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Monday, June 27, 2016

PAC Tour Northern Transcontinental - almost here

This has been a 20+ year dream - ride across the US with PAC Tour on the Northern Transcontinental.  I was privileged to ride several centuries in the 90s with PAC Tour veteran, randonneur, and ultra marathon cyclist Richard Lawrence.  He planted the seed with his enthusiastic endorsement of the Northern Transcontinental, never minimizing that it was tough, but always positive and encouraging.

PAC Tour is the bicycle touring company owned and operated by Race Across America record holders Lon Haldeman and Susan Notorangelo.  They have been organizing cross country tours for over 30 years.  I did look at offerings from other tour companies, but the Northern PAC Tour was always my first choice.  I devoured at least half a dozen reports from previous Northern Tour veterans, asked questions, and did all I could to educate myself about the preparation and challenges of this event.

Randonneuring for the last 6 years has been an excellent training base, both mental and physical.  However, I needed to get used to day after day (for 4.5 weeks) of 120 miles or more.  In January I started gradually increasing the number of rides per week (usually 70 - 130 miles each), reaching a peak weekly mileage of 490.  PAC Tour recommends at least two 150 mile rides before the tour, as well as several back to back rides over 100 miles.  I tried to improve speed, but that never seemed to advance in any meaningful way.  The book Distance Cycling (John Hughes and Dan Kelenbach) provided some very helpful core exercises, and I supplemented outdoor riding with time on a Nordic Track ski machine.

Lon and Susan have their tours highly organized.  Part of that is to provide each rider with a gear bag of uniform size (weight limit 40 lbs).  The gear bag, your helmet, and bike is all you can bring.  Each rider also has a choice of a laptop computer case or a stash box (size of a standard shoe box).  Susan sent out a detailed info packet with a list of clothing to bring (on and off bike), training guidelines, and recommended equipment (hint: use standard, proven technology and bring two gears lower than you think you will need).

It is now less than three weeks until the tour starts.  This year's tour begins in Everett WA and travels nearly 3600 miles to end in Boston MA.  32 days, with only one off the bike day (ride a ferry across Lake Michigan).  I have about 5200 miles of training for the year, and hope to get in a few hundred more, but the foundation is laid and now it is more a matter of keeping fit and rested.  I'm sure there are going to be a lot of riders (maybe most) faster than I am.  My goals are to ride a comfortable pace within the time limits, be safe, have fun, get to know some other long distance bikers, complete the journey and encourage others.

Added a P-12 patch to help identify my gear bag when 40 of them are lined up each afternoon at the motel

Things to come?

1 comment:

  1. What a great adventure and challenge Bob! I'm pulling for you all the way. Having ridden several brevets with you, I am confident you'll do well. Looking forward to your post-ride report. Let the good times roll! Joe T.