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About Robert Morris
Do you keep in touch with many of your teammates?
As you may have seen on social media - I would go to the ends of the earth to meet up with fellow riders - last month I met up with Ariela in Western Australia - just for a quick coffee. I drove to New Mexico in September to meet the Great Divide team at the finish line. Its more than family - they are soul mates.
What is your age?
What made you want to ride your bike across the country?
It started off as a bucket list item many years ago and then when I hit 40 I thought seriously about it before I got too old or too busy to get the time off.
Where do you live?
West Village, New York City
What is your profession?
What routes/years did you ride with Bike the US for MS?
TransAm 2013, Bike The UK 2014, partial Southern Tier 2014.
How many miles did you clock in before the trip?
Summer 2012 I did a charity ride from Manchester to London - 300 miles in 3 days. From April to June 2013 I was doing 30, 50 and 70 miles on Friday, Saturday and Sundays.
What was your cycling experience before signing up?
I have been riding a bike since I could walk. I spent most of my childhood on a bike every evening and weekend. In the 5 years before moving to New York I biked to work in London every day, rain or shine - started off at 10 miles a day, then when i moved to Greenwich, it was a 15 mile round trip every day.
Where did you find the most success fundraising?
I was shocked at how much I raised through work colleagues - contractors and decorators who I had working relationships with. Family and close friends tended to donate the least.....
What was your biggest worry before the trip, and how did you handle it?
My biggest concern was high mileage days and just generally not being fit enough to cope. It turned out the exact opposite - and something many of us learned was that because you HAVE to do the miles each day, you just do them - riding with one other person or in a small group tends to eat up the miles much quicker. I rode with Brian Sink in 2013 and his upbeat positive attitude made each day fly by.
How many fundraising letters/emails do you think you sent?
Probably about 150 - and from that I think i raised $6000 for 2013.
What surprised you most about the fundraising process?
The positive feedback from people I requested donations from and the amount of people who had a connection to MS.
Has the trip changed you as a person, or the way you see life?
I am definitely more adventurous now - I will travel anywhere and see anything - especially if my bike is involved and alumni members.
What type of bike did you ride? Where did you get it?
2012 Trek Madone Project One, purchased through my local bike store, Bicycle Habitat in Soho NYC.
What is something you wish you had brought which you didn’t?
Insulated water bottles and Melatonin to help sleep at night. And ear plugs if youre sleeping next to Harry (eg someone who snores)!!
What’s one ancillary thing you couldn’t have lived without on the road?
iPhone and headphones!!! Music got me through the hardest parts of TransAm and the UK ride!!!
What’s one thing you brought that you wish you hadn’t?
A GoPro camera - I never used it once! I'll leave the filming to the route leaders.
Is there anything you spent a bit more money on that you were glad you did?
My bike. NO question - I know alot of people like their heavy steel frame Surly's etc but to be honest without the bike that I had, I would have really struggled in places - the ease of riding it, the lightness - it made all three trips SO much easier for me. I think everyone should invest in the best bike they can afford for these trips - not to mention the lack of mechanical issues I had - I had one rear durallieur issue in Cedar City and that was it.
How much casual clothes (t-shirts, shorts, etc) did you bring?
Too many!!! I packed at least 5 changes of clothing and that was too much - 3 is more than enough if you keep on top of laundry.
How many pairs of cycling shorts/bibs did you bring?
3 jerseys and 3 bibs - thats enough to last a week or two with laundry breaks.
What type of sleeping pad did you use?
Thermarest Prolite Plus - never got a puncture and worked a treat - I used it on TransAm, UK and Southern Tier. Purchased through REI - who we should have an account with as they are amazing to buy anything with - I replaced a tent and a sleeping pad after two years of use - no questions asked - all riders should sign up for their member account. It pays in the long run.
Do you have any pieces of general advice for new cyclists?
Invest in a good bike and some decent bibs - and TAKE YOUR TIME - you start the ride thinking two months is a lifetime and you spend some days wishing away the miles and before you know it, you're in Folsom Lake with two days left - it goes by far too quickly. Also, make friends quickly and ride with them - it will make the tough parts much easier to deal with. Don't verbalize your fears or worries every morning - try and internalize your worries and deal with them individually instead of announcing to the group that you're really not into riding today, its too many miles etc... - this really affects other riders without you knowing it. Take LOTS OF PHOTOS!!!! You will cherish the experience forever. Lastly - BE KIND TO THE ROUTE LEADERS!!!! They have a tough job and are not there to be your counselor.
What was your favorite trailer snack?
Nature Valley bars.
How often would you go out to eat?
At least once a day depending on rest stops/evenings.
Would you cook at camp often? If so, what was your favorite recipe?
I did cook as often as I could - favorite meal (James Whateley will confirm this from Southern Tier) - Knorr Rice Sides with Stagg canned Chilli - a feast!!!
Did you prefer to ride alone or in a group?
I always prefer riding with someone or a group but it always depends on who im riding with - I tend to ride at a certain pace and dont like to ride slowly (unless its a hill) -TransAm I rode almost every day with Brian Sink - he was a rider from 2012 and knew EVERY days route, what to look out for, what was good to eat in town and how easy or hard each day was - and he NEVER put a negative spin on a tough day - he would always say 'its challenging' but then always finish positively with 'but there's an amazing burger joint in town when we finish tonight!' - this is a HUGE deal. ALL new riders need to know this.
Would you rather be riding through steady rain or extreme heat?
Extreme heat - riding faster creates more breeze and cools you down - the rain is persistent and kills your spirit. A good example: TransAm - 41 miles into Blacksburg and it PISSED it down all day - we were all broken, even on such a short mileage day. Blandings to Hite UT - 76 mile day and it was 110 degrees all day - but really not that bad if you kept up your water intake and didn’t go crazy.
What would you keep in your bike jersey pockets?
Tube, phone, lube, 2-3 Nature Valley bars, map, small pump, headphones.
Did you use a rack/saddle bag/handlebar bag?
Very small saddle bag that had tubes, levers, wallet and tool.
What type of tires did you ride?
Continental Gatorskins - THESE SHOULD BE MANDATORY!!!!! I only rode them full time from Pueblo CO and did not get another flat - and then rode UK and Southern Tier on the same tires with no flats.
Did you use a cyclocomputer? What was your normal pace?
I did not use a bike computer as I did not want to know my mileage every time I looked down. I used Strava on my phone. I probably averaged 15mph a day.
How long did it take to learn to read the maps?
After three days in Virginia and getting lost REALLY badly outside Charlottesville, I rode with Brian Sink who we named 'GPS' - he became my map. Thats not to say the maps are not easy to read - I would just not make the mistake of riding alone again - a second opinion on whether you read the map correctly is always a bonus.
Riding on a flat terrain with a headwind, or climbing a mountain pass for miles. Which do you prefer?
Climbing - flat headwinds DESTROY your soul!!!
What was the most difficult part/aspect/state of the ride?
The altitude sickness outside of Pueblo - that was the forst time on the ride I thought I couldn’t complete the trip - turns out it was just the altitude - took me less than a day to get over it.
Were you an early riser? Did you sleep in?
I dont think i set an alarm ONCE on any of the rides - my body just naturally woke up every day at 5:45am.
When you got to camp, the first thing you did was….
Set my tent up and skull a cold beer!!!
How often would you do laundry?
At least once a week, or whenever it was convenient.
It’s the evening and you’re out of your bike clothes, fed, and your tent is pitched. What are you doing to pass the time until you fell asleep?
Hopefully sat around the fire going through a nice cold, full cooler of Coors Banquet - or if there's a decent bar in town… we're there making memories with shotskis!
How many sink/hose showers did you take?
The LEAST amount possible!! I think maybe I’ve done two in all.
How many loads of sink/hose laundry did you do?
TransAm - maybe 8 times
On rest days, did you prefer to go out and see what the town has to offer, or did you hang out, rest up, and relax?
Mostly explore - Telluride was the most epic rest day - DH FS MTB all day - the most fun I’ve had on a bike EVER. If riders don’t do this in Telluride they have no right to be on a bike in the first place.
What’s your favorite memory from your trip?
Telluride - utterly epic.
Robert Morris' Fundraising