Why Bicycle Tourism?

IMG_1496.JPGMake America Bike Again – Day 30

As I depart Gackle, ND and last night’s accommodations at the Honey Hub Cyclists Respite, I think about how restful and peaceful it was. The hosts run Miller Honey Farms and a touring bicyclist hostel. They are welcoming, thoughtful, and generous people. I’m grateful for their kindnesses. I would rather have had this experience for one night – than a month at an all inclusive Trump Hotel.

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Why Akron?

Make America Bike Again – Day 28

I’m “Just another kid from Akron.” My parents and my sister still live there. It’s my hometown. I’m returning like a salmon on a bicycle. The family is clapping and cheering. I’m more than half way.

IMG_1478Grey skies over North Dakota sunflowers.

And there’s a deadline. My daughter is getting married on August 26th. Not in Akron. The wedding is in Denver. I can’t miss that.

Someday I’ll finish it. This coast to coast bicycle tour. There’s always next summer!

The Kindness of Strangers

Make America Bike Again – Day 27

What a day it was! A day that a total stranger met me on the road into Bismarck. He looked at the bicycle, smiled, and asked, where Are you going?

I replied, East Coast.

Our conversation turned into an invitation for dinner, a shower, and a bed for the night. It was a generous display of kindness and hospitality…to a total stranger.

What a good and lastingIMG_1476 memory it has made. Thank you Rod and Lori Skytland, Keatyn and Shelby.

 

 

Make America Bike Again

IMG_1461Day 25 – Sunset near Medora, North Dakota

My bicycle and I average about 12 mph. It’s slow enough to see a lot, and for all the senses to be engaged. This morning I watched a man pass me in his SUV, slow down enough to make eye contact and smile, and give me a thumbs up. Welcome to the heartland!

 

83-Mile Day

Make America Bike Again – Day 10

Before leaving the campsite at Umatilla in the morning, we stopped by Judi’s RV in the morning to say goodbye. Her friend and traveling companion stood inside the entryway and peered out, unwilling to leave its comfort and security, but still very curious. She asked, “Are you afraid of the wild creatures at night?”

There were some laughs in response and finally someone replied, “We are the wild ones.” But, she had raised an important question,”Is it really safe?”

In our earliest departure yet, we wished them well and said goodbye. On the way out of town we stopped at the grocery store for a few last minute items. Sipping on a cup of black coffee, Robert walked out of the store with a small bunch of bananas in the other. The rest of the guys were already on their bikes crossing the parking lot and heading for the highway.

I could feel his hurried rush to stow the fruit, take a gulp of coffee, and throw the rest away. Without the usual, “Bless all travelers on this highway today,” Robert gripped the handlebars and lifted his leg over crossbar. He hurried into the street with a vague sense of the direction, but there were no bicycles in sight. In fact there was no traffic at all. “Shit,” he said, turned around and returned to the grocery store parking lot. He went back inside the store looking for his sunglasses. Came out a few minutes later and found them in their case. That’s when he took a deep breath and sighed.

 

 

A few miles later a trucker passed us on the highway, moving completely over into the other lane. That’s rare. Sure, sometimes they sound a couple of short beeps in greeting. Other times, it’s a long blast of get the hell out of my way. The memorable one from that morning didn’t sound the horn at all. He just moved completely over into the other lane and even slowed down minimizing the slipstream coming off the trailer. Bless all travelers on this highway today, was the message.

In an hour or so we caught up with the rest, having an early morning snack. Touring cyclists eat often and throughout the day, usually healthy stuff. In the dry heat of the west they drink a lot of water. Not the sweetened drinks or the heavily marketed “high energy” drinks. Mostly water, by day. Beer, after the sun goes down. By mid morning we crossed the Washington border. The lava formed cliffs had given way to farmland. Mature alfalfa and wheat grew on both sides of the highway. With an early start to the day and the wind out of the west, we would make 83 miles that day, a stand out record for us, finishing in Waitsburg, Washington.

 

 

Unplugged in Astoria

Make America Bike Again Tour

One Day to Launch

It’s cool and overcast. We’re hanging around a motel room in Astoria, Oregon, Robert and I, waiting for our cycling buddies to arrive. We’re packed and ready. ┬áThose are my handle bars in the picture above. Below them are bungee cords. They secure the water-proof stuff sack of a sleeping bag to the flat surface of my front rack. My speedometer is set to zero, ready to start rolling.

There’s no sag wagon for this journey. Each cyclist has to carry all his own gear and food. And frankly, Robert likes his luxuries. He’s packed a full-sized air mattress, a small coffee pot, camp stool, and a couple of books. I wonder how long it will take before he starts lightening the load? Don’t misunderstand, I don’t mind carrying it. I’m a touring bicycle. I was made for this and frankly, I’ve been waiting a long time. But, he’s the one that has to pull the weight up all the hills ahead. I’ll provide the pedals and gears and keep the load stable. We’re a team.

Yesterday, Robert flew from our home in Denver to Portland, Oregon, rented a car and drove it to the coast. I was waiting for him at a bicycle shop in Astoria. This small historic town near the mouth of the Columbia River is a hub and a magnet for touring cyclists.

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The Pacific Coast trail passes right through it. The Lewis & Clark bicycle trail begins here, ending in St. Louis and closely following their historic path. For us, it’s a place for beginning. The food and supplies for the first week on the road are already packed away. The suitcase with the extra clothes mailed back home. Each step along the to-do list has been an act of faith…a letting go of the necessities and routines of a daily life…surrendering to the journey.

We’re a thousand miles from home. It took a lot of faith for Robert to turn in that rental car, with no way home except for a bad-ass touring bicycle.