'Tour de Blue' Epilogue:
Tuesday 10/19
Afterthoughts from Mike...

(Coming Up: Unabashed Commentary from Karyn, "Where Are They Now", More Pics of the Parkway)

Well, my summary of the whole trip is that I’m glad we got it done the way we planned it without having any injuries (other than massive muscle aches in the quadriceps muscles), or other breakdowns. It seems like my perspective can be divided up chronologically into three sections: 1) the preparations; 2) 6 days of riding; and 3) afterwards.

1) From the moment of that first wistful observation that it would be a bit of a challenge, to the moment of actually starting up the road from the Park sign at the beginning of the BRP was an exhilarating time. Originally, we thought about doing it next year, but as the end of summer approached, it dawned on us, “why not do it this year?” That caused us to start researching the route, the dates, what equipment we would need, and also training ourselves to be able to bike the Parkway. Everything fell into place with a lot of research from the web and getting a couple books.

Through August, there were the bike rides Eric and I did. These included doing 30 mile rides, then 40 miles, 50 miles, and then 60 miles. Then we signed up for a couple organized bike rides of 65 miles and 100 miles. This was good training, but became expensive as we started buying things to upgrade the bikes! New gears, new aero bars, new seats, where would it end?! One constant that showed up was my getting a flat tire on about every ride. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a good supply of extra tubes in the right size before we left, so that was a bit of a gamble! We had a good plan in having Karyn drive the sag vehicle since she had done the same thing when I had biked the Natchez Trace two years ago. The last week was fun as we spent the last couple of days buying supplies and picking up the minivan. (Rule # 1 - Load up on RC Colas).

2) There were several moments that were really wonderful on the ride. The views, especially through Virginia, were really beautiful. Riding along the high ridge lines and seeing whole valleys stretching out below us was inspiring. I really enjoyed the sections where the trees were close to the road so that it seemed like we were riding through a passage of forests. Watching Eric climbing ahead of us on the high climbs was another form of inspiration. Will I ever be able to catch up to him? There were a lot of numerical things to watch. For instance, counting the mile markers to the next time that we would meet up with Karyn and the sag vehicle! Or counting the mile markers till we would crest a tough climb! or watching the rpms on the cycle computer and trying to keep it above 60 on the tough climbs!

We had real exhilarating moments with the descents that went from 35 to 40 miles per hour. These took all of our attention as you had to pick your path ahead and hope that your wheel would not slip out from under you! In addition to the roller coaster downhills, there were the times we came down at fast speeds at the end of the day in dusk and fog! Thank goodness for the yellow lines down the middle of the road!

The companionship among the three of us worked really well. Hans kept laughing even after coming into rest areas after having to bike solo. I guess we ganged up a little on him there! But in fairness, we did let him lead several sections through Virginia. For some reason, he got paranoid having Eric and I giggling behind him. (Seems like we thought it was him doing all the hard riding up front while we were just hanging around behind him).

Lastly, Hans and Eric’s bringing their laptop computers and using them to update the daily activities was new and exciting. Those guys would stay up late typing up items for the web page and then load them for the next day. Wow, what a concept! Plus, it made it great that they were able to get emails too.

3) Afterwards, it has been great that we did it! 470 miles with 48,000 feet of climbing. There was an article in USA Today talking about a strenuous bike ride in Bhutan that climbs 38,000 feet in 430 miles. Well, ours tops that! Now that we’ve done this, other biking seems so puny. In fact, there was a bike ride lately that was for 62 miles. I couldn’t get interested in it since it seemed like such a routine thing to do! Lastly, we had no flat tires!! None! Not even me!


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