It wasn’t like I woke up one morning with a burning desire to ride the Lewis and Clark Trail. It just happened. But I know now that it had to happen. Trout swim upstream to spawn. I ride.
The idea didn’t start for any reason in particular. I was leafing through an old issue of Bike Magazine and saw a small ad about the Adventure Cycling Association. I checked it out online and thought it would be cool idea to go on a cross country ride. I scratched my head and snooped through the routes. Hell, I had thirty days of leave coming to me once I rotated off the Marine Security Guard program, and that would be plenty of time to take a long distance ride. But which one? Dale was getting married around the same time frame so a ride ending in Bismarck would be perfect. Suddenly, I spotted the Lewis and Clark Trail and my eyes bulged.
Of course! It went right through Bismarck with plenty of miles on either side to keep me busy for a couple weeks. I sprung into action and started pouring through magazines and touring websites to see what it would take to make it happen. I needed gear. Not much, but something better than the panniers and WalMart bike rack I used in 1997 on a 180 mile attempt from Bismarck to Medora, ND. 35 miles into the ride the rack snapped, leaving me to stash all my gear in a culvert under the interstate and ride for assistance. The trip was cut sadly short because of pinching pennies.
I’m older now, 20 pounds heavier in a good way, and a lot wiser when it comes to the quality versus price debate. If I buy cheap, I get cheap. Simple as that. I decided to go with a B.O.B. Yak trailer, and practically stole it off eBay from some sorry soul who had to let it go. Sometimes at night I swear I hear him weeping for his loss. Oh well, my gain!
The route is almost 100% solid now to the tune of 1,969 miles and 25 days according to Bicycling the Lewis and Clark Trail which was written by the Adventure Cycling Association. The trick to the route is that I’ll be doing it backwards in respect to the original expedition 200 years ago, and the book was written as such. It’s a simple enough fix. Turn the book around.
Joining me on this trip of self discovery, sporadic body hygiene, and plenty of mosquitoes, is one (1) K.C. Mack, a.k.a. Tuna Can, of Detroit Michigan. Mack is stationed here in Brasilia with me and due to get out of our beloved Marine Corps early next summer. After a few pain compliance techniques, he happily agreed to ride along with me, or behind me a few miles if the hills got bad, for the duration of the trip. He enjoys stargazing, long walks on the beach, and traditional Brazilian music. I wish him luck.
A big question mark that has been raised is Dale’s participation. Will he or won’t he? Can he or can’t he? Should he or shouldn’t he? Like the number of licks it takes to the center of a tootsie pop, the world may never know. My propaganda war continues as I flood his inbox with web sites and links and wisdom from other cyclic travelers around the country. I speak to him of racks and packs and components and sunsets in the saddle. I feel him crumbling. I await his decision.