Twenty-nine hundred miles in twenty-five days. The distance and time are staggering in their own right but throw in elements such as heat, wind, and rain and one might be lead to believe that this sounds more like a form of grueling punishment than camaraderie and adventure. As it turns out, trekking from Costa Mesa, California across the United States to Savannah, Georgia by way of bicycle was all of this and then some.
[Not a valid template]
The prevailing question to most folks is ‘Why would anyone in their right mind attempt such a thing?!” Simply stated, cycling across the vast expanse of the U.S. is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that challenges ones mind, body and spirit as well as affording those with a passion for cycling, or obsession if you will, the opportunity to see the U.S. from the unique perspective of a bicycle saddle.
Training for such an endeavor requires discipline and for Doug Keithly, a drilling engineer from Humble, Texas and fellow teammate in the annual MS 150 Bike Tour from Houston to Austin, the training began nearly two years before the ride actually commenced. Doug is not the physically prototypical rider you would expect to see in comparison to cyclists such as George Hincapie or Tyler Hamilton. He’s a BIG guy whose cycling style is likened to a steady freight train treading along without fear of headwinds. The ‘Doug Train’, as he would later be known as during his cross-country trip, spent nearly every day, every weekend preparing for the ride either by pedaling on his bicycle or on a stationary at the gym. By the time the ride was
ready to kick off in April, the time and preparation was well worth it as Doug was plenty ‘geared’ for his cross-country challenge.
The ride kicked off with all thirty-seven riders dipping their bicycle wheels in the Pacific Ocean before finally heading off for Thousand Palms, their intra-day finale. As Doug so eloquently stated after completing his first and second days in the saddle, “Training looks to have been about right at this point. YES, my butt is sore by the time I get to the motel and my feet hurt, but no more than any other ride. What has been extremely satisfying so far is that my legs are not tired – Got to have those two big pistons or the show is over.” This sentiment would continue throughout the ride, and by the time 11,000’ climbs began in the mountains, the riders were tired but thirsting for more.
The ride then continued on through Arizona and into New Mexico where ninety-plus degree days complimented thirty-two degree starts in Albuquerque, making the weather as diverse as the terrain the cyclists traversed. A rest stop along the way, as the cyclists approached the one thousand mile mark for the ride, allowed cyclists the opportunity to build up their reserves before continuing on through Texas and Oklahoma. The ride then progressed into green, rolling terrain before the rain and threat of tornadoes in Arkansas added an element of alertness to the team.