Location: Lancaster, PA
Here I sit in a hotel room in Pennsylvania Dutch country, not far from Lancaster, PA. It rained pretty heavily this afternoon and I decided to “wimp out” and get a cheap motel room. My friend Rich Suleski who I met three years ago nearly to the day while I was biking to Colorado recently joked that “only wimps check into hotels/motels”. Rich was on a 10,000-mile cycling adventure that put his wheels in every state of the continental U.S. when I met him. [Editor’s note: Watch for Rich Suleski’s canoe trip down the Mississippi next month.] He taught me a thing or two about guerilla camping the day I met him. (Guerilla camping is camping for free, usually on private property) Rich also was on a year-long tour with a more limited daily budget, so he was very creative at getting the most for his buck. Staying in a $50/night hotel was worth five days of food to Rich at one point of his adventure.
My 1000 mile bike trip is nearing the finish. I’ll pull up to my apartment on my bike in a few days, dig my keys from one of my panniers, open the door to my apartment and the trip will be over. I’m looking forward to that moment and I’m also not. I’m sure I’ll miss the constant meeting of new people. The joy of collapsing asleep at night in a tent in the woods after biking 80 miles that day. Hearing deer snort and blow at your tent in the night, the hoot of an owl just after dusk.
I wasn’t sure when I started this trip nearly three weeks ago if I’d even finish it. I had numerous freelance job opportunities and pressures back at home that pulled at me to NOT take a vacation, to not do an adventure. One of them being the idea that cycling is getting to be more and more dangerous activity on the roadways.
Face it, placing yourself on a highway as a slow moving object with trucks and automobiles whizzing past at 65 miles per hour isn’t the safest thing one could do. Especially as patience is less and less of a virtue among motorists. The possibility of getting hit by a motorist often visited my mind before and during this trip. To help, I take numerous safety precautions. I don’t ride at night or in the rain. I always wear a helmet. My bike is covered front back and sideways with reflectors and reflective tape. I usually wear bright yellow shirts and have blaze orange panniers. I have a reasonably loud bell on my bike to alert pedestrians and the occasional motorist with their window down and radio off that might venture into my path. I carry a cell phone and road rash medical emergency kit. Safety is important.
Life is full of choices, I chose to take on the challenge of doing this 1000 mile trip. I gave up a few weeks of work back home to experience a unique and wonderful trip of meeting new people and sharing possibilities with them. I’ve relied on myself in a different sense than I usually do in regular life.
I’ve endured cold and hot evenings when it was difficult to sleep, numerous tick bites, poison ivy rash, countless mosquito bites, a bee sting, relentless hills, 95 degree heat, muscle pain and cramps, sunburn where I missed with sunscreen, bugs flying in my eyes and mouth while biking, and a brief moment of fear and anger when a motorist in New Hampshire tried to cut me off the road. Despite all of this it has been an excellent adventure so far. All of these things are part of the adventure and challenge.
Until next time…
Mr. Tough Guy,
P.S. The bugs sometimes taste sort of good.
Forrest Stuart MacCormack Photographer. Check out my website: http://www.fsmphoto.com