I have many thoughts swirling around in my head from my travels, so I will try to write some down and share them in upcoming posts.
The biggest thought – I am almost overwhelmed by all the support and encouragement. I never thought I was doing anything that special or it would mean so much to other people. I am very surprised and honored. If it has encouraged any of you to live your dreams, that’s really wonderful. People think I’m brave, but I’m not. I just refuse to buy into the prevailing culture of fear. I’m much more afraid of sitting in my wheelchair later regretting the things I could have done but didn’t, so I am doing what I can now.
This was my longest tour and the farthest from home so I knew many things would be new and unfamiliar.
At home I do the same routes over and over. But on a tour, nothing gets repeated. That really hard part, that big hill, you don’t climb it again. That really beautiful area, you won’t see it again except in photos. I had so many new experiences I can’t begin to keep them all straight in my head. Thank goodness for photos and blog posts.
I’m happy to say that most drivers were very polite and gave me extra space when they could. I especially appreciate the driver in the tunnel who followed me with flashers to be sure I got through safely. A big thank you to all the considerate drivers. It was noticed and appreciated. RVs and campers though, I don’t think they realize how big they are. They almost never move over and it’s intimidating when they whoosh by so closely. Trucks pulling trailers were often as bad. It must be even worse in summer when there are a lot of cyclists on the road trying to share the road with a lot more RVs.
I had a few spells of flat and level biking, but the vast majority of the time was hilly. There were some big, challenging hills but even the usual terrain was rolling hills, constant up and down. When I got tired of climbing the big ones I’d remind myself that what goes up must come down eventually. What looks like the top can be deceiving though. There may be more climbing around the next curve or after a small descent, and even if it is the top it is still farther away than you think. I wish I had trained on more hills! The steep downhills weren’t much fun either. I don’t like zooming down knowing that something in the road or a blown tire could cause a big accident, and I thanked my bike mechanic on every descent for my good brakes. With hills comes beautiful scenery though, and I appreciated those rewards.
When someone says there is an alternate route that avoids a big hill, do not believe them. Maybe it is a lesser hill, but chances are there is still a major hill. I learned that from experience. What is rolling hills to some bikers means eventually pushing the bike to this biker.
It’s also interesting to see what priorities rose to the top on the road.
Water! I only carried two bottles of water in this chilly climate but I still got thirsty. When the first bottle was getting low I was looking for a refill before I had to get into the second bottle, thankfully always successfully.
Electricity! My iPad and phone are my lifelines to navigation and communication. I can manage without them but I don’t want to. My solar charger doesn’t work well if it’s cloudy or there are lots of trees, so I always had my eye out for sources of electricity. I have spent more than a few hours in park bathrooms because they have working outlets.
Somewhere to sleep! I could find a hidden spot in the woods but I’d much rather camp in a legal and safe place. This was a big challenge in WA where most parks were still closed for winter, but there were a lot more open campgrounds in OR. I also learned a lot about checking availability. Camping usually means RVs and many parks don’t accept tents. Funny, my biggest freaking out subject when planning the trip was not knowing where I would sleep, and this indeed turned out to be the biggest challenge.
Wifi! I have a chip and data but I can go through it very fast if I’m not careful, so somewhere with wifi is always most welcome.
Then of course, food, but I wasn’t very hungry and towns always have places to shop. Laundry and dry clothes are almost a luxury, especially since I didn’t bring many clothes and I was usually wearing most of them to keep warm. Otherwise, barring emergencies or major bike breakdowns, you really don’t need much. It’s pretty cool to think you have everything you need to survive packed on your bike.
The bus people weighed my duffle bag with all my stuff – just under 40 pounds. No wonder my bike feels heavy. I could lighten that in a warm climate though.
I have run on enough for the moment. I still have some photos to share and other thoughts to write but of course now, that will have to come after enjoying my family and playing with the grandkids.
Kris, you are very perceptive. I’m sure those hours of solitary biking gave you much food for thought. So you’re my friend. Thank you for inspiring and sharing your adventure. Miss you.
When I get back we must get together and catch up. I want to hear about your travels!
Glad t o read about your trip. Are you safely home with your family now? You must be anxious to ge back home to Panama. You can reflect on a lot when you are on your own with no one to talk to. But I am sure it was a learning experience for you, preparing you for your next bike trip. Glad you are safe.
I am with my California daughter now, and will probably return to Panama in a couple weeks. It was definitely a learning experience!
Why Panama? I loved Panama and Island of Taboga.
I talked about that on my main blog. https://blog.thepanamaadventure.com/why-panama/ Panama seemed to meet our requirements, and I’m happy to say it has worked out wonderfully for us.