Monday, July 18, 2011

Going the distance

Above: My trike, unloaded and at it's destination last week.

When I had sled dogs, I was rarely expected to be anywhere but with them at my cabin or out on the trail. But things are different now.

Car-based culture being what it is, one is expected to travel considerable distances to maintain friendships and family connections. two aspects at which I have been pretty poor at, even without dogs.

I am not too wild about going to places that necessitate driving. If you need a car to get there, you're not supposed to be there in the first place, is how this Grumpy Ex-hermit reasons. Drivers are often happy to suggest they can pick me up, but I am touchy about the endless planning, repeated cell phone calls and the risk of at least one party running late.

I am the worst house guest in the world.

My first instinct, when invited somewhere far-beyond-arse, is to ask myself "can I go there by bicycle"? In hilly/moderately mountanous areas I have normally been able to cover maybe 120 k a day, my trike has expanded my radius to more than 160, though I realize I might have succumbed here to a case of New Aquisition Rationalisation Syndrome.

I traveled to my in-laws' cottage, 160 k away, last week by trike. Normally, when going far, I've plotted my route as if I were going by car. In my experience, non-motorists (along with tractors, mopeds etc.) are almost always offered an alternative route right before entering the really scary highways. This time I decided to try more bike-specific routes, partly out of delusions of taking Frog with me on this route in the future. Like any functioning male, I have become more safety-conscious after reproducing.

I was surprised at how extensive the network of bicycle paths has become since I abandoned bicycle touring for mushing in the 1990's. (Example, above.) Just to prove some people are never happy, though, I got pretty worked up about the signs. I ended up in several ridiculous Laurel & Hardy-type situations following a sign for an hour in one direction only to reach another sign telling me I was going the wrong way. Several times signs would lead the hapless cyclist into residential areas with endless amounts of unsigned roads. Bad signing is worse than no signing, as bad signs will trick you into not referring to a map.

But there was at least this sign (above), a cheerful reminder of how things can go awry even on a bike.
Another nuisance: Bicycle paths to nowhere. The road next to this one is the kind where bicyclists are free game. This is five k (three miles) from the last exit, I just had to turn back. Who designs this stuff? At this point, of course, one starts muttering to oneself that "car-drivers would never put up with this crap", which is the kind of rage-induced smugness that is the one really bad aspect of bicycling.

And that's my trike on the ferry. You need to take ferries to get anywhere around here. Bicycles go for free, and one doesn't have to wait in line when entering the ferry. So cyclists get perks, too.

All in all, this was a great trip and now that I know some of the booby-traps, I am looking forward to doing it again next week. Maybe take some decent pictures this time.


Anonymous said...

I hear you: so often we're expected to go to one thing and then another in some far flung distant places. People here seem to have a particular liking for weddings to be miles from the reception which means we often have to leave one smartly in order to get to the other ten minutes later than everyone else. And then (my personal self-righteous rant) people tut at us for being late "because that's the trouble with not having a car".

Having to make an "Exploratory trip" or three, and some checking with Google Earth are all normal in our part of the world as well.

Oldfool said...

I have been to two (2) social functions in the last 20 years. The first (10 years ago) was family (they no longer speak to me) and required a car. The second was earlier this month and only because I could bike there.
I don't do well in crowds (more than three). I don't like driving and often as not (this week) my car won't start. What a pity (smiling).