Change of (no) plan

Sunday, Oct. 11, 2009
So my original intention of riding off with no plan or itinerary is shot (probably a good thing) as I've found it impossible not to plan and scheme and plot and ponder; for the past month I've been reading about bike touring and catch myself thinking often about the trip. I've been toying with the idea of trying to make it to Key West in Florida. Leaving from Neah Bay. Approx. 5000 miles. I suppose it'd be wise to come up with some sort of itinerary or route so as to avoid bad roads, unnecessary detours, brutal climbs, areas with no amenities, etc. Spontaneity and impulsiveness be damned!

My concern now is making enough money through the winter to enable saving $5000 by late June (my current intended departure date). Things at Tours NW are looking to be much slower this fall than they were last year. I'm going to have to find additional income soon. No idea where.

And then...

Friday, Sept. 18, 2009
A week and a half ago I went to Aaron's Bike Repair in W. Seattle. Talked to a sales guy (Gregg. Yes, spelled the same as Gregg's Greenlake Cycle. Odd?) about purchasing a Surly Long Haul Trucker. I had my measurements taken and after discussing options for bike configurations and components, he told me he'd put together a price estimate. He emailed it a few days ago. It came to...a bit north of $3000. Oh my. I'd expected something closer to $2000.

I have a good bike with my Bianchi Volpe but it's not as tough and well equipped for loaded touring as the Surly LHT. I'll sell it if I get the Surly.

So I'm planning to eliminate the bells and whistles of the $3000+ package and just start with the plain bike itself (~$1300). I will need to upgrade/change components and whatnot, but can do that over a few months.

I finished reading Travels with Willie, Adventure Cyclist by Willie Weir and am currently in Roll Around Heaven All Day by Stan Purdum, both good books about the experiences of bicycle touring.


Tuesday, Sept. 8th, 2009
A little over two weeks ago I came up with the idea of selling my flotsam (Hundreds of unused items I've collected over the years.), hopping on my bicycle and riding off into the sunrise.

Recently there were a couple of events that planted and watered this bicycling-away seed:

Two weeks ago I was watching the Ewan McGregor/ Charley Boorman documentaries "Long Way Down" and "Long Way Round." These were the accounts of Ewan and Charley's around-the-world and northern-tip-of-Europe-to-southern-tip-of-Africa motorcycle journeys.

I had finished watching the "Long Way Down" series and the next evening begun "Long Way Round." The next day I had a City Tour. The first person I picked up was this British fellow in his mid-50's. Clive. He climbed aboard and as I always do, I inquired about his reason for visiting Seattle. He said, "I'm on a round-the-world motorcycle trip."

WHAT?! What are the chances?! Not only was I in the middle of watching this series, but it was the same series that had inspired his trip and he knew it very well. (He spoke of Ewan and Charley like they were old mates of his.)

At the end of the tour Clive was disembarking at the waterfront and I asked if he wouldn't mind if I met up with him to hear more about his adventures. He gave me his cell number and we later met downtown after I'd returned the bus. I bought him a Guinness and peppered him with questions. After weeks in Mongolia, Siberia and other non-English-speaking regions, I think he was happy to be someplace where he could talk about the trip. Not to mention having a pint of Guinness.

Our conversation covered Clive's adventures through Europe and Asia, but also veered to talk of life-changing journeys and throwing caution to the wind.

It was two days later that I came up with the idea of riding away on my bicycle with no real plan or itinerary.

I'd originally considered doing the trip on motorcycle but decided that a bicycle possibly invites more contact with people along the way and affords a closer connection with the environment/surroundings.

[By the way, Clive has a website documenting his trip:  Click 'Updates' to see a mention of me. Also click 'Photo Gallery' to see me in the 'Seattle' photos.]