This is definitely the biggest adventure that I’ve ever tried to pull off. I’ve done four other solo touring rides (Cuba, Spain/Portugal, Banff to Jasper and the Selkirk Loop), but never with this much planning involved. In fact, in 2011 when I did the ten day self-supported Selkirk loop, I decided to do it on a Sunday night on my way back from the San Juan Islands. On Monday, I placed an ad on craigslist for riders to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Then, I called the Chamber of Commerce in Coeur d’Alene to find out about the availability of camp sights and the feasibility of doing the trip last minute. On Tuesday morning, I picked up my riders and took off on a ten-day adventure. Not the case here!
This trip requires new equipment that needs to be tested before set loose in a foreign land. I don’t want to get there and realize that things aren’t working the way the fine print on the box says they should work. Oh hecks no! I want to figure that shit out now before I go. So over the 4th of July break, I took my rig up to Lopez Is. on the San Juan’s and pretended I was on the big trip.
Things went pretty well, but I did learn that I definitely need to make some changes. First of all, my front rack won’t work right, so I’ll need to change that. The panniers hang to high meaning the center of gravity is too high in the front which will make the bike less stable. I got that rack from the REI garage sale thinking I lucked out in scoring a $20 front rack. Not the case since I can’t return it – you win some; you lose some. Maybe I can sell it on craigslist?! ( anyone want a $20 front rack?).
I also learned that my sleeping bag and therma-rest are huge, not to mention my tent. My tent isn’t going anywhere. It’s a two man which is decadent because of the extra weight but necessary. Since that little mofo is going to be my home for many long, cold, wet, lonely months, I want to be able to bring my things in and still have space to sleep. My therma-rest, on the other hand, can be replaced by a smaller version and my down sleeping bag condensed.
On of the best things that happened on this ride was that I met Andrew from England who rode from San Diego to Vancouver, Canada. He is a seasoned long distance tourer and had loads of free advice for me like how to make good coffee (fancy filter), how to stay organized so that you can find your crap when you need it (like during a sudden rain storm), and how to just chill-lax and have fun! Cheers to you mate!
I also brought along my tripod, camera and external mic. I interviewed my friend Linda at the campsite about her recent travels to India. I wanted to practice setting things up, asking questions and experimenting with angles and light since my plan is to interview women along the way who are breaking traditional, cultural and personal barriers in their own right. I have to say Linda was a trooper and gave me lots of good feedback. So glad I decided to schlep all this stuff with me. Before this adventure, I would have never even considered bringing any technology with me on a trip to the great outdoors. Are you kidding me? I get outdoors to escape! But no, not now. I’m a changed woman. A woman on a mission!