How to go on a bike trip: The very short version

Get a bike. Ride it around the block. If anything hurts, take it to a local bike nerd and ask them to make it stop hurting.

Ride a mile away, then a mile back. If anything hurts, repeat the above step. Keep repeating it until nothing hurts. (Sore is okay. Hurts is bad.)

Go to the Bike Route Toaster to make a route that avoids major highways and seeks the path with the least elevation change. It’s freakin’ awesome. If you’ve got a GPS, you can load the route onto it!

Don’t let your physical shape hold you back. You will get in shape as you go! Stay within these guidelines, and you’ll be fine:

  • An elevation change of 1000 feet in less than five miles is the border between ridable and not ridable.
  • Budget for about 30 miles a day. So, if you end up riding 45 miles for two days, your budget will let you hang around town and be a tourist on the third day. (Ignore all those people who talk about 50, 70, 100 mile days. The key word here is “budget”!)
  • On flat ground, count on about ten miles per hour. (This factors in all kinds of possible degradations – wind, potholes, rest breaks, photo stops.)
  • If you’re riding “fully loaded”, i.e. with camping supplies, and there’s two of you, budget for about 50 bucks a day per person. (Again, that factors in many things.) With that budget you can afford to feed yourselves well, stay in the occasional hotel, and indulge in some touristy things, like museum tours and ferry rides.

Take a picture of something along the way, and post it online, with the comment, “SAW THIS ON MY BIKE RIDE!” That will get the conversation going.

Congratulations!

Signs you’ve been working too hard (and should go on a bike ride!)

  1. You think a “half-day” means leaving at 5 o’clock.
  2. Anything under an hour each way is not a “real” commute.
  3. You hear most of your jokes via email instead of in person.
  4. Your pets sometimes don’t recognize you.
  5. Your reason for not staying in touch with family is that they do not have e-mail addresses.
  6. You refer to your dining room table as the flat filing cabinet.
  7. Your grocery list has been on your refrigerator so long some of the products don’t even exist any more.
  8. Cleaning up the dining area means getting the fast food bags out of the back seat of your car.
  9. You keep trying to open your front door with the key to the office.
  10. You often eat out of vending machines and at the most expensive restaurant in town within the same week.

(This semi-serious list is from the Internet Bubble years, and the heady workaholic times that led up to them.)