Many of us are afraid or reluctant to pursue doing things that we would really like to do. Sometimes we are held back by our jobs, family responsibilities, finances, or just fear of the unknown. Sometimes we feel like we can’t do something because we don’t have the right equipment. Most of us will probably not come to the end of our lives and think, “Boy I wish I would have put more hours in at work.” In fact, most people that have been questioned near the end of their lives express regrets about not spending as much time with family and those they love. Many also have regrets about not doing things they really wanted to do. A few years ago I decided I did not want to be one of those people that said, “I wish I would have done such and such.”
If we are really passionate about something, I think we ought to think hard about our priorities, make plans, and go out and pursue our dreams.
Let me give you an example. Several years ago, my sons became interested in road cycling. We managed to acquire or buy some used steel frame road bikes from the 80’s and 90’s. We began to dream about doing a long distance bike tour. The problem was that none of us had a touring bike. In fact, at the time my only bike worthy of the road was my commuter cargo bike (Xtracycle attachment on a Trek 7.3 FX). And my sons just had outdated road bikes. Buying touring bikes for everyone was out of the question. And then it occurred to me. Let’s just go for it. What’s the worse thing that could happen? We get a few miles from home and have to turn around or call for a rescue. I announced to the boys that we were going to do a long distance bicycle tour. The boys were aged 14 and 18 at the time. I had some old racks lying around, and spent $35 on another one and put them on the boys’ bikes.
We planned a route and began training. I think our longest training ride was something like 65 miles. About six weeks before our trip my daughter, then 22 years old, decided she wanted to go. The problem was that we didn’t have another road bike for her to ride. She just had an old commuter bike that did not have the gearing for a loaded tour. But I did have my old fully rigid Specialized Stumpjumper mountain bike. I put an old Blackburn mountain rack on it that I had lying around, and some slick road tires, and she began to train. I was a little worried whether we would be able to pull it off or not, but I was determined to at least give it a try. We bought some Lone Peak panniers for two of the bikes and I had an old set of panniers that I had used for long day trips. My Xtracycle didn’t need panniers.
To make a long story short, we had a successful and really amazing first loaded bike tour. We rode 295 miles in 6 days and camped out the whole way. My kids had so much fun they insisted we do this every year. We really created some wonderful memories and we were surprised that it wasn’t as hard as we thought it would be. You can read about that first tour here on my other blog:
From this first attempt, I learned that you don’t have to have all the latest and greatest or even the right kind of gear to have success and fun on an adventure. We have since done two more tours, one 410 miles and the other, this summer, was 365 miles through Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. You can read about our second tour here:
One more example. This year we talked my brother and his daughter into going on a bike tour with us. The problem was that he only had a road racing bike. It was a steel-framed Masi with Shimano Dura-ace components. Not exactly a good touring rig. We couldn’t even get a rear rack to work with it. But he really wanted to go so he did some research and settled on a B.O.B trailer. It worked pretty well, though his high gearing meant that he worked a lot harder on the hills than we did. But he had great time and his bike worked fine. Yes, a dedicated touring bike would have made the riding much more comfortable, but he went, had a great time, and we built more lasting memories.
You can read about that trip here:
So now we have fat bikes and lots of dreams. It’s not likely we will be riding the Tour Divide anytime soon. And we may not ever ride the Iditarod Trail in Alaska, but we may just do a week-long off-road tour. And we may do some winter snow races. We don’t have all the bikepacking gear that we would like yet, but we have some racks lying around, and we have lots of straps, and stuff sacks, and camping gear, and some pretty sweet bikes just waiting to be loaded up. I’m a firm believer in the restorative powers and the peace and solace that comes from being out in the natural world. Human powered travel keeps us in tune with the beautiful natural world around us.