While I was on my tours I would often think of this:
To an everyday citizen who happens to see me – I probably look as if I just crawled out from underneath a bridge. The smell of sweat, musky clothing, and wilderness matter follows me where ever I roam. I wear clothing which was likely picked up at a local secondhand store during the dollar days sale. In fact, I probably look as if I’m living on 5$ per day or less…
…Wait a minute, I do when I’m on tour.
Now my view of what other people thought of me was often backed by some common occurrences, such as, people telling me where the nearest homeless shelters were, inviting me in to the soup kitchen, asking if I was alright when I was sitting along the side of the road eating lunch, and inviting me to have a properly made dinner in their homes… this, however, just may be the kindness of the people in the world!
But then… there were other occurrences… and these ones made me feel like I was hot stuff on the bike. They even overrode my thought of people thinking I was homeless. This is a confidence boost every tour.
The first occurrence:
This was on my 2 day tour to Denali National Park. I was on my way to Denali when a car beeped its horn a couple of times and slowed down to my pace and a bunch of girls were cheering out their windows.
The second occurrence:
This was on the same 2 day tour to Denali National Park, but was when I was on my way back home. I stopped in Nenana for a hot dog when a local girl came up to me to talk, and ended up asking me out. If I was smarter maybe I would’ve stayed for the date, but I declined.
The third occurrence:
On my cross-country journey I stopped in a campground and when to fill up my water bottles when I ran into a group of older women near the water pump. They were traveling in a caravan of campers and were (uncomfortably interested in what I had to say) wooing at everything I said…. This was my only encounter with woo-grandmas in my life. It was interesting.
The fourth occurrence:
I was locking up my bike while I was on my cross-country journey and someone soon pulled their car to the side of the road and was staring at me. When I noticed she zoomed off to her parking spot, and got out of her car. When she walked past me she said “Sorry about that. It’s not everyday there is a hot man around here.” I laughed and thanked her.
The fifth occurrence:
This was right after I was hit by a car in Stillwater, Minnesota. I was gathering up my gear that was scattered around the road and people were coming up to me to see if I was okay. Then a girl about my age came out of the shop she was working in and said I could wait in there. She ended up asking if I wanted to go out that night before I had to leave.
After coming home from these tours where I’m asked out I always wonder why I was, because my clothes reek of homelessness or what some girls would consider the manliness of cycling.
So what is a touring cyclist? Homeless? Hot? Both? Neither? I don’t know. I suppose it can go both ways.
*A quick note about the pictures: I did not ever sleep under a bridge, ask for money, take soup, eat a hamburger, eat someone’s wife’s famous spaghetti, have something dripping from my hot dog in Nenana (that I was aware of), flexed for a wooing group of grandmas, or bent my bike as badly as it is shown in the picture. These pictures were for entertainment only.