As many of you may already know, I've recently become quite the bicyclist. First and foremost, I'm a bicycle commuter; that is, I bike to and from just about anywhere I wish to go. Second, I cycle for recreation; I compete with my own times, speeds, and distances whilst sight seeing and enjoying a cool breeze. And third, I cycle for exercise. While it's true that you get a fair amount of exercise during any cycling activity, I often times find myself on a bicycle ride after eating an extra slice of pizza; I did this today, not knowing my exercise ride would morph into something entirely different about five miles into the trip.
Just like the idea of bicycling as a method of exclusive transportation lingered in my mind long before I ever actually went out and brought the idea into reality, another idea has been lingering in my mind lately and recently took its first steps into existence. That idea being touring by bicycle. Now, I know what some of you may be thinking, especially those of you who rarely (if ever) hop on a bicycle and go for a spin. Regardless of this conception, I must say that tonight I've had one of the most rewarding, pleasurable, worthwhile, exciting, motivating, and down right fun experiences of my short life.
Now, there are many different definitions and ideas that come to mind when one mentions bicycle touring. Some travel great distances within their own state, others travel even greater distances between states. The steps I took into this fascinating lifestyle weren't quite so bold, but I got a taste of something I expect to take with me for the rest of my life. While cycling off my pizza, I took a standard route into the more rural area of my city. I've done this on several occasions, and thought I'd try something new. I took a road that led off into a different direction, one that hugs the mountain side for some twenty miles. After traveling a few miles down this road, I found yet another deviation from my usual route to try. The road I discovered was well-paved and had very minimal traffic, traveling parallel to some train tracks.
The ride on this road was very smooth and comfortable, and I enjoyed it so much that I felt no reason to stop any time soon. There were one or two steady inclines that gave me a great feeling of accomplishment (at least, I think that's what that was!) upon reaching the top; the ride back down these inclines on my journey home was even more satisfying. Whilst traveling on this road, I saw a rabbit, geese, horses, livestock, and other types of wildlife. The occasional motorist who passed me would politely move a safe distance away before doing so. I traveled this road all the way into a small neighboring town called Inkom, passing their elementary school and taking a brief break at a local gas station/convenience store. From here I took the opportunity to call my parents and let them know where I was, and ask them for advice about my trip home. From this call I learned that the road I was traveling on was actually an old highway, or at least that's what we call it.
I took the old highway all the way back into Pocatello (my home town), passing my former high school (Century High) and re-entering familiar urban territory (what Idahoans call urban, anyway). From here I rode directly home, not stopping until I reached my doorstep. Round trip, I traveled approximately 30 miles and did so in 1 hour, 56 minutes and 24 seconds of cycling time. I encourage any of you who found this report the least bit interesting to go out and start cycling. You don't have to do 30 miles your first, second, or third trip. Maybe not ever. Your reasoning for doing so may vary, but the benefits are still the same. Whether it's commuting to work, biking to the park and back, or touring the country side, I'm sure your experience will be worthwhile.
Like all of my cycling trips, I started this one at my doorstep and ended it at my doorstep.
For more information on just about everything bicycle related, I recommend reading Ken Kifer's Bike Pages. His cycling advice, experiences, expertise and touring journals have been both inspiring and entertaining for me to read. Whether you're a weekend rider or an avid cyclist, I'm sure you'll find something of interest to read.
Those of you who are curious can find a recent photo of my bicycle here. It's a Raleigh Venture "3.0″ with various accessories attached, including bike lights and speakers.
- CYCLING TIME: 1h56m24s
- CYCLING DISTANCE: ~30mi
- START/DESTINATION: Pocatello, ID to Inkom, ID and back