Getting “Lost” on the Bike

I started Bike 5 to call attention to the fact that over 70% of all car trips we take are five miles or less.  Many of those trips can easily be made by bicycle. When we choose to park our cars and make the short trip to the store, school or work by bicycle instead, we become healthier and wealthier while simultaneously helping our environment and communities heal.

That’s all well and good, but sometimes the urge to go longer strikes and when it does, well, let’s just say that it feels real good to disappear for a few hours and scratch that itch.  I call this getting lost on the bike. These days, I find myself doing so just about every chance I get.

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This rural road in central Indiana is typical of many I find myself riding on when going long. It’s paved, narrow and the posted speed limit is relatively low. There’s not much traffic.

Most motorists avoid roads without pavement.  Those who don't tend to slow down.  This makes these roads perfect for cycling.

Most motorists avoid roads without pavement. Those who don’t tend to slow down. This makes these roads perfect for cycling.

I moved to Ogden to cycle on the streets, but lately find myself drawn to the area's world class trail system.

I moved to Ogden to cycle on the streets, but lately find myself drawn more to the area’s world class trail system and the blessed quiet of the mountains.

I didn't have much time at Wyoming's Happy Jack recreation area.  I could have spent weeks here.

I didn’t have much time at Wyoming’s Happy Jack recreation area. I could have spent weeks cycling here and hopefully someday will.

I've driven hundreds of miles along Nebraska's Platte River many times, but until I got out and biked it I never realized what an amazing ecosystem it is.  This is truly a national treasure right under our noses.

I’ve driven hundreds of miles along Nebraska’s Platte River many times, but until I got out and biked it I never realized what an amazing place this is…one of the most spectacular in all of America if you like the great outdoors as I do.

This is a completely different type of cycling than pedaling to the grocery store to pick up a few items.  In my case, it’s usually 2-3 hours in length.  It’s typically out in the country where there aren’t a lot of traffic signals or stop signs to slow me down.  Much of it is on two lanes roads with little traffic.  All of this is good.  What’s not so good is what little traffic there is tends to fly by at 50, 60, 70 mph or faster.  Most motorists do a pretty good job of giving me three feet on these empty roads, but very few bother slowing down much if any at all.

So I increasingly find myself pushing further and further into the Outback, seeking out even more lightly traveled roads and trails where I have the opportunity to explore new terrain and where most motorists fear to tread.  I’ve found a lot of these places over the last year or so everywhere from Indiana to Utah and all points in between.  I’ve ridden trails and backroads in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Utah and Wyoming.  These are the rides I think about when I close my eyes and dream about being on the bike.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about bikepacking and overnight trips.  I’ve been doing some Internet recon and as I have I’ve discovered some truly epic rides like the Oregon Outback and Kopokelli’s Trail in western Colorado and eastern Utah.  I’ve talked my wife into a trip to Pittsburgh in a few weeks so that I can get in a century on the Great Allegheny Passage before we head west for good.  If I had the time, I’d ride all the way to Washington DC and back.

Because there are so many of these places and because these rides tend to be pure magic, I’ve decided to add a page to the site as a reference for those who are inclined to get off the beaten path and get lost on the bike.  I call it Bike 500, though it’s not about the distance.  You can ride as much or as little as you like.  I hope you’ll find it useful.

 

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