March 11, 2013
The following is a guest post by former Adventure Cycling intern Heather Andrews.
Are you curious about Adventure Cycling's tours?
Perhaps you've been reading Adventure Cyclist and don't think that barreling down the Swiss Alps on a mountain bike is your thing. Maybe you've done some Bike Overnights and want to take the next step. You're curious about Adventure Cycling's tours, eyeing that one trip year after year, but you've yet to take the plunge.
Last year I decided to celebrate the completion of my master's degree by committing to my first multi-day tour: I booked the Introduction to Road Touring course offered by Adventure Cycling in Oregon. It seemed a fitting end to a program that included interning for and writing my thesis about them. After the trip I can say, without qualification, it was a great experience!
Here are three reasons Adventure Cycling tours are amazing:
Alaska, New Mexico, Cape Cod: you'll never see an Adventure Cycling tour that doesn't feature breathtaking scenery. Each tour will usually offer a variety of surroundings, from forested mountain passes to a foggy seaside. Each route is crafted with bike tourists in mind. Whenever possible, the Adventure Cycling crew will take its groups on alternate routes with less traffic.
Even though I toured in my home state, we still journeyed to places I had never been before. One of my favorites was Alsea, a small town nestled along a river valley in the Oregon Coast Range. A few weeks after I returned home, I noticed the goat farm we had passed (Alsea Acre Goat Cheese) on our trip was a regular vendor at my local farmers market! Who knew that starting my bike tour just a little further from home would make such a difference in my discovery of new places? Adventure indeed.
Your trip leaders will be nothing if not prepared. Adventure Cycling requires leaders to take a rigorous training course, during which their leadership capabilities are vetted. They are trained in all the aspects of leading a ride, from emergency procedures to dealing with personality differences within a group. Adventure Cycling has offered tens of thousands of trips over the last 35 years—they know the skills trip leaders need to ensure success.
The two leaders on my trip were veteran bike tourists who have worked together for years. Joyce and Wally were able to share different approaches to packing and contribute complementary skills as leaders. They led our trip with confidence and had the rapport of a comedy team, which led to entertaining map meetings. I knew I was in capable hands.
The most important thing you'll return home with after your trip is the experience. On an Adventure Cycling tour, you'll likely do something you never thought you could do, like cook for 20 people or summit that one scary hill. You may experience the profound satisfaction of eating an ice cream bar in the shade of a tiny general store on a hot day. A wildlife encounter may provide stories for years to come.
The people you encounter will also create that experience. You'll bond with your fellow riders and may decide to plan a trip with them in the future. Chatting on the road with co-riders will reveal a diversity of geographic regions, ages, and life experiences. Trail angels will reach out and randomly offer some act of goodwill. (On our trip, a good citizen offered to drive three large pies to our campground so they would arrive unharmed.)
People can be unbelievably kind out on the road. How do you get to experience it?
Take the plunge and sign up for that Adventure Cycling tour!
Photos by Heather Andrews.
HEATHER ANDREWS previously produced Backstories, a blog series about history, for Adventure Cycling Association. When she's not geeking out at a library, she seeks adventure in the mountains and forests of Oregon. Catch up with her at Bikish!