Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Bicycle Tourist Memory

Sometimes, in the middle of a thought or conversation, I have a random flashback to some point in my youth. These moments sometimes catch me off guard and I find myself trying to determine if a past experience actually took place or if it's something that was created in my often overly active imagination. Several days ago, I had one of these moments with enough detail to know it was not an imagined memory.

I have had a lot of thoughts on touring over this past year. Trying to determine how far I would be willing to travel alone, what sorts of items I would pack for such an adventure and whether or not I could realistic travel with a dog (or two) in tow. As I was having a round of these thoughts, I had a flashback and suddenly recalled an incident while driving through California's desert with my parents.

We were, as my recollections have it, headed to visit my grandparents who were staying in their second home in Arizona. As we drove through the desert miles on little traveled back roads, a man on a bicycle suddenly appeared in the distance. At first he appeared to be a walking, watery-image, but soon the mirage was easily identifiable. His pace was slow, he looked tired in my estimation, and - the part of which I have the most clarity - had a dog trotting slowly at his side.

Now, I have always been a lover of animals, so the dog was my primary concern in the moment. While I don't have a direct quote in my memory banks, I know my comment was something of expressing concern for the dog having to run while his partner got to ride. I also recall comments from the adults in the car relaying the likelihood of the rider being homeless and looking for a better life.

To my innocent, youthful mind, this made sense. He was dirty (though probably not as dirty as my memories want me to believe), had several bags attached to his bike which I presumed held the contents of his life and (hopefully) a food and water dish for his four-legged companion. I can recall his very slow but steady pace and felt bad that someone was in such a situation to have to ride a bike to get to what I assumed would be a better place for him and his dog.

Had I the knowledge currently in my reserves at that moment, I probably would have realized that this pedaler was more likely a bicycle tourist, simply passing through the area to wherever his journey was taking him and just happened to have his dog with him. The dog was probably using this time to stretch his legs in a location with little motorized traffic.
*Image found here
Amazingly to some, people do participate in bicycle touring with their dog(s), and for some the dogs are not the most petite of luggage. There are companies that make special dog trailers for those who wish to travel with their four-legged friends too, and while most of these chariots are not the least expensive items, it's a true testament to those of us who don't want to leave our family members behind on longer excursions.

Sometimes I think that I am trying to invent something that hasn't been done, looking for solutions that I am certain don't exist. When a bit of research is completed and/or, such as in this instance, a memory jumps out at me, I realize that there are many who have blazed the trail and likely made the path much easier than I'd believed.

Locally, we received about a foot of snow over the last 24 hours and it makes me long for extended trips on a bicycle. I try to use these points in the year to plan for future excursions which can help satiate that desire, and plotting out - even a short version of - a bicycle adventure can be beneficial.

During the last year I have been unable to pedal the miles I had wanted primarily due to injury, but I remain hopeful that the winter months bring healing, and certainly spring is always full of promise and renewal. Until then, I ride when I am able, look for different methods of riding on ice, through severe cold, and managing snow, all while looking forward to what is on the horizon.

7 comments:

  1. I love this idea. I've done internet image searches on several occasions trying to figure out the best way to haul a dog or two. That cargo trailer with the dog under canopy is a lovely idea.

    I suspect that if we do any bike touring, it will be of the very light -- "credit card" -- variety, which means the dogs will go to the spa/kennel.

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    1. I like the idea of credit card touring. It is challenging to find someone to watch our dogs though, so it's often easier (well, maybe not pedaling) to bring them along when we leave. I have a weird aversion to leaving them in a kennel. Might be from too many years of visiting animals at the humane society. If we both go, we could each pull a dog along though and maybe it wouldn't be quite as bad (maybe?). :)

      I like the little trailer with the canopy too. I wonder how long it would take for the dogs to get used to traveling via this manner for more than a short stint. I could see it going either way because they could very much enjoy it or it could turn into a horrible ordeal attempting to keep them contained. I guess it could just be a balance of letting them run along side and keeping them in their own chariot.

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    2. Do your dogs like riding in the car? If they tend to relax and watch the world go by with their head out the window... they may well do the same in a trailer.

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    3. Rebecca, One of them loves the car... just looking around, taking it all in. The other one has a lot of anxiety that I've never been able to figure out. If I don't put her leash on her before she gets in the car, she does better, but still not great. We're a work in progress! :)

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  2. Not for touring, but I just ran across something related to your earlier post about potentially going car free and how you would deal with dogs. Have you seen a Wike big box trike before? A guy here in town has one that looks like it would be a lot of fun to ride.

    Here's a link: http://www.wicycle.com/index.php/products/bikes/bike-box-trike/. On one version, the front panel unhinges and folds down into steps that would let the dog walk right into the box. Pretty cool.

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    1. Whoops. Wrong link. This is the one I've seen: http://www.wicycle.com/index.php/products/bikes/wike-super-trike/.

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    2. I had not seen that specific box bike (I haven't seen any with a fold down front - quite nice). The Wike is actually a somewhat affordable option - far less costly than the versions I've seen in the past. I think I prefer the trike set up to the two-wheeled versions I've seen. They just seem more stable, especially with moving cargo (like kids - or in my case, dogs). Thanks for the link! Nice to hear someone is using one that you've seen on the roads too.

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