Half of the fun of life is playing the Next Time Game. "Next time, I'm gonna take a taxi." "Next time, I'll keep my big mouth closed." "Next time, I'll know what the word 'Corrosive' means."
RandoGirl and I started playing the Next Time Game before we ever started our trip down the Trace. Sometimes, it was "I hope that we can do it just like this next time," and sometimes it wasn't.
Here's what I might do differently next time:
- We would take eight days for this trip, instead of seven. We can't really do much about the distances, and it would be difficult to do this without booking hard dates for the bed and breakfasts, but we could take a day off of the bike in the middle. This would probably be either in French Camp or Jackson, depending upon the pace that we wanted for the off day.
- We might try a trailer instead of panniers on racks. The panniers easily held all of our gear, but they made the bike sway lumberingly when we stood on climbs. I've been told that a bike pulling a trailer rides more like a regular bike, although you still have to overcome inertia starting up and you don't climb as well. A plus for panniers, however, is that we could pull them off of the racks and tote them as luggage when we needed to.
- I might like to try this trip with a few more cyclists and a support vehicle. Lodging would be trickier, and we would have to customize our pace to that of the other riders, but it might be fun for RandoGirl to have other folks to talk to (hard to believe it, but I can become boring). Each cyclist would take one day off of the bike to drive the vehicle, so everybody would get a break from the road, and we could use the car for sight-seeing and driving to dinner. The riding would also be easier, since nobody would need panniers and/or a trailer, and all of it could be on the Trace -- rather than bike a busy road to downtown Jackson, you would all put of the bikes on the van and climb in.
- I would bring one less pair of cycling shorts and jersey, and instead pack a spare pair of khakis. It's easier to wash shorts and jersey in a sink than a pair of khakis.
- I will definitely make sure that we can get into all of the gears before we begin. It would have been nice to use the middle ring as the ride went on.
- I might not get the drag brake put on. We didn't need it that often.
- I will bring a small bottle of chain lube. If we had been rained on Tuesday as heavily as we were rained on Friday, we would have had a clunky drivetrain.
- I will buy at least five packages of peanut brittle when I stop in the gift shop at French Camp, so I have some to snack on the next day riding to Jackson. Make that 10.
- If I could, I would stay on the Trace more around Jackson. Except for the one driver in the white pickup truck (you know who you are ... and now you know who that was that flipped you off next to the reservoir), traffic was really pretty good around there. They also seem to be putting in a separate multi-use trail on that part of the Trace, which would help.
Here's what I would do the same next time:
- I would probably do this at exactly this time of year, or maybe in spring. Normally, late October in Tennessee is a little warmer and drier. Spring is busy with brevets, and can be wetter, so I still think that this is the right time of year for this trip. A little more of a tailwind wouldn't have sucked, though.
- I will use all of the same hotels. Each was perfect in their own way, and the people were so nice.
- RandoGirl will still wear two pairs of shorts every day. This is an old trick for many ultra-cyclists, who swear by it.
- I will also still bring lots of Lantiseptic. For distance cycling -- especially in the rain -- it is the best.
- We would still bring our Tandem-Com. It was great to be able to easily talk to RandoGirl, and really nice to be able to listen to music with her. I just wish that they had more comfortable headphones.
- Maybe we didn't need the drag brake because I put a fresh set of Kool-Stop brake pads on the rear. They worked great, with no squeal, and I will definitely use them again.
- I will also put fenders on again next time. Just thinking about how wet we would have gotten Friday without those fenders makes my toes hurt.
- I will put RandoGirl's Garmin Edge 705 on the top tube for her to use again. It was nice to have her able to navigate for us, and she enjoyed monitoring the numbers. She would love it even more if I replaced the hub on the rear wheel with a PowerTap, since we were probably regularly over 1,000 watts.
- I will definitely bring the netbook and blog every night (even if I don't have internet and can't post). It was fun to relive the day, and writing at night while the memory was fresh kept it clean.
- I will still have Jeff Bauer come and pick us up in Natchez. Jeff is thrilled to know that he has this job. Forever. And ever.