On the Road Again

Tomorrow, I  set out on my first long distance ride in four years. A ride from near Albany, through Vermont to Montreal, and then back down to the Albany area by way of Lake Placid and the Adirondacks.

map of bike route through Vermont, Quebec, and New York

As far as length of ride it’s not the longest; that was four years ago—816 miles around Lake Ontario. Nor will it take the longest—the rides around Lake Ontario and to Chicago were each ten days long. Indeed, in the range of bike trips I’ve taken—DC to Albany (5 days, 363.2 miles), Virginia & West Virginia (6 days, 348.4 miles), DC to Chicago (10 days, 792 miles), and around Lake Ontario (10 days, 816 miles)—this trip is squarely in the middle: 7 days, 505 miles.

So it should be old hat. Nothing new. Nothing I haven’t dealt with before. Hills, flats, Canadian border crossings, heat, rain, rural highways. And yet, I am feeling a little more anxious than usual. I’m always anxious before a trip—wondering if I’ve forgotten anything, wondering if I’ll be able to do it. But usually once I get on the bike and start moving I’ll realize that doing this is, quite literally, like riding a bicycle.

Part of my anxiety this time around is due to the fact that Day 5 is going to have some pretty steep climbs—2,000 feet in elevation over 40 miles. Part of it is due to the fact that I’m using the trip to raise money for the Kay Spiritual Life Center at AU and don’t want to let anyone down. And part of it is that it’s been four years since my last such ride. I’m four years older, four years further down the road from the young kid who should be doing things like this. And while I am arguably in the best shape of my life at this point, setting out on something like this still gives me pause. As a colleague keeps saying, “I get tired just thinking about riding that far.” She’s right—this is nuts! What am I doing?

In the end, what I’m doing is something that I enjoy. For all the trepidation, for all the challenges, for all the daunting Adirondack climbs that await me, there’s a reason I like going on these trips. The chance to see the countryside up close, to be in the fresh air, to get the opportunity just to reflect and think, and to get that sense of accomplishment for having done it are all worth the sore, tired legs that will inevitably result.

Today’s business: doing nothing but resting up and carbing up for tomorrow. Tomorrow, it’s as Willie Nelson put it:

On the road again
Goin’ places that I’ve never been
Seein’ things that I may never see again
And I can’t wait to get on the road again