Maybe once, maybe twice Travelin' light is the only way to fly”
– J. J. Cale
Songwriter J.J. Cale had a minimalist style that appeals to my musical sensibilities. His laid-back shufflin’ rhythm is the kind of road music I hear in my head when I’m out on the bike. With homage to Cale, here’s the first entry in my Travelin' Light series.
These days I’m learning to pedal a sweet new ride that glides right in that “Travelin’ Light” groove. It’s a Lightning P-38 recumbent that my “Better Half” assembled from parts on the Internet. While it’s a pound or two heavier than my road bike, it’s light for a recumbent and built for touring. And light is key for long-distance riding with camping gear.
B.H. switched to a “bent” 10 years ago, picked up two mph in average speed and vows never to go back to a diamond frame. He has a number of reasons for wanting to convert me. I suspect they include not having to wait as long for me to catch up. And being closer to the ground, the theory is that when I fall, it will be less likely to end the trip. I’ve been testing out that theory pretty hard. So far it's working.
We’ve been yammering on about long-distance bicycle touring for years. The 3,069 mile Southern Tier route from San Diego to St. Augustine is on the bucket list for someday when we can take off for three months with no responsibilities. That’s a few years away.
Until then, I’ll work my nerve up for that distance with some shorter trips, like this year’s adventure in May: a two-week self-contained tour down the Pacific Coast Route from Santa Rosa to Santa Barbara. That’s some 500+ miles loaded with gear on a route with plenty of hills, twisty roads, steep cliffs . . . yikes!
To get myself ready, I’ve taken the 30 days of biking pledge – joining over 4500 other cyclists around the country who will be riding their bike every day in April. Some of that will be commuting 13 miles each way to and from work, some of it joining many nice people in the St. Louis cycling community on group rides.
Aside from training, the best thing I can do to keep rolling is to keep the cargo weight down. That means I’ll need to get along without most of the stuff I usually drag along on trips. I gotta travel light.
I’ll be writing about our travel prep over the coming weeks – especially ways to use technology – which might be helpful if you are thinking about a trip where you need to keep things light.