“Let us think the unthinkable, let us do the undoable, let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.”
– Douglas Adams
*Note: This map is not an accurate representation of the exact route, only of the general scale of the ride from point A to point B.
The ride is upon us. Well, upon me, I suppose. Seven months ago, I got this bright idea in the dead of winter that I should bike to New York. My wife, ever supportive, agreed that it would be something worth trying to achieve, surprisingly, instead of scoffing at such nonsense and telling me to go home and sleep off the crazy.
Emma’s support has gone well past the moms sitting in the bleachers at the baseball game, reading a book. In fact, she’s the reason this blog exists in the first place. She is the creator, poster, and editor of all the nonsense I write. She has driven hundreds of miles to pick me up and bring me back home and she’s generally pretty sweet. You’re too kind.
And now the proposal of biking almost 800 miles across five days is almost a reality. She will still be providing support by posting live updates of the ride on Twitter (@cycologyphd) and nightly posts about how things went, what went right, what went wrong, and so on. We are mere days away from Day 1 and it seems like a good time to provide an overview of what the proposed trip will contain.
Day 1 – July 18
On the first day, I will be leaving from Iowa City and biking 162 miles to Ottawa, IL. I have already done this trip once before as a dry run. This trip is almost exclusively along Route 6. During my practice run, I found out the Hennepin Trail is not viable to bike on so I’ll be staying on Route 6 instead. That dry run also led me to check the other four days’ maps to see if I was put onto any other dirt trails. Day 3 was marred by such an instance so I have updated that map to avoid the trail.
According to the 10-day forecast, the 18th will be quite hot with temperatures climbing into the mid 90’s. No rain is expected, which is nice, and most importantly, the winds will be blowing SSW at 5-10 mph. With the heat, it may be wise to get as many hours in during the very early morning as possible so I may try to be out of the house by 2am instead of 3am, buying myself another hour of moderate temperatures and allowing me to (hopefully) arrive at my destination by 2pm instead of 3 or 4pm. I am still deciding on that.
As I said, the total trip distance for Day 1 should come out to about 162 miles. In that 162 miles, I have four scheduled stops with an average of 35.3 miles between them. With the high heat, I may need to stop more frequently or carry more water on my back. But, having surveyed the landscape previously, I know there are plenty of stopping points on Route 6. The goal should be to never let the second of my two water bottles get below halfway at any point.
Along those 162 miles, I will have 1,847 feet of climb. Since the beginning of the year, on rides of 45 miles or longer, my average elevation climb per ride has been 2,535 feet. If just looking at rides over 100 miles, my average climb per ride has been 3,226 feet. Thus, Day 1’s climb is well within my normal expectancy range and shouldn’t be a problem. In fact, on the dry run, I didn’t notice any major hills or trouble areas to concern myself with.
Day 2 – July 19
For Day 2, I will be departing from Ottawa, IL, and heading to Bremen, IN. The biggest concern about this day is the relative paucity of civilization near my final destination. I think I will need to stop on the way to my final destination to have dinner and refuel for the next day because the closest store is 5+ miles away from my final destination. Overall, this trip should come out to 156 miles.
The 10-day forecast says the weather in Ottawa will be almost identical to the weather from Day 1. High of 89 with SSW winds 10 to 15 mph. Also, the prediction is only a 10% chance of rain.
Along the 156 miles for Day 2, I have five stops planned with an average of 30 miles between each stop. This average is down from Day 1 because I’ll be able to bring more supplies with me on Day 1 than any other day. Also, the final stop will be where I eat dinner and refuel for the next day because of the lack of civilization at my final destination, 12 miles away from this last stop point.
This ride will include only 1,201 feet of climb, which I’m sure will feel great. One other issue with this particular day is that I cross over to the Eastern Time Zone, resulting in the loss of an hour. The hope is that I will be able to make up that hour on Day 4. More on that later.
As long as I can figure out a viable solution to the refueling 12 miles before reaching my destination, I think this ride will be relatively easy and should put me in a good spot for Day 3.
Day 3 – July 20
I will be entering my 3rd state of the trip on Day 3, moving from Indiana into Perrysburg, OH. This day’s mileage total should come out to 150.2.
Upon leaving Bremen, Indiana, the weather should be more of the same. High of 86, winds from the Southwest at 5 to 10 mph with a 20% chance of rain. So far in three days, the weather should be nearly ideal for the trip. Even the heat appears to only pose a potential annoyance on Day 1. The caveat being that I am looking at the weather forecast several days ahead of time so all of this could be changed in some significant way by the time July 20th actually comes around.
The trip to Perrysburg should be about 150 miles with five scheduled stops at an average of 26 miles in between each stop. This ride is another easy climb day with a total climb of 512 feet. That number is nearly unbelievable to me, it’s so low. That number will more than be made up for on Day 5, though.
Day 4 – July 21
The fourth Day keeps me in Ohio and gets me to the east side of Cleveland. This is also the shortest mileage day, clocking in at just under 130 miles. This is the day I hope to make up for the lost hour from crossing into a new time zone or make up for some lost time for some other reason (ie: flat tire, detour, etc).
The morning of July 21 when I leave Perrysburg, the weather should be interesting. The current report calls for morning thunderstorms. That will be something to monitor as we get closer to the actual departure time. The temperature will stay about the same as Day 3 with a high around 86 and now the wind will be coming from the Northwest at 5 to 10 mph.
The 127.6 miles of Day 4 has a bit more climb than Day 3 at 1,620 feet. So, you know, triple the amount of Day 3. The shorter distance means only three stops with 31 miles in between each stop on average.
The low amount of climb in Day 3 and the reduced mileage on Day 4, which has the lowest mileage total of all 5 days, should have me set up as well as possible to conquer the hardest day, Day 5.
Day 5 – July 22
Day 5 has long loomed in my mind. I knew from the beginning this would be the most challenging day. Not just because it would be the last day but because of the route involved. I have done bits of this ride several times before on RTYD II and RTYD III along with Wedding Ride I and II. It’s tough because of the abrupt change in elevation as you leave Westfield and head towards Chautauqua around the lake. This change comes at the end of the ride and for me, will come after pedaling about 600 miles.
This is a picture of the elevation gain with percent grades for the Westfield stint.
My goal for this day is to just survive. I’ve pedaling for 26 hours straight before (RTYD III) and so I plan on going into the final day with the mentality of just getting to the finish. If it takes 16 or 20 hours instead of 13, so be it.
The one reprieve on this final day is the weather. The temperature should be low with a high of 81. Minimal chance of rain and 5 to 10 mph winds from the Northwest. Hopefully this stays true, as those are ideal biking conditions.
We’ve already looked at the elevation for this ride, which comes in at about 2,884 feet. This occurs over 159.3 miles. The ride has five scheduled stops at an average of 27 miles in between and that number may increase if things go poorly on the ride. I do not have a scheduled stop between Westfield and my final destination, which are about 34 miles from each other. This is where the most additional stops may take place. Pauses to get more water or just to catch my breath.
Routes and stops always change during a ride due to construction or because I got Googled onto a crappy road or I need to make a detour for another rest stop. However, I will be constantly plugging my Google Maps that I have spent hours going through and route-refining to avoid most or all of these pitfalls. If this all holds true to plan, here is the final breakdown of the ride:
Total miles: 755
Average miles per day: 151
Estimated total hours: 112
Estimated pedal hours (at 12.5 mph): 61
Estimated calories burned: 21,000
Amount of granola eaten: Too much
The Flutie Foundation
I also want to officially announce that I will be riding for The Doug Flutie, Jr. Foundation for Autism as part of Dougie’s Team for this ride. I am grateful that I not only am able to ride for a cause and specifically a cause that is very close to me as I continue my current daily research in mechanisms of autism, but also that I am able to ride for a foundation with roots near my hometown.
I am an Oakland Raiders fan as Lynch family tradition dictates but growing up near Buffalo, NY, all of my closest friends are die hard Bills fans. Even if they weren’t Bills fans, they certainly probably ate or at least knew about Flutie Flakes and that’s pretty much the same thing.
Please follow this link to my donation page and help me to support autism research as I make this ride a reality. Any and all support is greatly appreciated.