My Big 2010 Tour: The Prologue

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So it's just a little bit more than 24 hours since I completed my longest bicycle tour to date, 859.25 miles over 10 days of riding. I'll get the stories and pictures posted over the next few weeks, but there's something I'd like to start with... 

Now, everybody seems real impressed by what I've accomplished, but honestly- I'm rather humbled by what I came across the weekend before I left.  On my way home from 12 hours of Potluck, I saw a bunch of bicycles stopped on the side of the road, one of which was upside down on it's seat and handlebars.  Looked like a flat tire.  Since I had a full size floor pump with me, I'd figured I'd stop to help.

What I encountered really impressed me.  It was a group of about a dozen teenage girls, pedaling their way across the UP.  Now, I follow all kinds of hardcore adventure touring races; the trans-wisconsin, the tour divde, etc. These girls beat them all. 

Any schmoe can spend a zillion bucks on equipment, spend months or even years training, and still keep the ol' Visa card in their back pocket for an easy out when things get really ugly.

Not these girls. They had a collection of old step-through hybrid bikes running semi-knobby tires and had Walmart's finest in outdoor gear unceremoniously bungie corded to their bikes.  I think the only nod to actual cycling clothing any of the girls had was one with a "Livestrong" t-shirt. 

And you know what?  They were out doing it, and clearly having a great time.  Hell, I'd be surprised if they had a collective $250 in saved up babysitting money between the lot of them. And they were still looking forward to what the journey brought their way, despite the day's setbacks.

Turns out, they didn't even really need my help, or that of the two motorcyclists that also stopped. They had spare tubes and a pump and were having no problem getting themselves going again.   

It's too easy to put off a bicycle trip because you don't think you have the right equipment or enough money or whatever. These girls didn't. 25 years from now, they'll still be reflecting on what they learned on that trip.  If you can pedal across the UP with only what these girls had available to them, you can probably accomplish damn near anything in life. 

It's one of the few, truly inspiring things I've seen in the bicycle world. I hope the rest of their trip went well, but given their resourcefulness up to that point, I wouldn't be surprised at all if it went great.   

It really set the tone for my upcoming tour. I had a couple of down moments along the way, but man... I didn't want to be outdone by a bunch of teenage girls!  :)  

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