I’ve been asked if I’d ever do this again.

Well . . . maybe. Despite all the tribulations I really did have a good time out there on the road. I’ve got stories I can easily tell (and embellish?) for five years. Though plenty of times I was tired, hungry, and frustrated, there was never a time I was in any danger. I was put out on occasion, definitely frustrated with the mechanical problems, but I enjoyed my own company away from the daily grind.

This trip originally came about with a thought of traveling US 40 from Columbus to Terra Haute. I still haven’t given up that idea, though I’d want to take 7 or 8 days to pull that off instead of 4. There and back is 500+ miles.

I’ve no objections to camping / tenting, but I’ve also no objections to getting a hotel room for myself, either. When I rejected the Terra Haute trip, my thoughts turned to going up US 3 to Cleveland and back. Based on how far I thought I could go, there was only one place to stop mid-way — and this location’s scant hotel rooms were ridiculously overpriced. I need a bath and a bed and not much else. I’m not paying $125 a night for a bath and bed.

The decision not to pay that much for a hotel room is what drove me to change my plans over and over while I was on the ride. Additionally, it was the impetus to carry a tent and a blanket. Of all of the things I’d probably not do again, it would be to carry sleeping gear.

When I’m in a car, it’s not that big a deal to go 20 to 30 miles out of your way if you change your mind. With a bicycle, it’s a little different. If you’ve already put in 60 or 70 miles, you may not have it in you to do another 30 just because you’ve got a wild hair to go somewhere else. Necessarily, you’ve got to be a little less spontaneous. Make your plans and you have to stick to ’em.

I’ve grown quite an appreciation for group rides. They scout out the routes far in advance, steering people away from Tire Killing Gravel Roads, construction zones, and other obvious hazards. They also tote your gear from Point A to Point B for you. Your job? Get up in the morning, load your gear on the truck, and ride to Point B.

Plus, with group rides, you also have a built in “frustration release” audience. Everyone in the group did the exact same ride you did. You get to relive it all with people who truly understand what it took to accomplish that day’s ride. (Instead of the poor blog readers back home who generally just think we’re nuts. For the record, we surely are.)

In the past two big rides I did, once they were over, I cut way back on my riding for that year. Even though it stays warm enough to ride until mid October, I felt I’d accomplished what I wanted to and could take the rest of the season off. This year feels a little different. I feel like there’s a lot more miles to ride before Old Man Winter heads his ugly rear.

Thanks to everyone who read through the blog. I hope you enjoyed my trip.