Like a proud parent, I am launching a good friend of mine off into the wilderness today to begin his first multi-day tour. He’s managed other day trips and overnights at friends homes but this will be the first time I know of when he has the bike fully loaded down and ready to tackle the wilderness between here, DC, and the C&O canal to Harpers Ferry WVA. We’ll be linking up again on Sunday as I am driving (gasp) to my families farm where we will spend Sunday night camping in the orchards and swapping stories of bicycle journeys around the campfire. Surely, the liquid courage will imbibe these tales with grandiose recollections but just as the first trip into the wilderness and solitude of bicycle touring creates butterflies of anxiety so too does the completion of said task invite tales of exaggerated accomplishments.
I find touring primarily mental although the physical feat is nothing to scoff at, the first steps can be the hardest to take. Much will be learned by my friend that can’t be taught by the experienced educator alone. Leaving that excess gear at home seems ludicrous when the anxiety of leaving for the first time presents itself, but the reality of hauling that junk everywhere sets in quickly. His experience will be a lifelong one, something to tell the grandchildren, whereas my car ride will be lame at best. So goes the cycle tourist, a solo rider amongst the throngs of ants scurrying to get nowhere as quickly as possible. While my friend will be challenged at times, he will not be daunted as the simple task of straddling the bicycle and leaving town means he will have accomplished the goal.