"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door" … "You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to."
~ Bilbo Baggins from The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkein

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Why Do This Ride?

You've Read the Short Answers to Frequently Asked Question. Here's a long answer to the most important:  WHY. 
To do it justice, I'll break this into three parts and three posts: 

1               Why a multi-day bike ride?
2               Why now?
3               Why Lake Michigan? &  What is this about Pilgrimage?

To explain the first,  I've included an excerpt from an article I wrote for the Evanston Bike Club Newsletter in December of 2011. 

 A Dream of the Open Road

I have a dream. It’s not a big and important dream like those first four words would imply, but my own small dream. One day I would like to ride all the way across this country, or maybe part way say from Chicago to DC. For the pull of the open road is strong within me (see Bilbo Baggins quote above).

Inspired by 1976 Bikecentennial

 The first time I heard of anyone riding across the county on a bike was in 1976. A friend of a friend of ours had just completed the first Bikecentennial as a group leader.  After traversing the country from Portland to DC, Jan needed a place to stay for a while.  We had an open room in the attic.  The match was made.  During his stay we heard many stories of his ride, the people he’d met, the challenges he’d faced, the thrill it was to see this great land under his own power.  I was hooked.  Bikecentennial has now morphed into Adventure Cycling and I’m still hooked.  Each year I read their brochure, look at some of the trips, and dream about the wonderful maps and where they’d take me.   

The Original 1976 Bikecentennial Route. Seeing this map again, almost 40 years later still inflames my imagination.

Experienced shorter supported and self-supported tours

 Sure, I’ve done a bit of my own multiday rides.  Jim and I have cycled in England, though Austria, Switzerland and even into Lichtenstein (over the Silvretta pass).  Thirty some years ago we did a self-supported trip from Luxembourg down through the Moselle river valley and on to the Netherlands. We talked my mother-in-law into sagging for us in Ireland.  We’ve done a cycling adventure in the Czech Republic, participated in week-long PAW (Pedal Across Wisconsin) rides and joined my high school friend on SAGBRAW (Scrams Annual Great Bike Ride Around Wisconsin). You’d think with all that I’d have satisfied this pull of the open road. Not so. I yearn for a longer stretch, a grand adventure, my answer to the Oregon Trail exodus of our ancestors.

  Dealing with the uncertainty

 So, why haven’t I gotten done that long distance ride I dream of?  I guess I’m simultaneously intrigued and intimidated by the unknown.  I want to know where I’ll be staying at night and I really, really don’t want to sleep on the ground anymore.  Been there, done that plenty in my earlier days. I am a bit concerned about getting in over my head and trying to do too much distance too soon. I guess I’m also interested in finding other folks who are bitten as much by this thing as I am.  Jim doesn’t have the same wanderlust as I.  And he really, really doesn’t like all the uncertainty of constantly moving.  We ride at similar paces, but travel at different speeds as it were.   Maybe he’d do it if he weren’t intimidated by the logistics. 

Maybe I’ll start short, try with a two week self supported one and grow it from there.  Maybe when my high school friend gets around to retiring we’ll do the Wisconsin to DC route together. Maybe, maybe, maybe … but, one of these days it has to be NOW.

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