Well, I have read many books about bike touring. I have seen what other people have done and talked and trained and felt ready. I have found out there are numerous things they didn’t tell you about.
Gravel: Gravel can be the best of roads, but the fact is they can also be the worst of roads. I never realized that Michigan had so many gravel roads and that Google Maps believes that they are the preferred thing to cycle on.
Heat Waves: Who would have thought after the cold wet early summer we have had I would start my journey in the middle of a muggy Michigan heat wave. 98 degrees today and muggy. It also coincided with a long day planned to reach a campsite and then some soul sucking gravel to combine with the soul sucking heat. I made it and tonight I am tired and ready for bed already. OK, I have never gone to bed at 7:35 in the past like 45 years so…
Boredom: I love riding a bike. I truly do, and the people who have done this remarked again and again that there are days where it just is terribly boring. Looking up and seeing endless gravel like the picture reinforces it. I need to plan some shorter days and get some time to enjoy where I am. I have missed that so far. Tomorrow is only 60 miles (100K) so I should be at the campsite early and can relax for a night, and go take a swim in Lake Michigan; another first in my life.
Beauty: Everyone describes it but the morning sun from behind while you ride and the long shadows you leave are stunning. To lie in the grass in the shade on a hot afternoon and just allow life to flow around you with no plans allows my soul to be centred and my prayer life to be grounded.
Temptations: No, not the singing group. When you have many miles to go and you are wasted and hot the temptation to quit lies strong within you. It does with me. My mind tells me, ‘you can turn around now and get the car…’ The secret to endurance in life and sports is to fight the battle between your mind and your body, and then tell them both to be quiet and keep pedalling.
Google Maps: OK, we have all heard the stories about roads that disappear etc. Well, when you are riding a bike and you turn where you are supposed to turn and there is a dead end. Sigh, start over and add more miles to the day. Or, when the road that is supposed to be there turns out to be a hiking trail. Oh, Google Maps and I are having so much fun together. I want to write them and ask which algorithms they use to decide a cycling route. It put me on a four lane hiway in North Detroit the other day and thought that was ‘safe.’ It didn’t feel that way to be honest.
Until tomorrow. I have been feeling the joy of solitude and allowing some thoughts to percolate in my mind. I’ll write tomorrow about gain and loss. Stay true my friends, stay true to yourself. On a long ride (yes long might be an understatement) when the only one to talk to is yourself you find out if you really like who you are…