One of the most enjoyable parts of touring is completing the goal you set. That moment when you say to yourself at the end of a tour, I made it!, feels like a big accomplishment, even if the accomplishment was merely enjoying a vacation. Still, you can take that good feeling and roll it into daily life. For instance, you can motivate yourself at work by thinking, I just rode 1,650 miles, surely I can help this upset customer/boss/coworker with her problem. An altered perspective can be powerful. This is just one of many reasons why I love bicycle touring.
Another enjoyable aspect of touring is reflecting on the trip. Recounting the highlights and challenges is fun, but what’s most rewarding for me is to think about why what stood out was memorable. It’s my chance to learn so that we can better plan future trips.
On our trip from Truckee, CA, to Seattle, WA, we rode on a lot of highways, many of which seemed to be designed specifically for large commercial vehicles. The grades were shallow and the roads straight. Every time we rode along one of these highways my mood soured. Regardless of the amount of traffic, the roads themselves were dull. Instead of following the contours of the landscape, the highways plow through it. These are destination highways, point A to point B as quickly as possible. That’s contrary to point of bicycle touring. When planning future tours we’ll have to remind ourselves to look for the roads that appear to be drawn by a child. The more squiggly the better.
Upon reflection we also learned that some of the trip’s best moments were when we spent time with other cyclists. We had a great time with the five different Warm Showers hosts we stayed with. And in Washington we met some fantastic people while camping on the San Juan islands. We’ll be sure to incorporate Warm Showers into any future tours and try to be more open to spontaneous social gatherings despite our introverted hesitations.
Okay, that’s enough philosophizing. This is the Internet. People don’t have time to read. TL;DR. I gotta give the surfers what they want: digestible chunks of information. So here’s a breakdown of our trip along part of the Sierra Cascades:
By the numbers
- Total days traveled: 42
- Total days cycled: 39
- Total miles cycled: 1,650
- Average miles cycled per day: 42.3
- Most miles ridden in one day: 83
- Total nights camped: 22
- Total dollars spent on trip (including airfare): 2664
- Average dollars spent per day: 63.43
- Total tire punctures: 0
- Total pine trees seen: ∞
- Hanging out with Dave, Steve, Sarah, Scott, and Rachael on the San Juan islands. The Washington locals know how to make camping fun.
- Learning more about life in a co-housing community with our Warm Showers hosts Carol and Perry in Bend, OR. We’d long been curious about the lifestyle, so it was neat to experience it first hand.
- Viewing Crater Lake for the first time. The ride got better and better as we approached the rim. And then the view of the caldera with it’s steep sides covered in snow was fabulous. It’s too bad the north road was closed. I’m sure riding around the caldera without car traffic would have been even better.
- Hiking through four miles of snow on the top of Elk Pass was difficult but worth it. The road was closed to motor vehicles about five miles in either direction from the pass, so we had a quiet afternoon of climbing, trudging, and descending.
- Listening to a fiddle music concert and then watching fireworks on the 4th of July in Port Townsend.
- Riding up Breitenbush Road outside of Detroit, OR, was perhaps our first time riding off a highway for an extended period and the first time we’d ridden on the wet side of the Cascade range. The dripping trees, ferns, and moss were a welcome sight after riding through lots of dry pine forests.
- Seeing four bears on the trip. A mamma and her two cubs were foraging in the forest off the highway near Graeagle, CA. And I nearly ran into a bear while descending around a corner west of Hood River, OR.
- Accepting directions and lunch from cyclist Karen when, unbeknownst to us, we were off route north of Ashland, OR. Karen guided us to her cabin, fed us a delicious lunch, gave us a map of Oregon, and persuaded us to take a day trip to see Crater Lake.
- Riding over Old Blewett Pass was a great diversion from the new highway. It was rough, narrow, twisty, and devoid of motor vehicles, the recipe of a perfect touring route.