It's not offical yet, but I anticipate that I will be let go or retired before the beginning of summer 2007. This is actually okay because I was planning on pulling the plug on my 53rd birthday in January 2008. Mainly I was going to take off a year before re-entering the workforce and do something part time. I have been planning a solo cross country trip for a number of years but never had the time.
So it looks like this may be the year !! Thank the Lord!!!
Other than needing to pick up some better panniers - I am all set with bike gear. My wife wants me to go with a partner, but everyone I talk to has many different opinions how they want to do this trip. My philosophy will be simple - take 90 days camping or moteling as need to across the country.
The unkwowns are the start date May or June - and the route Northern Tier, TransAmerica, or Southern.
I would appreciate everyones input on those two items and whether it's worth it to find a partner.
It's very hard to find a person willing to drop everything for three months, find somebody to take care of Fluffy and Bosco, and head off into the sunset. In your case - Seattle - let's say sunrise. For years I've had friends say they want to join me, but they never do because life has a way of interfering unless making the big bicycle tour takes precedence. My guess is that you won't find that person among your circle of friends - but I could be wrong. More likely you will find someone on line - something that wasn't available ten years ago.
As for your time and route - since you are not sure when you might be "free" that's going to make planning more difficult - both getting a partner and selecting a route. My suggestion is to go east to west so that you'll be heading back home - plus you can have a big party when you hit the Pacific. The TransAm is a tried and true route that is doable over more of the year than the Southern or Northern Tier. (May/June is definitely not the ideal time to start the Southern Tier!) Maybe combine the TransAm with the Northern Tier - starting in Virginia and ending up in the San Juan Islands??
90 days is ample time. Many people take about 70 to 75 days. You'll need to pace yourself and take time off. Make sure that you get off the bike and check out the local scenery. Go for hikes. Boogie at the local tavern - with your wife's permission, of course! Anyhoo - I've done a bunch of cross-country trips. You aren't necessarily limited by the AC routes - but if this is your first trip - esp. solo - then you might want to stay on a more well-trodden path. The advantages to solo riding are many. It may cost a bit more since expenses aren't shared, but you almost always bump into other riders and make wonderful new friends.
We'll it happen - job ends the end of Febuary - I get to retire with a year's worth of serverance. I'm alittle in shock I have to pinch myself. There are still 4 slots left in Addventure Cycling's May 4th TranAm - 6 slots in their June Northern Tier, but now I have friend that has now expressed interest to do it with me. My wife is all for the trip as long as I don't go alone. I was so excited today I bought 2 new sets of Ortliebs . So now I have the time and the money, but now it get's scarey and exciting at the same time - 90 days out maybe till I leave. Wow I am in shock!!!!
With your job ending earlier than thought - you can do a short, little warm-up tour in the spring. Maybe a week? Somewhere that Southwest flies to for really cheap? Then again, you could go with your wife to some beautiful places, let her do her own thing, and you do yours. March/April in the desert is really nice. The wildflowers won't be very good this year because it's been so dry, but for sun-starved Cascadians, the Mojave will be welcome.
You could stretch your legs between Death Valley, Tecopa Hot Springs, the Mojave National Preserve, Old Route 66, and Joshua Tree National Park. Traffic is fairly light - whereas it's not necessarily light in S. Ariz. or the Imperial Valley - - plus the scenery is nicer.
If you plan on doing an early cross-country trip - I'd rec east to west for a couple of reasons. First, you'd be slowly heading home. More importantly, the weather warms up earlier in the east than in the Rockies. You could get the rhododendrons blooming in the Appalachians and the meadows blooming in Colorado.
First planning meeting with my potential partner is this Sunday - I think we should fly out to Virginia first week in May to do a TransAm. Hope he is agreeable. I'm still pinching myself after 27 years working, this will be my first real extended time off. I am feeling guilty sort of - still a little young to retire. In reality I need to decompress and smell the roses and put life in prospective. My wife is talking about flying out to meet us in July and ride with us the rest of the way. My life and tandem parter really supports this adventure - I hate to leave her for such a long period of time - but she understands.