Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What? Me Worry?

I saw a great quote the other day: "Worry is a misuse of imagination."

Of course, it's human nature to think about what might go wrong with something ... and that's not necessarily bad. It's actually a sick kind of fun to attempt to anticipate potential problems, and then devise strategies to overcome them. I've been doing a lot of that over the past couple of months in preparation for my Big Trip, which starts Friday.

In case you didn't know, I'm flying in to Seattle, Washington. From there, I will head out on my bike to the coast, riding mostly down Hwy 101 through Oregon and into California, then going inland for a bit until I pick up CA 1 to go back to the shore. Eventually, I will cross the Golden Gate Bridge to my destination in San Francisco.

Most days, I'll be on popular roads with towns and grocery stores and bike shops. If something goes awry, it shouldn't be difficult to hobble things together enough to get somewhere where I can either buy what I need to fix what's wrong, or make other arrangements.

But there are some days on my trip when I will be out in the boonies. If there's a problem there, I'd better have with me everything that I need to get my bike moving again ... or else be prepared for a long walk.

But I'm not going to worry about those things. I have been, and will continue to be, concerned about those days. And I don't blame RandoGirl and the RandoDaughter and all of my friends for being concerned for me on those days -- any more than I would blame them for being concerned about me when I go out and do any long bike ride.

Just, please, don't worry.

If it helps, let me tell you what I've done to mitigate potential problems:

It all starts with the right equipment. Everything on the bike right now is in top shape, with new tires, new chain, and all of the hubs and bottom brackets and headsets and bolts well-greased and snug. Over the past couple of months I have tested, tweaked, and refined everything so that it is maximally operational, logically positioned, sufficiently accessible, and as solidly locked down as I can get it.

Next come the things to fix the obvious "what ifs" -- four spare tubes, a big patch kit, a spare tire, a roll of tape, bunches of zip ties, a fiber-fix spoke, tire boots, backup lighting, links for the chain, and tools to effectuate most repairs. I thought about carrying spare cables for brakes and derailleurs, but I rarely hear about anyone getting a good result from this. If I have to ride singlespeed for a few miles, it won't be the first time. If both of my brake cables should somehow go at the same time ... well, I would be very unpleasantly surprised.

As to my tent, sleeping bag, cooking equipment, and so forth, all of that is in good shape, too. I've got patch kits for any of those that might spring a leak, and I am bringing a proper mix of gear to get me through all but the most extreme weather.

Of course, to quote Mike Tyson: "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth."

What Mike probably means by that is what Helmuth von Moltke the Elder meant when he said that "no plan survives first contact with the enemy." At that point, you rely on conditioning, resourcefulness, whatever knowledge and experience you may have gained thus far in your life, and a cool head. When that fails, you go the Blanche DuBois route and rely upon "the kindness of strangers."

So, what I'm asking you all to do is not waste perfectly good imagination thinking up dire events that could befall me during my Big Trip. Instead, just keep reading here for the next few weeks as I chronicle a trip that I have wanted to do -- in one form or another -- for almost 20 years. If you want to expend an emotion on me, make it Envy.

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