Further Adventures in Cycling Beyond 70: Road Trip Summer 2017, Prologue

In 2016, we started our travels with a self-supported, self-contained bicycle tour. 600 km into the tour, we decided the road ahead was too dangerous and some of the stages too far, and reconsidered our bicycling future. The rest of the season, we traveled by car to interesting venues and fun, safe trails. By the end of the summer, we purchased an older (1996) cargo van and planned to use it as a bicycle transporter and camping shelter. We became more convinced this was the way to proceed after a long road trip in the car with the bicycle on top, greatly reducing our fuel economy.

Over the winter, we struggled with water leaks in the van, making yet another car trip, sans bicycle. On our return, we resolved the leaks, purged the resulting mold, and began to outfit the van with a sleeping platform that contained storage for our other camping equipment while leaving room for the bicycle. The platform folds in sections: the first allows room to move the bicycle in and out; the second folds the center section up to accommodate larger cargo between the wheel wells.

Our first van trip was to central Idaho, camping overnight en route to and from a resort outing with friends. Our first bicycle rides of the season were on snowy trails around McCall and the paved portions of a waterlogged gravel trail in a nearby valley. By June, we had signed up for a charity ride in Shelton, beginning to do some road rides to train. The week before the ride, we tested our endurance on a ride the length of the charity ride. We passed with flying colors, but the bicycle frame broke at the target distance. The chainstay on the drive side, where the most stress occurs, developed a crack that, over time, spread around the weld, finally giving way.

We delivered the bicycle to the factory in Eugene, Oregon to be welded and tuned for the rest of the season. The trip to Eugene showed us that the van needed a lot more mechanical work to be ready for an extended road trip, so we  used savings to take care of necessary repairs.

Meanwhile, we dusted off the old Santana tandem we had ridden for 25 years before we bought the new Bike Friday machine, and used it to ride the 32-km charity ride, plus a few other rides on local roads and trails, eventually totaling 168 km (104 miles). The other bicycle was supposed to be ready before our planned trip to Victoria, British Columbia, but wasn’t. The second trip to Eugene resulted in a “check engine” alert on the van, so a final trip to the repair shop for final adjustments gave us confidence that our aging truck was ready for an extended adventure.

On the Galloping Goose Trail, north of Sooke, BC, Canada.

The Victoria trip led us on several trails on Vancouver Island that weren’t paved, and the Santana proved a better choice for those paths. We had an uneventful series of rides, though with great scenery and lots of other trail users. On return, we continued to refine our camping arrangements, installing a satellite radio dock, upholstering the sleeping platform, and reducing the bike trailer to one of the two cases, as we don’t intend to break down the bike or spend more than one night at a time away from the car and don’t need the extra towing capacity. We also picked up some open-top plastic crates to hold our clothing and food supplies that fit well under the platform.

Road Trip Summer 2017 evolved as a Grand Tour: we would visit friends in northern Idaho, then family and friends in western Montana before heading east to visit family in Minnesota and Wisconsin.  On the way, we would stop over in Lincoln, Nebraska for the solar eclipse and ride bike trails in Nebraska and Iowa, plus what time permitted in Montana, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

The final preparations were to arrange for the mail to be held and check 20-year-old Delia into Just Cats Hotel. And, unload the Santana to make room for the Bike Friday, which we would pick up in Eugene on the first leg of our journey.

To Be Continued…