I also want to apologize for not responding to many of the posts that were made during our trip. Due to a technical problem (i.e., I forgot my password), I could not respond to a post using my Blackberry. I was only able to respond to the writer directly if I happened to have that person's email address. So please don't think your comments were ignored. To the contrary, we read and cherished every one of them.
Now that we've been home for a few days it is a little easier to express some thoughts that have been rolling around inside our heads for the last couple of weeks:
- As much as we enjoy finally being back in our own home and seeing our family again, we already miss bike touring. It is a truly unique way to explore new places and meet new people. This is our second long, self-supported trip. A self-supported bike trip means far more contact with strangers than would be the case if we had a support vehicle ("sag wagon") follow along. We once again came away with the clear conviction that 99.9% of people are great, and that if you need to ask them for help you will get it. Maybe people don't feel threatened by touring cyclists, or identify with them emotionally for doing something a little out of the ordinary. In any event, we again experienced virtually universally positive 'good vibes' from the many people we met - in every area of the country that we traveled across.
- Another thing we will miss is the occasional need to challenge ourselves to overcome obstacles and deal with unexpected circumstances (weather, bike maintenance issues, road construction, store and other support facility closings, etc.) You learn to be more self-reliant, flexible and creative in solving problems, since you simply have fewer of the normal alternative solutions available. While a steady stream of problems would certainly "get old," there can be a lot of satisfaction in figuring out a way around an obstacle.
- However, a long 'point to point' bike trip like this has its negative features. In addition to the negative of being away from home and family for months and months, the other big negative is that you are almost constantly moving. There were many times when we felt like we were "just passing through" a town because we just could not spend any more time there and still stay on schedule to return home by early September (our youngest daughter is expecting to deliver our 4th grandchild any day now). We almost certainly do some similar future trips, but they will probably be shorter in duration and more in the nature of "loop tours" (start and end in the same town) with a schedule that permits spending at least a couple of days in each place. In other words, less riding and more visting of cultural and historical sites as well as just 'hanging around' places that look interesting.
- Nevertheless, it was a great trip and we feel very fortunate that we were able to do it (in terms of time, physical condition and financially). We encourage anyone out there who may be considering a similar trip to feel free to contact us for whatever assistance we may be able to provide. If you are such a person, our two main messages are:
- You can do it. You don't need to be an elite level athlete, or even close. General good health, realistic daily goals and a positive attitude are all that is required. Remember: the vast majority of people underestimate their ability to do something.
- Do it now. Don't it put off thinking that you'll be in better shape (physically, financially, etc.) in the future. Do it while you can - you cannot assume what the future will be like. We met countless people on our trip who told us "I've always wanted to do that." Yet is was pretty clear most of them never will because they will never take the first step and it will eventually turn into a lifetime regret.
Thanks again for all your support!
Steve and Penny