“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.”
I really started biking after my third back surgery. With backpacking forever off the docket, getting out on a bike became the next best option. When Monique and I discovered we were pregnant, we decided to go on a last-minute adventure to celebrate the upcoming transition and to fully process the end of our child-free lives. A pilgrimage seemed in store.
So the Camino de Santiago quickly popped into my head. At this point, after my third and last lower back surgery, my weight limit was around 10lbs. In addition to the rich spiritual history of the walk, the Camino would be a good option because it offered supported travel, meaning we could carry very little. But it quickly dawned on me that if we biked, we could cover way more ground and see much more of Europe. Dreams of the yodeling Alps and twirling spaghetti in Tuscany quickly took over.
Thus our first ever bike tour was hatched. We rode a roundabout 2700-mile pilgrimage ride beginning in Florence, Italy and ending in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. We did it over the course of Monique's second trimester. It was a truly amazing time. We really didn't know much about bike touring and only had time for two short afternoon training rides, so we truly learned along the way.
In the two exciting and sleep-deprived years since then, I've ventured off into off-road biking and bike camping, and now that Camden is old enough, family bikepacking. For me, biking preserved the dream of living a life in constant connection with the wilder parts of the planet. Now it has even opened up the possibility of immersing my son in the outdoors from a young age in a way that we can all enjoy together.
I just hope to continue in and to share that joy.