Sunday, March 17, 2013

Fairfield, Iowa, to Lacey-Keosauqua State Park on Bicycles

Yes, it was our first overnight trip by bicycles, and we were traveling just twenty-five miles to the second-oldest state park in Iowa. 

It was 2010. We were excited, and we had a successful, enjoyable trip. Now, three years later, mu wife and I are at mid-March, waiting for the weather to change so we can make up for our lapse of three years.

This trip is chronicled on an online site, Crazy Guy on a Bike, that is dedicated to bicycle tours--from day trips to around-the-world odysseys. Our little excursion was for three days with two nights in a tent. Here is the link for the site and the journal narrative:
SE Iowa 3-Day Tour: Fairfield to Lacey-Keosauqua State Park
Created as a state park in 1921, the park has 1,653 acres of varied terrain--hills, bluffs along the Des Moines River, and woods and prairie meadows. We enjoyed hiking the trails, swimming in the lake, and the modern facilities in the campground. We also traveled the two miles to the county seat of Van Buren County, Keosauqua (population a little over 1,000) for lunch.

My wife and I learned a lot from the trip, in addition to having fun. The Crazy Guy on a Bike website is a great source for learning from the experience of others. (That way, you don't have to learn everything the hard way!)

Two overnight bike trip journals were those of Alexandra Greene and of Jackie Sindrich, both bike camping in New York.

Link to Trip Journal
Alexandra and her husband traveled overnight with the two small children. It was a first-time adventure that included fun and some pain from their lack of experience. Their 75-mile trip (37.5 each way) taught them to not take too much, to plan meals more carefully, to understand that Google maps don't include elevation, and to realize more the special needs of traveling with young children.

Link to Journal
Jackie traveled solo there and back a total of 112 miles along Lake Erie. Her experience was different--less baggage and less to worry about. She was also traveling some territory that she was familiar with. What I like is how she didn't worry about equipment so much, using a $30 tent and a pool-floatie "sleeping mattress." She carried the camping equipment on a rear rack, secured by bungees, and all her personals in a small knapsack.

I've enjoyed reading journals of all lengths of trips on Crazy Guy on a Bike, from multi-year around-the-world trips to day biking. However, the first-time journals are interesting because as a novice I can learn from others' experiences. For instance, both of the above journals mention to bring bug spray!

Copyright 2013 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved
Photos from CGONB, copyright of the authors, links provided

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Bicycle Touring on a 1977 Huffy One-Speed

Jeff Teel got into bicycle touring by adding some baskets to his 1977 one-speed Huffy (distributed as an Open Road model by Montgomery Ward). The baskets were for transporting veggies.
"During the summers of 2008 and 2009, I used my bike sometimes to make weekly trips to nearby Eureka to pick up vegetables from a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) that we were members of. I purchased the rear baskets for that reason. It wasn't until later that I determined they'd work for touring."
He writes about his adventures in three journals at the Crazy Guy on a Bike website, a site that supports many hundreds of trips taken by bike touring folks all over the world. His three documented trips add up to 50 days of travel that include tent camping and 2,458 miles of travel.
  • Morton, IL, to Springfield, MO, in nine days (2010)
  • Morton, IL, to Laurens, IA, to Mount Zion, WI, to Morton, IL (2011)
  • Morton, IL to Northern Indiana and Back (2011)
Neither Jeff's travels nor his equipment are exotic, yet he got on his bike and pedaled down the road--if not a road less traveled then certainly in a manner less used. He's not all low tech either.
He maps his route and uses GPS to maintain his route. He posts to CGOAB via email. He upgrades the gearing on his one-speed, changing the rear sprocket from 19 teeth to 20. (see image below).


Jeff's Montgomery Ward Open Road, manufactured by Huffy in 1977, at an earlier time in American bicycle touring history--say 1900--would be considered a wonder of technological achievement. We don't need much to travel by bike, mostly the incentive. Even with his simple equipment, though, it's evident that Jeff has done his planning. The resulting trips are obviously full of pleasure and achievement.


Friedel and Andrew Grant say it well in their free e-book Bike Touring Basics. Their book is also available as an Amazon eBook and has been reviewed by me.
"Above all, don’t be put off by an obsession to figure out every last detail. Like any journey, there’s a lot to think about before you take those first steps but, at its core, bike touring is really quite simple. The most crucial ingredients are a bike and a desire to ride that bike beyond your front doorstep."
 For me, Jeff Teel's bicycling adventures show me two things besides the Grants' encouragement to just start and not worry about too much. One learning lesson is that it's not necessary to obsess on planning, that the basics will do and what more is needed is become evident. The second lesson is that there can be great beauty and enjoyment close to home, that we don't have to travel across the country or around the globe to find a beautiful adventure. For those who seek the far horizons, I applaud your audacity and may well find myself one day joining your ranks.

But for now, a weekend down a local lane and a night spent in a cozy county campground--that's my incentive and my dream.


Copyright 2012 by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved
Images are from CGOAB and have been posted with links