On a ten mile commute to visit my cousin (aka my dentist), I imagine I’m out on the southern tier, again. Or the northern tier, again. Or any tier anywhere, ever. I self-hallucinate my way into some sort of geographical teleportation. My atoms have split and physical meets the metaphysical. I’m not riding south on Route 62 into Hamburg – no this slow incline is Emery Pass in my current reality. The vehicular traffic would beg to differ. The disappearing bike lane confirms I should have told Morpheus to shove that pull up his ass.
There is still no way to fight fire from home, so I’ve been fortunate enough to commute to work by bicycle the entire pandemic. That working-from-home-shit is not all it’s cracked up to be, I did it for a decade in a previous life and was happy to return to an office called station 3.
On another commute weeks before, it’s a cool and crisp 41 degree Monday morning. Fahrenheit bee tee dub. I leave early for work to get some extra miles in and simultaneously beat the traffic; downtown Buffalo is pretty much all mine when I cross paths with a couple other cyclists. Despite their completely loaded rigs, I simply ring my bell, wave at them and fly past in laser like fashion toward the marina. Almost immediately, the internal debate begins. Are they on a long tour? Are they just training for a long tour? The border is still closed; Trudeau and Biden are fucking up; if those cyclists are heading south or west they will definitely be on my route to work. 5 miles and 15 mph later, Cristos and Chad are stopped on the bike path along the Outer Harbor and I couldn’t be more enthused. These guys started in Boston. They are heading to California. This is their first long ride. They don’t even seem to have tents and apparently slept in the park the previous night. It was 34° last night. We chat and trade numbers. Turns out they love Buffalo, stay another night, and join me later that evening on a Slow Roll. The city of good neighbors bestows free food and drink and lodging upon them. Praise be bike tour nerd shit. All hail trail magic.
All of this is kinda making me crazy. Well crazier. In the good way. A very good way. The open road is calling, most definitely. Yaasin Bey level. I went years without hearing or heeding. Then 2019 saw a kickstart of phenomenal proportions. Now it seems I’m graduating to the two-tours-a-year club. At least as long as most borders stay closed, my membership in the passport jet-setting club has been modified back to long bicyclist tourist status. Thusly, I’ll be riding the GAP + C&O trail from Pittsburgh to DC at the very end of a June into early July. A 330 miles, six or seven day ride from downtown to downtown. No cars. All camping. Definitely a group ride; got a few super awesome people down to pedal; Chad is in for sure. After he bailed before this part of last year’s Canals Crew ride, Chad – a public school teacher — realized the value in tour-specific gear and probably spent less on union dues than on his new setup. A Surly LHT, fully fucking accessorized and fit for his tall frame. Kara is on board too. She’s done a few rides and we biked the Florida Keys hard years back. That was the only long ride I did during the aforementioned Great Bike Tour drought of 2012-2019. She’s got experience and a badass camping hammock setup. So this should be a great group ride.
I’m fucking psyched. Two tours in a one year! Hey this one is much shorter than 48 days coast to coast. Butt. It’s a tour. It’s got no motor vehicles. It’s got tunnels and canals and rivers and campsites. I literally just did this last year and I’m doing it again less than a year later. It’s that fucking awesome y’all. Yes yes y’all. All are welcome to join, hit me up and let’s roll!
UPDATE. We are now riding DC to Pitt.