Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Tribute to Tour Cyclists: 365 Days on the Road

Arriving into Teslin Lake, Canada on day 365

Today, I can officially say, I feel like a tour cyclist! A year has passed since I left Barcelona, I'm just shy of 30,000 kilometers pedaled, and I'm on the way to Alaska?!?! It wasn't on my original itinerary, but then again what is predictable on this trip anyway. I've been on the road for 365 days yet no two have ever been the same! I've adopted the lifestyle of a cycling nomad, riding my bike all day; continuously for days on end. I sleep in a new “bed” almost every night, meet and talk with a handful of random strangers daily, and cherish my current surroundings and the moment!

The breakfast of champions to celebrate a special occasion
Tour cyclists, that's our official name, we are an unusual breed. Some travelers wouldn't attempt to cover the distance we do by car, let alone a push bike! We don't need anything fancy, but occasionally we do feel entitled, treating ourselves to little “perks” and find ways to pamper ourselves. We start almost every sentence or thought with, “I just cycled 50, 80, 100 miles, I want, I need, I deserve.........”. After six to eight hours in the saddle, you can justify anything and everything without feeling any shame or guilt! Guilt is a relative word that doesn't seem to weigh heavily on my mind nor influence my decisions. Likewise, shame, doesn't exist either.

Tour cyclists, we have so much fun at our road side encounters

And we come in all different shapes and sizes with all different looking set-ups on our bikes!

On my first tour, four years ago, I met Mark on the Oregon-Washington border, another tour cyclist who was traveling cross country. He introduced me to the term “No Shame!” which today, has become my motto on the road! Behavior that would be appalling, outlandish, or simply just simply odd in everyday life becomes a common occurrence and habit when tour cycling. There is no need to explain or justify our behavior, we are entitled to act this way, we've earned it!

After a year on the road, here is my list of “No Shame” behaviors and habits. You might be horrified as you read, but for those of you who have done any tour cycling or traveled for an extended period of time, I'm sure you can relate and empathize. It's a jungle out there and you do what you have to in order to survive!

You know you are a tour cyclist when (you)……

Frantically enter an establishment, with one thing on your mind, besides food, that is. Where is the closest electrical socket to charge all my technology?

YUM! In Canada the maple flavor baked beans are delish!
Baked beans is a gourmet meal!

Find yourself bringing your whole toiletry bag into a restroom to freshen up in the morning. Brushing your teeth, washing your face, putting on deodorant or lathering up in lotion in a restroom is much more spacious than in your tent!

Shocking! No comment, I'm hopeful they will disappear!

Have tan lines that resemble a flag; stripes and weird splotches everywhere!

Dessert #2 after 2 scones

Dessert # 1, then came the birthday cake, my lucky day!
 Dessert is comprised of many courses, just like dinner!

We becomes VERY anti-social when there is free wifi!

Enter a town, turn on the wireless option on your phone and pedal around in front of all the restaurants and hotels looking for a free connection.

All-you-can-eat-buffet, plate #4, and still going strong!
Have NO self control when it comes to food and portion sizes. A 1,5L container of ice cream becomes a single serving, blocks of cheese disappeared in a flash, and the slab of meat you just ate for dinner could have fed a small family for a week!

Find yourself hovering around the free samples at a grocery store like people around a fire pit on a cold winter night. Samples are like an all-you-can-eat-buffet, especially when they are left unattended!

And when there is a fire, it totally beats a hand drier!
Use a hand drier in the bathroom as a hair dryer, clothes dryer, and even a heater. A line might start to form behind you but, your underwear isn't quite dry yet.

Find yourself in the most random places taking a break and having a coffee, as long as your warm and dry!

Taking a break hanging out in a bait and tackle store next to the guns?!?! It was the only available counter space! 

Arrive at the check out line in a grocery store and half the things you are buying have been eaten. The clerk gives you a funny look as she scans, to imply imply, “You really ate all that while you were in the store shopping?”. Yes, get over it!

I slept under Rob and Lynne's awning for 3 nights in Tasmania, we just kept running into each other....

Keep running into the same people on a 200 mile stretch of road. By the third or fourth encounter, it's like you are old time friends, you go way back!

I've been running into Monica and Pam from Portland, Oregon for the last week on the Alaska Highway

You haven't ordered anything at the restaurant for hours, but you are still waiting for your photos to upload so you aren't going to budge!

Feel as though there in incest among your hosts. They ALL seem to know each other, at least in a 200 mile radius.
Bathroom is locked, I've stripped down, and ready to go!

Have perfected the art of a sponge bath in a public restroom. You seek out single stall restrooms that can be locked and in10 minutes tops you walk out dressed in a new outfit, wet hair, and even freshly shaved legs!

Wake up in the middle of the night and you can’t remember where you are….Australia, New Zealand, Cambodia?!?!? Am I sleeping in a tent, bed, on the floor? Where is the bathroom and how do I get there?

Scavenge for random stuff along the highway. So far I've found to 2 iphones (locked), an ipad (smashed), one wallet (mailed and returned), 3 candy bars (eaten, yummy!!), and a camping towel (by far the best find of them all)!
Score, free peanut butter, jam, and honey samples!
Find you find little packets of jam, honey, and peanut butter stashed anywhere and everywhere in your bags. Wow, did I really steal that many?

Have experienced a peanut butter overdose. You are so sick of peanut butter you can't even snatch any more free samples when they are sitting in front of you on the table at a restaurant.

Jump for joy when restrooms have luxurious soaps, lotions, or even hand sanitizers. Fill'er up!

Free McDonald's WIFI: Everyone does it! I learned this in my first week of my trip with Viçens in France.  

Let out a huge sigh of relief when you see the golden arches in the distance as you roll into a new town. Not that I'm actually going to order anything at McDonalds, but I can easily spend a couple of hours using their free wifi.

Your helmet becomes a second skin, always attached to your head....why bother taking it off, it's just going to go back on again!

Now you see them.....

.......Now you don't!

Your toiletry bag doubles in size magically when you spend the night in an “upscale hotel”. You jump for joy if they have mini-mouthwash containers and name brand conditioner for curly-haired people like myself is a luxury item!

Never trust a car driver when you ask, “What is the road like?” When they say flat, they really mean hilly!

Start talking to cows and sheep on the road, they seem to always appreciate your presence.

Enter a supermarket and make a B-line for the “Special Discount Bin” Donuts, day-old bread, and overripe fruit and produce are a true treasure!

Can do everything including shaving your legs in a timed four minute shower fed by a dollar coin.

At the visitor center again, getting my free maps!

You'd think it were the Mona Lisa......

Find yourself sitting in front of a map, the same one you've been starring at for the last week, and still there are new roads to marvel at and distances to be calculated!

Become obsessed watching the little blue dot move on the GPS map tracking your progress. Haven't I pedaled farther than that?

You've got all the specials at the local supermarket memorized. Grapes are on sale this week at Coles for $1,50/kg. but watermelon at Whoolworth’s is 48 cents/kg.....dilemma!

Find random strangers giving you stuff free from food, water, clothes, even treating you to meals or putting you up in a hotel!

Hiding my tent behind the information sign at a rest stop
Paying for a place to put your tent feels like a total crime! After all, it is just a little piece of land....I'd rather spend that money on food, it's much more worthwhile!

The list goes on and on.......

No comments:

Post a Comment