Musical Bike Tour Adventures Part 4 – The Cycling and Hill Conquerage

We were often met with a mixed reaction of confusion and awe when we told people we were biking roughly 1000 miles with musical instruments. Some people seemed genuinely baffled by the fact that we actually enjoyed biking from A to B  regardless of the distance. Thats because: Cycling wherever you go is pretty much the best thing ever! You get tons of fresh air and exercise, you see things that you miss in a car and you’re using the strength of you own body to get you where you need to go. I’m not going to use the word empowering here, instead I will say that it’s pretty much badass!

I ride for keeps!

I ride for keeps! (…with a foam roller)

“But what about the weather?” You ask. Once you’ve cycled through it all for a few days, none of it really matters.  Rain, shine, head winds, tail winds, cold or hot, you don your gear accordingly and pedal on. No biggie because bicycling everywhere is pretty much the best! “What are the expenses?” Riding your bike everywhere is cheap, thus making bike touring affordable for anyone! Your initial investment in a tour-able bike and gear depends on what your wants and needs are. I would consider my setup near the cheaper end of the spectrum but I know it has been done for way cheaper. You don’t have to pay for parking and there is almost always plenty of it. Instead of gas, food is your fuel and trust me, you’ll eat lots more of it than you’re used to and you’ll have no idea where it will go. You’ll become a bottomless pit of hunger so don’t skimp on quality. We stopped at a little diner in Riddle, Oregon where I had three cups of coffee, half a slice of pie, an elk burger and french fries. I put all that away like Thanksgiving dinner and felt perfect. Not stuffed, not empty, just the exact kind of full you should feel when done eating. Then we rode six more miles, no big deal. I have no pictures of some of the amazing food we ate on tour because we were too busy eating it…all! It’s wonderful to not have gas as a concern on the back burner of your brain. No waiting in line at the pump, no trying to find the cheapest gas, no stress of running on empty. None of it. You don’t need it, you’ve got legs and a heart pumping blood so pedal your heart out! Wait don’t do that…set a good pace, you’ll last longer. “What about the hills?” Yep, they’re there and when you learn how to take them, they’re really no big deal either. Strangely was faster on the climbs then I was for a number of reasons. This didn’t bother me because what I learned for my body, bike and the load I was carrying, was that if I wanted to take the hill entirely on my bike, I needed to find a good, steady pace and stay there.  If I could find a rhythm and a gear where my breath and heart rates weren’t too fast, the hills were easy. Yes, you heard me, easy. As easy as most of the cycling was anyway. If you’re able to take a long, gentle yet noticeable hill on your bike, you can learn to take any hill. No matter how well you can manage most hills (or anything in life for that matter), sometimes you just have to walk your bike up the hill. Sometimes that hill is short and sometimes that hill is a steep-ass-two-mile-gravel-road-in-mid-70-degree-weather. No worries, because you’re a badass and you can work different muscle groups.

Crossfit can suck it, this is real life!

Crossfit can suck it, this is real life!

Another thing about hills, is that sometimes they look worse than they actually are and sometimes they’re worse than they look. And sometimes when you’re going downhill, it feels like you’re going up hill and sometimes it’s the opposite. The appearance of the road ahead can be deceiving. It’s best to just keep your pace steady, your eyes just ahead of you, your legs moving and your mind focused. Good music or audio books are a must!

Apparently at the top of the pass, people get out and pee on the side of the road here. The smell was almost completely overpowering.

Apparently at the top of the pass, people get out and pee on the side of the road here. The smell was almost completely overpowering.

The best part of the hill is conquering it! When you get to the top of that 2000-plus foot, steady, five-mile incline of a hill, you’ve mastered something that you weren’t quite sure that you could do when you started. You learn a little bit more about yourself  and what your body is actually capable of. After all that, sometimes you get a spectacular view, a view that will never ever be the same from a car. Then you get to descend!!  I’m not gonna lie, several miles down hill is pretty nice, but it’s still only the second best part of your hill climb.

Rewards from Crescent Hill

Rewards from Crescent Hill

Your surroundings are more available to you on bike. When we first entered the redwoods it was stunning! I felt honored to be allowed to ride at such a pace amongst the standing giants. I got to breath their air, I got to touch them, I got to feel them. It was a blessed experience. At one point on our trip we met up with some friends also on tour but in a van. We all drove through part of the redwoods and it wasn’t the same. I felt like I had been cheated of ninety percent of the amazingness that the redwoods behold. We would have never know that if we hadn’t gone through them on a bike first.

Endor?

Endor?

Riding redwood selfie

Riding redwood selfie

Your body is awesome, it will adapt! You get used to biking constantly pretty quickly. At some point having another ten to fifteen miles to ride becomes no big deal. It’s almost the mental equivalent to walking a few blocks to the corner store. You just keep pedaling. Your thighs become rock hard! I noticed this after the first 200 or so miles. I was laying on my side, relaxed and there was significantly less cushion between my thighs. My gams were solid! Pretty sure I fell asleep with a smile on my face that night. We work hard at many things in life, some of these things we enjoy and some of them not so much. Bicycling around to share our music and who we are with the world we encountered along the way was amazing! It was a lot of work and quite stressful at times but its a type of fun thats satisfying on a whole different level. On several levels actually. I managed to be satisfied mentally, emotionally, physically, creatively, spiritually and socially during the entire trip. Not all of them at 100% all the time but at perfect varying levels. Enough to be more genuninely fulfilled than I can remember being on all those levels, in a long time. Enough that I slept like a rock, woke up ready to meet the day and was content just being in the present moment. I’m ready for my next tour now!

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