When we hit the road this season, whether it’s for a quick day ride or a multi-day, timezone-traversing tour, we all know the basic items we should bring with us: rain gear, a cell phone, a toolkit, etc. But there are also five things that take up no luggage space and cost nothing, yet they can make any trip more enjoyable. Here’s what to take on your next trip:

A Sense of Humor. Construction delays…uncooperative weather…breakdowns–either yours or the bike’s…these things happen. By dealing with these unexpected annoyances with a light spirit, rather than letting them get us down and ruin our day, we are not only taking ownership of what we can control (namely, ourselves and our reactions), we are giving ourselves a chance to learn and make new discoveries.

A Sense of Adventure. (Goes along with #1.) As the saying goes, a trip with no problems is just a trip, but a trip where you overcome whatever comes your way is an adventure. I have them all the time because I do things like miss my turn, drop the bike in the parking lot, or see a squiggly line on the map that seems to go in the direction I want to go. But the side benefits are the stories I’m now able to tell and a new crop of friends.

Bring your sense of adventure, but pack a sense of humor as well! This "shortcut" through the Arizona desert turned out to be a sandy, washed-out ranch road. But the story of this "shortcut" still elicits chuckles from fellow riders.
Bring your sense of adventure, but pack a sense of humor as well! This “shortcut” through the Arizona desert turned out to be a sandy, washed-out ranch road. But the story of this “shortcut” still elicits chuckles from fellow riders, and despite being hot and exhausting, it was still fun!

Regular Breaks. They will refresh you and help you stay alert. A tired rider doesn’t think as clearly and her reflexes aren’t as quick. When you stop, get off the bike for a few minutes. Drink some water, apply sunscreen, stretch, take a short walk or eat a healthy snack. Taking regular breaks can also help you travel farther if you need to put in long days on the road.

An Interesting Route. Finding the scenic route is the reason we ride. Seek out the less traveled roads: the “blue” highways, scenic byways, historic highways or dusty back ways. Some modern GPS units have an “avoid major highways” setting, or even a setting that seeks out curvy roads.

Detours. See a sign that might take you somewhere you hadn’t planned to go? Follow the arrow. You just might find a place that fills you with wonder or takes you on an adventure (see #2), or both. The last detour I took found me walking up a steep path to a cliff dwelling and photographing desert wildflowers along the way.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Excellent tips. The last one led to my favorite surprise during decades of riding. I was on a long cross-country ride and returning home. Instead of highways I took smaller roads without much planning (and this was in the days before GPS). Without realizing it, I stumbled into Punxsutawney which I recognized only after seeing multiple groundhog statues and references. What a delightful surprise!

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