Biologist on a Bike

A Year Ago Today…

A year ago today the longest bike tour I had ever been on was 2 nights.

A year ago today I began a journey that would take 68 days covering 4,375 miles from the Pacific coast to the Atlantic coast.

Me and my fully-loaded bike at the start of the TransAm Trail
Ready and raring to go

Today, I am 257 days into my 360 Active Days challenge and have only taken two days off. One of those days was April 4th, two days before my first marathon. The second was a week ago, May 14th, for surgery to have a 13cm long fibroid removed from my abdomen. It was large enough that I could feel it at times while riding last year, and I am more than glad to have it gone.

Mom came to visit (she’s still here!) to help me out during my recovery, and I’m incredibly grateful. The first few days especially, I was in need of a lot of help. And she saw to it that I ate something other than pasta, which is probably all I would have had the energy to prepare for myself if I had been on my own.

For a few days I was incredibly sleepy. And for another one or two after that I had to use my arms to get from a prone position to a seated one because using my abs was very painful. My lungs were also not pleased, an unfortunate occurrence made worse because the healing incision in my abdomen meant that it hurt to cough.

A week later and I can say that things are getting significantly better.

A few weeks ago, I purchased a small under-desk elliptical machine. I intend to take it to work so that I can keep moving a bit while sitting at my desk grading papers, preparing lessons, and engaging in all the other seated activities that come with being a community college professor. The bonus is that I had a way to keep my legs moving as I recovered from my surgery.

I’m still not supposed to be lifting anything heavier than 10lbs or engaging in any vigorous exercise, but I’m hopeful those restrictions will be relaxed in my post-operative check up visit next week. In the meantime, I’ll keep up with the walking and the elliptical.

And, with this behind me, I can start thinking about what I want my next adventure to be.

I’m still open for other ideas, but I’m considering section-hiking the Appalachian Trail and starting out with going as far as 6-8 weeks can take me. The other thought is to do another of the Adventure Cycling Association routes, possibly the Pacific Coast or the Atlantic Coast trails.

I’ve got plenty of time left to decide and train once I recover.

5 thoughts on “A Year Ago Today…

  1. Tim Geoghegan

    This is a bit of a non sequitur relative to what this post is about, but I felt the need to share. For the last few months, I’ve been planning my own eastbound trip on the TransAmerica Trail, and now I’m leaving tomorrow morning (!!). I’ve been reading your account of your 2018 trip for months, and it’s been a treasure trove of information about what it’s actually like being out on the road. Your packing list was also a big help. I also think you have a real knack for writing. Your posts were consistently enjoyable to read and never meandering. All that to say:

    – congratulations on your successful tour;
    – congratulations on your efforts to stay active (seriously, running marathons sounds awful to me and I’m crazy enough to bike across a continent);
    – THANK YOU for going to so much trouble to share so much about your trip!

    1. Spin Doctor Post author

      Thank you so much!
      And yeah, the marathon was kind of awful. And that’s coming from somebody who ran competitively through college. I get much more enjoyment out of a long ride than a long run!

      Enjoy your tour! And if you’re writing about it anywhere or posting pictures, please let me know so I can follow along!

  2. Janet Wilson

    Dr. Carlson, I enjoyed reading about your cross country biking journey in your blog last year. I have a question about biking tires and inner tubes. My son and I have been having issues with the inner tubes and tires for our bikes. Every other week or so iwe have to purchase new inner tubes or tires. We both have Gatorskin tires, but they don’t seem to prevent us from constantly getting flats, and we are riding on the bike path!
    If you don’t mind sharing what brand of inner tubes and tires you used on your trip, I would greatly appreciate it. I thought you would be a good person to ask given your experience with biking equipment. I’m not saying that I don’t trust the guys at Kozy, but I would like to get feedback from someone that isn’t trying to sell me something.

    My husband is a colleague of yours, and I had asked him to reach out to you, but I decided to contact you myself.

    Thank you for your help, and I hope you doing well.

    1. Spin Doctor Post author

      That’s odd, Gatorskins have a good reputation.
      I don’t pay much attention to the brand of tubes I use, I just buy whatever the store has in stock. Tires are a different story, though. I’m currently riding Panaracer TourGuard Plus tires. They’re a bit heavier and slower than the Continentals I started out with, but they are sturdy and have a reflective sidewall. They treated me well.

      Things I would check if I were getting a lot of flats:
      -Check the tire after each ride. Sharp objects can get embedded into the tire and cause a puncture long after you originally rode over them. Picking sharp rocks and bits of glass out of the tires regularly can reduce flats.
      -Make sure the tube is mounted properly and not caught between the rim and the tire before you inflate.
      -Make sure you’re inflating the tube to the correct pressure indicated for the tire you’re using.
      -Look at the shape of the puncture. Snake-bite punctures (two small holes) are usually the result of hitting something (bump, pothole, railroad tracks, etc) too hard and/or on an under-inflated tire.
      -Check the rims on your wheels to make sure there isn’t rim damage that is the cause of the tire & tube damage.
      I hope this helps!

  3. Janet Wilson

    This is great advice, thank you! We will inspect all of the areas that you mentioned. I thought it odd as well that the Gatorskin tires for both of our bikes have not lived up to their reputation.

    Thanks again


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