Sunday, 7 August 2011

Day 66: The ramblings of a cycle tourer

Day 66
Lowell to Grangeville 50miles

After two days of being in places where I had no phone reception, and no internet access (or at least any that actually worked) it makes you realise how we come to depend on all this technology. You start feeling cut-off pretty quickly when you are usually so used having everything at your fingertips.

And it's actually something I've thought about a few times on my trip (when you are alone on your bike for most of the time, you do a lot of thinking!)

in particular I often wonder about how those people doing the TransAm 35years ago found it, and how advances in technology have helped, and hindered, the modern cycle tourist. Seeing a lot of old bikes and equipment at the Adventure Cycling Association HQ kind of got me thinking again though.

Clearly there are some areas where people doing the route 35years later are the clear winners.
Our bikes will generally be much stronger and lighter, with better components. We'll also probably have better quality clothing, with dedicated cycling shoes. Some of the old canvas panniers I saw at ACA looked like they would weigh a hell of a lot. These days we're all rocking lightweight plastics and nylon and stuff. Same with tents and sleeping bags. I have a cosy 2man tent. It weighs less than 2kgs. I dont imagine that would have been the case back in the 1970's.

But then the technological advances of the modern age also mean people like me end up carrying a whole load of extra kit! In 1976, and for many years afterwards, it was clearly possible to get from one coast to the other without the need for smartphones, netbooks, GPS navigation and the necessity to start everyday with a double-decaf-skinny-latte-espresso-chino! As a non-coffee drinker, the last one doesnt apply to me, but the others do.

And with that technology comes cables. Loads and loads of cables! I have a whole little pouch in one of my bags which holds nothing but cables and chargers and dongles. Certainly adds a bit of extra weight.

Im sure many original TransAm riders also had cameras (although probably powered by batteries), so that one is probably a tie in terms of weight. We would win on quality though. It will soon seem weird to think that people didnt used to know what their photos were going to look like until they came back from Boots with one of those little stickers on saying you had messed up!

Overall, I think I'm glad to be doing it now. Particularly as a foreigner. In the past it would have been very difficult to keep in regular contact with people back home, and if you did it would probably have cost a fortune. Now, I just fire up Skype and can video chat away whilst emailing someone else! And its good to keep up on what's happening back home. On that note, it was pleasing to see Saints starting the new season with a win yesterday!

So I clearly have gone off on a bit of a tangent for today's entry! But I thought it might be interesting to hear my thoughts on something other than the day's riding. Especially when today was one of those day's where it was very nice and very scenic, but not particularly eventful. At 50miles, only quite a short one. Actually, thats another thing I've been thinking recently – what constitutes a short or long day? Oh no, here comes another tangent!

As I've got more experienced, I've decided that, for me, anything under 50miles is short, 50-69 is standard, 70-89 is long and 90 and over is very long! On my trip so far I have had 8 rest days, and then 15 short days, 28 standard days, 11 long days and 4 very long ones. Although mileage alone doesnt account for things like weather or elevation profile.

Right back to today. 50 miles, but with actually finishing off with one of the tougher climbs for quite some time. And also pretty hot by the time I was going uphill. This little section of map looks like it could be quite tough, with a number of climbs and it might be a case of picking my way slowly through them with short mileage days. Like yesterday, it was very scenic. Although the greenery of yesterday have given way to a more sandy coloured set of vistas. I think this photo here captures the exact point at which the change occurred!

I kind of underestimated the climb a bit, and so ended up in a situation where I was running a little low on water. But I'm learning stuff whilst I'm out here. Most houses in these more remote areas tend to have outside water taps (or spigots as Americans call them). So when I came to one such house by the road, I snuck in and pretty quickly saw a hose on the floor. Bingo! A bit of stealthiness to undo the hose, and I was soon restocked with fresh, cool water! Put the hose back on and I was on my way!

It was a tough climb. Steep, and twisty as well. Rising about 1,500ft in total, one of the main reasons I stopped in Grangeville was that almost immediately I would have had to do about another 1,000ft of climbing - that can wait for tomorrow morning!

1 comment:

  1. Loved reading the ramblings on my commute into sunny London this morning. Sounds like a fabulous trip - you're doing great!