We started our legendary trip on a cold April day. The temperature hovered in the high 30’s and the rain began falling as we rode away. Protected by our rain gear we were glad to have our body heat trapped close to the skin. Despite the excitement of beginning our trip and the freshness of our muscles, we never worked up a sweat in the first ten miles. We pulled away from my sister’s house with her boyfriend waving and running along side in an attempt to catch one final shot of our epic start. We’d planned to ride the ten miles to my sister’s work to say one last goodbye before stocking up at the grocery and finally heading west.
It had been a month since we were in the saddle for anything longer than a quick gear test. Two weeks had passed since we had even gone out for a hearty walk. The afternoon in February two months prior when we had decided we would finally go on our long awaited bicycle journey saw us out for a seven mile hike. Loaded up with a couple of water bottles and snacks we walked out of the RV park and down a country lane we’d often traveled by foot or bike.
The following month we did continue to ride and walk but in the middle of March we partially disassembled our bike to adapt it for hauling gear. The first two weeks in April we never could seem to find the time to step away from our work and walk. We delayed our start one day because I sat up late sewing a few more accessories. We didn’t even leave early the next day because I spent the morning sewing a few pieces of scrap material into two auxiliary water bottle holders that proved invaluable the farther west we traveled.
There could never have been two people any less knowledgeable about what was to come and at the same time any two people better prepared to deal with the experiences that waited. Our very first night when Dave interrupted a meeting at a church to ask the pastor if we could camp on the lawn someone in the meeting asked if we’d ever done a trip like that before. “I certainly hope they have!” came the boisterous comment from a woman who we would find out was the late pastor’s wife. In fact we had never been on a trip for longer than one afternoon and we’d never been more than 20 miles from our home. We’d never participated in a group ride, never attempted to stealth camp or ask to camp in a yard and never had we woken from a rough night sleep following a day of riding only to find that we’d planned to ride the next day, and the next, and the next.
As I sit here typing these thoughts my legs are stiff. Our bicycle trip ended six months ago and I haven’t pedaled longer than a quarter mile in the last five months. Winter was long, bitter and sedentary. Too many days had I spent riding in the cold rain and wind to willingly propel myself into adverse weather for anything longer than a trip to a car. My “wimp factor” had increased exponentially every day that I didn’t ride until I reached the level of Master Wimp of the Universe.
Even as winter began to abate and the sun came through for longer than five minutes I found myself too busy to ride, until today. We were challenged to ride. Maybe we couldn’t ride on a day of 30 degrees and wind and rain but sixty and sun couldn’t be refused. Yesterday Dave pulled the bike from under cover, oiled the chain after putting it back on the gear, it had fallen off in transit and never been replaced. Our much abused but forever loyal tandem was ready to ride. There had been an attempt to sell the bike following the end of our bike trip. Not because of some terrible backlash but we were hoping to sell it and buy two separate recumbent bikes. We’d had enough touring hauling over five-hundred pounds, gear, us and bike. But there were no takers and Clickty-Clack stayed with us. Other people probably know better what they’re getting into but not us.
Our short trip out with shifting as smooth as if we’d never stopped riding carried us farther into the afternoon. Many old roads we long ago pedaled down became familiar once again and the smiles and waves from onlookers fueled our desire to keep going, probably too far if my legs are of any indication. But with damage done, it is official, the Biker Beans ride again!