Adventure: Exposure and Sweat

I have an admission to make. I love watching bike touring videos. The more remote the better. The people who are riding from Patagonia to Alaska or some other voyage that to most people seem crazy, unrealistic, dangerous, or impossible. The truth is, these voyages aren’t impossible, they are rarely dangerous and you don’t need to be crazy. How do I know this? Because people have been making these trips for a long, long while.

I had to walk a bit on this baby. Not this road but when the road ran out.

A few years ago I ran into a guy in downtown Santa Fe who was on his way from Chicago to Los Angeles with nothing more than the clothes on this back. His bike had ONE water bottle and no bags. AND HE WAS 80. He woke up on this 80th birthday, a few weeks before I met him, and said to himself, “I think I’ll ride to LA.” And he just left.

I also ran into a guy on the border who was riding across the country. I asked him how the plan came together. He said “Well, I’m forty and I’ve had a few heart attacks.” “Doctor told me I was going to die soon, so I thought it was worth a go.” “I hadn’t been on a bike in thirty years but a few weeks ago I went to REI and bought the bike.” “I left to ride across the country the next day.” I even photographed this guy.

Tell me this doesn’t look like a Star Wars character.

And in Australia I met a couple crossing the continent for the second time on their way to over one hundred counties by bike. They had been on the road for over six years and are still going. So what I do on a bike isn’t really much ado about anything. But it’s fun and it allows me to dream.

I found a new road today. Only fifteen miles from my house but suddenly there was nothing. No cars, bikes, people, structures, etc. Just peace and quiet with a shrill of wind in my ear. It’s dry here so often difficult to tell just how much you are sweating. I look at the tops of my knees. If there are drops dripping off, well, I’m working. And if not, well, then I can conserve fluids.

My goal is to connect a few dots on the map. Today was close but due to the sale of public lands to private individuals, who always love fencing, I had to backtrack. Soon I will try again, searching for open space, exposure and the feel of salt drying on my face and clothes. How lucky I am.

10 Comments on “Adventure: Exposure and Sweat”

  1. I am loving your bike / bike-riding fascination. I am 78 and thinking about getting a bike again. Last bike I owned was a Trek road bike which I rode through the hills behind Stanford. Every time I drive Sand Hill Road, I itch to get a bike again. But it’s been maybe 20 years since I rode.

    1. Alan,
      Do it. Bikes now are INSANELY good. I could never have imagined having a pinion gearbox, dyno lights, etc. I don’t have these but they are out there and they are fantastic. And your body and mind will thank you.

  2. Yes. People have been doing these trips for a while. On 1993 I rode, with two friends on dirt bikes, the “carretera austral” on Chile’s Patagonia. We felt we where conquering the south of Chile until we met a German gentleman on his seventies riding his bicycle on a long climb. We stopped and talked to the guy. It was the third time he had made the “carretera austral” on his bicycle.!!

    1. Paul,
      Yes, people are doing this ALL THE TIME so it should be a nice warm blanket for those of us on the fence. Alaska to Argentina would be a DREAM. No schedule.

  3. I don’t know about videos but Thomas Stevens’ ‘Around the World on a Bicycle’ documenting his 1884 ride on a “50-inch machine” sets the bar for me.

    1. Paul,
      There are numerous around the world’s that are quite interesting. The speed record, not that interesting to me personally, is a REMARKABLE feat.

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