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Plan - Add Details to the Dream

My planning usually begins at the end of the riding season. When I was a kid, our folks took my brother and I on a trip that included Utah and Colorado. I loved the scenery, both the cliffs and the mountains. For many years, I've wanted to see it from a bicycle. Perhaps 2010 would be the year.

I Googled "bicycle colorado" and "bicycle utah". I searched on the "" site. I plotted locations on a map. I searched the map for interesting-sounding towns and checked contour maps for roads in valleys. I wanted to see ALL the stars at night. I wanted to see wildlife - just not too close. On a bicycle, ya can't roll up the windows. I also like to meet a lot of people, so it couldn't be all wilderness.

I started connecting the dots for possible routes. Some people like a lot of climbing; I don't. I looked at trails - rail and other. And then most important, I looked to see where the services, particularly food, would be.

I then realized that the past couple of years, I had not had the time to train nearly enough for a trip like this, and the services were not very close together.

  • Plan B

    A man in Chicago was doing his family tree, and I was on a branch. He also tracked down Alice, my father's daughter, whom I'd only remembered seeing when she came to our dad's funeral. Through him, I was able to contact her. Ironically, her husband and a son both died the same month my wife did. Many conversations and eMails followed.

    As she lived in Woodbridge, VA, I decided my trip should go east. That brought up the problems for me of climbing mountain roads, and traffic. Thankfully, I could avoid the bad and have the good by riding on a two-part, traffic-free route.

    The Great Allegheny Passage is a converted railroad line with maximum grades of 2% (when going east). The C&O Canal Towpath is a relatively flat bicycle/pedestrian route, managed by the National Park Service. By using this route, I could ride from southeast of Pittsburgh to Cumberland, and then to Washington, D.C., and be only 30 miles from Woodbridge.

  • Details, details, ...

    There were lots of small towns along the way with services and people. So now it was time to gather information. "" had about 20 stories about people who had used at least part of this route, many of which were useful. A TrailBook was available for $10 with references by mileposts. There were many camping opportunities. A lot were free, and I never paid more than $10, although those were available, too. I made notes about what to see, and days and times services were not available.

    Through, I determined that July had slightly lower average temperatures, so I elected to start after the July 4th holiday and avoid the traffic. Since I had time, I decided to average only 20-25 miles a day. I set up a budget of $20 a day, to include food, camping, and other expenses while riding.

  • Feline Factor

    My wife had died in June of 2009, leaving me with 25 cats. I had to deal with that before taking more than a weekend trip. I'd found homes for many of them, and by the end of November, I was down to six. A lady came to buy a dog house. I told her about my trip and that if I didn't find homes for the remaining cats, I would have to have them put down. I simply couldn't afford a service to take care of them for a month.

    Jean volunteered to come by each day to take care of them, and for free. I was flabbergasted, and immediately appreciative. Before I left, two other cats had died, leaving just 4 to watch.

  • Fund Raisers - For Me, and My Charity

    I learned a lot about how to repair bikes while volunteering for Share-a-Bike. The organization repairs donated bicycles and, on Saturday mornings, gives them away to people who can't afford them. In each of the past 2 years, we have given away over 600 bicycles.

    I plan to advertise my repair service on custom t-shirts, charge a nominal fee and, while doing the repair, talk about Share-a-Bike and solicit contributions. I would pack extra tools and a small work stand.

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