Entries Tagged as Routes & Rides
Over the past several years our family has become a biking family. This started with my wife Martha and me mountain and road biking in our younger years. Then I started bike commuting, which somehow lead to cyclo-cross racing. My daughter Hayden, now 13, then joined me in that, which led to her joining a junior cycling team. All along my son Connor, 11, has liked mountain biking and occasionally does some races. This biking culture of ours continued to build momentum to the point where I thought everyone was ready for a self-supported tour.
There hasn't been a Bike Overnight posted for the state of Arkansas yet, so I'll describe the route of my favorite one. The ride originates from my home near Russellville. The destination is the highest point in the state at Mount Magazine, 65 miles away. I return via another route on day two, approximately 57 miles.
People always ask me how many bikes I have. Right now, it’s the bare minimum. Three. When I follow that answer with something like, “Well, one of them is my touring bike,” I get all nostalgic and guilty because I haven’t put in the miles on that sucker that I should. I’ve logged a few thousand miles on my Long Haul Trucker, on everything from rando-style road rides to a month-long hump down the Pacific Coast. But here in Chicago, it’s tough.
High on my 2013 list of adventures was a bike overnight – my first since our 2008 three-day trek from Boston to Provincetown, Massachusetts. Though I was longing for an extended trip, an overnight was much more manageable with our busy schedule. The Adventure Cycling Association’s Bike Overnights page really pushed the point further with the tagline “Don’t wait to go cross country. Go overnight."
Someone recently asked me about our anticipated bike adventure, which led to me trying to explain the concept of ultralight bike touring. The following exchange ensued:
Q. So, you like, carry all your stuff on your bike and go camping?
A. Yeah, that's generally the idea.
Q. You ever done this before?
A. No, not at all.
Q. But you basically refinanced your house in order to buy two titanium mountain bikes?
A. Yes, correct.
Q. So you bought these bikes, plus a bunch of equipment, but you've never toured, nor do you know if you'll even enjoy it?
A. Yeah ... (awkward silence)
After a snowy April and a wet May, I was ready for my first bike overnight of the year. I've made a few bike overnights each year since getting my touring bike, a Salsa Fargo; however, this one was different. I changed my touring kit from the traditional panniers and rack system I had used the past two years, to frame bags, a small front rack, and a large seat bag.
As a newbie to Washington state (two years), I am amazed by the variety of cycling terrain available to explore here. Want mountains? You got 'em. Want valleys? You got 'em. Want islands? You got 'em. Want rollers? You got 'em. Want deserts? Well, you have to go over to the east side of the mountains, but you still got 'em. I know there are many other places in the world blessed with grand outdoor scenes, but this is the first place I’ve lived with such natural wonders just outside my door.