Ride of Silence



Crooked Tan Lines: July 3, 5:20am. Start Driving

I have thought about, read about, asked about, and talked about this ride for almost as long as I can remember.

There’s the anticipation of Christmas, the excitement of one’s birthday, the worries of starting a new job, and the nervousness at the feeling of not having done enough training. One more long ride. One more fast ride. One more hill ride… Never enough.

It’s like the SAT’s. You’re either ready or you’re not. There’s no faking it. This isn’t the weekend 5K.

I’m of the thought that if one has done the work (trained) and is able to arrive at the start line, then they have already stepped out and (almost) achieved their goal.
Though the idea for this sojourn has been with me since I was kid, focused preparation has been building for since 2007. Lance Shelton was a big part of actually moving the idea off the table with a conversation centered around “when.” I remember he said he had arbitrarily picked out five years (2012) because it was enough time to gather resources.

Let me begin by saying that as a four year old kneeling beside the cracked open window in the spring and listening to a distant train’s lonely whistle after each sunrise, I dreamed of far off places.

I listened to my dad’s romanticized stories of hitch-hiking around the northeast, between New York City and Boston in post WWII. I sat in wonder and looking around my bleak “no-where’s-ville” town and thought about these great adventures he had.

I began hitch hiking while in high school one day trying to make my way back home after going the winter car races on a lake in the next town. It was “do or die” and not being late for dinner. I stuck out my thumb and it started. Since then, I’ve hitched from the North Carolina border and up the east coast to the Boston area, the length of Illinois, and from the Atlantic to Lexington, Kentucky. I’ve stood under a street light in the middle of the night not knowing what state of the U.S. I was in. Scary!

Many years later, I would travel by train across this great continent, and even later, by plane. I’ve also driven and ran in every state but Montana.

I’ve done three 140 mile Ironman triathlons, swam the 5 miles across Lake Ray Hubbard three times, crossed the state of Texas by bike three times, and climbed Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro over eight days. Now it’s time for another adventure, easily my longest yet.

On July 7, I will be among 31 other cyclists who will bike 3600 miles across the country in 32 days. I’ll start in Everett, WA, Saturday, July 7, and finish in Williamsburg, VA, Wednesday, August 7. The longest single day will 149 miles, with a typical week will be 930 miles. Generally, I’ll be averaging 112 per day. On the biggest climbing day, we will ascend 9,500 feet on Day 29 of 32. Not everyone will make it...