"When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments. Here was a machine of precision and balance for the convenience of man. And (unlike subsequent inventions for man's convenience) the more he used it, the fitter his body became. Here, for once, was a product of man's brain that was entirely beneficial to those who used it, and of no harm or irritation to others. Progress should have stopped when man invented the bicycle."
~Elizabeth West, Hovel in the Hills
As observed by Elizabeth West in Hovel in the Hills, the bicycle is a truly remarkable, efficient, and optimized machine. On a bicycle, a fit human can cross the country in less than 8 days or complete RAW in under 3 days, sprint in the velodrome at speeds over 50 mph, and descend mountain passes at even faster speeds. All on a machine that weighs less than 18 lbs. Sunset and twilight are equally pure and beautiful. To be able to enjoy them both at the same time is really special.
I've commuted by bike for most if not all of my professional life--nearly 30 years now. Each sunrise and sunset is special. Each is different. Each is more special while riding a bike. Even on a cloudless day, daylight gives way to the subtle hues of twilight, then darkness. As an astronomer, I've always enjoyed twilight as daylight fades and reveals the wonders of the heavens. During RAW, I'll likely see three sunsets. If all goes well, the first evening sunset should be rolling into Brawley CA--welcome relief from what will likely be 105 F heat in the desert. Sunset on day two will be near Prescott AZ, with the climb to Mingus Summit and descent down Hull Canyon into Jerome taking place during evening twilight. Sunset on day three should be somewhere between Tuba City and Monument Valley. Looking at the time sheet, it's most likely that Monument Valley will be under the full moon.
Perhaps most exciting about RAW is that my third sunrise on the bike should be somewhere between Cortez CO and Durango, perhaps near Mesa Verde, making the 44 mile "sprint" for the finish. I bet that will be a memorable sunrise.
Day 31, 181 days, 16 hours to RAW 2019.
My interest in ultracycling dates back when I first started seriously riding a bike in college in the early 1980s. This is my RAAM story preparing to compete in the Race Across the West in 2020 and RAAM 2021.