Getting Reacquainted With The ‘Pack Mule’…

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5 weeks from today, I take the first official steps of my 1700-mile trek. I’ll be using my bike as transportation back to my car at the end of many of my walking days, so I dragged my 23-year-old horse-on-wheels out of mothballs & took it in for a tune-up last week.  It’s not as shiny as I remembered, and some parts were dismayingly rusty.  But Helen’s Cycles did a great job!

On the days I use the bike to get back to my car, I’ll either need to make a 20-mile round trip to stash it at the end of my day’s walk – or I can walk it with me.  Walking with the bike has several advantages – 1) No need for the 20-mile round trip, 2) It will be a ‘safety net’ of sorts – allowing me an escape option that is much safer & faster than being a pedestrian if I see something that doesn’t look right up ahead. AND 3) It can be my ‘pack mule’ & carry all my stuff, hehe!

BUT – will it be practical? So I gave it a go during one of my training walks a few days ago. The bike-walk was a cake-walk – I just rested my hand lightly on the seat to steer, and I barely noticed it was there.  It was kind’a like leading a horse, except it wasn’t snatching bits of flora along the way.

I did get a few quizzical looks from people as I walked the bike DOWN our notorious Grand Ave hill, and when I got to the (flat) beach bike path an elderly cyclist gent slowed down and asked me if I needed help. God bless him!

Everything really did go better than I expected… until I actually got ON the bike to return home, i.e., ‘back to my car’.

Though I was an avid 50-mile-per-day cyclist not (too) long ago, I’ve only ridden a bike a handful of times in the past few years – but hey, don’t they say “you never forget how”?  I’m here to tell you that this is only partly true. My balance was fine once I got going, but I had forgotten everything I ever knew about gear logic.  Every time I stopped – to adjust the seat, take a picture, stoplights (or to catch my breath), I was always in a horrible gear to get going again and I wobbled like a kindergartner on training wheels.

And then came Grand Ave hill – and UP Grand Ave hill – and the UP that seemed never to end until I hit my driveway.

By the time I got off that bike my legs were like jelly, my fingers were cramped, my heart was pounding, my face was red, my knees hurt, and I can’t even begin to tell you the discomfort of the part of me that was closest to that bicycle seat….

…and I thought the WALK was gonna be the hard part.

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UPDATE: I’m happy to report that after 2 more days of bike-wrangling, the re-learning curve is behind me and my own ‘behind’ is adapting nicely.

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