Day 19 is our second rest day and I needed it. I now look at rest days with a whole new meaning. I think most of the rest of the riders would agree. This also completes the second leg of the tour. One rider left and two riders joined us, one who will do the third leg ending in Sioux Falls and the other who will ride all the way to Portsmouth, NH. A few comments from the second leg.
The staff said the two days from Idaho Falls to Jackson and then Jackson to Dubois are the two most difficult days of the tour. Most riders would agree. Followed by the detour leading to 97 total miles two days ago and 120 miles yesterday, I have ridden 395 miles the last four days, something I have never done before. For me, the two most difficult back to back days were the 116 and 81 in Oregon but the past four days were also very difficult. As I mentioned in a previous post, there is a part of bicycling that reminds me of Skinnarian psychology which I studied in college relating to behavior reinforcement. The theory is that someone keeps hitting his thumb with a hammer because it feels so good to feel the pain go away. Finishing each of the last four days was very rewarding. A few comments.
Scenery: Though the scenery has been breathtaking riding through the mountains and valleys, especially Teton National Park, for me the ride through Oregon was more scenic. Maybe in part because I was not expecting it. We are leaving the mountains and their own unique beauty and I will miss having snow covered peaks on the horizon.
Weight: Though by today’s standards I am probably not overweight, on the tour I suspect I came in with one of the highest percentages of body fat. My excuse is I have my mother’s thighs, but the reality is that like many Americans I weigh what I choose to. My doctor has been encouraging me to lose weight the past few years, and I need to use more personal discipline when I am done with the tour. I suspect I have lost some weight, but with the daily mileage it is important to eat a lot and regularly. If I keep eating at this pace when I am done, I will soon look like the Goodyear blimp.
Traffic and accidents: We are primarily biking on state and US highways that often have paved shoulders but can have a lot of traffic. Mike, the leader of the tour teaches bike safety classes and he says that of all bicycle accidents, only 17% are car/bike and only 3% of those are a car hitting a cyclist from behind. Bicycles are legal vehicles on all highways in all states unless specifically prohibited. For any cyclist, riding with the traffic on a quiet rode or a road with a paved shoulder is the safest place to be. Never ride against the traffic and actually riding on the sidewalk can be very dangerous. I always try to be aware of my surroundings and ride defensively, just like I do when I drive my car. Also, most motorists including truckers are very careful with bicyclists and many wave or smile as they go buy. There is a small percentage which do not want us on the road. I subscribe to the jerk theory. Most people are good people and want safety for themselves and others. There are a percentage that are jerks, I have heard it ranges from 5% to 20%. The person who said 5% said jerks get around a lot so it seems like more. I think less than 10% are jerks and at least half of them do not want to hit anyone. Not that they care -- they just do not want to deal with the paperwork afterwards. It's that last few percent who are scary in all realms of life.
It has been great having Kim visit for a few days. She goes back to Big Sky tomorrow as I begin a new leg through the rest of Wyoming ending in Sioux Falls, SD.