It’s extraordinary, cycling around like this. Touring!
Riding the bike is the natural part, time on the bike is a welcomed rest because some days there’s too much to think about as soon as I stop. This lifestyle is a weird and entirely new experience; It feels to me a bit like being a gypsy or a nomad. It’s as if I’ve slipped through the net of normality and the stresses of modern life have begun to feel pointless.
When you only have enough time and energy to think about what’s relevant at hand (like water, where we’re going to sleep) a different perspective begins to settle in. But now the days are setting in, and already I’m beginning to lose track of my time and distance. Regardless, Ginger and I are making progress. The first 30 days were long. It rained and rained again. Some days would’ve been shorter if it wasn’t for shopping. I only carry enough food for 24 hours so the weight of my bag doesn’t slow me down. This involves getting into a rhythm. I plan our daily shopping destination just before everything closes up. Easier said than done!
It’s taking time getting used to touring again. After coming across Canada last year I thought I could conquer the world but today I’m in tears. I wish I could analyze my feels, hit a switch, and ride on but that’s not today’s world. Soon I’ll start getting the hang of this lifestyle again and until then, I’ll keep saying to myself, “It Feel’s Grrreat!” (I know, 46 years old and still, love my Tony-the-Tiger quote)
Well, let’s talk about the USA and cycling. Currently, I’ve cycled 3,900 km which is 3 weeks and 1,500 km more than anticipated. It’s amazing, I have no idea how I’ve made it this far in life and never cycle-toured, let alone, cycled throughout North America. Seriously, what have I been doing with my life? Not much, I guess.
Before leaving in March, a friend mentioned, “America understands cycling!”, but I wasn’t quite ready for this understatement. To be honest, I’m pretty surprised with the USA in general, I can’t believe how different the cycling-culture is considering we share our borders. The USA does things a bit differently when it comes to cycling. For one, they share the road. As a cyclist, the USA feels like a maze of historical houses, forests, National and State Parks welcoming cyclists, all connected by an elaborate network of shared roads and trails with smiling people. Yes, smiling people Canada!
We’ve camped almost every night so far. Outside of camping, 4 nights were in motels and an additional 4 nights with Warm Showers host’s. Setting up the camp doesn’t take much time but finding somewhere suitable to camp is a different story. I would say we probably spend an hour a day finding a camping spot and it’s always when I have the least amount of energy. Add to this the routines of cooking, cleaning, washing, laundry, packing, Ginger swims, bike maintenance, trailer maintenance, and calls of nature – make for long days.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all work though, life just has its ways of slowing you down. And let’s not forget the Tour of California. What an experience, thank you Specialized.
Sometimes I roll into a town and just have to stop and savour the moment. One town I passed through had every street closed for the biggest community garage sale I’ve ever seen. Some places are just so bizarre/beautiful you have no choice other than stopping and befriending the locals. (Shoutout to Oceanside, CA and the 454 crew)
Now then, let’s talk about California as I’m about to leave this State. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting much more than beaches, but it’s taken me by surprise. I thought it would be similar to Quebec, flat and easy to ride but it’s not. I don’t know why I thought the coast was flat but it’s certainly a hillside destination! The towns we’ve cycled through are alluring, many still have traditional streetways but the majority have cycling lanes. As a traveller, I have one rule, never use guide books! Why? It’s diverting never knowing what to expect. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, we started our tour through the USA cycling the Washington Coast-line. It was like cycling back in Vancouver, like home, rain and all. But now everything is different. The tranquillity of nature has been replaced by a bustling California “live to work lifestyle”. Don’t get me wrong, Californian’s understand how to balance life versus work. But all I see is the total population of Canada confined in a space an 1/8 of the size of our home country.
Now what? From San Diego, I’ll be turning left and cycling into a flat desert. I’m sure I’ll miss the coast because soon the roads will continue as far as the eye can see. I’m just praying for zero headwinds as I’d like to make up some time.
As Ginger and I get closer to Utah the landscape will become a breathtaking oasis. Red rock will replace the ocean, winding valleys will adorn castles of stone, early morning steam rising from the ground, as long spells of hot sunshine filters my toxic mind. As I push on I’ll take a cycling route through Monument Valley, a picturesque region northeast of the Grand Canyon. What a way to spend the next few weeks!
Until next time, cycle safe, and enjoy the little things in life. Like the tears spent after a long ride.
By Brian Nadon