Erika DeLeo is a 20-year-old scholar and half time employee at Dutchess Group School in Poughkeepsie, New York. At the moment slated to obtain her Liberal Arts A.A. diploma in December of 2009, Erika already has one quick bike tour underneath her belt and has plans for no less than two extra within the years to return.
Erika, to begin with, how did you discover out about bicycle touring?
I used to be uncovered to bicycle touring for the primary time a couple of 12 months in the past after I heard a couple of man who cycled the perimeter of Australia (an approximate 13,000-mile journey). It gave the impression of a loopy thought, however the seemingly unimaginable nature of it sparked my curiosity. I’m a aggressive, can-do kind of particular person. I believed, if I he can do it, so can I! I had not too long ago purchased a reasonable bicycle to experience forwards and backwards to work and college. Earlier than that, I hadn’t been on a bicycle in years, so this discovery of touring got here at exactly the fitting time.
That day I started researching Australia’s local weather, geography, historical past, and tradition. The issues I learn deepened my curiosity in Australia as a nation in addition to a biking problem. I knew I would wish some severe bicycle touring expertise to have the very best likelihood of success in Australia, so I’m constructing as much as that tour by taking a pair shorter excursions beforehand. This journey round Australia stays my highest bicycle touring purpose, and all previous journeys are geared towards constructing as much as it.
Are you able to briefly describe your bicycle touring expertise up to now? After which inform me slightly bit extra about your plans for the long run?
My first tour (Summer time ’08) was meant as a take a look at. I had photographs in thoughts of how it will be to go on a tour on my own. I wanted to know if I really had what it takes to enterprise out and never freak out from getting drained, lonely, or misplaced.
On the primary day, I had some doubts about my skill to finish the 200-mile route from my dwelling to Allentown, PA, through New York Metropolis and New Jersey. I knew for certain that I might strive my hardest, not stopping except it was completely crucial. I realized that believing in your self is half the battle.
Along with that first journey, this summer season I’m planning an approximate 1,000-mile loop of New York State, starting and ending in Poughkeepsie. The northernmost level is Cape Vincent (within the Thousand Island area), and the westernmost level is Niagara Falls. This could take about one month.
What kind of motorbike and equipment are you utilizing and why did you choose these specific objects? And do you intend to make any modifications in your gear choice on your upcoming tour?
On my first tour, I used a handlebar bag, two rear panniers, and a hydration backpack that carries two liters of water. I even have a small saddlebag with instruments, tube, and so on. in it. I selected panniers as a result of they’re the better to deal with than a trailer if I would like to go away my bike someplace. I want the hydration pack to water bottles as a result of I can simply drink by means of the tube whereas using (so cool!). I discover the handlebar bag to be probably the most inconvenient due to its cumbersome, non-collapsible construction, however it’s helpful as an accessible place to retailer my digicam, GPS, cellular phone, maps, and meals. This time round, I’ll use a fanny pack or one thing related instead of it.
As well as, I experience a Fuji Touring, which I purchased new a couple of months earlier than my first tour. This bike has handled me properly and I plan to maintain it for a lifetime.
What do your family and friends take into consideration you going out by yourself and doing these journeys? Do they encourage you? Are they nervous? Excited for you? Scared that one thing may occur? What…?
Earlier than the primary tour, everybody thought I used to be nuts and most of the people didn’t consider it may do it. This time round, it’s a special story. Since my household and mates have seen what I’ve carried out up to now, they’ve extra confidence in me. My dad and mom shall be apprehensive for certain, but when I’ve companions, they are going to be much less so. I believe there is part of them that lives vicariously by means of these adventures.
Do you assume being a feminine and touring alone is any completely different than being a male and touring alone?
I might agree that it’s completely different to be a lone feminine slightly than a male on a bicycle tour. The draw back is that folks might assume you might be susceptible (which you might be – extra so as a result of they assume you might be). I’ve my very own techniques for minimizing this danger. The upside is (judging from studies from fellow male cyclists) most individuals are extra forgiving and beneficiant to feminine cyclists. It’s a actuality that you need to work with.
Why do you assume it’s that so few females select to take part in bike excursions?
Maybe a significant component is self-importance. Reality be instructed, bicycle touring is sweet and enjoyable, however not clear. On the primary night time of my first tour I keep in mind trying right into a mirror for the primary time that day, barely recognizing myself from all of the mud and dirt blended with sweat that had collected on my pores and skin. For a feminine who can’t stand being soiled, bicycle touring is probably not for them. For me, it’s not a difficulty. I do know I’m the identical particular person it doesn’t matter what I appear to be.
What has been the largest shock out of your bicycle touring experiences up to now?
The resiliency of the human physique coupled with the ability of optimistic considering has amazed me greater than something. I believe that folks usually put up boundaries for themselves to find out what they’ll and can’t do. Somebody may take a look at plenty of miles to journey on a bicycle and assume it’s unimaginable. I’ve realized that these limits are sometimes imagined. However for those who take the step ahead and say, “By no means thoughts what others say. I’m going to present it my all,” chances are you’ll discover that the barrier you thought was there’s really non-existent. It makes you take a look at life otherwise.
With reference to your first 200-mile tour, precisely how a lot did that journey value you? And the way a lot do you assume your 1,000-mile experience will value?
My first tour spanned 4 days and price me about $200. The vast majority of the associated fee was from staying in lodging as an alternative of tenting. For the upcoming tour, I plan to do principally tenting and cooking, and the projected value will doubtless be between $900 for one particular person (me) and $700/particular person (if I can get somebody to affix me for a portion of the time I’m on the highway).
Primarily based in your experiences up to now, for those who had only one piece of recommendation for somebody who was new to bicycle touring, what would you inform them?
Drink sufficient water! Meals is vital too as a result of consuming an excessive amount of water with out consuming will result in water intoxication, which sounds enjoyable however isn’t. However nothing will put a damper in your journey sooner than dehydration.
As well as, I’ve discovered that many individuals surprise why anybody would voluntarily topic themselves to the immense risks and challenges concerned in bicycle touring. These “adverse” components are literally a part of the explanation why cyclists do what they do. It’s a problem for it’s personal sake, however it additionally has intangible advantages similar to reaching a higher consciousness of your self and completely different communities, and the increase of confidence that comes from understanding you’ve completed an awesome feat. I’m assured that anybody who has accomplished a bicycle tour will testify to this.
And now that you’ve one journey underneath your belt and one other one within the works, what components of your upcoming tour are you most trying ahead to?
I’m trying ahead to every thing! From the improbable surroundings to assembly new folks, to seeing new locations, and getting that feeling of accomplishment that comes from reaching a purpose.
Lastly, what do you intend on doing as soon as your 1,000 mile tour involves an finish?
I’ll begin planning one other in fact! Every tour has many functions, which develop with every successive tour. As I’ve stated, the primary tour was to show to myself that I’ve what it takes, bodily and mentally. The upcoming tour is to realize extra expertise with the added duties of tenting and cooking. Over the summers of 2010 and 2011 I’ve basic blueprints in my thoughts of excursions I want to take by means of different areas of the US, however we’ll see what occurs. I foresee Australia taking place inside three years.
To study extra about Erika and her future bicycle touring adventures, you’ll be able to go to her web site at: www.bicyclenewyork.blogspot.com. And in case you have a query, remark, or phrase of encouragement for Erika, make sure to go away your comment within the feedback part beneath!