I don’t even remember how I got the idea in my head that one could go bike touring. I must have heard of other people doing it, but growing up in Sanger, California I certainly didn’t know any of them. By the time I left home for college, I’d decided I wanted to go on a bike tour the following summer. I saved money I earned by working as an usher during my freshman year. I hadn’t been prepared academically for Caltech by my rural high school. I’d never had to study before. By the spring I was frazzled and depressed. I’d had mononucleosis, and had almost failed out entirely. But I had a bike.
At the time I was afraid of riding alone in the US and ended up buying a cheap ticket to the UK at the last minute, intending to spend the summer riding around the British Isles. I ended up meeting other bicycle tourists, and riding all the way to Turkey, via a newly open eastern Europe. I didn’t make it home until December, after five months of riding gravel roads through the Champagne vineyards of France, drinking cheap wine and eating baguettes and cheese before napping in the shade in the mid-afternoon.