WE BIKE Across America 2014
Q & A
Tracy and I were finally able to get out and ride a couple of days ago for the first time this season on our tandem (bicycle built for two). As we rode we were talking about the questions people have been asking us about our upcoming bicycle trip across the country like, “What’s a tandem? Who sits in front? How many miles a day will you be riding? Will you be camping or staying in hotels?” Since many of these questions have been similar, we thought we would try and answer some of them in this blog – it was either that or wear cardboard signs around our necks with the answers.
Honestly, I was nervous before the ride. Even though I am a nationally certified League Cycling Instructor, teach pedestrian & bicycle safety for a living and have ridden over 8,000 miles on this particular bicycle (Violet) with my wife, every time I get on a bike for the first time in the spring, I worry that I have forgotten how to ride.
Fear not. We had a wonderful 30 mile ride south from our home in Green Bay, WI to Wrightstown. From there we headed back home on the Fox River State Recreation Trail.
It was cool, 50 degrees, but it felt good to be on the bike and to know that, yes, in fact, I still know how to ride – particularly comforting when one is leaving on a cross-country ride in just over a month!
Q & A
How far will you be biking on your trip?
Approximately 4,300 miles.
Are you riding a motorcycle or a bicycle all that way?
We will be riding a bicycle. In fact, we will be riding a tandem (a bicycle built for two).
Is a tandem hard to ride?
It’s easier than raising two children!
Who rides in front on the tandem?
Usually, the larger and more experienced rider goes in front (the captain) and the smaller and less experienced rider goes in the back (the stoker). Having said that, Peter is approximately 20 pounds heavier than Tracy but Tracy’s legs are longer. Peter is a more experienced rider but, after all these years, the difference is negligible. Tracy prefers to ride in the back and Peter prefers to ride in the front, so that’s the way we do it and it works just fine, usually. (For the record, Peter has ridden on the back and has no control issues, at least not on the tandem!)
How long do you expect the trip to take?
Approximately 12 weeks
How did you pick your route?
Peter’s mother lives in Bellingham, Washington so we will be starting there and Tracy has never been to the northeast so we will be ending in Bar Harbor, Maine. The Adventure Cycling Association has a Northern Tier route mapped which we will be following. We will be making off-route stops in La Crosse, WI (to visit our oldest daughter, Melissa, who is attending Graduate School at UW-L, and our two cats who she is cat-sitting for us while we are traveling) and Green Bay (to check on our house-sitter, do laundry and pay bills).
How many miles will you be bicycling each day?
We will be averaging 75 miles per day and riding about six days per week.
Will you be camping or staying in hotels?
Both – We will be traveling with full camping gear but we will likely be alternating between camping and hotels, available accommodations notwithstanding .
Will you be pulling a trailer?
No. We have always used panniers (bike mounted bags) and are quite comfortable with them. We have two, low profile, and expandable, bags in the rear and two smaller, low profile, bags in the front. They are quite stable and everything has its place. Tracy also has a small seat pack that goes behind the front seat where she keeps snacks, money, cell phone, and Kleenex (when she remembers).
How many tires and inner tubes are you going to bring?
We will be carrying three inner tubes and one spare tire. We plan to replace our tires approximately every 1,500 miles (rotating the tires at approximately 750 miles) – fully loaded tandems eat tires!
How did you train for the ride?
We started training in November with a trainer (Nathan VanderVest) at Bellin Fitness in Green Bay. Nate designed a program for us that included strength and endurance training. The workouts progressed to the point where we are now doing training sessions that last up to six hours (the approximate hours we will be in the saddle each day).
Will you be traveling alone or in a group?
We will be traveling solo except for the first week when Peter’s mother (Ruth Flucke) and Rod MacKenzie will be providing sag support with a RV.
How many calories a day will you be eating?