Challenges and Joys (Guest Post) #bikepacking


I began my bike tour just over a week ago on August 21st. So much has happened that I hardly know where to begin. Each day has lots of challenges to troubleshoot, but there is plenty of joy too.

In Exeter my biggest challenge was being kicked out of the free campsite because I was in a tent, rather than an RV. When the by law officer stopped by I had just laid down for a much needed nap, prior to a much needed massage appointment – the timing could not have been worse. As a result, I didn’t get a nap and was 20 minutes late for my massage… even though I packed things up so hastily that I needed to completely unpack and repack later. It threw off my whole day and gave me greater empathy for folx who are displaced from tent cities. 

As I was repacking more effectively my cooler fell and a full jar of pasta sauce spilled all over the place. All day it had been one thing after another, so I looked at it and wryly commented to myself “that seems about right!”

Partially loaded bicycle with bags and stuff all around it… including a jar of pasta sauce spilled on the ground.

Fortunately, there’s a delicious and low cost Thai restaurant that took the edge off. That night I stealth camped for the first time and left early in the morning. Earlier in the week friends had suggested an a great stealth camping spot in Exeter, so I had an instant back up for the night.

My greatest joy in Exeter was getting to know a couple folx living in poverty. They reminded me of some of my friends from Sanctuary London… the place where I feel most at home… most at ease… most like I can just be myself no matter what. Josh* and I had a couple convos that were rich with a sense of common humanity as we shared our struggles and dreams. Then about an hour before I rolled out of town, an older gentleman who I’d previously asked for directions, came over to ask about my trip plans. He wandered off after a short chat, but about ten minutes later he returned with the most thoughtful care package imaginable… even more so given the poverty he was experiencing himself. Each item had been carefully chosen… an extra tie strap, an instant soup pack, juice crystals, protein bars, and a fruit cup. It made my day. 

An extra tie strap, an instant soup pack, juice crystals,  protein bars, and a fruit cup sitting on a picnic table.
Care package

A major challenge and time suck along the way has been organizing my bags effectively so that I can easily access what’s needed for the day… preferably without unpacking anything not needed. This is a huge pain… but after unpacking and repacking countless times, I think I’m getting better at it… I *really* hope I am! 

A few of my greatest joys so far: 

  • Washing my hair in an actual shower (rather than a sink) or on the beach (with biodegradable soap of course!)
  • Cold water
  • Sleeping under the stars
  • Breakfast on a nearly empty beachhead night after a big storm
Beach
  • Countless convos with curious folx
  • Car Free Sunday (with live street music) in Kincardine
  • And randomly meeting Mike Darmon – a fellow active transportation advocate! 
Mike and I are standing in the foreground with my bike between and behind us. In the background is The Bruce Steakhouse.
Mike Darmon and I knew each other from Twitter, but hadn’t met before. He came over to ask about my bike. Both of us were enjoying live music at Kincardine’s Car Free Sunday!

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