April 29, 2013
It's been a cold winter in the Northern climes. Western Montana only started looking like spring a few days ago. The spring Adventure Cycling Big Bend Van Tour had a lot of folks from Northern regions and I think we all found a little joy in the desert sun.
Landscape with flowers
Ahh Texas, for me it's reputation was bigger than any actual opinion I had of the lone star state. I like to take everything with a grain of salt though, to try and make my experiences fresh, green, and unbiased. I loved Texas! Big Bend National Park was a gem, and it was essentially early summer there; the land was abloom and the air was fragrant. Granted everything had some sort of spike, spine, thorn, barb, or dart — truly, if it didn't poke you it was probably a rock — but the landscape was other-worldly and traveling through by bicycle was a real treat.
Some of the group at Stillwell
This trip also provided me my first co-leading experience on an Adventure Cycling tour! So I too was a little green, but I was amazingly fortunate to be paired with Isabel, an extremely experienced and knowledgeable leader. And we were also fortunate to meet a very adventurous and enthusiastic group, so the tour was a blast to lead, and I even got to ride my bicycle! Adventure Cycling tour participants never cease to amaze me. We had folks from all over the U.S. with varied backgrounds, but we all arrived in Texas with a sense of adventure, and we were all chomping at the bit to ride in warm weather. Texas defiantly delivered, we had temperatures into the 90's a few days, a massive thunder cell that passed through Marathon (that's pronounced Marath'in, to all you non-Texans), and the most amazing sunsets* in Big Bend National Park. Thanks again to all the participants for choosing this adventure and making my first leading gig a joy.
Me and Isabel
If you are thinking about a spring or fall tour, I highly recommend Big Bend; this tour provides a chance to ride in the shoulder seasons of the northeast and the opportunity to visit Big Bend National Park! Are you still looking for some adventure this summer? Check out some of Adventure Cycling Tours with space still available:
Cycle the Gorge - June 22 -29
Freedom Flyer - June 26 - July 4
Idaho Relaxed - July 14-19
And remember riding by bicycle through a landscape is a new ride each time, a different wind, a new season, and at 10 mph** you can experience all the hills and all the beauty.
* I stand by my convictions, sunsets are better, I was in fact technically awake for all the big bend sunrises, so I consider this test scientific, although the mornings were a little groggy.
** Well, that's probably my average speed, you can go faster if you want.
Photos courtesy of Mo and Dick Rafoth
ON THE ROAD is written by the tours team — Mo, Paul, Madeline, and Arlen — tours specialists and intrepid bicyclists, covering all things related to Adventure Cycling's tours department. Check out our 2013 Tours!