It’s no lie… I have a small (perhaps large) itch to take a bicycle tour. To travel on two wheels, by human power (sometimes the wind if you are blessed) to see different parts of the country. Its not about speed or distance, but more about the journey, the people you meet, and the memories that are created while on two wheels.
On Friday, I found a blog about a gent who was doing what I call a Trans Am Plus Loop. Starting in NY, this cyclist will basically follow the outskirts of the United States, going up to Alaska and back down into Canada and will finish back in New York. The plus part is the fact that he is going to Alaska and Canada and it’s pretty darn neat that he’s doing it in a loop. Most tours are a “straight” line but I love this loop idea. Some people might think he’s LOOPY but seriously, its freaking awesome.
So I email him on Friday thinking that maybe there is a shot we could meet up and after taking a look at his map, I was crossing my fingers. But I thought that I missed him. Most times when I learn about someone’s blog who is touring, the dates have passed. But as mom once said…. maybe if I wish REALLY hard, it will come true.
A few days and emails later, I pulled into Qudoba in Cherry Hill, saw Dave and his touring
bike, yelled his name in gittiness and he had an instant smile. He emailed me around 2 PM to tell me he was chilling at Qudoba and I left work at three, rushed home on my bike, cleaned up, and fought traffic tooth and nail to get there. Finally I got to host someone who was on a tour.
I’ve read so many books, articles, magazines, and blogs on the touring topic and some writers can really write so well that they pull you into the tour. This experience is really cool but even better is to HOST someone on a tour. And there was no blink of my eye when the chance came up.
After some handshakes and pictures ,we unloaded his bike, put the bike in the back of the truck and loaded his panniers in the truck too. Off we went.
Dave Gill, a 23 year old cyclist from England, is really on the adventure of his life. Leaving his job about 2 months ago to prepare for his voyage, he was glad to be in the states, riding. And I was happy for him…. I bet almost HAPPIER for him then he was. :)
First stop was the apartment so he could plug in anything that needed to be recharged and take a shower. He met Mrs. Chef and after more pictures, we discussed where he might stay. Dave plans were to stealth camp in places that are wooded but our area is not so conducive to that and we could not have him stay with us since we live in a very small apartment and have three annoying cats. Poor chap wouldn’t sleep!
We asked Dave if he needed to go anywhere while he was in town and if he needed any supplies. He needed fuel for his burner but had a tough time explaining what the fuel was and since they may call it something different in England, we needed to make sure what it was. And when we realized it was denatured alcohol and that I had a can literally 8 steps away, it was like divine intervention. No need to go shopping!
So while he showered, I called the Marriot hotel around the corner. With the work travel that comes with my job, I earn Marriot Reward points and was able to secure him a room in a nice hotel. This night, he will be living as a plush bicycle tourist. Damn straight! :) And…. we secured him breakfast the next morning!
After Dave got his shower, we all went to eat at Cheesecake Factory. Knowing calorie intake is important to folks on a tour, this was the RIGHT place for that and it was Dave’s first time too! We ordered the stuffed mushrooms and of course the avocado rolls. Then the entrees…. burgers galore thank you very much! And to top it off, of course! Cheesecake!
After the wonderful high caloric dinner and superb story telling and information swapping, we rolled ourselves into the car and took Dave to the World Headquarters of Campbell Soup. We thought it would be neat to see somewhere different and iconic and since Campbell’s is big in England, this trip was right up his ally.
Dave got to see inside the Wold Headquarters see some of our soup, our employee gift shop and also “eat” the goldfish we have outback and of course we snapped more pictures too.
On the way home, we chatted more about riding, family, friends and what path Dave will go down. He will be traveling into Delaware today so we called some White Clay folks to see if we could get someone to host him for the night, even if it was in their back yard. But it was evening time and last minute (but I thank everyone who helped out!). I think he will stay at the Smyrna Rest Area in Delaware where there are some wooded areas he could camp. I sent him the contact information for Helen’s Sausage House. I hope he takes me up on that offer… its worth it!
After we got back home, Dave wanted to shoot some video of us. He is doing a video blog of his experience on this trip, which will take him 9 months to complete. So Mrs. Chef and I did just that which was a lot of fun. He asked good questions too. Mrs. Chef put a couple of slices of homemade pumpkin pie into a bowl with a lid and slipped it to Dave to eat later.
Dave packed up his stuff and I took him to the Marriot. Check in, brought his bike to his plush room, got some more pictures and said our goodbyes.
It was really tough for me not to throw everything down, have a hissy fit, and go with him on some of his tour, if not all of it. I already miss the guy and am thinking about going to Smyrna tomorrow before he leaves and taking him out to Helens!
We have friend and family up and down the west coast from California, Oregon and Washington so late last night, we sent him and email with some places he might be able to stay.
When you really think about it, it’s amazing to realize how many people you can meet while on a bicycle!
And if you are the adventure type, take a look at his blog here