Friday, October 14, 2011

Our Cycling Honeymoon Adventure - Part 1

While we were way too busy experiencing our honeymoon for me to blog about it then, I wanted to post about our experience. As we had the time of our lives, we also learned a great deal, and we met incredible and inspirational people!

The idea of  having a honeymoon centered around our favorite activity of cycling came to us almost a year prior. But the reality of the whole trip came together just a few days before we left!

Dave & I are optimists and dreamers. We are on numerous mailing lists for bicycle adventure tours. We page through  pages of glossy images within the catalogs we receive in the mail. Those vacations offer structured days away in lovely and far-away places. They sometimes included meals, group tours, SAG support and lodging. They costs thousands -- per person.

We saw one such get-away to Napa Valley in California. It looked amazing and sounded wonderful. We were exited about the idea. But we knew we could not afford such a trip.

As we thought about our honeymoon options ~ even discussing whether we could afford to get away at all ~ I wondered, if we could physically get ourselves to a destination and ride our bicycle on our own, maybe we could do it without a Bicycle Tour Company, and save a lot of money.

I researched sites like Trip Advisor to find out what it would cost for lodging in the San Francisco area. And then, I recalled a website I learned about through other cyclists, Warm I joined and made contact with several host cyclists living near our destination. Some were not able to host within our time period or had work obligations, minimal accommodations, or cats (I'm allergic).... but many of those who responded were very helpful.

We learned that (Yes!) there was a way we could travel and actually find lodging for free! What's even better about that is that we would have an opportunity to get acquainted with locals -- locals who are into cycling (as we are)-- and with knowing locals there is a distinct advantage over traveling as a tourist. We learned how to best spend our time, the most suitable cycling routes, where the great little bicycle shops are located, and where the stars hang out! (Although we weren't on the lookout for sightings of the rich and famous, we actually spent our first two night in a home owned by George Lucas, and we chit-chatted with waitresses who had served him, Ron Howard, and Robin Williams!)

Once our lodging was set -- the first two nights in San Anselmo with a lovely retired couple who are living an active life of adventure together that most of us can only dream about -- and the remaining time with a couple around our age (mid 40's) living in Pinole, who had actually taken two years off from their careers for a cycling adventure of their own on a tandem from Alaska all the way down to Chile!! Absolutely amazing people!!

Our next hurdle was our tandem. After all, the whole purpose of this honeymoon adventure for us is to be able to experience our destination together on our tandem! We've heard horror stories of others who have traveled with their bikes. And ours, is a very long bicycle. A 10-year-old Burley Duet. Oversized. Heavier than most.

I researched the possibility of renting a tandem upon our arrival. I did find a touring company that was willing to accommodate our special request of simply renting us a bicycle for two. David Blue from GoTandems! was great to talk with us in depth and cater to our needs. However, when we added up the daily cost of renting ($89) with their delivery fee ($300 to drop the bike off to us and pick it up later), we seriously considered traveling with our own bike. We weren't sure if it would save us money, but at least that way, we knew we would be on a familiar and comfortable ride.

The Eastern Tandem Rally was held in August at UConn, and we took part. It was a blast for us to be involved and amazing to see over 100 tandems taking off for a mass start that weekend too! As part of the activities, the ETR held a swap meet. There we met a couple who was selling a large tandem case for travel. That was a wonderful thing for us, and at just the right time! For $20 the case was practically given to us. All we had to do was travel to New Hampshire to pick it up. Don and Carolyn from Salem, NH, were just two of the many generous people we have met along the way who have helped to make our dream vacation a reality!!

More to come...

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