Post #1: Training in Boulder

One thing I know for sure is that when your friend with a professional background in photography and television comes to visit, you get him to tail your bike in a Volkswagen with a camera taped to a Swiffer pole hanging out the window, and you see what happens. Following a full morning of filming on the outskirts of Boulder, we’ve got three video shorts celebrating cycling and World Bicycle Relief, a remarkable organization tackling problems in education, health, and commerce in developing countries through the power of bicycles.

Generous contributions to our World Bicycle Relief campaign have already amounted to over 17 new Buffalo bikes, each of which will change a life — and indirectly impact many more. Thank you in advance for spreading the word to friends/family/colleagues who would be interested in getting involved.

WBR

My training in the foothills of the Rockies has now come to a close (long mountainous rides punctuated by extended iced coffee breaks), so all that separates me from the starting line to this year’s Transcontinental is a few days of final preparations in London and a train ride beneath the English Channel. Though internet access may be difficult to come by once the race begins at midnight this Friday, I’ll be posting anguished selfies occasional updates on Facebook and Instagram followed by a more comprehensive retrospective after the event (editor’s note: you’re reading it!).

Thank you all for the support!

Final preparations in London

The past few days in London have treated me well, despite the frenetic pace of final race preparations. Regrettably, these Brits barely speak any American, but I understand their “English” far more than the German-French-Dutch “melange” of those friendly Belgians. Needless to say, stopping off here on the way to the starting line was a good choice.

In between time spent catching up with old (and new) friends, I’ve been heading out on cycling outings around London to pick up final pieces of gear. It’s been unnerving dodging hackney carriages on roundabouts while Siri spits directions in my earbuds, but exploring the city by bike has offered a new perspective of the place. In other news, it’s taken a few days to adjust to riding on the left side of the road, but I’ve finally mastered it – just in time to move back to the right when I cross the Channel.

Many an hour has also been committed to last minute route-planning. While the Transcontinental lays out four predefined checkpoints, the rest of the route is up to each rider to decide – a weighty responsibility. (There’s not exactly Google streetview in Bosnia.) I close with a plea that someone put Garmin out of business with a superior GPS unit, and an uplifting quote from the Bike Snob’s self-entitled 2010 tour de force:

“The Amish can resist Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, pornography, ice-cold margaritas on tropical beaches, designer drugs, fast cars (actually, all cars), thong underwear, American Idol, Amazon.com, and sneakers. But they can’t resist the bicycle. This is because the bicycle is a Truly Great Invention. 

A bicycle is a Truly Great Invention because it is part of the entire range of human existence, from frivolity to necessity. A bicycle, if understood correctly and used to its full potential, is actually a key to a completely different and in many ways more rewarding, way of life. Sure, there are limits to the ways in which you can use a bicycle but those limits are surprisingly few. A bicycle can give you the feeling of freedom and speed you get from a motorcycle, the sense of well-being and peace you get from meditating, the health benefits you get from an afternoon in the gym, the sense of self-expression you get from learning to play the guitar, and the feeling of victory you get from completing a marathon. It’s an invention that was in many ways ahead of its time, and whose time has finally come.” – The Bike Snob

Belgium tomorrow. Cheerio for now!

IMG_4703