How I Got Started Bike Touring

A bit about my very limited background bicycle touring.

My Experience Bike Touring

Like so many, I loved biking as a child.  Some of my fondest memories from childhood involve bikes.  I remember learning to ride a two wheeler for the first time (thanks Dad!) and the feeling that riding further than I’d ever gone used to provide.  Biking was always about independence as a child—the freedom to travel to new places on my own.

Then I turned 16 and got a car, and biking fell by the wayside.  A decade of monster road trips followed in which I drove up and down the U.S. dozens of times seeing concerts and camping out under the stars.  But finally I had to grow up.  Gas prices became unmanageable, and awareness of global climate change and the effects it will inevitably have on future generations made this sort of lifestyle impossible to continue in good conscience.  I moved to San Francisco, and after 15 years, became reacquainted with my long lost companion, the bicycle.

San Francisco is a biking mecca.  The climate is perfect nearly year round, the city has more bike lanes and greenways than almost any other in the U.S., and it is surrounded by natural beauty in all directions.  Upon buying my first adult bike, I began taking bike trips every chance I got: first across the Golden Gate Bridge and into Sausalito and into the Muir Woods, then south to Palo Alto, then up to wine country in the Napa and Sonoma valleys.  Each trip, I remember experiencing that same array of emotions that I had as a child—that feeling of “Man, I can go anywhere with this!”

Finally, I took it into my head to load up all my camping gear and bike from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park, a 200 mile trip with a 6000 ft climb up to the top of the valley.  It was one of those trips where everything that could have gone wrong, did.  I battled flats the entire way, due to my overloaded road bike, and dealt with an unseasonable snowstorm and icy roads once I reached the park.  It was exactly what I needed to experience: the breathtaking beauty of a sunset snowfall while descending into Yosemite valley, and the confirmation of my childhood hunch.  I really could travel the world on a bike.

After a year educating myself on basic bike maintenance and proper touring gear, I’ve been granted the opportunity to test this theory once again.  And so hear I sit, upon the northern coastline of South America—ready to embark upon an 18 month, 15,000 mile journey across the continent—a little bit further than I’ve gone before.

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