Thursday, July 05, 2018

The Touring Series- How We Did Things

A Guitar Ted Productions Series
In case you weren't aware, every Sunday I have been reposting a series of stories about a fully loaded cyclo-tour I did back in 1994. These were remembrances and notes I took down back in '94 and again, in 2008, when I first posted the series on the blog here. I called it "The Beg, Borrow, and Bastard Tour".

The posts in the series have been updated with a few images and, at the end of each post, some additional commentary or remembrances that, I hope, are enhancing what I originally wrote.

Through doing this of late it has struck me how differently we did things back then. We dressed differently, we had a completely different routine due to having to deal with technology, such as it was, in 1994. We wouldn't do a cyclo-tour like that now. I'm not sure it was possible to recreate what we did even five years later. Things changed a lot after that mid-90's self-supported tour.

So, today I wanted to go over a few points that I think are interesting to consider, especially in light of where we find ourselves in 2018. I'll touch on our gear, our daily routine, and some things we did that we probably would not- or could not do- today due to technology.

First up, I wanted to talk about our gear and especially how we dressed and what we did for personal hygiene. We did things in a way that we could rely on ourselves and whatever resources we had without weighing ourselves down with excess gear.

This is Troy from 1994 with his rig at our first overnight.
What We  Wore:

We didn't wear much bike specific gear! We had clip in pedals and shoes and bib shorts. That's it! I suppose we may have had cycling gloves. We wore t-shirts instead of jerseys. We brought helmets along but only used them going through LaCrosse, Wisconsin. Otherwise they stayed firmly attached to our racks.Why?

It was our agreement that since we were riding the open road, we would possibly get smoked by a car or truck, in which case a helmet does you no good. That was our hard and fast rule, and we stuck to it. No helmets while riding on the open road. I wore a ball cap, I think Steve and  Troy had "proper" cycling caps. We each had eyewear, but I doubt any of it was cycling specific. I know Troy's was not and certainly mine was not either.

Personal Hygiene: We did "laundry" in sinks and bathrooms along the way. We each had three day's worth of clothing. As mentioned, Troy would clip his wet stuff to his bags or cable runs on the bike and let things air dry as we rode. By week's end we were all doing likewise. It was not uncommon to have t-shirts, socks, or bib shorts fluttering in the breeze as we rode down the backroads of Wisconsin. With exception of the rainy day mid-week, of course.

On this tour we seemed to luck out on getting showers. The first, fourth, sixth, and seventh nights out we found showers. The other nights we didn't. I don't remember that being a big deal if we missed getting a shower either. Of course, we brushed our teeth maybe twice a day- morning and evening.

Daily Routine: This is something I skipped over in the original notes because I figured it was so mundane at the time no one would have missed it. However; it seems like a glaring hole in the tale now, as you don't really get the feel of what every morning and evening was like out on the road.

We had dried oatmeal packets for breakfast. I believe Steve had the stove and fuel we used on this trip. Oatmeal was eaten with water and nothing else. Generally, this was around 7:00am-8:00am in the morning. We then would find a convenience store as soon as possible after we started riding to further top off the reserves. A "second breakfast", if you will.

Mid-day meals were whatever we came across out there. We had convenience store fare, but three times we ate in restaurants and once from a local grocer's deli counter. The final day we had lunch at Hardee's. (Fast food- not a restaurant!) Evening meals were either our dried meals or a restaurant, fast food, or delivery pizza. I didn't take a whole lot of money. I believe I spent, on average, ten dollars a day. That's pretty crazy to think about now!

Lack of Technology: I don't know that anyone could do a self-supported tour these days without bringing their smart phone, a camera, and possibly a navigational device. Lights too. We did not have lights and we had some pretty weak tail lights for possiblle travel in twilight hours or during adverse weather. One of us, I can't remember who, had a camera. I may have had a disposable, one time use Kodak 35mm camera. Somehow a few shots exist of this tour, but I honestly don't recall taking them, although it almost is assuredly me that was, judging by the subject matter. But anyway- no images on social media!

My wife at the time had no idea where I was on an hourly/daily basis. Think about that. Sharing anything outside of with Steve and Troy was unheard of. I mean, it wasn't even a thought. We called home maybe twice the entire week. On land lines! My parents didn't know where I was, my friends had no clue where I was, and nobody cared. The situation sure has changed now, except that almost nobody cares.

Along with that, we had no idea what the heck was going on in the world either. And we liked it that way! Ha! I'm only half kidding. Looking back, that was an awesome part about those trips. (I took another like this one I'm talking about the following year.) No stresses about what the President was Tweeting, if the world was going to be blown to smithereens, or if we weren't getting enough "likes" on Instagram.

Yeah, it was a very different world back then, and I doubt I could ever quite recreate the way it was then on a trip today. But anyway.......that's how we did things then.

1 comment:

james said...

Your "Beg, Borrow, and Bastard tour" is a great series. I did a similar tour in 1982 with my buddy Steve. We both worked construction and were between jobs, so on a whim, we thought it would be a great idea to ride from Southern CA to the tip of Baja CA, 1200ish miles if I recall. Talk about primitive! We had 'real' showers maybe 3 or 4 times the entire trip, never called anybody-our loved ones back home had absolutely no idea where we were. The map we used was wrong at least 50% of the time. Between the both of us, our high school Spanish could muster up (almost) a complete sentence. Most of our equipment was borrowed from back packing friends. We never drank the local water (unless we could boil it) for fears of getting intestinal sickness. Instead we only drank soda, mostly Coke. It was crazy, but somehow we survived.