Sew…in May I gave myself a 50th birthday present. I absolutely love riding my bike and I’ve done a few triathlons and century (100+ mile) rides, and they were lots of fun.¬† But I’d never really done any real bicycle touring.¬† That was something I’ve ALWAYS wanted to do.¬† So, I chose to go on a self-contained (meaning camping and cooking and you carry all your own gear plus a share of the group’s common cooking gear) bicycle adventure tour in Oregon with an all-women’s group through Adventure Cycling.
I filled out the application and sent in my initial payment. The application was accepted and YAY, I was so excited!
Then reality struck. And panic. When I first decided this was what I wanted, I *thought* I would be able to use my road/racing bike (carbon frame).¬† I was wrong. See: “Sew I Needed a Bike”.
OK I researched, ordered and got the bike.
So…then I needed racks, panniers, a handlebar bag, a tent, a sleeping pad, a sleeping bag, my own travel eating utensils, cup, plate, etc. OH my! The costs were really adding up. Remember the first time you thought about making a quilt and that it wouldn’t cost much because you’ll just use what you have?¬† Until you realize you need a new sewing machine, special tools, a particular fabric, special thread, etc.¬† Yeah, it’s a lot like that!¬† OK…deep breath…doing it…figured that out.
THEN I needed to find time to train.¬† After all, we were going to be riding approximately 50 miles a day, 4 days in a row (on fully LOADED bikes that are steel frames, not lightweight carbon). My bike–fully loaded–weighed in at over 100 pounds.¬† OK…several deep breaths…doing it…figured that out. Time flew by and I did the best I could with the time that I had but felt uncertain if I was truly ready.
Then the finally came, I loaded up my little Ford Focus hatchback with my bike and all my gear and I pulled out of the driveway on my way to Eugene, Oregon.¬† Just a little over 1300 milesand¬† I *LOVE* a good road trip.¬† Yes, even all by myself. After being a multi-tasking mom, employee and business owner for most of the last 30 years, having that time alone on the road seemed like a dream.¬† I could listen to the music I like…or no music at all.¬† I could have complete thoughts without interruptions!¬† Imagine that.
Sew…I had 3 days to get to Eugene but didn’t make any hard/specific plan.¬† I like it that way sometimes. Just play it by ear and see what the adventure brings.
As I was driving through Salt Lake City, I noticed an In N Out Burger place just off the upcoming exit.
OMGosh…I haven’t been to an In N Out since I was last in California (many, many years ago)!!! So I pulled off, ordered my meal from a fresh-faced kid who was obviously happy to be working (what a treat to notice that!) and I thoroughly enjoyed a lovely burger and fresh french fries (something I RARELY eat anymore). It was wonderful. After I finished, I filled the gas tank, checked out my MapQuest route and searched for hotels, estimating how much farther I thought I’d be able to drive without becoming too tired.¬† I picked a hotel, called ahead and made a reservation (man, that was QUICK and EASY…sometimes technology is AWESOME!!!). So, I made it just past Twin Falls, ID by a little past midnight of my first day of travel.
Now I had a whole day to rest and acclimate before meeting my group.¬† So I decided to explore a little of Eugene on my bike.
Check out the super groovy bus I found in a gorgeous park!
meeting place at Richardson Park (just outside of Eugene).
After finding the group, we set up camp and began our 2-day study of self-contained touring. We¬†learned how to pack, how to travel, how to operate the gas burner we’d be carrying to cook our food, how to read our maps and cue sheets, how the cooking responsibilities would be divided up, how the shared cooking gear would be divided up and much MORE!
The second day of camping we did a short (under 10 mile) shake down ride to test our gear, re-check our bikes and make sure we had everything we needed.¬† We also stopped along the roadside to pick and eat wild blackberries.¬† They were so sweet and delicious!!!
END OF PART ONE — TO BE CONTINUED!