Sustainability Bike Tour

Okay, I can actually say it: by popular demand, the “How-I-Spent-My-Summer-Vacation” thread must go on! A lovely woman named Lisa sent me an email asking about the Oregon bike trip I went on in August, referenced in an earlier post. Thus, I will attempt to describe that experience, from the perspectives of sustainability, bicycling, and travel, in somewhat haphazard order.

I had seen ads for a sustainability-themed bike tour last year, but was unable to go at the time. The idea of travelling by bicycle was intriguing to me in and of itself, and the trip seemed pretty affordable by comparison with other supported bike tours (meaning, you camp but your luggage is transported in a van). The itinerary — visits to organic farms, green buildings and permaculture sites — was very attractive. To top it off, the support vehicle runs on biodiesel! What’s not to like? The tour company promotes their trips as

“Holistic – Vegan – Alcohol-free – Intrinsically Political – Community-Building Experience(s)”

… Um, okay… but I must confess I had a few fears about what I was getting into. Prominent among them was that I would be not only the oldest person there, but also the only person who was (a) not a vegan in “real” life, (b) not super-buff in that quasi-anorexic hipster way, (c) not covered with tattoos and/or piercings, (d) politically slightly to the right of anarchist, (e) blessed/cursed with the sarcastic sense of humor that can be a rarity on the West Coast. It’s not that I feel incapable of hanging with a crowd that fits this description (though perhaps not for an entire week), it’s just that growing up in Berkeley has made me somewhat weary of uber-political-correctness. Ironically, this breeding has also made me completely unfit for any other environment. I took a deep breath and sent in my deposit.

Fortunately all of the fears cited above were unfounded. The age range of our tour group was 12 years old to 70! In fact the folks older than me were among the strongest cyclists, usually found sipping cappuccinos at the 30-mile rest stop by the time I straggled in (great role models!). All the participants were really friendly and nice, with interesting lives and stories, some hailing from as far away as Canada and New Zealand. There were even a few fellow New Yorkers, one of whom provided a daily opportunity to make fun of the vegan fare by referring fondly to pastrami sandwiches at Katz’s Deli.


Lunch stop (biodiesel support van in the background)

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