The bike trip started twice, as the next two posts will tell you. The idea for the trip was conceived in highschool – an errant comment made to a couple of friends, one of whom took it to heart. We never did a lot of planning, the weeks and months leading up to the trip felt like we were flying by the seat of our pants.
I would go to REI or Performance Bicycle and by gear I wasn’t even sure I would need, but other people told me I would need. So I bought stuff. I NEVER trained. Someone once said, “Either train for the ride, or the ride will train you.” I took the second part of that and ran with it. Well actually, I sat with it…on the couch with a bag of potato chips and a pint of ice cream. When actually started biking I was out of shape and let’s face it a little fat.
A couple of months ago Ivan and I were hanging out with friends when Ivan commented about how he had lost a lot of weight on the trip. We both did. Ivan’s transformation was a little more dramatic. The petty side of me is jealous. But I’ll get over it. Anyway, Ivan was talking about his favorite sweater that he used to wear all the time, but after the bike trip it was just too big. Being a little ironic and a lot funny, Ivan said, “I can’t believe no one told us before the trip that we were fat!” Yes he included me in that statement. Thanks old buddy. But we did both came back from the trip changed, phisically and emotionally.
Here is the second post of the trip, dated 6/20/2011, written by Ivan, and titled “$46, Cash”:
We have had a heck of a time getting across the country, not gonna lie.
We bought our train tickets a few months ahead of time, just to be safe. That was the big thing to get us to commit. If we had train tickets, expensive train tickets, then chickening out would be more embarrassing. So that was that. Logistically our journey was now out of our hands and in the clutches of a higher authority. A vengeful authority.
Maybe it was a compassionate move to get us to spend more time with our families, to be better prepared. Whatever it was, it was overkill.
The day before we were scheduled to leave, we each received a phone call informing us that our train had been cancelled. Bless her, Nikki was already on the phone with Amtrak getting us the next possible ride out there. That particular route had been closed for the previous 2+ weeks. The route through Colorado was covered in landslides. The route through Montana was flooded. And Arizona was on fire. A higher power, indeed.
Yup. So we had to wait a few days. Good. Neither of us was really ready.
Because of the natural disasters, all of the freight was routed our direction. Which meant we stopped pretty often. Which meant we were seven hours late into Chicago. Which, who cares? We have no schedule. Everyone else did, so we got to listen to that for a few days.
Amtrak came through. At the station they had a charter bus waiting to take us to the Hilton and they gave us 46 bucks to have dinner with. Very nice of them. We didn’t use it at all. Save it for later.
The hotel was too good to be true. We saw a group of old Vietnamese ladies in ball gowns, and a roided out bodybuilder walking in the lobby at one in the morning. Our room was even better. Seventh floor, spectacular view of the parking garages from the airport, and more pillows than we knew what to do with. After a movie we promptly passed out. Greatness.
We got to spend most of the next day waiting in line to have our tickets changed and going out to lunch with AJ, who happens to be going to school there. He showed us around. I like Chicago, but it’s way too big for me. The pizza was awesome. I’m a believer.
The next ride was uneventful, or I can’t remember it at all. We wound up spending a whole afternoon in DC, which I never cared about until I knew that I would be going there. Then I was frothing with anticipation. Storing our bags while we explored was stupid pricey, so I got to carry around my saddlebags for a few hours. They came with terrible shoulder straps, but it worked. Nikki got to see a friend that she hadn’t seen in years, which was great. She knows people everywhere so far.
What else is there to say about the capitol, really? It was muggy outside, and most of it is outside, so we got to enjoy that. One more train ride, a hop, really. And we were in Richmond, VA, the freak deaky substitute starting point of our trip. We were finally reunited with our luggage and after putting our bikes back together, we wandered around in the middle of the night until we found our hotel. We’re done with our Amtrak journey. The real trip is just beginning.
Beginning yesterday morning, rather. You get the idea.