They, like us, were new to bike touring. But where Melissa and I had jumped in feet first, Jim and Sharon had jumped in head first. Weeks before, they had both taken an early retirement, sold all their belongings, including their cars and condo, and bought touring bikes. Literally, all they own is what they can carry on their bikes. Whenever they sign in to a hotel, their home address for the night is the hotels address.
They were like a breath of fresh air. Whereas most other bike tourist we had met along the way were competitive, Jim and Sharon were not. They didn’t care how many miles we had done the day before. They didn’t care how much or little we spent on food. Or how much weight we were carrying on our bikes. What they did care about where the people we met along the way.
Before checking into Hotel Ordway, they had spent two nights at a hotel 20 miles down the road. And upon checking out, they planed on only going 30 miles to the next town. Why? Well . . . why not? Bike touring to them is about meeting the locals and immersing themselves in the local cultures and customs. They figured that most of the small towns they were biking through, they would never be in again.
Their thoughts on bike touring really stuck with us. They were right, whenever again would we be in Twin Bridges, Montana or Ness City, Kansas? Sure, it’s really great to brag to other cyclist that you had just rode 105 miles in the pouring rain or hadn’t taken a rest day in weeks. But, it’s even better to tell them about the people you met, or the local bar owner who invited you to stay at his house.
When you put in the big miles, all there is left to do is find a place to crash for the night. But if you slow down, that’s where the real memories are made.