It’s nearing the end of February. I’ve already done one bike camping trip, and am itching to do something soon. And like the last few years, my “work life” will be mixed between part-time stuff with Emee and working for myself.
So could this year be a good one for bike touring? And could it measure up to my 2012, at least in spirit?
2012 wasn’t my most “bike-toured” year, that would be 2011, when I spent over four months on the road as part of my Cross-Continent Trip. But 2012 was definitely my second-best year: a number of bike overnights, three-day long weekends, and three tours in the about a week range. At years end, I tallied up 49 nights away on the bike, close to two months.
And how could I do so much bike touring? Well, for most of the year I was “working for myself”, hustling for illustration jobs and zine sales. I had a lot of time. And after the touring of 2011, my body was conditioned for riding. All this biking served as therapy: getting away from the heaviness of stressing out about work while living in a place that wasn’t mine with a partner who was drifting away. Bike touring was easy, and it was cheap.
Because of the hang-ups, I didn’t realize how good my 2012 was until much later. (Hindsight is always 20-20).1 Besides all the biking, not having a real boss was nice, and being able to work on my own creative things was better than punching a clock.
When I finally quit the hostel at the end of 2018, I hoped that 2019 could be a repeat of 2012. I had the luxury of more time and working for myself (and with Emee), plus I would be living in a place that I wanted to, with a partner who was growing closer. It seemed like a no-brainer, right? Of course, reality has a way of thwarting expectations. 2019 was a pretty low year for my bike touring, pretty much the lowest since I started touring in 2005. How could that be?
Well, I was still stressing out about work. I knew that I wanted to work for myself, I didn’t really know what that looked like yet. I wanted to do something with bike touring, perhaps do more workshops and tour consultation. I did a few workshops, yes, but the “consultation” thing didn’t take off. I wasn’t in the mood for enjoying the bike when the whole work-life balance was off. Plus, my “well-conditioned body” for touring was in the past.
Then came 2020 and pandemic. It was lucky that I got in any bike camping, so having two bike overnights was a big deal. Things got better in 2021, so I got in two overnights plus two tours.
Now it’s 2022. Pandemic is by no means over, but it looks like things are getting better. And now I’m more sure of myself when it comes to what I want to do for work. My online store has been going pretty strong, all my challenges and other things I do have struck a chord with folks. I’ve got plans for zines, comics, and books. There’s a lot of work ahead of me, but I still have lots of time for fun.
So can 2022 be my new 2012? Perhaps. I don’t think it’ll exactly pan out the same way. 49 days of bike overnights is a lot, especially when I’ll be having plenty of other, non-touring travels this year. But maybe I can get about a month’s worth in? I have ideas for a few tours this summer, and I want to do as many bike overnights as I can. That’ll all depend on weather, availability, and motivation. But I definitely want to do something again, hopefully in March. And even if I don’t, there’s still the rest of spring, all of summer, and a bit of fall. Heck, besides cabin camping at the New Year, my first camping trip in 2012 wasn’t until April! 2
Even if I don’t reach the same lofty numbers as I did in 2012, I want to get back to that spirit, the enjoyment, the feeling of adventure on the bicycle. It will be work, as I no longer bike as much as I used to. But it’s worth a shot.
1 I say “2012”, but in reality, it was more like from October 2011, when I returned from the Big Tour, until September, when I started working “fullish time” at the hostel again.
2 Mind you, I did three separate weekend trips that month, which is a lot.