As a kid I rode bicycles no more and no less than anybody else in the neighborhood. As a teenager I biked only as a means of transportation. If I pedaled a bike anywhere in my 20s, I don't recall. Sad huh? In my early 30s I bought a mountain bike and started exploring the local logging roads and forest trails. That's when I discovered a real passion for cycling. Some might say its grown into an obsession. That's okay. Maybe I'm making up for lost time.
How different might my life be had I not met my good friend and riding buddy Ken Knight. His mention of a California bike ride he was planning early in 2002 had me intrigued. I asked if he wanted some company. He said sure. That was that. We've enjoyed many epic, adventurous, multi day rides together since. I think it a stretch to assume I'd have gotten here on my own and be attempting this if not for him. I'm pretty sure that he'd say something similar about his own touring experience. We fuel each other. Though he couldn't commit the time to this particular ride, I know, in spirit he's with me every pedal stroke of the way.
I bought my first road bike when I was 39. It was a Brodie Romax. A cyclecross that I bought as a tour bike to join Ken on that first California trip. At that time I hadn't done any road riding except maybe to get to a trail on my mountain bike. Kens tour bike is a Ran's V2. (though he now has a Bacchetta Giro20 as well). I stubbornly clung to my Brodie for 4 years of touring dispite Kens urges to consider a recumbent. Each year we ramped up the daily distance a little more. One year we rode from Palm Springs to the Grand Canyon in 5 days, took a day to hike to the bottom and back to the top, then rode back to Palm Springs in 5 days, and just in time to catch our flight home. that was the trip we discovered we could maintain 160k days indefinably.
Finally, I relented and gave a recumbent a try. having toured with Ken for thousands of kilometers had definatly given me an appreciation for them. Spend all day on an upright, riding against a headwind with someone on a recumbent and you begin to see the advantage to reclined riding. Likewise if you spend a day riding in rainy weather and again in the morning when you ease your sore butt back onto the saddle.
I always thought they looked comfy but had no idea just how comfortable until my first tour on one.
What a treat to begin and end each day of touring without a sore butt. To be able to wear shorts and a T-shirt without impairing your aerodynamics or butt/seat relationship. To start the day early and not have to deal with wind chill and be able to ride all day in the rain without your shoes filling up with water. (if you have a fairing that is).
I have a road bike. A Giant TCR. its a light, fast, fun bike. I love to ride it but it's not the bike for a multi day tour. Even with a support team and van.
There are many recumbent's to choose from. Ken and I took a day, went into Vancouver and out to Cambie Cycles. We would take 2 different recumbent's out for a test ride, ride them a couple clicks away, then swap and return to the shop, turn them in for two others and repeat. We put each one through every test we could dream up. In the end, I chose a Bacchetta.
Bacchetta makes a variety of recumbent's. I chose the Giro26 for a few reasons. First of all, it's very comfortable. The geometry between seat, and bottom bracket height just feels right. Its dual 26 inch wheels mean you don't need to carry 2 sets of spare tubes, spokes, and tires. 26 inch tires are fairly easy to find while touring though not always in road format. The Giros short wheel base makes boxing the bike up for airline transportation easy and also wheels into motels without taking up much more space than a traditional upright bike. Its a great looking, well built recumbent that handles well even with 40 pounds of gear. I have put near 20000 kilometers on her. Climbed all over the Rockies, the Kootenays, Utah, Colorado, and ridden the Pacific Coast. I've been across the Southern Tier from San Diego to Key West. Into the deserts of the Joshua Tree, the Anza Borrego, Mojave, and Death Valley. I've had nothing but enjoyment out of my Giro.
For this challenge, however, what I really needed to give me every advantage, was as light a bike as I could get. My Giro weighs in at around 36 pounds with the fairing attached. Besides that, asking her to put another 29000k on without a complete overhaul is probably asking too much. I composed an email to Mark Colliton from Bacchetta Bikes, in St. Petersburg, Florida, layed out my plan and asked if he thought Bacchettabikes would be interested in sponsoring me. Within 24 hrs I got a reply. After all the details were worked out, I had new incentive to achieve my proposed goal.