I’ve posted before about how I’m transferring miles on a basement treadmill to maps to create virtual hikes as a method of encouraging me to continue my exercise. So here’s an update on my progress.
When I first started my exercise kick (now over three years ago) I had a fairly detailed set of GPS waypoints for the Pacific Crest Trail. It was fun, each day, to transfer treadmill miles to that route (with Delorme Topo doing the calculations, converting distance into location) and then view my progress in Google Earth, especially as I have actually hiked portions of that trail. But eventually my interest in that waned and so I developed other routes, plus once I got stationary bike began to set up virtual biking trips.
So after reaching Oregon on the PCT I dropped routine updates along that route, but developed a couple of other routes, several of which I just finished when doing my quarterly update:
- from my house in Omaha via Custer State Park in South Dakota, then across Wyoming and over the Bighorns, then back up to Billings, MT, and on to Many Glacier Hotel in Glacier National Park. I’ve actually been to all these locations via car so I thought it would be fun to simulate them and now I’ve made it (1465.26 miles)
- not long after setting up that first route I create another route to Many Glacier from my previous home in Los Altos, California, up the Pacific coast, then cutting across Oregon, Washington and Idaho to approach Glacier from the west. That contrived route was about the same length so I finished it too, on this update (1479.76 miles).
- knowing these two routes were headed the same direction I also created a route from Omaha to Big Bend National Park, via my family’s ancestral homes of El Reno, OK and my birthplace in Amarillo, TX. I reached Big Bend (Chisos Basin) a while back so today’s update placed me southeast of El Paso. That route I duplicated in last fall’s vacation so again familiar territory.
- in those other routes I avoided following Interstates, but I also decided to reach out for the coasts, following two other directions my life has taken. So with this update I reached 33 Bay State Rd in Boston (where I lived during college) via I-80 (1437.55 miles). That route has some significance for me as I once drove that entire route in a single trip, at Christmas time, in a single day (rather exhausting even for my youthful self)
- going in the opposite direction and to the other pole of my life I set out from Omaha to Los Altos, California, also along I-80. That’s a bit further so today’s update has me on the Donner Pass portion of I-80 in the Sierra (not far from where I crossed the road on the PCT). So there is some strange geographical pull for me, living in the middle of the U.S., in Omaha, off to college in Boston, then off the Silicon Valley for adult working life. How little I could have predicted life would bring me back to Omaha given I went about as far away as possible when I got to chose my own directions and locations.
- The only route I haven’t finished is from Omaha to Miami via Nashville, Atlanta, and Jacksonville). This is the least traveled route for me as the south, or Florida which is only sorta the “south” has never had much appeal to me. But just a few years ago fate presented Nashville and Atlanta and Savannah as a vacation opportunity so I know this route as well.
In short, at least by car I’ve been just about everywhere in the U.S. Due to my more recent interest in geodashing (now about 1/5th of my life) I’ve actually explored a lot of places I might never have gone.
The idea of walking a long distance, for real, is appealing to me. As I’ve mentioned before I’ve watched The Way many times so the idea of walking the Camino de Santiago is very attractive, but the logistics of doing the actual walk makes it unlikely I’d ever do this.
Doing virtual walks has been a good way to keep me active on the treadmill and I’m actually amazed that I’ve now doing 818 sessions, requiring 577.8 hours (72 typical days) and 1490.11 miles over a duration now of 3.75 years expending 292,991 calories in the process (83lbs of fat burned which is actually close to the amount of weight loss I’ve had, although exercise only played a partial role in that and now my stationary bicycle is my main method of burning calories). Since getting intrigued by walking the Camino I’ve pushed up my daily mileage, a lot, but still anything over about 9 miles gets me fairly fatigued and yet that is only a fraction of the daily distance I’d need to cover to do a real pilgrimage walk.
During various times of my life I’ve walked (or run, training for triathlon) a fair amount but my daily distances have not been that high. My body structure isn’t particularly conducive to doing long walks. During my active years of backpacking I typically went only 6-8 miles a day, of course that was with a heavy pack but a younger body to support it. So it’s been rare I’ve ever done >10 miles/day on foot. I still remember (and can feel the fatigue) of the first time I probably ever went >10 miles, a backpack (woefully unequipped) up the Great Gulf to the Mt. Washington summit and back to a high camping spot – I was exhausted and so tired it was dangerous to be hiking on rough terrain. Only once on a backpack did I exceed 10 miles in a day, on a bad day in the Canadian Rockies, where caught by a storm on the summit we had to retreat to lower elevations to avoid the storm. Altogether I doubt I’ve done as many as 10 walks of >10 miles.
Recently, as part of my sense I’m training for some walking adventure, I did do 11.1 real miles on the local MoPac Trail (just east of Lincoln, NE, into the outskirts of Lincoln, and back). I recall, during high school here in the 60s the enthusiasm RFK generated for physical activity and a whole bunch of people tried to do a 50 mile hike from Omaha to Lincoln. That seemed crazy to me at the time and seems even crazier now.
But sometimes these crazy ideas get to me. I still can vividly remember the time where I’d struggled a few miles up into the foothills on Arastradero Rd (where I once lived). I met an avid cyclist who was resting. I asked where he was going and he said he was on a century ride. I had no idea what that meant and so he told me it was a 100 mile ride. Insane, I thought and impossible for me, but somehow the idea was planted. It was a few years (and much better bicycling) before I finally did that for myself. And I remember seeing the Iron Man on TV and thinking that was insane. Well, for me it still was, but at least I could dream of doing a Tin Man and eventually did. So over the years I’ve encountered others (often easily) doing strenuous physical challenges and being infected by the notion I could do it too and thus doing it. I remember so well, as I was very tired on the last 10 mile stretch of my first century ride, how, as a kid I’d nearly collapsed riding a short distance from Amarillo to a YMCA camp outside of town and the other kids ridiculing me. As I was completing a 100 hundred mile ride I let the idea of how many of those kids who could do such a thing (at 40) as I was doing – a little bit of oneupsmanship to keep going the last few miles.
But in my search for escorted treks (a completely independent trek is out for me, no point in having achievable goals) most require at least 12+ miles/day and usually 15+. Given a single day of that exceeds any of my training days it’s hard to believe I can do that. Now in cycling I found that if I were all charged up to do some challenge, even though it exceeded my usual training duration, I could do it (no, I never consider the Davis Double Century, I’m a little crazy, but not that insane). But when I did a two week escorted cycle trip in Germany I did find that doing what was an almost routine training ride (about 60 miles) day after day, had its own kind of longer term fatigue. So while I’m sure I could now do a 15 mile day in Wales or Scotland, I’d be tired and sore after doing it and the idea that I had to try to rest and then do it for another 8 straight days sounds to me impossible.
So I’m still looking. It’s irrelevant, in the big picture of life, to try to do these physical challenges, but I’ve had a record of doing them and remember (most of ) them fondly, my first crew race (a victory fortunately), my first long bike ride, my first week long backpack, etc. I also remember getting lost (with my dad) in Montana and being so exhausted I could hardly move (not to mention all the blisters) or getting stuck in a poorly planned backpack trip in a hurricane, so I know even enthusiasm, even real guts and determination, has limits on what I can do physically. And I’m certainly not 20, or 30, or even 40 any more, so the prospect of a 200 mile trek is definitely intimidating (not to mention the 800km of the Camino). So I’m still looking. I figure, this late in life, that if I can still do something, that for me (relatively not an athletic type) and at this age, the prospect of that keeps me going. It’s hard to think to someday, like my 99YO mother, just walking out the door and to a car would be the challenge I’d tackle, so I’m not at that stage (yet) and so I still want something, while not totally crazy, that I can apply all this training and virtual hikes.