I wrote this list for me but have decided to share it with everyone. We may not be in full agreement on all of these but I bet that more than a few will make you wax poetic on bicycle touring or possibly give you the itch to get back on the road. I write them as I get excited for my upcoming tour, and read them when my planning hits a brick wall. I give you bicycle touring motivation: 50 reasons to Bicycle Tour.
The gastronomical pleasures of bicycle touring
Eat everything. As much and as many servings as you can push into you body. Favorite Bicycle Touring remarks: “Do you have any pie? I’ll take two pieces, please!”
Learn project management skills in a real time environment
Nothing will sharpen the problem solving skills than being 150 miles from a bike shop with a repair you shouldn’t be able to fix. Being prepared is only half the battle.
Finally learn how to pack light
Compare your bicycle touring gear list from your first tour with any subsequent trips and you will be amazed at this new skill. It will translate well to business trips and vacation.
Full appreciation of the hot shower
Never again will you step into the shower and take for granted hot running water on demand.
Camp coffee tastes better than all other coffee
It’s cold, you just broke camp and the coffee is ready. Your face is puffy and you clasp the mug in two hands to make the most of it’s warmth. You position your nose over the cup and inhale a moist delicious whiff of java…AHH the first sip. You can’t buy that experience anywhere.
The sound it makes when rain hits your tent
You are outside, but you are inside. Inside your tent underneath the symphony that is precipitation hitting that super lightweight impermeable surface you decided to shell out $500 for…everything makes sense.
The realization that a squirrel sounds as big as a bear or cougar outside your tent at night in a forest
What is that creeping about outside the tent. It is making a massive racket. It must be huge and dangerous with fangs and sharp claws…Oh, hi Mr. Squirrel.
The gigantic hill the townspeople warned you about was not that big
You are in town stocking up on ramen, peanut butter, and chorizo when a local identifies you as a bicycle tourist and remarks that there is a big hill just outside of town. It’s a small hump.
What a tailwind can do for you miles per day average
If you have the wind at your back while bicycle touring you are king of the world. This is a scientific fact.
You become one with a paper map
Three to four days into a tour you realize that paper maps are actually three dimensional holographs that can impart all kinds of information if you know how to look at them correctly.
Postcards find their place in your life again
You will have a steady stream of kitschy postcards, things to say, and places to mail them. Don’t forget the stamps.
Water takes it’s rightful position as the only thing less important than air while bicycle touring
No need to follow up on this if you have ridden across a desert. If you haven’t you should try it.
Growing a nasty beard makes perfect sense
Grooming takes a backseat to cleanliness when bicycle touring. You really don’t care what you look like. Ladies can substitute armpits/legs for beard and drop the makeup altogether.
Losing the spare tire
Not the one in your pannier. The one around your waist.
Having a first aid kit that doesn’t get touched
It sits in your bag and you never had to use it. Better safe than sorry. When you finally unpack it will produce a big smile.
The Happiness derived from looking at a paper map
Nothing like the thrill of charting out the next days mileage while reflecting on where you have been. A GPS is great but there is something about a paper map that makes me feel all adventure-y.
The thrill of clean, dry socks
Socks don’t seem to warrant the same importance in my everyday life as they do when bicycle touring.
The satisfaction of seeing everything packed on your bike each day
Everything you need, right where you put it. Everyday right after you break camp and before you head out you look at your bike and smile inside.
The disdain for the RV
You will see them everywhere and inside you will realize that someone is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in an attempt to get 10% of the satisfaction you are getting while bicycle touring. See the world!
Looking at you cycle computer
It once read 0 miles. It brings a bigger sense of satisfaction with each new reading.
Realizing you don’t need so much
You have 20-50 pounds of equipment on your bike and over a ton of stuff at home. You can get by on the 20-50 pounds.
Daydreaming becomes relevant again
The daydreams I have while bicycle touring cannot be described or equaled.
Meeting new people while under the magical spell of bicycle touring
I live in NYC and meet people all the time. It pales in comparison to meeting people while under the magical spell of bicycle touring. You know what I mean.
After 10 days of bicycle touring your body adapts into a touring machine
I morph into an eating-pedaling machine. My legs stop aching, my heart stops pounding, and I forget about the effort I am making.
Attacking hills like an 18 year old
Once I have 10-15 days under my belt I know I can ride up anything and my 40 plus year old body starts attacking the hills.
Nothing is more satisfying to me that passing a farmhouse with full confidence a loose dog, with no chance of catching me, will be after me and summarily get dropped.
The satisfaction of leaving a Stealth Camping site
You get up, pack, and exit while leaving no trace. It’s a smug satisfaction.
The radio takes center stage again
You are in your tent with no internet. Fire up the transistor radio. Brings you back to the time of your grandfather and it works.
Spending ‘many days’ outside
How often do you spend 24 hours in a row completely outside? How about 1 week? How about 3 weeks?
You master improvisation
You are constantly improvising a fix, a new way to do something, a hack, and it works.
Equipment becomes something you actually use
Think about all the research you did before buying that expensive piece of equipment. Now you are actually using it and it works.
You master patching a tube [again for some of us]
A puncture is defeated in less time than it ever takes at home.
Getting lost is finally a victory
The map led you astray? No problem. I’m right where I want to be.
You find the right person to ask directions from
That crusty old mechanic or trucker just gave you the best directions that were ever uttered on the planet. Complete with stealth camping recommendations.
The feeling of being clean again
You finally have a good shower or stealth wash spot and you retire without the road funk you have been working up for the last week.
The feeling of removing clothes from a dryer
You find a laundromat and stop in for a quick washing of everything. Boy the smell and warmth of a dryer will stick with you.
The serendipity of finding the perfect place to stop
It’s not that you are tired and can’t continue. It’s more that this place is perfect for whatever reason. Time for a quick break.
The best hotels fall short of the best campsites
Waking up atop Lizard Head Pass in midsummer beats just about any wake up I have ever had.
The cheapest hotels can be really accommodating
Sometimes you find a hotel that is actually worth the price.
The US public library system regains it’s place in your life
Clean bathrooms, free wifi and someone who can usually answer a bunch of questions. Almost as important as when I was 10 years old.
Experience at least 1 insect infestation/swarm in your lifetime
I think everyone should see or feel this at least once to appreciate their bug free environ more.
Stare into the eyes of an alpha predator with ‘wits’ as your main defense
Looking at a brown bear is quite a feeling. Substitute wolf, mountain lion, bull moose, and any mammal that can take you down with ease and get the enlightening of a lifetime.
Separation from ‘screens’ and technology
Seriously…how long did you stare at a screen today. I stared all day while thinking about bicycle touring. That needs to be reversed.
Have everything go wrong and still feel good about what you are doing
Bike breaks, tent leaks, a bear got your food, etc. etc. Guess what you will still be enjoying yourself.
Being prepared for the disaster
Should everything go wrong and you find you are actually prepared…wow…what a feeling.
Meeting other people who are bicycle touring
It doesn’t matter that they do it differently than you do. Maybe you spend 10 minutes talking or maybe you spend 3 weeks riding together. What a great feeling.
Finding things on the side of the road
I have found all kinds of things when bicycle touring: action figures, money, camera, tarantulas, roadkill, drugs, etc.
Finding a soda machine in the middle of nowhere
The best coke I ever had was in between Kayenta, AZ and Tuba City, AZ at what looked to be a deserted rock crushing plant. It was 112 degrees out and I had exact change.
Pulling out of camp and singing Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again…”
I do it every morning. I am unable to not sing this when leaving.
Watching people drive by with a bicycle on a bike rack
They usually beep, and I appreciate it, but I can’t help but snicker.