The ride back to Sea-Tac Airport the previous Friday was okay. While still in Oregon, I drove for about two hours while the other three mostly slept! Pretty funny. At least I got to drive before it rained and before the bumper-to-bumper traffic we had up in Washington.
Once at our motel near Sea-Tac, I strategized with Tom and Sharon about how to get to Everett to pick up our vehicles. Sharon finally figured it all out and made bus reservations for us, to depart the airport at 7:00. We went early and ate some dinner, but still had to wait a long time because the bus did not depart until 8:00.
The scheduled bus stop was actually in Marysville, a bit beyond Everett. But Sharon's mother lived nearby, and drove us back to the motel in Everett where I hopped in my car and headed straight back to the Sea-Tac motel. The next morning I drove to Clarkston and loaded up all the things Janet had set aside of her parents' to bring home (remember, they are moving to Utah and needed to get rid of most everything in their house). I returned the borrowed front wheel to my riding friend, who noted that since Janet's parents were moving, we'd likely never see each other again. A strange thought.
I had a nice visit with Janet's parents that evening, and then drove home over the next three days, arriving Tuesday, August 18.
Final Pacific Crest Tour data
Elevation Gain 72,500 feet
Avg of 103 mi/day and 6042' of climbing/day
Final Skyline Dr/ Blue Ridge Parkway data
Elevation Gain 66,612 feet
Avg of 90.5 mi/day and 9516' of climbing/day
Final Continental Divide data
Elevation Gain 61,600 feet
17 days of riding
Avg of 85 mi/day and 3623' of climbing/day
Totals for the three tours
Elevation Gain 200,712 feet
36 days of riding
92 mi/day and 5575' of climbing/day
They were grand bike rides, that's for sure. I do think combining all three was perhaps more than I should have tackled. By the last one, I was anxious for it all to be over and get home to Janet and return to my normal life. That was just too much time away from Janet and home sweet home.
Taken individually, I did love the challenges, the scenery, and meeting new friends. The first two had advantages in that they were smaller groups and therefore more intimate and flexible in the daily routines. The last one, with 43 people, had to have more rules and inflexibility to survive, which made it less enjoyable for me in comparison.
Also, in the last tour I had the serious saddle sore the entire time, other than Day1, which prevented me from enjoying the riding as much as I could have. I was thinking more about how to reduce the pain (by standing often, for example) rather than concentrating on the scenery or my performance on the bike or visiting with others as we pedaled along.
I did love my new Cannondale bike! Its light weight helped me up the 200,000 feet of climbing. Probably I was the strongest rider up steep hills in all three tours, other than Alvin in Tour 2. I thought my saddle was just fine, but maybe it was a bit too hard after all. Then again, any seat would be irritating to a new saddle sore if you cycle on it for 8 to 10 hours a day. It was so severe, that I have been home a week now and it hasn't healed yet.
The amount of climbing in Tour 2 (9516' per day average) sounds worse than it was. The hills were rarely very long or steep, whereas in Tours 1 and 3, we had long, sustained climbs that sometimes were quite steep. They seemed tougher. In other words, my memory of Tours 1 and 3 is that they were more mountainous and had harder climbing days.
My bike did well mechanically except for the final five days of Tour 1. During the rest day in Winter Park, CO, I made the mistake of thinking we could fine-tune my front derailleur to get it back to "perfect". I should have left well enough alone. Paul Wood and I worked with it for a long time and it got worse, so we had the bike shop next door fix it. Well, they fixed the shifting from the small to large chain ring, but they did so by setting the derailleur so far to the right that it prevented me from using seven of my gears (due to rubbing, which I did not discover until we'd ridden out of town many miles the following day). I was no longer able to use gears in the needed range of 61 to 79 inches. To put that in perspective, my complete gearing range with my 22 gears is 123 inches to 33 inches (of travel for each revolution of the crank). You tend to rarely use the extremes, but rather the middle, such as exactly what I could not use. Therefore, I was stuck having to ride in too high a gear, such as an 84-inch gear, on those many occasions when I should have been riding somewhere between 61 and 79. It tired me out on those five days of riding much more than if I would have had all my gears.
I feel a proud sense of achievement for having completed each ride in its entirety - every inch, so to speak, of the stated route. I will always treasure this accomplishment and the beauty of the three rides. One's spirit soars when it's you against the elements -- no gas pedal to push, only your own strength and stamina -- and you complete your goals feeling healthy and strong and able to savor the splendor of your surroundings with all your senses.