Alice Honeywell and Bobbi Montgomery wrote this interesting book titled Across America by Bicycle. These two retired women cycled 3,600 miles over 3 months and provide many insights for anyone on a long distance bicycle touring journey.
One thing was the questions they got from people during the ride:
- Where are you going
- Where did you start
- How long do you think the trip will take
- What tools are you carrying
- What maps do you use
- How many miles a day are you going
- Where are you staying
They soon discovered that “then we realized that we had made the mistake we had been warned about: attempting too many miles with our heavy loads. We were averaging nearly seventy miles a day in extreme heat, and Dave, before our trip began, had told us fifty miles a day was probably the maximum if we were carrying our own gear and wanted to enjoy ourselves. But we were beginning to face reality. If we wanted to truly enjoy the rest of this trip, we had to cut back on our daily mileage or stop less and talk to fewer people.”
One issue they also ran into the first day I have experienced on most of my trips as well and that is working out a system so you don’t hit each other. I find when riding in a small group (or couple) with loaded panniers you tend to ride as if there were none, it is like bumper cars on bikes.
They talked about how road angels had helped them on occasion and I have experienced that on some of my trips especially the time someone took my damaged bike back to our accommodation in their pickup truck.
They mentioned in their book, “We decided that being able to appreciate the ridiculous was one of the requirements of successful long-distance cycling.” And I agree.
They also remarked that it is frustrating to have to move on before they had learned more about a place or particular person and I have learned to build in two night stops sometimes along a route just to enjoy the journey.
They encountered wildfires, injury, wildlife, and repair along the route and with the exception of wildfires you may as well. However on two of my trips we encountered floods and had to change our route, these things are just a part of bicycle touring.
They observed that, “perhaps it was our perceived vulnerability because of our mode of travel that moved people to approach us.” I don’t know but I do find that people are always talking to us while bicycle touring, whether in North America or Europe.
Across America by Bicycle is an interesting story, well worth the time invested for anyone on a long distance cycling journey.