Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Bicycle Travel Network interview
Below are our answers to the interview questions asked by the Bicycle Travel Network. They are conducting interviews with each of their scholarship winners as a way to promote bicycle travel. We'll post the link as soon as it is up!
THE PLAN-We are using Adventure Cycling maps for our entire journey. Because we are first time bike tourists (read: clueless and nervous), we’ve chosen to be driven (gasp!) in a car (double gasp!) to our starting point on the TransAmerican Bicycle route. So, we are being driven from Columbus, Ohio to Berea, Kentucky, where we will start the TransAmerican Bicycle Route and head west. When we reach Missoula, Montana, we hope to do a loop into Canada, around Lake Louise. The Canada loop is contingent on timing and weather. After the jaunt into Canada, we plan to continue on the TransAmerican Bicycle Route to Oregon to stay with friends. If we skip Canada, it will be straight to Oregon to see our friends and their new baby boy. From there, we may go north up the Pacific Coast Route, to Vancouver, because Vancouver is awesome. On the way back down the coast we hope to meet up with another old friend in Seattle and head back south down the coast with him. After we reach the southern most part of the Pacific Coast Route, we are somewhat open to settling down somewhere for awhile, or if our financial situation looks good, and we have the desire, we may keep touring. We also are considering sticking around on the West Coast for the remaining months of winter and taking the Northern Tier Route back home to the Midwest in the spring. During our travels, we will be blogging about our experiences, good and bad, at www.theroadbeneathus.blogspot.com. It will be our main means of keeping in contact with friends and family. And we definitely hope to be a source of information for other want-to-be bicycle tourists!
THE ROUTE-We chose the TransAmerican Bicycle Route for our first tour because it goes through so many amazing parts of the country. A major plus about doing the TransAm Route is that it goes through Yellowstone and Glacier National Park -- two places we are both interested in visiting. Also, this particular route appears to have sections that go through small town America, which we both agree will be conducive to meeting lots of people while touring. We want interesting experiences, and we want to fall easily into conversations with with the people we see along the way, and this route seems best suited to that goal. The last major reason we chose this route is because it is heavily traversed, and we want the security of knowing that it is likely we will see other bike tourists along the way.
WHY BY BIKE?-We are bikers through and through, so a bike tour seemed like such a natural choice for us. We both bike commute to work daily, we race road bikes, cyclocross bikes and do triathlons, so doing a bike tour was appealing because it involved riding bikes. In addition, it is obviously less expensive than driving across the country. Plus, the idea of carrying everything you need to live on your bike, and going at your own pace was really, really appealing to us. We know from bike commuting to work daily that you see more, feel more and are more a part of your environment on a bike, so it seems like a great way to see the country.
WHAT WE WANT TO GAIN- We are both hoping to see if there really are other possibilities in life and alternative ways of living. We want to experience a time in our lives that doesn’t revolve around 9-5 jobs, material possessions and the mundane tasks of everyday life. Practically speaking, we want to gain touring experience and camping experience, and we want these hobbies to eventually come naturally to us, so much so that we’ll feel comfortable heading out on smaller trips without such extensive planning. We hope to be enlightened to a different way of living. We also look forward to meeting new people, and living a life that is unplanned and new everyday. Also, I (Melissa) am hoping that possibly if I remain open to different opportunities, that I will find more direction in my career.
PERSONAL FEARS-Yes, we certainly do have a few personal fears regarding the upcoming bike trip. We (OK, Melissa mostly) have a somewhat irrational fear that we will end up featured on a Dateline NBC episode because someone found our bodies chopped up hidden under a drainage ditch in the middle of nowhere. While I know the aforementioned scenario is crazy and irrational, we do have fears regarding personal safety. However, we both understand that time and time again people do this route and have nothing but great things to say about the wonderful people they met along the way. Another major fear is rooted in finances, or lack thereof. Since we quit our jobs to do the tour, we are concerned about finding new jobs when the trip is over. We have been relatively good at keeping these concerns at bay, but the fear of having a really rough time settling back down post bike tour, definitely weighs heavily on our minds at times. Predictably, we are also afraid of bears in Yellowstone, and making a major camping mistake, like causing a fire or running out of water at a really terrible time. The fear of getting horribly lost is not a major fear, but it is a nagging fear, especially when combined with the vision of being lost in a torrential downpour with lightening and thunder going off like bombs all around.
BIGGEST HURDLE- The biggest hurdle was actually getting to the point where we decided to quit our jobs to do this. It was a decision we didn’t take lightly. It is scary to outright quit a job that you have come to rely on, but we wanted this bike tour to be a once in a lifetime, life changing experience and we didn’t want to be held back by work related time constraints. So, because we wanted the trip to be epic, and because for it to actually be life changing, we decided to set our start date out for a little over a year and save, save, save money. That’s how we overcame our fear of quitting our jobs. We just looked hard at what we really wanted out of life right now, and decided that 9-5 jobs, and household chores and mundane tasks simply wasn’t what we wanted. We also knew that to do what we wanted it would be necessary to have some money saved in the bank, so we cut corners, stopped splurging on material things, and lived very thriftily over the last year. It came down to the fact that we wanted adventure more than security. Ultimately, now, post resignation from our jobs and the trip looming in the distance, the biggest hurdle seems to be avoiding the temptation to worry incessantly about finding a new job when the bike tour is over. To deal with this, we try to stay present, and we try to avoid getting caught up in worrying about the future. Because really, who knows anything about the future. It sounds stupid and cliche, but focussing on the positives, not the negatives, goes a long way when you are doing something like this.
USING THE SCHOLARSHIP- The book we won is a lodging book, so we will use that whenever needed (which will most likely be all the time). We’re grateful to have it, because we do worry about having difficulty finding lodging/campsites with ease. The mirrors that were generously provided, will be put on our touring bikes.
LOOKING FORWARD TO MOST-We’re looking forward to actually getting into the routine of touring. Most of all, we want to feel amazed and invigorated by our surroundings and nature. We want to experience genuine moments of freedom and not have a set schedule. We look forward to dealing with whatever gets thrown our way and becoming more self reliant. The idea of bike touring with the bare minimum, not really knowing where you will be tomorrow or the day after, is what we look forward to.