Trip update. The Northern Trek 2014 started on Monday with a 110-km ride to Richmond. I enjoyed the hospitality of Couchsurfing host Jessica on Monday and Tuesday nights, allowing me to recover from my first century ride in more than two months. Wednesday, I rode to Williamsburg (85 km), and Thursday to Norfolk (42 km), where I stayed with my niece Clara and her husband Ben for two nights. Today, I am attending a mini-reunion of friends from the US Naval Academy Class of 1969, and enjoying the hospitality of Dennis and Emily until I catch the shuttle over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel next week.
The roads have been smooth, the winds contrary but not strong, the heat pleasant after our long, cold winter. The company has been great, and the food everywhere excellent. So far, I am off to a good start.
So what is different this time?
I am riding with only two panniers and a rack trunk. No bounce boxes. Nothing on the front rack (except a water bottle, which I lost in traffic in Richmond). When I set out on the Southern Swing 2013, I left 27 boxes, weighed and numbered, back in Charlottesville. This time, I filled 45 boxes, but the paradigm is very different.
On the Southern Swing, I packed like items together. It is unlikely that I would send for all my shirts or all my jeans, but I did not think that through, because I was leaving in a hurry, and because I was living out of my bounce boxes, not planning to send for anything.
For the Northern Trek 2014, I have envisioned needing things sent to me, with the intention of sending them back after using them. The 45 boxes include outfits, e.g., a box with a suit, two shirts, bow ties, socks, shoes and belt, rather than groups of like items. There is a box for the bike bag, another for the forward panniers. There is even a box with a car rack, so that I can rent a car to leave town quickly with my bicycle on the back.
The boxes went into a closet in the basement.
This exercise was an opportunity to dispose of things that I would not need. I had 13 boxes of books stored in the house when I left for the Southern Swing 2013. Before I left this week, I donated seven boxes to the Friends of Library for their sale, packed up four boxes of professional books to donate to colleagues or a professional association, and put the remaining books on two small bookshelves in the home library.
There were also five bags of clothes for the VFW and Vietnam Vets to pick up.
Finally, I moved all the office furniture and equipment (printers, desks, workstations, small office equipment, etc.) to the porch, where we are assembling stuff for a yard sale next week. What Daniel can’t sell, he can dispose of as he pleases (freecycle.com or craigslist).
Packing away things to live on the road indefinitely has some collateral benefits. It forces me to reduce the clutter in my life even more. It alleviates the difficulty of Daniel’s sorting through my stuff should something happen to me. It teaches me what I really need, so that if I stop travelling and working on the road like this, I won’t buy or rent more space than I really need to be comfortable.
Finally, it gives me flexible control of my travel: I am no longer bound to ride to the next mailstop, because my bounce box is going there. I have not tested the idea of sending for things as I need them. We will see how that works out.
Please share your comments and questions, and come back next week for another sea story.
Smooth roads & tailwinds,
Jonathan, I ran across your blog when you were just starting out with this idea and have followed you sporadically through the Southern Swing. I am encouraged that you have been able to continue on and am interested in seeing how you have adapted your methods. May your adventures continue!
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Thanks, Jay. It’s feeling normal now, much sooner than on the Southern Swing 2013.
I like your sharing of the websites you have found. You have mentioned several I did not know existed (e.g., freecycle.com in this week’s blog). Thank you for keeping us enlightened. 🙂
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Jonathan, I read all your posts and find them both interesting and inspiring. I like the mix of current adventures and past (sea stories). Please find time to write a memoir, for your descendants and for all of us who find you such a fascinating and likeable person.
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Thanks, Dave. I’m working on it.