Before we departed on the tour, we put together an Excel spreadsheet of daily activities and allocated a timeframe for each one. This is thanks to our spreadsheet guru, Boris, who even had the foresight to allocate several hours for “mingling with our hosts,” which falls into the “evening routine” category below. Here is what we came up with:
In the first couple of weeks, almost everything about the timetable was skewed. We were riding for 10 hours instead of 7 and sleeping 5 hours instead of 7.5. Let me tell you, when you ride for more than 80 miles per day, those 3 hours of “Boris/Anna Work” don’t look as enticing as they do on an Excel sheet. But, once we figured out how to fit in more sleep and less cycling, with just the right amount of brain power left for work into our schedule, the daily numbers began to resemble our initial projected figures (to our great surprise).
There are still exceptions to the rule of course – like when we stay in a motel and the only mingling to be done is with the mini-fridge and cable box, or when Boris discovers that the motel he thought was 50 miles away is closed and he has to pedal 90 more to get to the nearest town.
I’m not sure why we grouped “fun” and “breakdown hour” into one category, as nothing about breaking down is fun. The fun part is either before the breakdown (unless it’s a 90-mile day) or after the breakdown, when you can finally eat.
Anyway, to give you a sense of what this all looks like in a little more detail, here is a peek into our daily routine:
The mornings resemble a typical “getting ready for work in the morning.” After dealing with that tease of a snooze button, and much hesitation to crawl out of bed, you get up, brush your teeth and pull on the spandex. Half-asleep, you somehow organize everything back into your trailer and munch on some breakfast. If we’re lucky, our hosts grace us with morning muffins or cereal. If we’re unlucky and are down to our last reserves, we eat the most uninviting of breakfast combinations, like fruit, bread and sardines. But we’ve tried to avoid that since our first traumatizing breakfast experiment.
We then ride away, full of energy and spunk, listening to audio books and enjoying the road. This takes us into lunch and the second half of the day.
By the late afternoon, our batteries and our own energy reserves begin to dwindle. There’s only so much distraction that the road and an audio book can bring, before you realize that you’re tired and want to stop for the night.
Most evenings, we navigate through our host’s neighborhood (or in Boris’ case, Midwest towns boasting populations of 7 people), searching for the right house number or motel sign.
Each arrival is like a jigsaw puzzle challenge – how do we fit our trailers and bikes into our new home? The garages are straightforward, though occasionally things get tricky. Often a staircase is involved, but eventually we figure out how to carry our trailers up a flight or two. Then it’s the decision about where to stick our bikes without being paranoid that someone might steal one of them, leaving us with only one to get us both to San Francisco. If that were to happen, my bet is that my bike would get left behind, to spite Boris with its pink seat and purple bell.
We then make a complete mess of our space and subject our poor host’s floors to an explosive discombobulation of clothes, electronics, food, gadgets, etc. It’s like a Houdini illusion – you’d never think all that stuff could actually fit into something so small.
After we get settled and cleaned up, we plug in the batteries and there they hang out all night, charging. The arrangement resembles a Matrix-type clutter of machinery parts. It’s only a matter of time before they blend into a cohesive, living structure, and walk right up to us at night speaking of doomsday.
We eat dinner and as Boris projected, do some serious mingling with our hosts. We’ve had times when we completely lost track of time with this latter activity and realized that if don’t discontinue our conversation we will end up talking right into breakfast.
After all this, we have to motivate ourselves to work for several hours, writing blogs, figuring out trip logistics, and responding to piles of emails larger than our trailer innards. This is perhaps the hardest part of the day, at least for me, because I have to dig down to the depths of my inspiration reserves to write something, not only comprehensible, but creative and interesting.
The best part of the day comes next – the prized, much-thought-of activity that all bikers fantasize about toward the end of their ride — rest!
Then it starts all over again.
So, there you have it, the daily grind. But although our days are all similar and share a typical routine, we still find that each day brings new highlights, sights and faces. Without these latter components the trip wouldn’t be what it has been.