Another possible title: The Tour de Yurt

Last summer, a new friend mentioned he was gearing up to visit friends in San Diego this summer but didn’t have money for a round trip plane ticket. Naturally, he decided to bike back. I was impressed. Along with another new friend who took off to cycle from Olympia, WA, to Mexico, I was feeling a little left out in the Awesome Cycling Adventures department. Sure, I’d said plenty of times that my dream is to bike old Route 66, but the furthest I’d gone yet on a bike in one go was about 40 miles. So I asked San Diego Guy if I could come along. He said yes.

But then life happened. First he got a real job and wasn’t going to be able to take two weeks to meander back from California, and then I got a real job and couldn’t either. I felt sad. It had only been a handful of months since the proposition, but I’d already had my heart set on it. But then it occurred to me — an Awesome bicycle trip doesn’t have to be all or nothing. I texted SDG if he wanted to bike from Eugene, OR (where I live) back home to Olympia, as a substitute for the moot San Diego trip. A few weeks later I asked my cycling buddy here in Eugene if we wanted to come too.

We leave in two days.

While I have done two long distance rides before (the Blackberry bRamble last summer in Eugene and the Oregon Gran Fondo this spring in Cottage Grove), as well as some serious elevation rides (old 242/McKenzie Pass this spring and the Fondo again), I’ve never done a multi-day bike trip before. It’s also basically going to be a triple century, or at least a double; the first two days are going to be a smidge over 100 miles each, and then the third day will be in the 60 range, so a metric centuryish (100 km). I feel a little crazy. I love my bike and I love being on my bike and I love riding my bike, but sometimes my heart has too much love for my bike for my body to handle (Fondo, I am looking at you). In addition there is pressure coming into this ride that I’ve never had with a ride before — I was confident going into the bRamble, and even though the Fondo was basically a slow death I knew there were support wagons that could help me out if I couldn’t make it. This ride will be different. It will be 250+ miles of unsupported riding, and at least half of which none of the three of us have ever biked before.

Overall I think I’m decently prepared. While I’m under the impression that there is an unspoken contest of who can bring the least stuff, I have an extensive packing list of what I would consider essential items: stuff like a first aid kit, firestarter tabs, bug spray, sunscreen, GPS/phone, spare tubes, lube, extra chamois, and a gallon water bottle with an adorable sippy cup straw. I also have excitement and determination, and a lot of worry, the last of which I think will end up helping me out the most.

SDG seems a little happy-go-lucky enthusiastic about the whole thing (to the point where he initially wanted to do this ride on a fixie O_O), and my EB seems assured enough in how knowledgeable I appear to be, at least, that even though he’s got a decade of cycling experience on me, he’s not looking over my shoulder and trying to help the overeager girl figure out what to bring on this venture (I appreciate it). I have our lodgings figured out (YURTS what up) so we don’t have to carry tents and other camping gear. I have my train ticket back to Eugene bought (because I don’t have enough time off work to bike all the way back, and I want to spend time with my best friend who also lives in Oly). EB and I went over the route last Sunday. I have the time off from work (nearly…I actually need to get some additional time off on Tuesday so we can leave early and get to the campsite before the park ranger goes to bed). SDG gets here Tuesday morning.

I still have to turn my two immortal Jansport backpacks (seriously…I think one of these was my sister’s in middle school, and one was mine in high school, and even with all that use they still show very little wear) into a set of panniers, replace my old chain, pack, pack, and pack.

And stop worrying. Typically I worry straight up until the moment where there’s no turning back…so, Tuesday afternoon, when there’s no time to go back home if I forgot something, or no time to stop and think because we need to get to Champoeg by nightfall, I’ll start enjoying myself. When I’m actually on the bike. Because that’s always the best part of anytime.

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