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  My Tours: Pac West Tour 2005 - Epilogue

Epilogue - January 29, 2006

Despite the fact that it is months after this trip I still remember in detail what my trip was all about, what I would do different and what I enjoyed most about it.  Here are some of my thoughts regarding the trip.

What did you learn from this trip?

This was my maiden voyage, the trip that would tell me do I really want to do this touring bit.  I learned a lot about myself, some of which I already knew.  I've been in a number of difficult situations before and been able to pull them off.  This was no exception.  I learned that I did a good job on researching where to go, what to do, and what to expect.  I learned that I had done enough research to be able to change my plans if necessary.  I learned that I planned it too tightly and didn't give myself enough room to change things too much.  I learned that I need to train a lot more. I learned that I can't wait to do this again.

Did you enjoy this trip?

There were plenty of things that I enjoyed about this trip, some I did not enjoy but that was my own fault because of the way I put the trip together.  I enjoyed the freedom of traveling, enjoying the sights and sounds.  I enjoyed the thrill of racing down a mountain at 45 mph, I enjoyed the satisfaction of riding up my street knowing that I had accomplished something awesome, cool, and great.  I enjoyed the campsites that I went to.  I enjoyed the hot shower each night.  I enjoyed my hosts in Vacaville.  I enjoyed my hosts in Ft. Bragg.  I also enjoyed my riding companion's company once we meet up in Sausalito on the 3rd day.  Above all I enjoyed this trip.

How could you prepare more for this trip.

Better training.  While I did ride a lot of miles in 2005 I didn't do any of it with the trailer.  The only time I used the trailer was at the end of 2004.  I knew the trailer would be heavy but I figured as long as I got enough miles in I'd be okay.  I was okay, but I could have been better.  The problem wasn't pulling the trailer, the problem was pulling the trailer up a hill.  It's one thing to ride up a hill, it's a completely different thing to ride up a hill with a trailer.  I should have been riding with the trailer for at least a month before the ride.  I don't think it would have made a huge difference but it would have made it easier.  Lesson learned.

What worked

My tires.  I have a number of cycling friends that give me a bad time about my balloon tires I have.  They are the Specialized Armadillos, size 38 mm, and they work.  No they don't just work, they keep me from working.  I'm proud to say that during my 300 miles in route to home not a once did I have to pull over and repair a flat.  These were not brand new tires though.  They already had over 1,500 miles from the previous year so they were worn in and ready to go.  But despite the wear they still held up.  While Highway 1 isn't littered with shards of glass and wires from treads, it does have it's share of obstacles, and I have to say that my Armadillos kept right on going.  That's not to say I was looking for glass to run over just to test it out, there were one or two times that I hit something and just waited to change a flat, nope, kept right on going.  Sorry guys I don't care how goofy you think my tires are, they work.

My bicycle. I have a Specialized Sirrus Comp 58 cm that I bought in 2004.  It is a beautiful bike and was configured for touring with 38 mm tires, a rear rack, and swapped out the rear axle quick release for the BOB Trailer quick release.  I also changed my lowest front crank from a 32 to a 26.  Changing just this only required a slight modification to the front derailleur.  If I would have changed out the rear cassette I would have had to have gotten a new rear derailleur and more.  I knew that I needed more climbing capacity and this change would allow me that, it did and I'm very happy with the change.

What didn't work.

My shoes.  I have a pair of Shimano Touring style shoes.  They have a recessed cleat in the sole of the shoe, this makes it easy for walking.  They work as far as that aspect and for the most part they are a good shoe, but when I had to smash down on the pedal as I climbed a hill they had way too much give and flex to them.  One time it felt like I had just wrapped the shoe around the pedal and it hurt my foot because I had pushed down too hard.  Next time I will be taking my Specialized MTB Shoes.  There is no flex, give, or wrap to them at all.  I especially like the way they feel off the pedal.  The cleat isn't as recessed as the Shimano but it is enough to allow you to walk in them with more ease than most road shoes.  I know some people like the Shimano SPD Sandals but I'm just not one for Sandals, I'd rather have a shoe that I can work with.

My windbreaker.  I need to get a new one.  I knew it wasn't the best when I bought it.  It is simply a windbreaker and that is all it does.  I need to spend the money to get a much better windbreaker that will breath and not keep all of the moisture and heat in.  Thus causing me to have my own sauna inside the jacket.

Were you sore.

Not as sore as I thought I would be.  I didn't get any saddle sores, but I don't know if I was gone long enough to get any.  Some people I've read about have sores the 2nd day out, while others get them after weeks of riding.  I spent a lot of time on the bike, about 60 to 100 miles a week during the spring and fall.  During the summer it was closer to 150 to 175 miles so I know I got a lot of time in the saddle, I think that helped. 

My inner thighs were sore but that was from all of the wood cutting I did back in Ft. Bragg.  Despite that I wasn't that sore.  My legs did feel a bit tired once I got home but that's okay.

Were you lonely.

For the first day I wasn't lonely but I was really alone.  I don't think I talked to anyone until I got to the little market in Anchor Bay.  Next would have been my wife on the phone for about 15 minutes.  Then probably the last person I talked to for the rest of the day was the park ranger when I paid my fees for the night.  That's only about 3 or 4 conversations.  What a change from my usual day of conversing with lots of different people.  On Day 2 it was much the same and I was looking forward to meeting up with my cycling partner Connie on Day 3.  For the rest of the trip it was nice to have someone along to talk with and share what had happened on the trip.  If I had my preference it would be to travel with someone but that can't always happen. 

Was it dangerous.

For the sake of my wife, no. But for the rest of you it is not exactly the safest route to ride. The Adventure Cycling Maps and other books that you'll read talk about the Pacific Coast Route as a route that should only be taken on by seasoned cyclists, they're right.  There were some spots that I could see would be tricky if you were not careful.  I tried to be careful and always be cautious with cars, when in doubt I would just pull over.  I don't mind pulling over, they're bigger than me and I'd rather give them the room.

Would you do it again.

Yes, and I will in 2006, not the same part, but I will be touring again!


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