Bike Challenges for My Octogenarian Year

August 11, 2011

I’ve been wondering lately how to inaugurate my first year as an octogenarian bicyclist. An electronic newsletter this week points the way: two good cycling expeditions with PAC Tour, a company that provides “bicycle expeditions across America for the Exceptional Cyclist.”

The year would start February 18, 2012, with Week # One of Desert Camp, which PAC Tour will be conducting for the 17th year. It travels from Tucson, Arizona, to Gila Bend and Wickenburg and back. Much of this ride traverses desert roads that I cycled during our post-retirement years in Arizona. I’d like to ride through this country another time while there still is a little muscle in the old man’s legs.

Week # Two Border to Border also sounds interesting. It’s a new program this year and will take cyclists through border towns of southern Arizona. The itinerary has not yet been posted, so it’s too soon to decide whether I want to do the trip. But the country is fascinating and it would be challenging to do back-to-back weeks of Desert Camp.

These two weeks would be a build up for the climactic tour, Route 66 (the western half): beginning in Santa Monica, California, and continuing to Amarillo, Texas, reaching there in early May.

“This nostalgic tour follows the history of the old highway across the western States. Our route is filled with historic landmarks and museums.  Most meals are in classic cafes. Many guest speakers and Route 66 programs make this a fun and interesting way to learn about the historic road.  Bikes with 32mm tires are required for gravel sections and rough pavement.”  

I’ve traveled four times with PAC Tour and like the way they run their bike trips. Other cyclists are younger than I, and faster (especially on hills), but so far I’ve been able to stay within the time boundaries that Lon and Susan post. When the need arises, they even let the slow ones ride a few miles in one of the support vehicles in order to stay with the group.

Between now and then, there’s much to do. Most important is to resume a more dedicated training program. Saving up some money will have to take on a new priority. I’ll begin reading about Route 66, a little history and probably even more the legend and the lore. And spend lots of time on my bike. Yesterday’s 45 miles (Vancouver to Springdale on the Columbia River Highway and back) left me more fatigued than I like to admit.

Maybe it will be easier when I turn 80.


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