About ten years ago my friend Chris retired early, and in her first summer of retirement rode across the country on her bike. I was so impressed that I decided that I would do the same thing. Of course retirement was but a dream at that time. But I told my friend Bill that I wanted to do it...
Fast forward to 2007... My employer offered buyouts to reduce staff, and I accepted, which, in essence, gives me full pension while I am still young enough to play! As soon as I told Bill (who is now my husband) that I was going to retire, he asked me when I was going to do the coast to coast ride.
I started research immediately. I had a lead on a great tour group that rides from San Diego to Portsmouth, NH, but they do it in June and July. I did not want to give up my whole summer and forgo all triathlons and sailing events, so I kept looking. Some of the companies I researched require the cyclists to carry all their gear (including tents and sleeping bags) on their bikes, and not only did I not want to camp for 7 weeks straight, I did not want to carry all my stuff on my bike!
A couple of the companies I researched had not updated their websites to show the 2008 tours, in fact one of them was stuck in 2006, so I kept looking. I even contacted someone through a personal ad in Adventure Cycling who was arranging a very small group, but they were doing their own cooking and riding east to west (against the prevailing winds).
I found the ideal tour last week--Los Angeles to Boston, May 10 to June 28; with CrossRoads Cycling. Their tour operators sent me a list of names of people who have done the Cross Country Tour in recent years and I called four of them, deliberately choosing women who signed up singly... they all raved about the ride and told me wonderful stories about their experiences, some of them having ridden parts of the ride more than once!
Believe it or not, my biggest concern was the assignment of roommates--since I am definitely NOT a TV watcher, I was afraid they would team me up with a Letterman fan, which would make me crazy... (nothing against Dave, with or without writers... just TV in general) but one of the women I called assured me that that would not happen. (I mentioned it in my registration anyway--you can't be too careful).
Yes, it was expensive, but I bit the bullet and signed up yesterday. I already set up my bike on a trainer in the basement... it's going to take a lot of butt time to be ready to ride 3,415 miles only 5 months from now, especially when 3 of those months are smack in the middle of a Michigan winter!