The Why? behind the Big Bike Ride

K asked me recently whether I’d posted anything about the thinking that led me to plan a serious long duration bike tour and I had to confess that I hadn’t. I’ll remedy that with a bit of the history of the idea and some of the things I hope to do on the ride.

I’ve thought about going mobile for a long time; I was struck by Stephen Bodio’s description of prairie/basin and range grouse hawkers and their Airstreams and tipis back in the mid-80s and the urge to try my hand at technomadism has been in my head ever since. Over the past few years, a constellation of factors, personal and societal, brought the desire to a full boil. There was the heart attack that demonstrated conclusively that I’m not immortal, a different kind of heart issue that led to a period of grieving, and all the thoughts and feelings that accompany watching loved ones in cognitive decline. The larger world doesn’t supply a lot of hope either. We’re rushing towards 1.5C/2.7F global temperature increases within 20 years and a country (hint: the US) that could lead on global warming issues is led by an incompetent kleptocrat, And as a side note, news came in this morning that Brazil has elected the fascist Bolsonaro who, among other things, has vowed to open up the Amazon to commercial exploitation. That’ll sure help with climate change (true, but not in a desirable direction)! Seems like a good moment to chuck it all and travel a bit. But how to travel? I had 3 options in mind:

  • Airstream. Pros: comfy! Cons: price (esp when the tow vehicle is factored in), lack of maneuverability.
  • Van conversion. Similar to the Airstream, but less comfy and more maneuverable.
  • Bicycle. Pros: cheap! Low/no carbon! Cons: much smaller load capacity.

The bike option won. I love bike touring – I think it is one of the very best ways to actually experience the country one moves through. It can be stealthy, low impact and inexpensive. And a well set up bike can handle a huge range of terrain: pavement to singletrack. My body was also a consideration; apparently I am not getting any younger and if I do want to take a big ride, sooner is favored over later.

So a-riding we shall go! The thing I most want to do on the trip is simply to experience the landscape: rocks, rivers, trees, birds, lizards, people, bridges, stars in the night sky and everything else I can wrap my senses around. And I want to learn! I want to pick my high school Spanish back up and get way better at it. I want to write more, and more betterer. 😉 I want to learn the names of unfamiliar things, I want to improve my photography and film making chops: I’m bringing a camera with macro and tele lenses for wildlife stuff and a couple GoPro Sessions for on the bike vids and kite aerial photography. I’m going to go fishing – and swimming! And I’m going to ride where I want at any pace I feel like. The riding itself is also part of the point. I find it to be meditative and a good way to sort things out in my head. I’m hoping to spend significant time in the moment – Flow for Dummies – and I want to think about post-ride activities – how I can help my loved ones survive The Jackpot.

Pre-ride. Bundled up.

We’re now a couple weeks from departure (I hope). Soon, this space will become a travelogue blog!



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