Lessons learned: the Climate Ride 2012.

Trip update: the Conference in Atlanta last Saturday (28 September) was very successful. I strengthened some old friendships and made many new friends. Networking is such an important part of Conference attendance that even without the presentations, the Conferences are usually worth the cost. It helped my mood that the attendees seemed to enjoy my contribution, a presentation on how to set your price and economic decision-making for freelancers.

The riding around Roswell and Atlanta was exciting, partly because Google Maps kept trying to detour me through neighborhoods and bike trails, when I could see where I needed to go on the map. I was glad that I rode into Atlanta on Friday before the Conference, because I was ready to take a more direct route on Sunday when I had to go to the bus station. The bus rides to Georgia and to Texas allowed me to pick up the bicycle-borne part of my itinerary where I would have been had I been able to start in Chicago in late July as originally scheduled. I am writing to you this week from Keller, Texas, where I will spend some time with family – and working on a pair of translations – before heading south to the Austin area.

For the next three posts, I would like to take some space to discuss the lessons learned from the two major rides that I completed, preparing for this Southern Swing 2013: the Climate Ride 2012 and what I call the Giro della Nuova Inghilterra (GNI), which means the Tour of New England.

This is not the place for me to tell you all about the Climate Ride, its challenges, the money it collects for dozens of worthy beneficiaries, or how to prepare for a 500-km, 5-day ride. You can read my log at http://www.scriptorservices.com/climateride2012, and I hope that you enjoy it.

Climate Ride climb

Hill climbing in New Jersey

For the purposes of The Freewheeling Freelancer, I extracted these lessons from my rides in the South Texas desert, the Massachusetts countryside and the Climate Ride itself.

  1. Have fun. Not happy-glad-grinning-stupid-smiley-laughing fun, but real fun, deeply satisfying, meaningful fun. I gained as much satisfaction out of realizing that I had prepared well as I did from finishing those long rides in the desert in Texas or the constant rain in Pennsylvania.

    Cville Climate Rider in Texas

    The nearest Starbucks to South Padre Island was 80 km across the south Texas desert.

  2. Enjoy the view. When I reread my Climate Ride log, I noticed how special some of the vistas were. I did not have a camera or a smart phone at that time. That may be just as well, because the emotional impact of those views comes back to me with my memories. New sights (and new ways of looking at old sights) are some of the most important reasons for leaving home for the long haul.
  3. Check out the bike. Before I started training for the Climate Ride, I paid to have a complete overhaul done on the bicycle. I also got it tuned up before the Climate Ride itself. Almost every time I went out on a long series of rides, there was some small adjustment that required the attention of the bike shop. However, by the time I went on the Climate Ride I was helping others, not being helped.

    End of P100 - 120329a

    Texas Route P100 starts and ends in sand, on South Padre Island.

  4. Check out your body. Before the Climate Ride, I rode a series of one-day, 100-kilometer rides to mimic the conditions on the Climate Ride. For the purpose of this ride, I tried to ride with my panniers loaded at least 50 km three times a week, whether it was running errands, going to meetings, or just finding someplace to work that was at least 25 km from the house.
  5. Plan B is to keep riding. After injuries, or catching a cold, I learned to get back on the bicycle and to ride as much as I could, even if it was only 25 km. This hastened my recovery dramatically. If something broke, or I had to put the bicycle in the shop, I borrowed a bicycle, or went to the gym to use the spinners.
  6. Don’t give up. I thought that I had caught a chest cold before the Climate Ride. Battling the terrible weather with a cold was bad enough, but by the third day the cough was more or less under control, and I did finish the ride. After I got back, I learned that I had asthmatic bronchitis. Had I known that beforehand, I might not have done the Ride at all. Now that I’m a freewheeling freelancer, it is important to me to know that sickness is not automatically a reason to stop riding.

    2012-05-27 Climate Ride return

    Climate Ride victory pose, with the Blue Ridge behind me.

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