Last week I renewed my membership with the Adventure Cycling Association, the club for American touring cyclists. Apparently I've been a member for 8 years. This means I joined in 2002. Wow! That July I took my then-new touring bike on my first (and only) loaded tour. My husband and I spent a week riding in the Canadian Rockies on the Icefields Parkway,from Jasper to Banff. We used Gail Helgason's 1986 book The Canadian Rockies Bicycling Guide to plan the route. It was great: mountains, glaciers, valleys, lakes, bears, the works. We stayed in YHA hostels and met great fellow riders: Keith and Dan from Vancouver. Canada, Ron a retiree from Laguna Beach, CA, and J-P, an athletic 30-something from Ottawa. Long distance bicyclists are such a supportive group. I always planned to do more bike touring. Hmm, where did the time go?
OK, it's 2010, so time for my next loaded tour. I am going for the gold: a solo ride in France. I will camp as much as possible, so that I can stick to a budget. Since being laid off, I've had plenty of time to plan. Seattle Public Library has a good collection of travel books: Lonely Planet, Rough Guides, Let's Go, etc. Actually the money I expect to save by commiting to camp has already gone to pay for several Michelin road and IGN [Institut Geographique National] topo maps from an online map seller. They cost such a lot because they are (1) imports? (2) specialized? Beats me. I just don't feel comfortable trying to use google.maps.fr to plan this one! I wonder how many will fit in my panniers? My itinerary is a loop trip starting in Tours [Loire Valley], through Brittany, lower Normandy, on to Paris [Ile de France] and finishing in Orleans. I will leave London on June 8 and return on July 26. France is supposed to be super bike friendly. Apparently in France bikes [velos] are known as "la reine" [queen]. Time to find out. I'm leaving for London on May 6, and will stay for a month with a good friend I've not seen in 30 years. I hope to warm up by doing a few rides around London. Hey, it's possible to ride from the airport to my friend's house. Get a load of the "To and from Heathrow" tab here: www.heathrowairport.com. So, do I dare get off the transcontinental, then transatlantic flight, reassemble my boxed bike in Terminal 3, and ride off? It's 20 miles, if I have entered the correct beginning/end points. Hmm.