A TON of junk in the trunk …of my bike.

A TON of junk in the trunk ...of my bike.

Fiddling around for awhile this afternoon resulted in my final rear setup barring no issues with sleeping bag placement up front. I still plan to stop up on water bottles and bungee cord them everywhere I can. Everything in the rear bags are documented and accounted for, plus I’m totally digging the sweet blanket I got from a friend. It’s the only “too heavy to justify but still bringing it along” item that I’m indulging in.

Say that again?

Say that again?

I just spent the past few hours reading up on what to do in the event of a bear/wolf/coyote/mountain lion attack and I’m officially scared out of my mind. I think the line that scared me the most was this:

“”If an attack is prolonged or the bear starts eating you, it is no longer being defensive and it is time to fight back”

…..if the bear starts EATING ME?!?! Have I lost my mind? What am I getting myself into?! Listen, if I freeze to death it’s one thing (lol I’m not taking that as trivially as it may sound) but to be EATEN BY A BEAR AND/OR other excruciating death is just …not…okay. Trying to keep my nerves level but I can’t lie, I’m officially terrified.v

Ok, here’s an idea…

Ok, here's an idea...

Here we gooooo!!! Okay! I’ve mapped (ha) the beginning of the trip. I’m starting in Richmond, VA and taking the Interstate south to Jacksonville, the west to Baton Rouge (hopefully in time for a friend’s wedding) and then continuing on to Albuquerque and that’s where the REAL fun starts! It should take me a little less than 2 months if I’m biking 5 hours a day, less if I go more and push it but I don’t plan to do that as I don’t want to burn out early. According to a friend living in Richmond, their winters aren’t too terrible, definitely a little snow and the roads get icy at night but I’m hoping it’s not too bad during the day.

Whoohoo!

Just what I love!! Shoes!

Just what I love!!  Shoes!

Well ladies and gentleman, I finally decided on a pair of shoes and ordered them tonight….with no small amount of apprehension. I have NEVER purchased shoes that cost more than $60 in. my. LIFE. So this was rather terrifying.

Their advertising boasts:

“Treat your feet to the ultra-versatile, super cute X-Alp Impact shoe from Pearl Izumi. The specially engineered mesh/synthetic upper means excellent breathability and comfort, while the carbon rubber lugged outsole means you won’t pay a price for walking too. With a combination closure system, the fit is always just right, and low cut uppers keep your pedaling fast and efficient. Lace up design with the added top hook and loop strap Low cut construction for a light, fast fit and feel Quick drying, highly breathable mesh/synthetic upper delivers comfort and breathability EVA foam run shoe midsole for off the bike cushioning and comfort Carbon rubber lugged outsole for superior traction and durability Combination closure system with premium buckle and forefoot Hook and Loop straps Flexible forefoot and a running shoe beveled heel SPD Compatible”

Basically, these shoes are pretty lightweight but durable, comfortable and good at whicking away sweat so your feet aren’t dying. They’re also super cute which wasn’t really a factor but just ended up working out that way. What I really love is the fact that when the clips aren’t on they look like regular sneakers so I can wear them off my bike too. They have wonderful traction because they’re mountain biking shoes and the reviews seem to be greatly in favor of them (I would know as I have spent hours upon hours upon hooouuurs going through review after review for multiple different pairs of shoes).

So here goes nothing!

Google Maps for the Road vs. Biking

Google Maps for the Road vs. Biking

Okay, my most recent frustration is mapping my journey. Google Maps Driving vs. Google Maps Biking vs. Looking up specific bike paths really has me frustrated.

It would appear that Google Maps Driving (GMD from now on) will take me on the fastest most direct route. However Google Maps Biking (GMB) takes me on the most random, out of the way paths that while I think they may have less traffic on them, are a real pain in my ass to figure out. (Take THIS path for 3 feet, turn left , turn right, turn left again and continue 5 feet… starting to see why I’m frustrated?)

When looking at the different bike paths online they don’t really let you zoom in to the point where you have enough details to know EXACTLY where you will be going. I don’t want to find myself lost in the wilderness between Memphis and Shreveport if my bike path ends suddenly.

Oh Mr. Sun

Oh Mr. Sun

After spending the last few hours researching the hell out of different types of solar chargers, reading reviews and deciding which one is optimal I have decided to purchase the Solio Bolt Solar Charger. This tiny little charger sounds pretty fabulous and perfect for why I need it. It has a micro USB port and a full sized USB. I will be using it to charge my iPod and cell phone so it’s simple and just what I need. Running at $70 it’s a little pricey but I decided I’d rather shell out the extra money for a product I know will work then have a shitty one crap out on me in the wilderness when I need my phone or GPS. It also has a special mode for charging apple products faster which is great since I’ll be using my iPod on my trip and want to charge my phone at night and my iPod in the evenings. Props to the power of the sun!!

For more information on the Solio Bolt Solar Charger you can go to their website:

Upon further research…

Well friends, it seems my carefully plotted out plans have been dramatically altered. As I talked about in my last post, I have spent the entire evening looking at every single line of the Amtrak and figuring out which trains DO allow carry on bikes and which lines require the bikes to be boxed up and checked. The results are not comforting.

Apparently the only line out of NYC that allows carry on bikes go up to Maine or down to North Carolina. So the decision has been made that I will be taking the train to Charlotte, NC and have to bike from there. I already know it’s going to be a real bitch trying to cross the Smoky Mountains in Jan/Feb but it’s the fastest way I can get out of the winter weather.

Luckily for me, living in New York I’ll have plenty of snow to practice biking in up until I leave. I already know I’m going to be using http://www.warmshowers.com to the EXTREME whilst there and I’m going to have to have at least 2 or 3 sleeping bag flannel liners. I refuse to be cold and the only way that’s going to happen is staying with people and being prepared to layer my little tent-home. =)

This is only a small set-back. Now that I know it’s happening I can plan accordingly! Better to have discovered this now than in January!

Problem Number 1

tumblr_mttfijwJEZ1s0gsego1_400So I have hit my first real issue. Initially my plan had been to take my bike on the Amtrak out to Albuquerque. This would require taking a train to Washington D.C. and transferring to a train that would then take me to Chicago and then another transfer to Albuquerque.

Now, the Amtrak website says that they let you just walk your bike onto the train ”most trains have …”. So my plan hatched with that information. Tonight, however, while I was trying to begin mapping exact locations and shit I called Amtrak to get exact details and was delivered some horrible news: Only CERTAIN lines let you walk your bike on. To make matters worse, none of these lines run out of NYC unless I’m going to North Carolina, Boston or Maine. Obviously I don’t REALLY want to do that since it’s going to be the middle of winter and I’d rather be on the West Coast for winter.

So right now I’m facing the problem of figuring out how I’m going to get to Chicago with my bike. I don’t want to box it up because I will have all my bags and shit on the bike, not to mention the fact that I would have to remove the pedals, seat and turn the handlebars sideways not to mention releasing the bike chain etc etc etc…basically a bunch of shit that’s a pain in the butt and I worry won’t go back to normal and I’ll start my trip with a messed up bike.

Any bikers out there have any ideas other than flying which I really refuse to do to help me out?

Tent Time!!

Tent Time!!

Okay so as of right now I’m in the midst of decision making on tents. I have purchased a tent at Target back in May because I had star visions of camping all summer on the weekends. These were dashed of course by the fact that there are no good campgrounds around my home within biking distance for one night. I was finally able to de-flower my tent on her virgin voyage into camphood. Kerry and I went camping at Wildwood State Park the second weekend in September. We drove up to the park, pitched our tent in the dark, in the wind and proceeded to have a grand old time! And then we went to bed. How shall I put this? ….It was cold as fuck. I realized by morning, when I found myself trying to cuddle up to Kerry’s feet, that my tent was not too windproof. The window of the tent were only mesh, where some tents (I thought it was most tents but I was wrong) didn’t have a zip-over to close the windows, so to speak. I decided then and there that I would have to buy a new tent that was weather proof because I’ll be damned if I’m cold on this trip. =) So right now the tent I’m looking at is called the Koppen Lokal. It’s for one person and advertises that it is a 3 season tent, however all the reviews rave about how wonderful of a tent it is even in snow. I’m thinking that along with my tarp under it, this will be perfect for all adventures. It’s supposed to be cozy in the cold and the windows open for air BUT (here’s the best part) the mesh of the windows is small enough to prevent no see-ums, which was a real concern for me. One review even said it kept out tiny ants. I went over to Dicks to have a look see and it couldnt’ be more perfect. The price is great ($90.00) and it’s just enough room for me and my bags. It only weights 2 pounds and folds up into a small little bag which is, again, perfect.

Meet Me

Hi. I’m Maria. Do I look like someone who bikes everywhere? I guess I probably don’t haha. BUT I DO! Which is where my little story is going to start. About 2 years ago I started working a job where I was forced to bike an hour to get to work. I had no alternative way of traveling anywhere for the summer so I started exploring Long Island (where I live). By the end of the summer I had discovered that I love to bike ride! When my Grandmother died in October I stopped biking suddenly and didn’t start back up again until this past May when I decided to buy myself a little Roadmaster that was on sale at Wal-Mart. I told myself it was a great idea because I mean, come on, it’s not like I’m going anywhere outside of a few hours ride, right?

False. …I’ll get back to that in a minute.

In June 2013 I spent time at my friend Kerry’s house, as she was my safe haven when the house was crazy. While laying on her bed staring at the ceiling wondering how things had gotten so out of control so quickly I said ”I wish I could just take my bike and travel the country.”

Joking of course.

Kerry sat up, grabbed her laptop and said “Well…I mean…you kind of could if you really wanted to.” …and started Googling bike traveling and camping. We read a few articles about how it could actually be done, but in the end decided it wasn’t too safe and that was the end of it.

….Except that it wasn’t. From that moment, the idea was in my head to embark on a grand trip of freedom. All summer it was just a wish in my head that would never really happen. I was forced into taking an unpaid one month vacation so my employers could ”save money” (go to St. Martin for a month) and while I was home I realized that I really REALLY wanted to do this trip.

Society, ”They”, People, Parents, Peers, Family. These are all the ones that dictate our lives. We ”have” to go to school to be deemed ”mature, responsible adults” and after college we get a ”real” job. (NOT bagging in the grocery store, like that isn’t a real job. *insert me rolling my eyeballs*) Then we spend the rest of our lives working. Literally. Unless we manage to strike it rich and not have any worries but let’s face it, most of us don’t have that happen to them. We are ruled by the almighty dollar. It tells us if we are happy, it tells us if we are ”popular”, what we can wear, what we eat, IF we eat. We have been fooled into believing that money is 100% necessary to live a happy, ”successful” life.

I have made the decision that I do not want to live my life like that. I want to be happy in my life, doing things that I love, not being ruled by things that have no real rule of who I am and what I do and what I need to be free! When my Grandmother died she told me to have a happy life and do what made me happy and I have decided to take that to heart. So I am choosing to leave my job in January, take my bike, tent and supplies (after selling or donating my other belongings) on the Amtrak to Albuquerque and bike touring the entire country.

What do you think of that?