Friday, May 25, 2007

The Preparation

In January I made the commitment to make the trip. After reading a lot of travelogues of long distance bike riders I decided that, while we could do it with our mountain bikes, we should get touring bikes -- basically longer and more comfortable road bikes with a lot of attachment points for racks and water bottles, better brakes and wider tires.

I became an eBay and Craigslist regular looking for 60 cm touring bikes. I quickly picked up a used steel Bianchi Volpe and then, in March, I bought a beautiful aluminum Klein Navigator frame. From March to May I bought the components and built up the Klein, acquired racks and bags for both bikes and looked at maps. The Klein ended up being a solid bike and rode very nicely. The way it ended up Ted fit the Klein and I fit the Bianchi.

As for our route we decided on the direct route through the end of Oklahoma, the width of Kansas, the corner of Nebraska, the diagonal of Iowa and the bottom of Wisconsin. I flew from Albuquerque to Chicago in February and had a chance to look over the route. Basically it's pretty empty until you get into Kansas. Once there you can go either North or East and there are a lot of farms. There are no mountain ranges to cross. I've driven the route and many times and know this to be true but it was interesting to see the trip distilled into 2 hours out of my window. I estimate the distance to be anywhere from 1300 to 1500 miles and have allotted 3 weeks to do the trip. I have probably driven across this region of the country 30 times and I have always been struck by the constant southwesterly wind in the summer so I hope for strong tailwinds. Still, I am aware that I am often deluded when it comes to such things as wind direction and distances.

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