Call me Slim, Mississippi Slim.
I flew to New Orleans on May 9, and I got back to Calgary on the night of Sunday July 13. I was on the road for 9 weeks.
I rode 2873 miles / 4624 kilometers. I visited 10 states and 1 province, and rode EFI from New Orleans to Lake Itasca on the Mississippi River Trail, plus across North Dakota to Midale, Saskatchewan. The MRT route alone was 2316 miles / 3726 km.
The bike weighs 36 pounds. I added tools and spare tubes and gear in four panniers, weighing 49.5 pounds. I carry a CPAP machine, three sets of batteries, a charger and a battery adapter, for another 18.5 pounds. That’s a 68 pound load on a 36 pound bike, for 104 pounds. Add about 8 – 12 pounds of food and water, and I was moving 114 pounds. On level ground, not bad. On hills . . . well, I walked a lot of hills.
I left home on May 9 weighing 205.5 pounds. I got back and weighed in at 194, which has since normalized to 191, for a loss of 14.5 pounds, or a little more than 1.5 pounds a week. I find that on tours I take on fluid weight, and in a few days after the trip I stabilize down a few pounds.
I was careful with my diet. On some trips I’ve gained weight. On this trip I ate according to the guidelines in Wheat Belly, and similar high protein, high fat, low carb diets. It obviously worked, and I liked what I ate. I’ll continue that. So now you can call me Slim.
I rode the first six days with Brian Linley, and I enjoyed his company. I rode three weeks with Carrie Yehle, and that was a real boost and a good time. On several occasions her strength pulled us through long hot tiring days. She brought enthusiasm and a positive attitude, as well as determination and good humor.
I stayed with Warm Showers hosts Adam & Sarah Rouillier, Mark Martin, Dan Phillips, Scott and Lauren Johnson, Jason Tanzman, and Harold Pederson. I chose Warm Showers early in the trip to get accustomed to the USA, and later in the larger cities to feel at home and get a personal view. These hosts made the trip for me. Often I was tired and needed a rest. In all cases it felt good to stay in a home, see things from a local point of view, talk to a friendly person who trusted me and took the risk of meeting a stranger. It is a different experience from staying in a motel. Thank you to all of you.
I met dozens of people along the way, and enjoyed talking to them all. Some were like Warm Showers hosts — Forest Vinson in Rosedale, and John and Carla in Midale. Lots of friendly people answered questions and gave directions. I talked to riders along the way, and Bob and John in Crosby bought me supper — passing on a good deed they had experienced on an earlier tour. Many of you sent emails that I found encouraging. Suzanne did the website and was always in my mind.
It was an adventure like none other I’ve had. More physical, more challenging. Hot, tiring, challenging, fun. It’s a bit scary to head into the unknown, but it feels free once I’m out there. Sleeping, breakfast, riding into new terrain. Every morning I looked forward to the new day.
What stands out is that it was possible and enjoyable only because of the people along the way. From the commercial services like the airline, hotels and motels, grocery stores and gas stations, to the individuals who were there with support, social contact and good spirits, all depends on the people along the way. And my friends at home. Thank you to everyone.
It’s been a great ride.