Foggy mornings known to challenge even the most experienced cyclist, vacationers swerving along in rented RVs, and unrelenting hills that will tax the very essence of my abilities. That’s what lies ahead for my bike tour down the heart of California’s most scenic region late this summer.
Surreal images of the Pacific, giant redwoods that reach to the heavens, strangers who will likely become fast friends, and a chance to explore if I’ve got what it takes to ride a bicycle for several hundred miles in an area I’ve never explored.
Rides like these, the tours that take weeks or months, give you a different perspective on the hours that make up the day. Time seems to slow down, and because life rolls along at a different pace, you notice stimuli that would’ve been missed at 55 miles an hour (89 kph). You smell the overpowering scent from a field of wildflowers as you slowly climb to the top of a hill. Laughter comes at you from a playground filled with energetic elementary school children as you cruise through a small town. And the sight of a rainbow, with colors so intense that you feel as if it’s just been painted by a five-year-old’s overloaded brush, seems to extend to the ends of the earth when there’s no rush to get to an appointment.
Rides like these, the tours that take weeks or months, give you a different perspective on the hours that make up the day. Time seems to slow down, and because life rolls along at a different pace, you notice stimuli that would’ve been missed at 55 miles an hour.
Challenging myself to accomplish difficult tasks is what makes the world go ’round. But there’s more to it than just completing goals of this magnitude, especially at the ripe old age of 63. I love the simplicity of it all. It’s been said that riding a bicycle on tour asks the rider to answer only three basic questions as each day dawns:
1. What can I eat?
2. Where will I sleep?
3. How do I get there?
If those questions can be answered with a big dose of “well done” as the sun sets, it’s been a successful day. If only the real world was that simple, I’m convinced we’d all smile more than we do.