Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What I see of bike touring

I very much enjoy being a minimalist in most areas of my life.  It's kind of addicting to try and get down to the skinniest amount of gear. For me I think it's a personality trait I'm proud of at best, and a slight ego trap at worst.  That said, I learned today a lesson I could have sworn I'd learned before: I am not a bear.

Bears are totally cool to stomp around all day carrying nothing but their wits and claws and bear fur around.  They can get away with that.  I am a totally different animal, and as a not special or unique snowflake among my fellow humans, I need stuff to survive.  We are animals that require tools and clothes to survive out of doors.  I went too skinny on clothes and paid for it today.

I rode through some torrential downpour in 40 something degrees and soaked through and was cold, shivering, and miserable.  I considered selling the bike for a bus ticket because I was thoroughly cold and ill prepared for spring showers.  I didn't prepare for hypothermia but really I didn't prepare to stave it off.  I ducked into a coffee shop and dripped all over the floor while I drank hot tea.  I studied my maps and looked miserably at the miles ahead through more rain.

I hopped on the google and while it was still early for a lot of bike shops to be open, REI opened its doors just as I slapped a U-lock on my land whale set up.  I looked for the waterproofiest, warmest, maximalist gear that I could get my hands on.  No shit I would have shelled out that bus ticket money and then some for whatever they had.  I couldn't believe they had nothing waterproof, water repellent, or super warm but I found the dregs of winter sale stuff and some neoprene bike shoe covers and some hand warmers and I got the eff out of there into sunshine and a wonderful raise in temperature.

A homeless man squatted next to my land whale on top of a stack of newspapers with his bike behind him.  I gave him a cliff bar and I set about sunning some of my soaked gloves and minimalist gear before I stuffed them back in.  I rearranged my pack, donned all of my layers despite the sun, and when I rode off the homeless man wished me luck and for a tailwind wherever I was going.  Thanks, mate.

Life on the road has been much. much. much. better since I agreed to taking more stuff onboard.  Stuff kept me warm(er) and dry(er) and comfortable.  Riding down a heavily trafficked highway in torrential downpour is not fun, nor does it set me up to enjoy any riding later.  If I'm comfortable I can focus on seeing the beautiful places I'm passing through instead of being on a loop repeating how cold I feel.  I'm pretty stoked on being like a bear now--able to stomp around rainy places all day focused on my next score of berries and next couple of hills, now possible because of gloves, tools, and a bit of wit that protect this delicate flower from the elements.

selfie featuring either huge smile or duck face but I'm warm and pawing my phone through huge gloves.  


  1. Hi Hannah all the ULTRA D DAY TRAIL and EOLIA Normandie teams support you in this bike trip. Enjoy the time for it . We are waiting for you in Paris June the 10 th to come with us on the D Day Beaches for another long trail running !