Two Bikes & A Funeral
By Sarah Meyer
On September 27th, after months of training and preparation, my cycling partner and I left for our first ever bike trip. We’d given ourselves 6 days to accomplish the 650-kilometer trek from Montreal to New York City. The following is a selection of stories from the road, as well as lessons learned.
1. Never underestimate the power of a poncho.
The day we scheduled our trip to begin it rained all day. In fact, the weather was to remain rainy, windy and overcast for the majority of our trip; a factor we had not even considered. Of course we anticipated warm and agreeable fall weather and cloudless skies, none of which would ever come. We were only to enjoy a few brief moments of a beautiful harvest sunset over barren farm fields in Southern Quebec at the end of our first day. Those short moments were almost enough to make up for an awful first day, but then I looked down at my jeans, socks, and shoes that had been soaked through and gritted my teeth. Thank God we’d bought ridiculous rubber ducky ponchos and covered the equipment in orange garbage bags. We’d belted the ponchos to keep from inflating like Macy’s Day Balloons; although they hadn’t kept us as dry as I’d hoped at least we were partially sheltered. Not having the time to wait out the rain we were obligated to start the trip off on an uphill battle against the elements and the clock; Mother Nature held the upper hand from the get-go.
2. It will be harder than you thought, you will be amazed.
When we told our friends about the trip, their first reaction was some permutation of, “Wow that is crazy!” or, “Are you serious?” I’d look at the floor with a sheepish smile and draw shapes with my shoe. “Well, yeah, we are actually.” No one could believe what a far out idea it was. Initially I had been a little skeptical myself when Rodolfo mentioned wanting to plan a bike trip to New York City. After thinking it over I realized the potential for a great adventure, an opportunity to challenge our passion for cycling. Our very good friend Mark, an avid biker, traveler, and founder of a fantastic website StayNomad.com which we used to help plan our trip, was incredibly encouraging and a great source of help and inspiration. Mark helped ground us and keep us on track with what was realistic for a first time bike trip.
What was most surprising was how quickly I would tire, how much slower I found myself biking. We had certain mileage goals for each day planned out in order to be sure we stayed on course and made it to the city on time. We soon realized that our estimates of how far we could bike each day had been overzealous. Even on a full nights sleep of almost 9 hours or more the wind, rain and hills took a toll on us that we had not figured into the calculation of our daily goals. On the Vermont-New York border we pulled over to a rest stop after a particularly hilly ride hoping to hitchhike part of the way through New York, a