My friend and I will be riding from Houston, TX to Austin, TX and back over the next couple of days. The trip is about 400 miles round-trip. Aside from “do you think you’re crazy?”, I am often asked “aren’t you nervous?, where will you sleep?, what can you eat”?. I love these questions because they open up for a discussion about the bike and all the benefits it has had for my life and can have on anyones life. This is similar to the tactic I described in “Shushed like a third grade school girl”.
When asked these questions, I like to respond with another question. For instance, if I am asked “Aren’t you nervous?”, I will say “Should I be nervous?”. I ask the question with pure sincerity to really gauge where the person is at. I have come to find that most people just are not aware of the biking culture and all the potential the bike has. Usually, the conversation diverts away from my actual ride and I begin to focus on how that person can get on the bike. I don’t want the person to feel that they have to do multi-day bike tours in order to enjoy cycling. I want them to walk away from the conversation thinking “Wow, I would love to go for a ride, it sounds incredible”.
Of course, I do answer the questions about the bike tour to demystify the experience. For most people, it does sound crazy. How can you go days with just your bike? I lay it out in a simple format and try to help the person “see” the bike through my perspective I don’t use this time to brag about how far I am going, or how adventurous I am. I am really hoping the conversation intrigues the person.
Below are my responses to few questions I have been asked. Note that the main point I want to get across is that rather than being nervous, I am confident because I have my bike. Not only is it a reliable source of transportation, but it opens up the doors to the cycling community. I am confident that if it was needed, a fellow cyclist would be able to help. I have no fear of being abandoned or feeling alone.
Where will you sleep?
I have a rack on my bike and I carry a tent with me. Most state parks allow walk in’s at a very cheap price. I usually plan my trip so that a campsite is my destination. If worst came to worst, I could pitch the tent in the woods. Not ideal, but possible. It’s certainly a feeling of security knowing I can carry my shelter on my bike.
What will you eat?
If I am on a budget I will eat dehydrated meals from EMS/REI. They are about 10 bucks and fill me up. I bought a 5 dollar back packing stove from Amazon. It is smaller than a bar of soap and boils my water in about 2 minutes. However, sometimes while on multi-day bike rides I take advantage of the calories being burned and will eat my meals out at a restaurant. It really depends!
What if you break down in the middle of no where?
That’s always a possibility. I always ensure that I have basic tools/accessories with me like a pump, chain tool, allen keys, and extra tubes. 9 times out of 10 an issue on the road is going to be something I can fix. It will not be a perfect fix, but at least enough to get me to a bike shop.
After my experience in California I have a new faith in humanity, especially the people of the bike culture. A lot of people really do want to help. I need to hope that if someone saw me broke down on the road they would lend a hand. I know this is not always the case, but I have experienced this type of kindness and feel that it will happen again
I also carry a cell phone with me and a back up charger. This is a must. If the situation really is an emergency I can call for help
Again, I want the person I am speaking with to feel intrigues. I want the gears to start turning. I want them to ride!
HEALTHY BIKE HEALTHY BRAIN!