Bike touring and the unexpected time alone

©Barry Sandland/TIMB - Touring cyclist with bike and panniers

©Barry Sandland/TIMB- Solo touring and the inevitable selfie

“I tried my hand at a touring again, this year. Upgraded the bike to touring standards, loaded the panniers and headed out. You think it’s going to be easy, riding slow and steady. Instead, it was headwind after headwind. Even when I turned around for the return, the wind did an about face and I had even more work to make the pedals turn around.”

Photographer’s notes: I do not do bicycle tours that often. One day trips and the like are enough. But, on occasion, I get tempted to become some self-sufficient cyclist and head into the wilderness, equipped with dried food, lightweight stoves, a tent and the basics.

This tour might have been a little difficult. Turned out this was not a territory of villages littered with coffee shops and restaurants. There were 300-plus kilometre sections where there was barely a country cottage to represent society. You spend days with yourself, nobody there for a chat. And then you start to wonder about how independent you are.

That little chat with a server at a coffee shop, the small interaction with people when standing in a queue. These little events really do make a huge difference when touring alone.

This tour, after riding for ten hours, I would pull over and set up a tent, boil water, have a meal,  watch the stars expose themselves overhead and then fall asleep. The next day, it would be repeated. Apart from myself, I had nobody to speak to, and the only proof of other people, were the cars speeding past, drivers giving me a small wave of recognition before the were gone into the distance.

I have to say, those few days on the road made me appreciate being able to find any corner on the road to stop and enjoy a moment in the company of strangers.

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