Advice to yourself? - CycleBlaze

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Advice to yourself?

Graham Smith

This question is for the older members of the CycleBlaze community. That is for those of you in your late 50s or older.

What is the one piece of fearless and frank advice about cycle touring you’d offer to your  younger self  if you could go back in time to chat with yourself  (say) 30 or 40 years ago?  

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3 weeks ago
Andrea BrownTo Graham Smith

"Of course you can cycle with kids!"

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3 weeks ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Graham Smith

Get out there, ride to work, ride for fun, take your kids on cycling vacations, eat lots of cake and ice cream on your bike rides.

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3 weeks ago
John PescatoreTo Graham Smith

I'm 62 and 29 years ago my daughter was born. That actually revived my interest in cycling - putting her on a kiddie seat on the back of my old 5 speed Schwinn that had been gathering dust as a career and work travel consumed my free time. That ride from Confluence to Ohiopyle on the first segment of what is now known as the Great Allegheny Passage trail led to me buying a more touring friendly bike, then convincing 3 friends we could do week long tours, then buying a touring bike and doing many more and much more biking in general.

So, I'd go a bit further back: when I was 15 and growing up on Long Island, NY two friends and I noticed that Montauk Point was 100 miles east of Freeport where we were - and said "That would be cool to ride our bikes there." (If the term "century ride" existed in 1972 we certainly hadn't heard of it.) For some reason our parents said OK and we strapped sleeping bags on the backs of our Schwinn and Raleigh bikes and had a great adventure.

A few years later college came along and girls and beer largely replaced any biking adventures. I'd go back to the day my  dad and I were packing up my stuff to drive up to the University of Connecticut as  freshman, and have my young self say "Yes" when my dad asked if I wanted to strap the bike to the roof.

I don't think biking adventures would have replaced chasing girls and beer, but if it had put a dent in the beer consumption there would have been many positive outcomes...

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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Graham Smith

Well, this is one sentence at least, but more than one piece of advice.  Slow down, look at the roses (I sure I’d advise to smell them too, if I had a sense of smell), and keep a journal.  I wish we’d taken some of our first tours at about half the speed we did.  See more by seeing less.

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3 weeks ago
Robert EwingTo Graham Smith

Get the lowest gear ratios available and use them often. Your knees will thank you in the decades to come!

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3 weeks ago
John SaxbyTo Graham Smith

Hi there Graham, and (a slightly belated) welcome!

+1 on Robert's recommendation on low gears -- the more so if one continues to seek the high places of the world (as my 23-year-old self did on Kilimanjaro, nearly half a century ago, for the first of two treks on that big hill.)

Beyond that: Look closely at the wild creatures you see, and take care to remember them in words and pictures.  Half a century later, there are many many fewer of them.  The swarms of Monarch butterflies we regularly saw on our Ontario farm are no more, and sadly, I cannot remember the last time I saw a swallow.

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3 weeks ago
Gregory GarceauTo Graham Smith

Even thirty or forty years ago I was an every day bike rider, but I had not yet discovered  bicycle touring.  Therefore, I guess my advice to my younger self would be something like this:  "Dude, take a few days off from riding to work & cruising around the local streets and highways, and get your ass out there from state to state."

At that time I didn't even know bike touring was a thing.  Had I known, I'm sure I would have been doing it.  I had a wilderness backpacking background, so when I finally did discover cycle touring it was a pretty easy transition.

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3 weeks ago
Graham SmithTo Graham Smith

Seeing this diverse, insightful  range of advice by some of the planets’ most experienced cycle tourists has made me think much harder about what I’d say to my 20-something  self if I could go back in time. They are all excellent comments. Thanks everyone.

My advice would be to emphatically tell myself that the next 40 years will pass far faster than expected, and not to waste any opportunity to see as much as possible of this amazing world by cycle touring. Of course I’d probably ignore my own advice but I’d at least I’d have had the choice to accept it.

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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Graham Smith

Amen to that!  Tempus fugit, as my 10th grade Latin teacher always reminded us when we straggled into her classroom after recess. It really is astonishing watching the years roll by.  Who knows how many touring seasons we still have in us?  Make them all count.

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3 weeks ago