With the start of our Grand Gaspé Cycling Tour just one day away, it seems appropriate to introduce the intrepid cyclists who are taking the plunge on this great adventure. It’s worth noting at the outset that there are two classes cyclists here. Two of us are doing the whole kahuna. We’re the crazy ones anticipating traveling and carrying all our worldly goods for two months and over 2,000 miles on our bicycles. We are the ones venturing into the Canadian Maritimes with only a general route in mind and several detours already under consideration. The other two are more sane. They are merely tackling the first 500 miles with us along the coast of Maine, with hotel reservations already in place, guaranteeing a shower and dry bed at the end of each day. Either way, it’s going to be a Grand Tour.
This was all his idea. My husband is the veteran of five past cycling tours, all but one self-planned. He loves playing travel agent, researching the details and making the reservations. In fact, he has dreamed up far more future trips than we could ever execute. Rich is a steady cyclist who detests hills (especially with loaded panniers) and loves the thrill of plummeting downhill. He embraces sightseeing stops on his cycling tours, sometimes to the consternation of his fellow cyclists. A Northern Pike shaped car and vivid purple cow are mere examples. He’s also an avid photographer, so photo opps are valid reasons to tarry along the way.
Most looking forward to: Seeing the next “purple cow”
Biggest worry: How my body will hold up over 2,000 miles of cycling
That’s me. I was cajoled into trying cycling by Rich a mere 19 months ago. I wasn’t sure i wanted to trade marathon running for cycling. But following my first trip I was hooked. I’ve now completed two long distance bike tours and despite the audacity of this itinerary I was quick to agree to the plan. My cycling style tends to be more intense. I’m not one to dawdle. I like to push the pace, put the miles behind me and have to be convinced to stop and smell the flowers. Rich and I probably balance each other out pretty well – he makes sure we have fun along the way and I make sure we get to our destination.
Most looking forward to: The coastline, with its cliffs, waves and lighthouses
Biggest worry: Cycling in heavy rain
Carl is our middle child. He has always prided himself on making his own decisions. While the rest of the family played the accordion (that’s another story), he adamantly stuck to guitar and banjo. In a family of marathon runners, Carl pursued serious cycling. Interesting that now two of us have come around. Carl has done two long distance cycling trips, one being a father-son tour with Rich. So he knows what he’s getting into on this trip. Carl has the only road bike among three touring style bikes in the group – still the individual. He’s also the fastest among us. And to be fair, the has the youngest legs by 30 years. We’ll see if he forges ahead or stays with the pack.
Most looking forward to: Acadia National Park
Biggest worry: I am bit unsure about what it will be like biking in a group of four people when everyone probably is used to going at different paces.
Myra’s still wondering how she ended up on this trip. She’s been a friend of mine since Jr High, and in an era when few sports were available to girls in school Myra played them all. So it’s no surprise that she’s been cycling for years, and when I took it up we discovered we were well matched. To date we’ve logged two century rides together. It was only in casual conversation about the trip that I threw out the idea that she join us, and with little hesitation she committed. This is Myra’s maiden long distance bike tour. But I’m not concerned. Myra is able to keep up both a solid pace and a steady conversation for miles and miles. And she always seems to have the energy to go farther – as long as she’s well fed.
Most looking forward to: Just getting out and riding through beautiful country and enjoying it from a bicycle.
Biggest worry: How many bagels should I bring and how will I keep them fresh and how much will they weigh?
Tomorrow this motley crew will gather in Exeter, New Hampshire to begin our ride together. Look out sea coast, here we come!