Thursday, July 14

Touring Dreams

I gotta say my Guanella Pass bicycle tour was one of the most, if not THE most, satisfying recreational activity I've ever experienced. To conceive of a plan of such personal magnitude, to put together all of the things I needed, to have built and maintained the bike I used and to have drawn on a lifetime of experience and then have it go off without a hitch...well, that's poetry.

There was very little I would have done differently. And to be honest, the same trip if it had been pushed back a couple of weeks could have been meteorologically disastrous. But it wasn't and I can't wait until my next tour.

Oddly, I passed up the opportunity to do another bike tour the very next weekend so I could do some specific mountaineering. I wanted to visit Father Dyer Peak in the Tenmile Range near Breckenridge. And while a bike tour was completely possible and feasible I just didn't have the time to make the trek over the Divide, bag the peaks and return. Plus we were entering the monsoon season and using the car to go light and fast was the quick and easy way out.

It's hard to describe (or imagine until you've actually experienced it) the feeling of having all of your gear on your bike and traveling from Point A to Point B. My biggest regret is that I didn't do a big multi-day loop instead of my out and back. I ended up with a bit of downtime at camp and time leftover on Sunday as I traveled home. I could have maximized the cycling aspect of the trip and covered many, many more miles. The effort I put into climbing Squaretop Mountain from Guanella Pass could easily have translated into 60 or 80 more road miles.

Yeah, I want something longer. I want to cover hundreds of miles. I want to cross state lines. I want to have to stop and completely resupply at the local grocery in some far off village. Wow, one bike tour and I'm hooked for life!

It's funny how your mindset changes. I'm sure its similar to long distance backpackers or other similar long distance travelers. Your daily objectives change. Your focus as you travel changes. A crash on a recreational ride has different impacts (pun intended) than a crash while far from home loaded down for touring. The need to find a secure and legal place to camp makes you think differently as you ride. You become aware of distances between water and food sources, of the last repository for some necessity in case you have to turn around and go back for it. You feel the topography like a blind person feels braille. Touring is different than recreational day rides or car road trips. They are vastly different animals.

I bagged a 13er while on my bike tour. It was the only mountain ascent above 13,000' on which I did not feel adverse affects to high altitude. I ascended from 5,400' to almost 14,000' at a human pace and my body acclimated completely. The very next weekend I drove to 10,900' and then hiked to nearly 14,000' and the acute affects of altitude slammed into me like a truck. On my daily commutes I feel every extra pound. On the loaded-for-touring Cannonball I felt as if I could fly. My overall speed didn't matter. I was looking at miles, not miles per hour.

Based on my internet observations I know its possible to tour with a family. I may not have the vacation time to do it soon, but for next summer I think I'll be scheming something big. BIG.

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