You Who Are on the Road

While sharing our most significant life events with an old class mate I hadn’t seen in 50 years, I learned that we had both cycled across America. Yet, our experiences couldn’t have been more different. While I spent two months on the road cycling the 3,000 miles with 50 other cyclists and a support staff, she spent 18 months on the road cycling mostly solo.

She told me that she had also written a book about her experience, and added “A slight spoiler, it’s not a travel log kind of book.” I knew I had to read her book. I think the best cycling books aren’t about miles or location. They are about the self examination and personal growth along the way. While my first attempt to ride self-supported across America ended unsuccessfully with a crash in Hazard, KY, it was a huge success in the sense that I learned so much about myself and the people along the way.

If you are interested in a cycling book about a young female rider’s self examination and personal growth while riding solo across America, you can find “You Who Are on the Road” by Karen Bauer (Author) on Amazon or by clicking here.

Ken Whittaker

My Life Summarized in Coffee Mug Sayings

Yes, I have a retirement plan. I plan on cycling.

I’m either riding, about to go riding or thinking about riding.

Eat, sleep, ride, repeat.

Am I a cycopath? A person suffering from uncontrollable urges to ride my bicycle.

So, I went to a cyclogist to help me with my problem.

While I might look like I was listening, in my head I was riding my bike.

Sometimes I wonder if my bike is thinking about me too.

Am I a Bikeoholic? A person addicted to cycling. They cannot control how often they think or talk about riding and their bike(s). They are sometimes known to start riding even before breakfast to take the “edge” off the day.

Is there a bike-o-holics anonymous?

Am I a Bikesexual? Someone who replaces human contact with a bicycle, whilst displaying very strong feelings towards their bike and / or cycling.

A ‘bikesexual’ could survive without any human contact so long as they were able to ride their bike. Being denied their bike could result in severe withdrawal symptoms, including becoming frustrated, upset and introverted. An overwhelming feeling of sadness could also be experienced.

You lost me at . . . I don’t cycle.

Good day for cycling.

I’d rather be Cycling.

Miles are my meditation.

The bicycle is a simple solution to the world’s most complicated problems.

Life Is like riding a bicycle.  To keep your balance you must keep moving.

The Journey Is The Destination.

Ken Whittaker

Blood Road

I’m back from a short vacation and I just stumbled on the 2017 movie Blood Road today. This is a good movie to watch for bicycle riders and non-riders alike.

The movie is about ultra-endurance mountain bike athlete Rebecca Rush’s journey with her Vietnamese riding partner, Huyen Nguyen, as they pedal 1,200 miles along the Ho Chi Minh Trail of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Their goal is to reach the crash site of Rebecca’s father, a U.S. Air Force pilot shot down over Laos.

If you love cycling you’ll enjoy the strength of these two women on their difficult journey, but you will also be touched by the scars left behind from war and the healing power of forgiving.

Ken Whittaker

How Many Bikes Do You Really Need?

Did you know there is a formula to answer the age old question – How many bikes does a cyclist really need?  In my house this question is often debated. Luckily, I found this simple plug and chug formula to answer this difficult question.


y = number of bikes needed
n = current number of bikes owned

I hope this helps.

Ken Whittaker

Who Needs Fenders?

No Fenders

I never used to consider cycling in the rain before I started cycle touring. Now, I sometimes have no other choice. While I occasionally find a cool summer rain refreshing, I generally prefer to stay warm and dry. Although it’s clear fenders make a big difference in keeping me dry, they are also protecting my bike from being deluged with a wet mixture of mud, sand, gasoline, oil and who knows what else that is kicked up from the puddles and rivulets along the way.

I have little doubt how damaging this concoction is on my bike since I can hear this abrasive mixture grinding away on my bike every time I apply the brakes. However, fenders are just as valuable at protecting my bike and keeping me clean when it’s not raining. While not as obvious, fenders also protect all my bike’s moving parts from the filth sprayed up while riding on dry dirt trails and roads.

All moving bike parts will last considerably longer and work more reliably if you protect them with fenders, rain or shine.

Ken Whittaker

Not a Race Winner

As bikes go, a stock Disc Trucker is not light weight at about 28 lbs. Obviously, this frame is not designed to win races. On the other hand, it is known for being a sure-footed bike, designed for rider comfort, that can carry a load and has the stopping power of disc brakes.

I am not a bicycle weight weenie. In fact, I believe that it would be a better investment in time, effort and money to lose a few extra pounds of body fat than pay to shave weight off a bicycle.

I just hope I am strong enough to pedal the beast.

Ken Whittaker

Read Next

Boxing & Shipping

I found shipping my bicycle to a bike shop in San Diego, and having it reassembled and ready to go when I arrived, was much less stressful and less expensive than taking it on the plane with me.

After inquiring at several of my local bike shops about having my bicycle packed for shipping, I found that the price varied significantly from shop to shop. One shop wouldn’t even box my bike for me. They did, however, give me a bike box and all the packing material that came with a new bicycle so I could do it for myself.

Let’s face it, we love our bikes and I am no exception. So I chose to pack my cherished 1998 Trek 5220 myself to ensure it had a safe journey across the country with FedEx. I also used BikeFlights to make the shipping arrangements. I don’t know why, but it was less expensive using them than making the shipping arrangement myself with FedEx. If you choose to pack your bike yourself, BikeFlights also provides packing instructions that I found very helpful. All I had left to do was to leave my boxed bike in front of my garage to be picked up.

Tip: Put small parts in a separate box so they cannot fall out of the bike box if it is damage.
Tip: Use the smallest practical box for your bicycle. I used a 56x9x31 (LxWxH) box. Had I used a standard road bike box, 54x9x29, the shipping cost would have been considerably less expensive.

Ken Whittaker

Original post February 7, 2015
Updated April 14, 2018

Ready to Box

The next step in preparing to cycle across America was to get my bicycle ready for shipping to San Diego. I won’t bore you with a lot of the details but I will share a few tips. First, thoroughly clean your bike before shipping. Clean the chain, drivetrain, frame and wheels. If you’re not sure how to properly clean your bike, Bicycling Magazine provides “A Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Your Bike” online.

Cleaning my bike gave me the opportunity to closely inspect it. This increased my confidence that my bike was ready for the journey we were taking together. After the cleaning, I inspected the brake pads and remove any objects embedded in them. Finally, I lubricated the chain, cables, derailleurs, and shifters.

With a clean and lubricated bicycle, I was it ready to box it.

Ken Whittaker

Original post February 7, 2015
Updated April 13, 2018