When I was a kid, we lived in this town that was at the crossroads of two major train lines in Michigan, one going north-south and the other east-west. My brother and I spent a lot of time on those tracks, despite all my parents’ ominous warnings. We were kids. Kids are stupid. We had more squashed pennies and nickels than you’d care to imagine. I practiced my balance walking on those rails. We’d walk them for miles (well, at least two) before coming home. We both said that one day we were going to follow them the whole way, see where they went.
Of course, when you’re a kid, you make these crazy plans. But then you get older, and you start to realize that they aren’t practical, aren’t safe. You don’t have the time, or the money, or the commitment. There are a million reasons, not even excuses. Kids’ brains are huge and fearless. As adults, we get more cautious.
I’ve been feeling a hint of that old fantasy, though, as I’ve started cycling. I find myself wanting a set of panniers prepacked with a backpacking tent and stove and whatever other supplies I’d need to decide on a Wednesday, “I think I’m going to take a bike trip this weekend” and just GO. No planning beyond what I could do in 36 hours, no destination, just a long ride out and back or around. There’s an old abandoned road bed from the original Pennsylvania turnpike, complete with tunnels, out in central PA, but we’d have to drive to get there. (We may do it, though.) French Creek State Park is 36 miles away. That’s a day trip one way, if I could haul my camping gear or get someone to pick me up. Green Lane is 15. Could I actually get out there and back? Probably not. Yet.
(I actually stopped writing this to map out a couple of routes for that. I could do it, with reasonable breaks. Once I get at least a rear trunk rack and bag, I’m going to do it!)
And see, there it is. When did we stop just GOING? Okay, yes, I probably need a little more gear (like a water bottle cage) and some maintenance (my gears need to shift properly), but honestly, what’s the point of just looping? I want to go someplace. So I bloody well will! And the kids can come if they want, but they don’t have to, I’m not going to make them. I’ll pack me a nice lunch, ride out early, have a picnic and a nap, then ride back. I can ride 10 miles in under an hour now. Fifteen is nothing! And getting back is about the same!
And now the adult in my brain is panicking…
Shut up, brain. I’m going to go add micro-camping gear to my Amazon wishlists.