JB: That'll be a fun read! So much to talk about. Where to begin? Were you a jock growing up? Was bike touring a piece of cake for you?
VH: I played one year of basketball in grade school and one year of football in high school. I played the same position in both sports - bench. In any sport where somebody had to lose, I was usually the loser. Bike touring isn't competitive, but collaborative. You win when everybody finishes together.
I've been a cyclist all my life. You might say I inherited bicycling.
JB: So, biking can be for anyone. I get that. I bike, too. But there's a huge difference between going out for a half-hour spin and doing more serious biking. I'm glad that bike touring is collaborative. But you still have to be able to keep up. How does one go from being a casual biker to pulling off one of these longer tours without killing oneself in the process? How did you, a notorious non-jock, pull it off?
VH: One pedal stroke at a time. Ride as far as you can. Rest and eat. Ride as much or more than before. Rest, stretch, eat. Do it again until you must sleep. Get up, stretch, eat, start riding.
Once you can spin your legs at about 100 rpm with no resistance for two hours nonstop, you can ride anywhere. You could build up that ability in a gym, but it's more fun on a bicycle riding through the real world. The more you do ride, the more you can ride. Two hour segments with a meal on each end can be combined into a day. Three or four such segments add up to 60-100 miles per day, depending upon terrain.
When I started my first cross continental ride, I was about 20 pounds overweight. When I got to DC, I weighed about the same, but it was all muscle. My fellow riders were the key to staying on the bike, especially Ananda, who stoked the tandem, and Ron, the Gear Whisperer.
JB: I understand you've undertaken at least one of your bike tours with unusual baggage. Can you share that story with us, please?