It's almost time to get high.
CWU's final multi-state tour launches next week in Casper, Wyoming, taking my pal and I through Big Sky country and across the Rocky Mountains (twice). It will be the first time we encounter five-digit elevations. It will be the last time we tour through the continental U.S. Hawai'i is the only state I'll have left after this.
Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Utah, and Colorado will present a serious challenge, for two broad reasons: isolation and altitude. I will have a number of nowhere-to-stop-for-lunch days while pedaling through those Western states--but that's something I've dealt with before. The huge mountains, though, have me concerned. For starters, I've upped the weight of my cargo significantly over the past few tours by adding sturdier racks and, specially for this tour, a drone to film scenes for the tour documentary I've decided to produce. My rig now tops out at 128 pounds fully loaded. I weighed everything twice to be sure I got that right...but I'm still hoping my scale is off. Just pushing that amount of weight up an incline is hard enough. Add to that the debilitating effects of thin air/low oxygen, and the fact that my legs don't seem to be recovering properly from my recent Alaska tour, and--yeah--I'm worried.
But those of you who have been following me for a while know that I'm pretty determined (stubborn?). I'll push through, just like I have the past 44 states. Worst case scenario I go home mid-tour and get my legs straightened out and then come roaring back to finish. Hopefully it won't come to that.
Always present in my mind is the conviction that what I am doing is important. I believe the fruits of the Conversations With US project will one day soon be in the hands of and on the tongues of thousands of Americans and other folks across the globe who are interested in learning who we are and what makes us tick. As a CWU follower, you can understand this vision I have, because you believe in the project, too. Your support will work wonders in getting me up those mountains. I'm glad to know you'll be following along.
Finally, a reminder that you can get a glimpse into what CWU will eventually become by checking out my first short book, here. It covers one chapter/day from the first seven regions I toured, presenting the thoughts and stories of a very diverse group of Americans.
Really finally, here's a map of my proposed 35-day route. I'd love to hear any feedback you guys have after you've taken a look.