Have you had your “Rush Hour” this week?

Last weekend we went riding with John and Cindy. Cindy is a new rider, and is doing something few women our age attempt. She’s challenging herself to try something risky and which could cause physical harm, but which can also reward her with new skills and the chance to pump her fist in the air and yell ‘YEA!’

We were talking about “ride jitters”, and I told her I still get them. I’m a worrier by nature, so I stress about things. I confessed that especially getting on the Ducati after so long riding the BMW would give me a high level of anxiety. I also said it was something I knew was good for me, and I really am addicted to the adrenaline rush when I get it right.

So, here’s the question, do you have something that gives you an adrenaline rush? Something physical that’ll get you high on life for an hour or two every once in awhile? Getting that “Rush Hour” during the weekend can really change my outlook on life for the next week.

I think most guys already have this dialed. Of course, there’s exceptions to every rule, but most boys know how to play. Girls seem to play differently, they cooperate, they work towards goals, they usually don’t challenge and they don’t play to win. Some people hate how adrenaline makes them feel, it can bring on upset stomach and all sorts of things we usually try to avoid. The thing is, if you can work through that fear reaction, I think the benefits are worth it.

The older I get, the harder it is to push the envelope. My fears outweigh my adventurous spirit, and I’d rather stay in my warm cocoon of “normal” activities. Because I do know how good that rush feels, I’m still able to push through and do some things I fear. Not everything. I’m not going skydiving or bungee jumping any time soon, I still pick my battles!

Also, it doesn’t require me to be in top physical condition (obviously!), I can ride a motorcycle, pedal a mountain bike slowly down a rocky trail, stand on a high parapet and look straight down, kill a big spider, or travel to places I’ve never been before. Each of these things challenge my comfort zone, and each can bring a nice “Rush Hour” of adrenaline.

I’ve learned over the years that for me, that short term “Rush Hour” is a great reward, but the greater reward is knowing I can continue to push my boundaries. Travel further, ride longer, kill bigger spiders! The world is my oyster (ugh, raw oysters, that would push my boudaries)!

So, what boundary are you pushing against?

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Finalized the trip plan, finally!

Only 600 miles a day, piece of cake!

Only 600 miles a day, piece of cake!

Here it is, 5 days of pain to get through to the fun stuff on the other side of the country.

Day 1 Missoula MT, Day 2 Dickinson ND, Day 3 Duluth MN, Day 4 Blind River Ontario, Day 5 Quebec City, Day 6 Moncton New Brunswick, Day 7 Sydney Nova Scotia, Day 8 (overnight ferry ride from Sydney to Port Aux Basques Newfoundland) Unknown destination, Day 9 St. Johns Newfoundland.

On the road at the crack of dawn, and doing at least 550 miles a day until we hit Quebec City, then we can take it a little easier from there on out.  St. John’s is our main destination, after that, we have side trips planned (a trip up the Labrador coast as far as the road will take us, Cabot Trail, etc).

You can follow us here, I’ll be posting as often as possible, and adding photos to the Flickr account (click on any photo in the right-hand column to go to flickr).

We plan to take off Saturday morning just after daybreak. Any bets on how late it’ll be when we actually pull out of the driveway?

Final piece of new equipment ready to ride

We’ve planned, picked out, and packed up. The bikes are mostly loaded and ready to go. I’m at that scary point of feeling everything’s pretty well dialed, which means I’ll remember something essential the day before we leave, sending me into another frenzy of stress and worry.

Mike got me a neat little GoPro on-bike video camera for Christmas, but we hadn’t installed or used it yet. Finally Saturday we took some time and mounted it on Mike’s windscreen. Sunday seemed to race past, and by the time our chores were done, it was past 8.  We hopped on the bikes and rode into Izzys for dinner. On the way back, Mike fired up the little camera and it looks like it’ll do fine.  Sort of hard to tell quality in the dark though!

Living out of a saddlebag

Sweetened condensed wardrobe

Sweetened condensed wardrobe

Here’s a look at everything I’m wearing for a month.  1 pair of jeans, 1 pair of shorts (why do we call them a “pair”, I know, two legs, but a shirt has two arms and it’s not a pair), 2 short-sleeve poly “wicking” shirts, 2 Smartwool shirts, 1 pair of Smartwool longjohns (there’s that “pair” thing again). 1 nightshirt, 4 pairs of underwear, 4 pairs of socks (okay, here is where “pair” makes sense!) and some walking shoes.

Mike’s got pretty much the same thing in his pile (except the seafoam-green shirt, he drew the line at that).

Other than riding pants and jackets, helmet, boots, and gloves, this is it.

Everything except the jeans is made from lightweight, quick drying stuff (including undies and socks). I can wash everything in the motel room sink if needed, and it’s dry by morning.  Except our heaviest pair of socks, those need to spend the night near the heater or we’ll have soggy feet the next day.

In many ways, I really like this. Cuts down on the time it takes to decide what to wear in the morning, and at some core level, it is just neat to be able to make do with so much less.  My psyche feels lighter, ready for anything.

Now the pile of maps we’re bringing? That’s another story!  Eleven AAA maps that barely fit into a one-gallon ziplock, and that’s without duplicates.  Alaska was much easier, we only needed 4 maps.

I think Alaska was physically tougher, but didn’t require nearly the planning and brainpower I’m having to put into this Newfoundland trip.  Alaska, with only two roads to choose from, limits options and makes it darned near impossible to get lost. On this trip, just choosing an eastern route gives us more options in the first 3 states than we had the entire Alaska journey!

So many choices, but at least we know what we’ll be wearing!

Starting to plan for our September cross-country ride

So, I finally sat down yesterday and started sticking waypoints into the map software to see what kind of mileage we’re in for.

With the shortest and least populated route planned, we’re knocking on the door of 8,600 miles.  With only 23 days of vacation time, that works out to a minimum of 400 miles every day.  Whew!

Are we up for it?  Can the bank account handle the hit? Will I stay awake the entire time I’m riding?

And, most importantly, does anyone have any suggestions for route changes, stuff to avoid, stuff not to miss???  HALP!!!

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Update August 2009 – We’ve juggled our schedule around and now have a full month to play with. We’ll be racing cross-country on the interstates to get to “the other side” as quickly as possible. Barring any unforseen problems, this should give us darned near 2 1/2 weeks to play in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.

I’ll update the map as soon as I set the waypoints.

Alaska Bike Picks

The bikes:

Pam – 2003 BMW F650GS (factory lowered model) – got it with 1500 miles on the odo, I think I doubled that number in 3 rides :)

Mike 2008 Kawasaki Versys – brand spankin’ new!

What we’ve modified so far:

F650 – Renthal aluminum bars (CR hi bend), heated grips, BMW handguards, heated liner controller, BMW expandable hard bags. Mike also created adjustable steering stops so my guards don’t hit the windscreen.

Versys – Renthal aluminum bars (CR hi bend), heated grips, heated liner controller, Kawasaki branded (Givi) hard bags.

Human Gear – Heated liners by Warm and Safe, new First Gear TPG pants, First Gear TPG insulated gloves. Mike got insulated boots by HiTec. We’ll use our old First Gear Kilamanjaro jackets.

The Versys will also get more dirt-worthy meats – Avon Distanzia. I’m still trying to figure out what’ll work best for extended mileage and decent traction for the F650. We’ll put new tires on before we leave, and also have new ones waiting at a dealer up in Alaska.