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Ride across America

The Machines: Part II

Iain Lauren Bike across America

  • Day 19, July 25th: 61 miles
  • Day 20, July 26th: 85 miles
  • Day 21, July 27th: 72 miles
  • Total: 1390 miles

July 28, 2023 | Three weeks in!  We are now past Bismarck (we crossed the Missouri) and on our way toward Fargo, ND.  Tonight we are camping in the city park in Napoleon, ND. The last few days have been very hot and sunny, and we have had a mix of winds, some favourable and some not.  We just keep pushing forward.

So, let’s talk about the other part of the machines – us.  Unlike the motorcycles we see all over the western U.S., our bikes need an engine and that is Lauren and I.  I have to say, I look enviously at the Harley Davidsons, Indians, and occasional Can-Am and BMW as they whizz by and fly up the hills. What I would give for a V-Twin some days. :-)

I did train for this ride and it appears to have paid off; my legs feel good and nothing has really given me too much trouble.  My biggest concern was my lower back but the very detailed bike fitting I had in Austin a couple of months ago really seems to have worked; I’ve had no issues.  Lauren was already in good shape from running marathons, swimming, basketball, etc., and she has had few problems.

Let’s clear up one question we get all the time before we go any further:  how long does it take before your butt stops hurting in the saddle?  Answer: 12 days!  On the twelfth morning, I got on the bike and realized my rear end was not burning. :-) For reference, day 5 was hell…

You do have to take care of the toosh – amazing how much Desitin and Shammy Buttr we go through!  Anyone following us must think we smell like new born babies!

The other issue is the sun. We have had just a few hours of rain in the last 1,400 miles, with most days offering blazing sun from dawn to dusk.  Lots of sunscreen is getting applied.

Of course, Lauren manages to look like some bronzed goddess with her bit of Choctaw blood (courtesy of one of her grandmothers). She tans quickly and evenly.

Me?  I look like I got attacked by Andrea Bocelli and Stevie Wonder each with a can of brown paint!  Since I wear fingerless gloves when riding, my hands are white but my fingers are brown; it looks like I have been smoking 20-a-day for a few decades and have nicotine stains.  My knees and outer calves are brown but my inner calves are white since they are shielded from the sun by the frame bag…but only half way down my calf since I like to wear longer socks. The bottom half of my calves are stark white.

Iain Lauren Bike across America

On the subject of socks, someone has asked about my ‘cloud’ orange and white socks.  I got them free at a trade show and have two pairs (I cannot remember the company - CloudFlare?). They are really supportive and seem to help my ankles.  Problem is, the bugs seem to think the orange is some type of flower and keep attacking them!

So yes, we look like a complete pair riding down the road: me with my patchwork quilt of white and brown, gloves, long socks, sun sleeves and bike jersey; and Lauren looking like she is headed for a modelling contest!  No prizes for guessing who we send when we need water at a house on the highway…

The other thing is food. We eat and drink constantly.  No idea how many calories we are burning each day but I am guessing it is north of 5,000.  We eat a big breakfast, big lunch and then are starving by dinner time, even though we snack during the day.  Apples taste particularly good to me.  We also buy fruit snacks and anything loaded with sugar; Swedish Fish and Jolly Ranchers are favourites. :-)

On the ride, we drink water (about a gallon each a day), Vitamin Water, Gatorade, lemonade, and, in my case, Dr. Pepper. Don’t worry, I am averaging way less than one DP a day, but it certainly tastes really good at the end of a hot day.

The strangest thing is my craving for salads.  I eat a lot of fruit but have never been a big salad fan.  But on this ride, I am craving salads, especially with ranch dressing.  It will be interesting to see if this sticks after the ride.

And yes, I am losing weight. Lauren has commented that my face and torso are thinner.  I can see my ribs!  My hands and arms look thinner to me as well.  I did weigh myself before I left (not going to tell you what it said) so we can see just how much I lose on the whole ride.

So let’s end with a quote from that famous cycling philosopher, Lauren K. Gillott:

“There are no tail winds. There is only being in great shape and head winds!"

Iain Lauren Bike across America

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