My survival strategy for the Arkansas summer bikepacking adventure came to me in a vision today.
Pedaling out after work into the “feels like 101”, I warmed up (ha!) and commenced several half-load, half-hearted, hill repeats.
Sweat beaded on my skin, burned my eyes, and dripped off my wrists. My heart rate spiked, and I was a little dizzy. But I found a sort of rhythm, and knew I had the answer. In other words, I had a sound strategy for the sweltering summer back-country. In a word…
I saw it clearly in a vision.
Or a hallucination.
My esteemed touring buddy, Tim, did a better job at describing the event details with his day by day accounts (Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3). But I can, at least, contribute a few photos to help further enhance the mood…
I like simple things in life
Like a prairie breeze
A good stout horse between my knees
Just bein’ alone just bein’ me
– Desert Skies, Marshall Tucker Band
Having a good buddy to share a bicycle tour adds much to the overall experience. He points out things I miss, encourages me to go beyond my previous personal limitations, offers a congratulatory mountain top handshake, and validates my claim that “the climb in the photo is much steeper than it appears”. A good touring buddy magnifies all that is excellent about a bicycle outing. He also helps me overcome challenges encountered along the way. That means a touring buddy sees me when things aren’t going well.
A touring buddy has insight far beyond instagram images and blog posts. The information posted on this blog and on instagram is only the information I want you to see. It is carefully edited, and I have total control. But I can’t edit or filter life as it happens in front of my tour buddy. He sees the stumbles, silly mistakes, packing disorganization, and camp failures. He hears me whine when I don’t have my way. Vulnerability and humiliation. Is it worth it?
When a tour buddy agrees to join me again for another tour, it is worth it. He demonstrates (by subjecting himself to my company again) that my shortcomings are somehow acceptable. That makes for a great touring buddy.
(freaky spring weather permitting)
camp dinner 6ish
near full moon
short night ride?
bacon at 7
ride at 9
26 miles of mixed terrain (trail, gravel, paved)
lots of stops for lake views, photo ops, snacks, and coffee
followed by late lunch burgers in Greenwood (mid-afternoon?)
The bicycle is a ideal adventure vehicle for me. It requires physical activity, it is silent, and it has perfect pace. It seems motor vehicle travel is so fast, I miss too much. Hiking is so slow, it doesn’t keep up with my curiosity. But the bicycle brings me new sensations just when I am ready for them.
I’ve learned that bicycle tours have a certain rhythm which is different than normal life. It is slower, and has more of an “in the moment” flow. It seems to take me a couple of days to make the adjustment. Once body and mind are in sync with the rhythm of the tour, I experience something blissful that I’ve been unable to communicate to non-bicycle tourists.
I’ve done several tours, and have found this rhythm. But my short tours usually end just at the time I make the adjustment. I feel like a surfer dropping in on a perfect wave, only to have it vanish as I carve the bottom turn.