a lot of water, orange juice, iced tea, sports drinks and, sometimes at the end of the day, chocolate milk. 

We take salt tablets periodically while we ride, and we munch on protein bars all day.  The salt tabs help prevent painful leg cramps we both suffer from at the end of our rides from time to time due to dehydration and the depletion of electrolytes.  I’ve read that bike tourists traveling at the modest speeds we ride burn about 6000 calories per day, so it is important that we consume the fuel we need, and stay hydrated. 

We may be amongst the slowest riders on the TransAmerica Route.  In addition to our scheduled breaks, we often break unexpectedly, to take pictures or to take in the scenery or because our butts are sore. 

If we happen to be in a town with a restaurant around lunchtime, we’ll eat there.  (We never lock our bikes when we go into a restaurant.  What’s the worst that can happen – someone steals our bikes and we have to go home?)  Most times, however, lunch is on the side of the road somewhere, eating whatever we’ve packed in our bags.  Today, for example, we ate lunch literally in the wide shoulder of a Wyoming state highway,  at the top of a hill in a relatively desolate area, sitting on our sit pads, eating packaged salmon on a tortilla, and cherries, and sipping water from our plastic bottles.  Yummy.  It doesn’t get much better than that, does it?

Dinner is usually our best meal.  If there is a restaurant in town, we usually eat out. Sometimes we try to cobble together a healthy dinner from what we can find in a grocery store.  (Good fruits and vegetables have been very hard to come by in the small towns where we’ve overnighted across the country.)

We’re usually in bed early, to rest up for the following day’s ride, which usually comes early the next morning.  Last night, for example, we were in our sleeping bags in a church hostel by 8:30.

Eat, sleep, ride. That’s the routine. 

And ride we have, 291 miles since Shelly’s post of July 6.  Our rides have taken us from Granby, CO to Walden (56 miles);  into Wyoming to Saratoga (67); to Rawlins (41); to Jeffrey City (68) and finally to Lander (59).  We’re closing in on Yellowstone National Park. 

Those rides have really been wonderful.  We have had good weather, beautiful scenery and, once we entered Wyoming, good roads.  All of the roads we have ridden in Wyoming so far have had wide, safe shoulders where we could ride.  Not having to worry about motor vehicles makes the ride so much more enjoyable.  To top it all off, our bikes are riding so smoothly after their tune-ups in Denver.

This week, we crossed the  Continental Divide for the second time on this journey at Willow Creek Pass (elevation 9,659’) in Colorado, and for the third and fourth times north of Rawlins, WY.

Yesterday we rode 14 miles on Interstate 80 in Wyoming because it was the only road to where we needed to go (and yes, it is part of the TransAmerica Route). The traffic noise was annoying, but the ride was safe and fast because of the wide shoulder on the interstate. 

Last night we stayed in a church hostel in Jeffrey City, WY, which is considered to be one of Wyoming’s ghost towns. Jeffrey City is a boom-bust uranium mining town.  When a uranium mine was operating there in the 1970’s, the town boasted as many as 7,500 people, an emergency medical clinic, a library, a sheriff and two deputies, schools (one with an Olympic size swimming pool), three gas stations and seven churches.  Within four years after the mine closed in 1982, 95% of the population moved away.  Now, there are only about fifty residents, a cafe, a motel, a pottery shop and one church, which leaves its back door open for bicyclists to overnight for free in the basement, which includes hot showers, a kitchen, a dining area and places to sleep on the floor.  Oh, and there are a lot of decaying buildings and roads in Jeffrey City.

Why overnight in a ghost town?  Because it was as far as we wanted to (or perhaps could) ride for the day. The next town down the road was another 59 miles, which would have required us to ride 127 miles for the day. We have our limits. 

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Margie & Larry

    We don’t really know anything about blogging or long distance biking, so we have a question…how do you manage to produce “bookworthy” pages of print and pictures on this journey??

  2. Jane

    Looking good you two! Ride on…….Love the narrative and detail Jens. Glad you like to do it and have the skill. God gave my portion to you!

  3. Bob P.

    Sounds like you’ve settled into a good routine. Thought of you tonight while watching the national news and seeing the wild fires in Oregon. That’s down the road, and I bet you’re focused on tomorrow, but I’m already hoping your path is clear.

  4. Janne Helen

    Thank you so much for your interesting stories!
    I wish you all the best for the rest of you journey!
    Stay safe and avoid the bushfires.
    Best wishes from Janne in Norway

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