The tortoise beats the hare

Day 7: Burlington to Standish-Hickey Campground, 45 miles

“It’s not a race. Not really.” I’m joking with Stephen, as I brag how I reached camp first this afternoon. Sebastian says he saw me at the top of the last hill, and could have overtaken me.

“No, you couldn’t!” I’m laughing, but I remember how my heart sank as I saw them in my mirror. Just like I’d joked with Stephen near Garberville. “They’ll probably pass me on the last hill.”

I wanted to make it first. And I did. By leaving an hour before anyone else. By cycling straight, with only a couple short breaks. By skipping the bizarre town of Garberville altogether, which Tim commented seemed that everyone was on drugs. Center of the weed culture here in the “Emerald Triangle” of Northern California. I was glad to pass it by this trip, though for the simple reason that I knew the others would stop there for lunch.

This is the first tour I’ve traveled with a group, an interesting bunch who met up along the road, and who now are planning the same stops all the way into San Francisco. Even a day’s layover in Fort Bragg on Saturday, we all will rest.

I’ve enjoyed the camaraderie, the stories, the cultural education, and also, to a large part, being a leader on the route and highlights ahead.

What I haven’t enjoyed is how much slower than everyone else I’m cycling. Carrying more weight, both on my bicycle and my person, and not training nearly enough before setting out on this, my fifth tour of the Pacific Coast in the last five years. As a result, I’m leaving earlier and arriving later each night. Feeling weak, conspicuous, as well as tired, sore, frustrated.

This hasn’t dampened my joy of the journey, but it has kindled a sense of competition I hadn’t felt on other tours. So today, earlier start, less breaks, motoring on through the near constant climbing of the ride. Slow on the hills, zooming descents, steadily nearing my destination.

Enjoying the beautiful sun this afternoon, reflected off the South Fork of the Eel River, far below the winding highway. Deep green foliage, rusty brown trunks of redwoods cast against brilliant blue skies. At last, short sleeves!

And I achieved my goal: first in to the campsite. Set up, hot shower, cleaned clothes, writing in my journal, and resting. And, to my pleasant surprise, not strained or overly fatigued. Just the normal feeling of exertion after a strenuous day’s ride.

I have arrived, on Day 7 of my tour, in the condition needed to really enjoy the rest of the trip. I’m already planning to extend further beyond San Francisco, to blaze through Big Sur and catch the train north in San Luis Obispo. Thrilled at the possibility of another 150 miles. When a day ago, I was questioning whether this tour was a good idea at all.

Yes, Sarah, training while on a tour is possible. And if done carefully, and also with appropriate rigor, can be quite successful. Thanks for reminding me of that, before the trip had begun.

And sometimes, this means the tortoise can beat the hare…

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One thought on “The tortoise beats the hare

  1. Nice work, champ! Training en route mostly likely will result in a couple days of pain and questioning. But, when push comes to shove, it’s far better to just get on the bike and go rather than concern oneself with whether pre-tour training may or may not have been sufficient enough.

    While there’s nothing wrong with competition amongst yourself, do remember to smell those roses. 🙂

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