Free Wheelin’?

Free Wheelin'?

Inspired during a recent power walk, my friend Mary and I hatched the idea of going on an overnight bike trip to nearby Cortes Island.

Mary’s about my age–early 50s. We’re not serious cyclists, but we have decent bikes and we had often talked about going on a free wheelin’ adventure.

First Gear: Biking Basics

The following day I wheeled my trusty bicycle out of the shed, found my well-used panniers, and took my helmet from the hook next to the garden tools. My bike obviously needed a tune-up; but the panniers (saddle bags that fit over the back fender) and my safety-approved helmet only needed a good dusting and a few minor strap adjustments.

Inside the house, I located my water bottle, biking clothes, gloves, and shoes. After hauling my sleeping bag, pup tent, and campfire cook set out of a storage closet, I gathered together other essentials. My bike repair kit, citronella oil-based insect repellent, unbleached toilet paper, all-purpose, biodegradable liquid soap, flashlight, matches, and garbage bag all fit snugly into the panniers, leaving just enough room for food.

After the bike tune-up, I started a daily training routine. By the time Mary and I rolled down my driveway onto the long, dusty road to the little ferry to Cortes Island, I was feeling coordinated, confident, and strong.

Second Gear: Pedal-Power Foods

Since we started with a hearty breakfast of fruit, juice, poached eggs, toast, and tea, all we packed for the trip was water and a big bag of energy-boosting trail mix (dried fruits and nuts). Knowing that we would be wheeling past the Cortes Natural Foods co-op on our way to the Smelt Bay campground, we planned to buy all our food enroute and avoid the extra weight; more importantly, we wanted to enjoy the local fruits, vegetables, and seafood that Cortes is known for.

Gearing Down

At the end of a long, eventful day, we wheeled into the seaside campground, set up camp, and lit the fire to prepare our dinner. As we settled down for a locally derived dinner of smoked seafood rotini, arugula greens, juicy yellow plums, and freshly picked wild blackberries, the sun sank behind the mountains, painting the horizon vibrant shades of red.

After a breakfast of granola topped with big juicy blackberries, we packed up our campsite, taking care to leave our borrowed environment tidy. As we mounted up and hit the road, we groaned a bit and laughed at our soreness. We really did it–two middle-aged women on a bike adventure. We feel grateful. We feel ageless.

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