18 months of virtual cycling

When I lived in San Francisco Bay Area I used to get lots of real bicycle riding as that area is great for cycling. When I moved to Omaha I tried to keep up cycling but weather and lack of good routes stopped me and my big weight gain was the consequence. When I went on fitness kick a few years ago, dropping 70lbs, initially just treadmill was my main exercise. Then I got a stationary bike and after putting on some miles on that, plus my weight loss, I got my fat tire bike reconditioned and began to do some riding here. But the weather and lack of good routes still mostly halted me so I have to be content with stationary cycling.

A stationary bike isn’t too bad for burning up calories and occasionally when I do some spinning not too bad for cardio, but it sure isn’t real riding. When I sometimes do real rides right away I get fatigue/pain in hands, wrists, arms, shoulders and especially butt muscles making real rides, of any significant distance, unpleasant. Plus my fat tire bike is a pig and slow compared to the skinny tire touring bike I used to ride. So it looks like real riding is still going to be relatively rare. So that means stationary bike in the basement with a fan to stay cool and music and reading to try to reduce the boredom.

But I need more – a goal. I used to have easy goals in Bay Area, the early spring and fall club rides, either full centuries or metric centuries. The need to be in shape for those keep me going. Then my grand adventures of two weeks in Germany and bike camping along the Pacific Coast roads were the rewards of all the training rides.

But here I don’t have any real goals. I try to think of some road trip to work for and that’s really tough, unless I could find someone to escort me as accommodations, food and water, plus the heat, are real impediments. Sure, I know other people ride long distances through the midwest but I’m a 67YO wimp who isn’t that big on suffering.

So virtual rides are my only way to produce an incentive to keep peddling. So here are a couple of my virtual rides:


This is my 48 state ride. The blue markers show each of the last 18 months. I started in Omaha, rode through Iowa and South Dakota and Wyoming, then south through Colorado and New Mexico, then west across Arizona and southern California, then north through California, out to Salt Lake, back through Idaho, Oregon and Washington state. That finished the western loop in 10 months. Then I started east, through Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin. Then I really start zigzagging, south through Illinois, touching in Missouri, over to Indiana, then down to Tennessee and Kentucky, up through Ohio, just touching into Michigan, back through Ohio and now into Pennsylvania. Lots of states left to go. 8650.1 miles done, 8500.7 miles left to go, so this will keep me busy for another 18 months. Here’s my first progress report post on this route when I was just about to reach Seattle.

Since progress on this route is slow I decided to add another crazy route, my “zigzag” routine south to north and north to south enough times to cross the country. I started my trip on this route this January so this will keep me going for a while longer:


This route starts at the Canadian border north of Seattle and heads down to San Diego, then back up to Helena, Montana which is about where I am now. 2818.3 miles done, 9993.7 to go so this will take me, assuming I maintain my past 18 months pace about another 19 months, so plenty of riding to do there.

And finally, even though these were my initial routes, here’s some interesting cross-country rides:


The ride in the central part of the country (the yellow markers) was a fairly direct route from Boston (starting at my last address there in Woburn) to Palo Alto (my first address there) retracing my move after college. That didn’t take that long so I took a longer route back, down through LA and across southwestern states, through the middle southern states and up the east coast. That only took 14 months and is now complete. Here’s my post upon completing that ride.

Meanwhile I have start a very complicated route, as best as possible (finding roads), around the circumference of the lower 48 states. Back when I was riding in California I was tried to plot this route just using maps and manual calculations and that got difficult. But now using Delorme I can find really obscure roads, thus allowing me to get as close as possible to boundaries, and Delorme does the calculations. I started in Omaha, went north to International Falls, Minnesota, then west along the Canadian border, then south along the Pacific, then east along the Mexican border and the along the Gulf of Mexico. I just completed looping around the tip of Florida and am now headed up the east coast along the Atlantic. I’ll go as far north as I can in Maine, then come back west as close as I can stay to Canadian border. Finding all those backwoods roads to stay close to borders overloads Delorme’s ability to have ‘vias’ in the route and so I have to make multiple routes.

Now all this is, frankly, pretty silly, but it keeps me going. Real riding is its own reward as well as providing the conditioning for good trips. But stationary riding is only for fitness and calorie burn so I need this silly virtual routes to keep going. Given I’m now working three routes there is always some short-term milestone I can find on at least one of the routes so that provides some incentive to push for a few more miles on the stationary bike.

btw: In 18 months I did 271 riding days or almost exactly 50% of all the days in 18 months. I averaged 31.7 miles/ride and 478 miles/month (better than I used to do, by a bit, with real biking in California).

And I see need a real road goal and I keep looking for it. The Wabash Trail is a candidate esp. if I can get in shape to do it in only two days (escorted to get to overnight stop somewhere) but that’s fairly modest. I don’t want to do bike camping again so the Pacific Coast ride is out. And I can’t afford the escorted rides (like I encountered in Sioux City last year), plus they go for a bit too much distance. So still looking. I want to do at least a week on the road again while I’m still not too old to think of such a crazy thing. So in the meantime, I need to keep grinding on stationary bike and also try to push up my real road riding to toughen up other body parts.

About dmill96

old fat (but now getting trim and fit) guy, who used to create software in Silicon Valley (almost before it was called that), who used to go backpacking and bicycling and cross-country skiing and now geodashes, drives AWD in Wyoming, takes pictures, and writes long blog posts and does xizquvjyk.
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