Charley’s ride across America 38. Reflections and summary and thanks

Dear friends and family,

Here’s some reflections on my trip across America:

Pedaling 5-8 hours average per day is hard. It gets easier, but never easy. I’m surprised that day after day, for 75 days, that this old body could keep turning those pedals round. I did get in a lot better shape as I went, but didn’t realize how much I was wearing my body down till after I stopped to recover.

To get up every morning: coffee, eat, dress for conditions, and pack, every day for 75 days takes some fortitude. As the weather got hotter, our starts were earlier, as early as 0345. 

That being said, I enjoyed almost the entire trip. Fixing a flat in the heat of the day after seven hours riding might be an occasion when I enjoyed it less, but even then I could realize my practice of Stoicism in action, so could practice accepting this and carrying on. 


  1. Touring on traffic laden roads is dangerous. In Louisiana I would be riding 5he white (fog) line on a state route with no shoulder. If there was no vehicle approaching from in front, I could assume that the overtaking vehicle would swerve around me. If I saw a vehicle approaching the same time I could hear and see one behind, then I would ride off the road, often into a drainage ditch, to then stop, dismount, and push the heavily laden bike back to the highway. This riding was mentally ( have to pay attention or you would be squished like a bug) and physically ( to steer off without crashing and then pushing back on) demanding, so tiring. 
  2. Dogs: as I’ve explained, the pit bulls would come at me from the side or behind. The trick was to make sure I didn’t steer into traffic as I turned to face them with my horn as I would sprint on past. This ramped my heart rate to maximum level and then the adrenaline would leave and I’d be tired. I probably faced over 100 dogs on this ride, most in Louisiana.
  3. Headwinds: anything over 10 mph is challenging. It’s lowest gear, keep cranking thos pedals, and get almost nowhere. I don’t think we had more headwinds riding west than riders going east ( we corresponded with several every day), and we had the added beauty and safety of the sun coming up behind us and behind the drivers.
  4. Elderly body holding up: I paid a lot of attention to hydration, fuel ( Mexican: red or green sauce?), and sleep. Even added some stretching and yoga. Other than hands not functioning due to cold, everything seemed to work well. I’m very lucky with this and also learned that we humans are tougher than we think. Riding early to minimize heat made it possible. Probably couldn’t ride in the heat of the mid day in the desert (100degrees F)
  5. Mechanical breakdowns: my bike worked very well. I had only five flats, one broken chain, wore out one tire, and wore out two sets of disk brake pads. That’s it and that’s amazing. Nothing like going with a well tested bike model ( Surly disk trucker, probably the most popular long distance bike ever)

Mark Twain wrote: “Travel is fatal to prejudice , bigotry, and narrow mindedness and many of our people need it sorely on those accounts. Broad, wholesome and charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime”

This really was true for me. I wanted to meet the people who lived in the Deep South and see for myself what was going on in this country. As I’ve written earlier, almost all I found was deep hearts and kindness. If only we could continue to share this as a country…

Things I’ve learned:

  1. People are kind and like to give!!!
  2. Roads are not designed with bikes in mind, even if code. There’s always something making it dangerous, even in bike lanes.
  3. The amount of litter and garbage along our roads is appalling
  4. People sure are proud of their place. Especially Texans.
  5. Cars and trucks drive way too fast, seemingly on the edge of control.
  6. Trailers pulled by amateurs ( snowbirds) are maybe the most dangerous.
  7. Politics and religion could be discussed if not fanned by the media.
  8. Google maps for bicyclists is a good idea, but sure needs work
  9. Cheap motels can be great. Great value, fun, and comfortable.
  10. Border protection with Mexico is a huge problem to be solved. Annual budget is now 25 billion.
  11. Calories count, but better food gives better recovery.
  12. We have a beautiful and geographically and politically diverse country. What a privelege to see that in person.


I learned that a journey like this gets to be shared and I learned to accept help. Letting someone be an angel and help let’s them be part of something and they can get rewards from it. Trying to play the tough adventurer and going it alone denies others the chance to be part of it. Once I accepted this truth, more angels showed up and MY trip improved. Note to self.


I was fortunate to meet Gregg, who was going the same direction at the same pace. We rode the last third of the ride together and enjoyed each other’s company and enjoyed the safety in numbers and the economics of splitting rooms.

Gregg had bicycled across the US and around the world prior to this trip. His experience in riding safely and finding and fixing punctures was good learning for me.

Gregg’s a good writer and we both enjoyed bouncing story ideas off each other.

We found we both could pack quickly, leave early and use humor to get through some rough spots. Mostly though, I enjoyed the new friendship with a (slightly?) crazy bike rider from northern Michigan.


I thoroughly enjoyed sharing this journey and recollections of earlier antics of mine with this group of friends and family. It gave me lots to think about in coming up with each segment as I pedaled for hours. 

Your feedback sure supported me to continue to go day after day. It was a lot of work to get stories out when I was worn down, but the rewards made it worth it.

I really enjoy the writing. I wrote some sailing articles many years ago, but haven’t done much since. This new practice is a wonderful find for me.

I would love any feedback about what parts you enjoyed and/or how to continue on. I do intend to keep adventuring and writing about it. I don’t know how to use this writing other than this kind of sharing. I’ve not exhausted my library of youthful antics yet, so stay tuned. I’m heading for Alaska soon to go sailing for the summer.

It’s great to reconnect with Liz in our hometown of Port Townsend after being separated for three months.

Overall, I feel extremely fortunate to be able to participate in something like this journey and realize your tremendous friendship and support. Thank you!

Looking forward to your feedback.

Sending love,


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