When did I fall in love with travel?
I fell in love with solo bicycle travel, when I took my first week-long bicycle ride down the Pacific Coast by myself. It was exciting and thrilling to plan a trip that would take me from Astoria, the northernmost city in Oregon, to San Francisco. I planned to ride alone the first 4 days and 230 miles, then meet my husband in Arcata, California and continue the trip together for 280 miles more. When I told my plan to colleagues and friends their eyes widened and they expressed fear for me, a woman, traveling alone on a bicycle. By the way, this was in the 1980’s before cell phones and the internet gave us instant communication, so I was truly disconnected and on a solo adventure!
But I was confident and really wanted to embark on this challenge and exploration of new territory. Everyone I met on the road, in campsites, hostels or in the little coffee shops where I stopped for short stacks of pancakes mid-mornings to fuel up for the next 20 miles, was kind and generous. I passed the most breathtaking scenery of sea stacks on the wild Oregon coast. I pedaled over smooth roads with very little traffic.
My main challenges were when one day, deep in the forest, lines of logging trucks rumbled by and shook my bicycle with their tail winds and when I crossed an long, narrow bridge in the rain alongside those enormous trucks.
I camped or stayed in hostels and once I stayed in a little mom and pop motel. I loved meeting new people from all over the States and the world in the hostels. If I had traveled with a companion I wouldn’t have made many of those encounters and enjoyed their conversations.
By the time I arrived in Arcata I felt strong, self-reliant, and comfortable on the road by myself. I had conquered the pouring rain, the threatening trucks, and reaped the rewards of deep forests and pristine coastlines the likes of which I had never seen. That trip made me fall deeply in love with solo bicycle travel. It also made me realize how much strength, both mental and physical, that I possessed and taught me to have confidence in my self-reliance.
What experience made you fall in love with travel? Please share in the comments. I would love to hear about it!
You can read about the life-changing around-the-world bicycle odyssey I embarked on after this experience in my book.
Bicycle Odyssey An Around-the-World Journey of Inner and Outer Discovery