Starting July 17, 2016, I plan to ride across North America, raising funds and support for two organizations that combat Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
I will not ride alone. The whole adventure is organized—very efficiently—by Pacific Atlantic Cycling Tours (Pactour). Tour operators Lon Haldeman and Susan Notorangelo were founders and record-holders of the grueling Race Across America (RAAM), where winning solo riders cross the USA in about 8 days, one-fourth the time that we will take.
We will cross 11 US states and one Canadian province, almost all of them “new ground” for me. A great voyage of discovery.
About 40 riders will set out from Everett, WA near Seattle on July 17. The median age of riders in these tours is typically about 50. I assume I shall be in the slower half of the pack. All of us want the physical challenge. A few of us are raising funds for their own causes. Some, like me, are startled that in our sixth or seventh decade it is possible to contemplate this. I am grateful for the privileged circumstances that have made it possible.
I couldn’t resist making a comparison with the Tour de France (the 2016 race will be under way when we start our ride), often described as one of the toughest events in the cycling world…for the (young!) pros.
Pactour North America Tour de France
Distance (miles) 3,501 2,200
Riding days 31 21
Miles per day (average) 113 105
Total elevation gain (metres) 39,350 47,850
Longest day (miles) 148 148
Probable average speed (mph) 15-17 23-24
Looks like the old guys compare pretty well with the young ones, just a bit slower! True, we don’t climb quite so many mountains (we do the equivalent of 4 Everests, they do 5 Everests!) And we have 3-4 rest stops each day! They, none.
There is something deeply therapeutic about these long distance rides. A complete abnegation of day-to-day responsibilities. All you have to do is eat, ride, and sleep (and drink—hydration is a major challenge). The daily routine becomes almost hypnotic, and you must trust that the arrangements you have left in place for the homestead and everyday business, are in good hands.