The sun went down right about the time my crappy headlamp burned out. I was sitting in the late remnants of twilight as the cool of the evening came creeping over me as quickly as the darkness. My bike was in pieces as I felt around in the dark re-assembling my steel steed by feel, it was looking like I had a long night ahead of me.
I heard the distinctive crackling of dirt and saw the beams of lights heading my way as I jury rigged my wounded bike.
Night riders Are you ok?
Me I threw my derailer and broke my headlight.
Night riders Wanna follow us down?
Me No, I’ll just find the fire road and make my way back to town.
Night riders You can ride between us it will be fun.
Me OK :)
I rode between the two night riders, with extremely reduced vision in the inky black night. We made it out and had what at that point was the best ride of my life. I made two new good friends and learned to ride without shifting. Because I couldn’t see much of the trail I had to learn to feel the contours of the land and anticipate an unseen line becoming one with my bike. I’ve been cycling my entire life but that was the night I became a cyclist. Sometimes letting go teaches us more than holding on.
It isn’t any easier to explain to a seasoned cyclist why I ride a single speed than it is to a complete novice. They are simply too far removed from the cycle to understand concept of simplicity. My bike has no suspension and one gearing, all I have to do is ride. My legs and arms are my suspension and my gears. My heavy old steel bike is built for no other than me from her stem to her tires each piece has been added or removed to achieve the ultimate riding experience. When I finish building her she will be as reliable as she is fun to ride. I carry all the tools with me to fix anything that may go wrong leaving my mind free to soak up everything from the tarmac to the trail.
I don’t have fancy panniers, shiny spandex or a single piece of modern bicycle touring gear. My tent is a plastic tarp and my cook gear is an old metal bowl. Because I know almost nothing about long distance cycle touring I wouldn’t even know where to begin. This journey will begin with absolutely nothing and last exactly one day. If I survive that first day and choose to stay longer I will. My fitness both mental and physical will determine what I need verse what I want. My budget for the journey is $500.00 and Im leaving with 3 days worth of food.
It isn’t about having all the answers and knowing everything before I leave, its about learning as I go. I don’t have any plans or destination in mind, this voyage is about the journey. I am seeking the path less peddled.
I was talking to a cycle guide yesterday and asked about his tours. He told me he charges $3,000.00 per person for a 4 day unguided tour. He provides food and shelter and roadside assistance if necessary. That $3000.00 tour all neat, safe and pretty, wrapped up in a shiny box represents half a years living expenses for me.
I expect there to be bad days and days that make the bad days look like good days. I’m still nursing a wounded knee, pulling, pushing and I assume hiking with a near three hundred pound load between the dog, bike, me and our gear. If my system fails miserably I’ll make it better. I have been doing quite a bit of research online but that really only adds up to entertainment, I won’t know anything till I put my foot to the pedal, turn the crank and roll down that unknown road we call life.
Bicycling is a big part of the future. It has to be. Theres something wrong with a society that drives a car to workout in a gym. ~Bill Nye