Cycling doesn’t require an artist’s eye, but having one in your tour group has its rewards. Adventure Cycling member Brian Dame says memories from the picturesque Lake Champlain Long Weekend won't fade anytime soon (and it helps that he caught it on video.)
“That first day across the water with the wind at our backs, the ferry, the farm stands. It was the most pleasant bike ride I’ve ever been on,” Brian says. “It was perfect late summer scenery.”
Brian captured the whole weekend in a YouTube video, which he made both for nostalgia and to give newcomers a better feel for what the tour is like. He hopes to encourage others to sign up for the ride through western Vermont. As a lifelong cyclist who also has to try to coax his wife to come along sometimes, Brian understands that long weekend tours can be more appealing to newbies than the prospect of an epic TransAm ride. He thinks Adventure Cycling's new Bike Overnights program to introduce more people to cycling is on the right track.
“You don’t need to train or have a special bike for a weekend tour. You can even borrow a friend’s bike,” Brian says. “Try it once and the next likely thing to happen is you’ll sign up for a longer tour. Because it was easier than you thought, and you want more.”
Brian’s first overnight adventure was solo and self-supported. He departed from his home in Norfolk, Massachusetts, and used Google Maps to plan strategic refueling stops at Vermont’s five-star craft breweries. Brian came away from the experience with great stories and some hard lessons — Google Maps can only go so far in planning a cycling trip. Brian’s ride included a surprisingly brutal, hike-a-bike hill in the rain. He also wasn’t confident in where he would sleep each night.
Brian got hooked on multi-day touring, but he needed to remove the guesswork. He wanted his wife and two-year-old daughter to come along next time.
In 2019, the Dame family participated in Adventure Cycling's Bike Travel Weekend event in Cape Cod, which inspired us to create a Cape Cod Long Weekend Family Adventure. The Long Weekend tours are part of a special effort to ease people into cycling without a major time commitment.
The family-friendly, van-supported ride was meticulously planned by Gary Briere of River’s Edge Cycling in Massachusetts, who partnered with Adventure Cycling to provide a detailed itinerary with catered dinners (lobster!) and reserved campgrounds. Gary even offered a detailed picture of the equipment that participants would need to carry.
“There was peace of mind knowing where we’d be setting up our tent and what we’d be eating for dinner,” Brian says. “It’s important, especially for first-timers, to have good tour leaders, guides who communicate and plan the best options for you.”
Brian says it worked out to be a wonderful trip, even for his toddler.
“I think everybody thought we were crazy to bring a two-year-old, but she did great. She slept through the night in the tent and had fun riding in her Burley trailer,” he says.
Even guided long weekend tours leave time for spontaneity and exploring. The Lake Champlain tour included detours for cider, doughnuts, and maple creemees (a Vermont twist on soft-serve.)
Along the way, the group enjoyed taking in scenery they would have missed in a car.
“Bikes are the perfect way to travel. If you’re in a car things are flying by and you just keep going. With a bike you can stop and turn around and go back. That spontaneity can be really rewarding,” Brian said.
“I’m happiest when I’m out riding my bike. It’s a zen thing. It’s good for humans.”
“If everyone was out riding bikes, I’d be happy,” he says. “It’s why I support Adventure Cycling. I believe in the mission and want to help any way I can.”