Ever since I read Momentum Is Your Friend by Joe Kurmaskie and discussed the contents with Wes, we’ve been talking about bike touring – with Abi. Long-distance bike touring, at least how I have thought of it, seems to normally be reserved for happy, adventurous people over the age of 50 with matching spandex outfits that are just a little bit too small to contain their well-earned gut. Kurmaskie, on the other hand, makes it sound like an adventuresome family vacation – albeit a painful one for the parents. He rode across the U.S. with 2 kids in tow, then across Canada with 3 kids and his wife.
So, while we have no intention of riding across the country, we’ve contemplated riding through some National Parks as a slower, more thoughtful way to visit some of these areas. In addition, Wes is turning 30 this year, so it might be time for matching spandex outfits, helmet mirrors, and excessive cylcometers anyway.
The Blue Ridge Parkway seems like a great place to do some trial runs because a) it’s a park that IS a road, b) people expect to see bikes there, and c) it’s plenty close enough for some day rides while we figure out if we can even manage a tour. Meanwhile, as we contemplate all this, Abi is only getting heavier.
Saturday was our inaugural ride on the BRP as a family. I thought I’d pull the trailer first since I needed a workout. That was over in about 10 minutes. None of the maps of the Parkway communicate the sizes of the hills, although the road being in the mountains should have given it away. Either way, I’m blaming the maps. Wes happily took Abi and I helped push on the handle of the trailer from behind. People were surprisingly courteous and gave us lots of space, even though the road has little shoulder and the speed limit is 45. I felt that pulling Abi was perfectly safe, most people were driving less than 45 and definitely watching for cyclists. We did an out & back to Mabry Mill.
The views were fantastic, as expected. About 10 minutes into our ride back to the car, we saw a dark cloud forming. 10 seconds after that, it started raining, and we were quickly caught in a soaking summer thunderstorm. We rode through it all the way back, another 50 minutes. As we pulled in the parking lot it let up (of course). We met up with our friend who lives in the area for some lunch in Floyd. I don’t think I warmed up again until 3 hours later when I got a hot shower. Abi stayed warm and dry in her Chariot and seemed to enjoy the whole trip.
Yep, those are raindrops on the camera.
Lessons learned this time:
1) Pack a rain jacket, duh. 2) Rig up some sort of Adventure-racing pulling device for the non-load bearing spouse to help the other up the relentless hills. 3) Riding through the rain is so much more fun when your (dry) child is singing to you from the trailer. 4) There’s a candy store in Floyd we can use as bait to convince ourselves finish the next ride.