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|
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.