Virtual Cross Country Expedition Pt. 1 (The First 700 miles)

On yesterday’s ride, I crossed the threshold for 700 miles biked in 2020. When I first set the goal of biking “cross country” in a metaphorical/virtual sense, I arbitrarily chose a number I thought was reasonable. At its core, the intent of this goal was to simulate the distance I’d bike if I were to really bike from one city (San Diego, CA) to another (St. Croix Falls, Wi).

The astute among you might point out that going from California to Wisconsin isn’t really “cross country” in the truest sense. It’s more like 2/3rds across the country. Furthermore if I’m biking from CA to WI, I’m traversing almost 30, 000 feet in elevation in addition to the distance, so am I counting elevation? That’s a big heck no, and that’s fine with me. Maybe in 2021, I’ll set a goal to go from NYC or DC to California and do some elevation training on my bike, but right now, I’m only focused on distance. I set the end point in my hometown because there’s nothing like coming home. Also, if I were to do this in real life, I’d want to bike back to St. Croix Falls or Hayward, Wi because both places are home to me.

In order to measure this journey, I went on Google Maps and set their navigation function to “biking” and had them auto chart my route. The route that they gave me spanned a distance of 2100(ish) miles. But just to be super sure that the miles I biked followed the Google route as close as possible, I charted the route that Google gave me on the “create a route” function on Map My Ride. The route isn’t a one-to-one copy because some roads are one-way (which Google didn’t take into account because they must think cyclists are above traffic rules). I also tried to stay off the main highways once I was out of towns and cities which added a bit of milage to my route.

As of yesterday’s ride, I’ve entered into New Mexico and now I’m approaching Albuquerque.

It’s kinda neat seeing my milage mapped out like this. It gives me context and scope, and it also combats my jerk depression brain when it says stupid crap like “700 miles isn’t a lot.” No…actually it is. Look at the map! If you drove at freeway speeds of 65mph, it would take you 10 hours and 41 minutes to cover 700 miles!

So now that I’m 1/3 through with my goal, I’m excited and a little nervous about whether I’ll be able to bike the entire distance by December 31st. COVID-19’s gym closures and my 3 week bike hiatus in June took a big chunk out of my pace. But even if I don’t make the entire 2100 miles in time, I’ve already biked farther from January to July than I did in all of 2019 and that’s pretty freaking cool.

My next smaller goal is to shoot for my first Imperial half-century: 50 miles. My longest ride is 34 miles and at that point, what’s 16 more miles? With the newest Dresden Files book coming out on Tuesday (*cue fan girl screaming*), I’m going to need it as motivation to keep me going.

The Hardwood Creek/Sunrise Prairie Trail seems like my best bet to tackle this 50 mile ride since it has water/food/restroom stops every 5-8 miles and biking from Hugo to North Branch and back is almost exactly 50 miles.

I just hope my butt can handle that long of a ride…

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