Monday, October 17, 2005

Bicycle Touring On Oregon's Coast

It was a pleasant surprise to see a bicycle touring article on the front page of the Chicago Tribune’s Sunday Travel section. Correspondent Tim Jones pedaled the 370-mile Oregon coast with his son, Andy. He writes about the beauty of the shore, its history, and what Oregon has done to accommodate cyclists, adding a lesson for all bicycle tourists:
As it was our first visit to Oregon, Andy and I asked lots of folks what we could expect from the terrain. Unfortunately we talked only to people who had driven the coast, not biked it. They told us it was a pleasant downhill ride, a pedaling piece of cake…
That is one of the cardinal rules of route planning for cyclists—don’t trust advice about hills from non-cyclists! Motorists go up hills every day without giving it a thought, unconsciously pressing a little harder on the gas pedal. Sometimes even cyclists are unreliable regarding roads they have only driven. But once you’ve ridden those highways on a bike, you won’t forget struggling to maintain 8 mph on a climb.

Jones also supports my style of touring:
Campgrounds are a plentiful and less expensive option, but why lug all that extra stuff around? No doubt there is a special place in heaven reserved for those who sleep under the stars, and it's probably a campground with pit toilets and people in the next site singing John Denver songs. But there is no shame in pulling into a motel, where prices start around $45 a night.
I sometimes feel a twinge of embarrassment when people ask, in the regard to my cross-country bike ride, “So, you probably camped along the way?” Camping is such a part of the touring ethos for many that I cannot answer that I stayed in motels without giving justification for doing what the vast majority of auto tourists do without a second thought. I like being dry, taking hot showers, being warm or cool depending on the season, having Internet access, watching The Weather Channel, ordering pizza for delivery, etc. I don’t like setting up a tent, cooking over a fire, taking down a tent, drying out everything (rain or dew), and carrying all that gear around, not to mention the time it takes when I could be writing, resting, or otherwise preparing for the next day.

Slowly I have come to feel more comfortable with my choice of accommodations, even if it disappoints the purists. The
legendary Ken Kifer loved to camp, so that was an important part of touring for him. I, on the other hand, got more than my fill in Boy Scouts. Bottom line: there are many ways to tour, and any way is fine as long as you are having fun.

No comments: