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bicycle around the world

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Ride around the world

December 26th, 1999 · No Comments

The trip begins January 1, 2000 and ends January 1, 2001.

Getting to the start of the journey has been a story in itself. We aren’t just getting on a planeBikes training in Colorado Snow! and taking off for a year. For the past four years we have been planning and talking about this trip. Up until January of 1999, we weren’t even sure that we would get to go. But as goal-setting would have it, we are!

On December 30, 1999, we meet the other 246 members of our group for the first time. We have met many of the Colorado riders and have corresponded with others via the internet over the past year. We are anxious to met the rest of the gang.

We begin with a “debriefing” in beautiful downtown Burbank on the 30th. Then on the 31st, we have “parade practice”. We know we are the first slot in the Rose Parade, first that is right after the Air Force Thunderbirds (I’ve got goose bumps just thinking about it!). We will practice riding our bikes at the speed of 5 mile per hour, without falling off! It nice being first, I would hate to have to follow the horses…not that I don’t like horses, it’s the mess they leave!

After completing the Rose Bowl route, we head south 72 miles to Dana Point. At that point we are finally out of the Los Angeles Metro area. Of course we will have accomplished this with less than 4 hours sleep (if we get any at all). It’s strictly an adrenalin day. Let’s hope the wind is at our back!

The second night will find us in San Diego, a short day at only 63 miles. It would be wonderful to visit Sea World or some of the other attractions, but I fear survival instincts will demand we rest our tired bodies instead.

The third day brings us to the first “foreign” country, Mexico. This is where we bring out the language translator and currency exchange computer. We have been working on values for the past few weeks. The exchange of money is oh so confusing. No doubt we will catch on, I just hope it is before we leave the country.

The trip has been planned on the group advancing an average of 78 miles per day, with 2 days off a week. However, due to logistics it is never quite the average. The first 17 days will be completed with only 2 days off. Then we will have 4 days off (from cycling) in a row. Mostly we have leg travel days when we have multiple days off. By leg travel, we fly, ferry or train to another destination. Over the course of a year we have 18 air, 12 ferry and 1 railroad leg(s).

Accommodations vary. We plan to spend 60% of the time in our tent. The rest of the time we will have roof over our head. That doesn’t mean a 5 star hotel roof, but it will be indoors. We will fill you in on that later.

Food, both breakfast and dinner will be provided for us. We are on our own during the day. This will be part of the challenge and fun. Bicyclists are known to eat mass quantities of food. Considering we will be burning an average of 6000 calories a day, dieting will not be allowed! (yippee!)

We have begun:

December 26, 1999
Our tickets for train departure said 9:20 a.m. The family was there on time to meet us and say good-bye. We managed to put all of our parts in the many respective carry alls, but someone forgot to tell the train to show up!

Somewhere in the middle of the night in Iowa, the train, our train broke down. It received a new locomotive and was running about 2,3,4 hours late. As we waited for the train at Union Station in Denver I feared this was a sign. Our trip was going to happen at a speed not completely controlled us. We were about to take a leap into a journey, that would make us relax, so be it.

Train travel is for savoring. It is not to be done in haste. We had plenty of time to get to Burbank so why worry. We meet a couple who were on a tight schedule to catch another train to make it to a bowl game in San Diego. They were so worried about what to do to get there in time, I don’t think they were enjoying the journey.

Our biggest shock after discovering the “sleeper compartments” don’t look like they do in the movies. They aren’t bad, but trust me, you don’t walk around in them! It is nice to have privacy apart from “coach class”. But if you are the least bit claustrophobic, a sleeper will not work for you!

Larry McGee in the Amtrak compartment
Larry our “sleeper compartment” on the Amtrack.

Our sleeper gave us “first class” status on the train. This meant we got to choose dinner reservations first and all of our meals were included in the fee. The porter came in the evening to turn down our bed and made sure we had coffee and soft drinks when we wanted them during the day. There was even a shower down the hall. So you see, we had all the conveniences we could want.

The best part of all was our view. We traveled over some of the most beautiful tracks in the country, the Rocky Mountains, 7 mile long Moffat tunnel, Donner Pass and the Sierras. Out there in the wilderness at night you could see so many stars. The views were magnificent.

Larry asked me if the train in Vietnam will be like this. Of course he knew the answer. We compare everything we have in this country to what we are going to have over the next 12 months. I know we are going to return with a greater appreciation for everything we were lucky enough to be born into.

Tonight sleeping in the king size bed in a temperature controlled room at the Sheraton on Fisherman’s Wharf, I know I am experiencing something in comparison to heaven on earth…

December 28, 1999 (link to pictures)

Today was the tour of “The Rock”. Alcatraz is now a National Park after being a maximumAlcatraz the rock security prison for 29 years. They offer a self guided audio tour through the facility. It is an amazing place to see. Even though it is worn down and in need of repair we enjoyed the experience. The beautiful views from every window must have tortured the “bad guys” who were imprisoned there.

Note: We packed up 14 pounds of “stuff” today and mailed it home. Larry says that’s the first 14 pounds we are mailing home. Our packs still weigh too much. I don’t know what I can do to lightened the load. Guess time will tell!

January 1, 2000, Rose Bowl Parade, Pasadena, California (pictures)

We woke at 3:45 a.m. to load the locker and hop on a bus to take us to the staging area forOdyssey Riders prepare to parade the Parade. It was very cold. I mean very cold! We wore the warmest “thin” clothes we could find. They were taken away from us about 2 hours before the parade was scheduled to start. The only thing that saved us was the 5 mile ride to the next staging area, which we made on our bikes.

The crowds were amazing. Everyone seemed to still be celebrating New Year, dressed up, dressed down or just plain dressed strange! All the Parade Officials dress in White. It was impressive to watch the parking attendants decked out in white suits.

We (all 247 Odyssey riders) rode our bikes to the start of the parade, through thousands of people. It was very difficult to maneuver but we managed to get to our spot. When we got there, there wasn’t enough room for all of us. They kept telling us to move together to make more space for the crowds walking by. It was all very confusing and unorganized.

A group of motorcycle cops arrived and started cruising back and forth on the block, clearingCop bikes decorated in Roses the street. At some point around 8 a.m. we were supposed to follow out after the Grand Marshall. Well all of a sudden the bikes in front of us started to move out. I thought we were going to yet another staging area. No so! We were starting the parade, 10 minutes early!

The TV crews were not ready, The Grand Marshall was behind us. What a goof up! Actually, after the fact we learned that someone up front started following out the motorcycle cops, and the rest of us followed. There was no stopping this group!

Of course we take pride in the fact that we did look good! We were televised on Spanish TV. We were probably the ONLY group that has practiced for the Rose Parade for a total of 40 minutes! Next year we will be perfect, if not, we will just have to keep trying till we get it right!

Riding the parade route was fun, even if it was premature! Thousands of people lined the parade route, waving and cheering us on. It was the opportunity of a lifetime.

Odyssey Locker Truck
Locker Truck

Once we finished the route, we met up with the locker truck, got dressed in warm clothes to begin the real journey. At days end, we had ridden 72 miles and still were not out of the Los Angles area. Larry and I coasted into camp just minutes before darkness.

Dinner was served by a caterer, we had salad, tender beef bar-b-gue, veggies and FRESH baked cookies. (What a hit they were!) It was an awesome first day.

January 2, 2000 Dana Point to San Diego

We rode down the Pacific Coast Highway today. I must say California is certainly “bike friendly”. The entire time we were in the state, there were bike paths or lanes to accommodate us. It was so wonderful to have someone cater to us cyclists.

The scenery on the route was spectacular and never boring all the way to San Diego. We camped in an organized camp ground with already built hot showers…heavenly!

Larry and I re-organized our gear again. This time we shipped home the backpacks and folding chairs (23 pounds) of gear. We are getting down to the bear basics, no frills. It’s all the 17x17x35 ” locker will hold!

Tags: Cycling the world · Odyssey-Preparation