I’ve been looking at the great comments that have been made on the “to-do” list thread as the train I am currently riding traverses the Great Plains in northern North Dakota and it crossed my mind emphatically that my focus during this ride will not be on the gadgets that I would be taking with me. In other words, I don’t intend to ride for 4,000+ miles watching the screen of my handlebar-mounted iPhone. I’m not going on the ride for that. If that was the point, I could do the same ride by sitting on my stationary bike at home for about 500 hours over 10 weeks or so. Either way, I’d never see this.
Now, we can argue the merits of whether that is worth seeing or not, but hey… I’m the one doing the pedaling.
And don’t get me wrong. The tech is great. On my first long distance bike rides I packed a bunch of paper maps, a North Face tent with shock-corded 1/2 inch/1.25 cm aluminium poles that I had to bungee to the frame, a brass Svea pressurized white gas backpacker stove, a fuel flask, a candle lantern (remember those?) and a bunch of stuff that probably all together weighed more than my bike. Unless I was at an intersection or a landmark I never really knew where I was. If I broke down out in the boonies I had no way to call for help. My finicky little fork mounted generator- the kind that had a little roller that needed to press just right on the side of the tire- made just enough electricity to power a dim to the point of useless front and rear light. Bike helmets as we know them today pretty much didn’t even exist. But I rode anyway, and took some really great trips.
So for a modest investment, I’ll be outfitted on this trip with stuff I couldn’t have even dreamed up in 1970. But no matter how good it all is, no matter how amazing, it isn’t what the ride is about. That’s how you’ll know me if I happen to pass by. I’ll be the guy with my head up, looking around, and making the most out of crossing the country at about 10 miles an hour.