A Battle for the Sun
I keep finding myself on these long stretches of road with nothing but the sun to remind me of of the time. When you're on the road with no real obligations to anyone or anything your days don't matter anymore: what day of the week, what hour of the day, what month in the year- none of this matters. All of this dissipates and your only real concern becomes whether or not there is enough light in the sky to illuminate your ride. For me, this concern comes all too frequently during my rides as I feel this looming pressure to put in a certain number of miles each day, because anything less than 70 miles is a complete luxury and I really can't afford that (in more ways than one). In the planning stages of tour I hadn't really been able to budget a whole ton for the trip itself, because most of my income was going towards paying bills, buying the necessary gear to sustain myself on the road, a bike, things needed to properly document the ride (this is important to me), etc., but also, my brother is getting married in December, so making it to San Francisco by the end of November or early December at the very latest is crucial! Sure, I could have postponed the trip a few extra months to buy myself some time on the road and maybe even save up a bit more, but i'd already waited six years to do this tour and nothing, absolutely nothing, was going to keep me from leaving at my intended departure date- not a wedding, not a hurricane (Hermine passed through Charleston the day I left), not even a measly looking bank account. So, incase your wondering... my daily average has been about 75-80 miles and if i'm really pushing myself 90-100. When you're trying to meet this sort of quota each day, you're in a constant battle with yourself and the sun. You're in constant wonder of whether or not the light in the day will hold up long enough for you to find a good resting point to set up camp.
It took me a month or so into tour to be able assess what is actually possible in the day without having to power through my ride and fight for light in the sky. So, i'm still putting in as many miles as I can, but i've stopped feeling guilty if I don't reach my quota. The battle is over.