Why I Tour from Door to Door
Combining all the definitions of touring, I do more touring than any other kind of riding.
The most extreme form of touring is self-sufficient
travel over long distances, carrying all necessary
nightly supplies for cooking and camping. Nearly
one-third of my total bike miles has been that kind
of touring, usually alone. I have also made many
shorter bicycle camping trips, down to just 80 miles.
A second kind of touring involves carrying less gear
and spending the night in a motel, hostel, or home,
sometimes called credit card touring, although most
of these cyclists carry a lot more than a credit
card. I have made over a dozen overnight trips of
this nature myself, but no long trips, due to the
A third type of touring is a casual ride
in the country for recreation and exercise, and I
have made these trips much too frequently to count.
On many occasions, I was not even really thinking
about riding the bike; instead I was thinking about
visiting a cave, looking at birds, going fishing,
going for a hike, visiting some friends, exploring
my surroundings, or visiting a nearby town.
Finally, I have made quite a few touring rides with
friends or with clubs with the goal of enjoying the
countryside and cycling at the same time.
the vast majority of my trips of all kinds,
I have made it a point to start at my doorstep and
finish at my doorstep whenever possible, rather than
carry my bike in a car part of the way. To many
cyclists, my desire to start and end at home seems a
little strange. Why have I persisted?
(beginning with the least important reason),
I wanted to avoid the risk and expense of using a
motor vehicle. One
problem with using a car or van for part of the trip
is that the motor vehicle ends up being parked in
some remote stop where it could come to harm. One
time, when fishing rather than cycling, I left the
vehicle by the side of the road and returned to find
the gas cap on the ground and the rear window broken.
If I had used the bike to go fishing, as was my
normal custom, I would have carried it back to the
stream with me. There's also the cost of driving
as well. Ten miles of driving is equal to the cost
of my dinner. A thousand miles of driving is equal
to the cost of a new bike. So, I have more money to
spend on bicycles if I spend less on the car.
I have left the car at home because I did
not want to spoil the mood of the day. To me cycling
is a pleasurable activity that I do of my own free
will, while driving a car is an uncomfortable activity
I have to do in order to meet other people's
requirements. My behavior while driving is different
from my behavior while cycling. When I was younger,
I used to curse and fume at other people's slowness
and stupidity while I was driving. Now that I am
"over the hill" or "mature" (take your choice), I
feel threatened by other people's kamikaze driving.
Five hours of driving makes me lethargic and dreamy,
gives me aching legs, and leaves me out of the
mood for doing anything active. Five hours of cycling
passes pleasantly and safely. I feel less at risk, my
mood remains cheerful, I remain alert, my legs arrive
full of energy, and I arrive happy.
I really don't believe that the grass is
greener on the other side of the fence. It's quite
common to encounter messages saying, "Where can I find
a pretty place to ride?" Certainly, there are some
parts of the country that are superior to others, but
within any region, the roads are basically similar in
quality, with an occasional exception. Within a few
miles of almost anywhere, there are some beautiful
places to ride. Therefore, it makes no real sense to
get in a car and drive 50 miles to another road when
there are roads beginning at my door that are
excellent for riding. Rather than driving long
distances to travel the same "most beautiful" road
over and over, I use my bike to explore all the local
roads. This gives me a greater variety and better
options than if I kept going back to the "best" rides.
Over the years, I have lived in Alabama, North
Carolina, Kentucky, Georgia, and Pennsylvania, and in
each state I was always able to find plenty of scenic
roads by starting at my doorstep. As a reward, I was
able to devote more of my day to cycling.
it gives me great pleasure to be
self-sufficient. I have done lots of things for myself
that other people normally pay for, including designing
and building my own bee hives and my own cabin in the
woods, making my own pannier bags for my bikes,
building my own bike wheels, designing my own web site,
and creating my own graphics. I certainly have no
intention of being dependent on others when I begin a
bicycle trip, especially a long one. For that reason,
I start from home on my own, and I return to my home
on my own, and I don't depend on anyone rescuing me
along the way, even when the going gets tough. As
Henly over-dramatized in "Invictus," "In the fell
clutch of circumstance I have not winced nor cried
aloud." Or at least, I dried my own tears and
continued on. This ability to cope and carry on and
get there on my own two legs is one that I highly
I am environmentally conscious. I see Mother
Nature being destroyed so people can live in lazy and
unhealthy luxury. I don't want my pursuit of Nature to
create a need for wider highways through the forests (as
they are building in North Carolina), to create more
ozone and oxides of nitrogen to kill forest ecosystems,
or to add more carbon dioxide to our global warming
weather disaster. Instead, I want to engage in a
guilt-free communion with Nature and the God that made
decision of mine to begin and end my rides at
my doorstep whenever possible has cost me little and
enriched me much. It has been a good decision for me.
NOTE: Between 1985 and 1998, I operated my motor vehicle seldom, sometimes
going three or more months between cranking the engine. The vehicle has now sat since May 1998 without being cranked; I doubt I will ever use it again.