Those of us who just can’t seem to resist the ecstasy and agony of long bike rides must eventually succumb to the allure of bicycle touring. It’s just another variant of cycling insanity, really. Basically, you stick as many bags on your bicycle as you want, fill ‘em with all the camping stuff you’d probably take on a long backpacking trip, roll out of your driveway and ride headlong into whatever--wind, rain, extreme temperatures, and hope for interesting encounters in strange places off the beaten path. Sounds fun, eh?
Some books I've recently read chronicle the experiences of cyclists who have taken some pretty audacious cycling tours across the country, or more exotic places around the world. The way they write about their experiences, it makes the reader want to throw some bags onto the bike, start riding, and not look back. I must admit, I have been bitten pretty hard by this touring bug. So much so, that I sold the mountain bike that I'd been neglecting, bought a touring bike, and started planning some tours. Small ones at first, then bigger ones, and then yes, one day I’d like to do a big ride across America.
|Bike Touring together in 1984...|
Immediately I have to confront a thorny problem: I’m the only one in my household who is afflicted by this need to go to faraway places on a bike. Mrs. C enjoys cycling too, but she’s far more balanced and sane about it than I am. 20-30 miles would be just great. And as far as camping goes, she did a lot of that as a kid. She would prefer staying in a place where there’s a nice bed, a shower, no critters at night, and some basic amenities that make a vacation more relaxing and fun. We actually did a little bit of bike touring and camping when we were newlyweds and enjoyed it, but decades have passed since then; riding all day and then pitching a tent, and repeating the whole thing again the next day, is not so appealing now. Our kids are just in different places in their lives and would not drop everything to go on a cycling/camping tour either. Maybe later. Alas, I’m the only person in the family who has this obsession, and I’m surrounded by people who don’t.
|...and riding on Portland's bridges in 2011|
I may have to do some bike/camping tours on my own. When I do, they’ll take up a good chunk of the free time that’s available in our schedule. I enjoy the person I’m married to and I want to keep spending time with her, so imagine my excitement when I found a little ray of hope. The guy at the bike shop told me about “credit-card touring." Forget packing the camping gear and provisions on your bike. Leave all that stuff at home and let the plastic do the work. Ride with your hunny, go right past the campgrounds and instead, stay at a more comfortable place. Bring along a fresh change of clothes, treat yourself to a nice meal and that becomes an attractive destination for the journey.
When I shared this with Mrs C I was thinking this might come across sort of a compromise. I was a bit surprised that she got so excited about the idea too, so we both sincerely want to do this together. Wasting no time, I made arrangements for an overnight stay at one of the many amazing Bed and Breakfast inns in Oregon wine country. In June we’ll ride 40+ miles of the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway, arrive at a place with good food and accommodations, and show ‘em our card. After a good night's sleep and a gourmet breakfast in the morning, we'll ride back home. If all goes well, maybe we'd consider doing a bigger tour together, even with camping gear. Or, not. Comfy beds would be just fine, too.
Small steps toward a big dream.