Though fate has been such that I've spent most of my life in cities and suburbs, I have always been drawn to rural areas. When I first started working after grad school, I finally got my wish and lived in the rural North for two years - but for logistical reasons this could not last, and we subsequently moved to Boston. Still, I continue to dream of long country roads, of creaky farm houses surrounded by unruly gardens, of moody seascapes with not a housing development in sight, and of miles of dense forest stretching as far as the eye can see. This is probably what drives my interest in touring, and I use my bike to get out of the city every chance I get.
On Memorial Day we rode through the hilly country roads of Lexington, Lincoln and Concord. It is so nice there, that my rural fantasies flared up again big-time. Oh to wake up in my farmhouse (modestly sized, white clapboard, mansard roof), get the bike out of the barn, and cycle 20+ miles along a pastoral landscape to the nearest town on errands... I get overwhelmed just thinking about it!
But how realistic is cycling for transportation in a rural area? According to the Co-Habitant, my dreams will be crushed by harsh reality if I actually get what I want. He reminds me how far away everything is from everything else. He reminds me that in Northern New England winter can last from mid-November till April and in many areas it is impossible to get around without an all-wheel drive motor vehicle. He reminds me that cars do not uphold the speed limit on those picturesque winding rural roads, and points out that narrow road + blind turns + trucks speeding along at 60mph = bad news for cyclists. Plus, when it gets dark in the countryside, it gets really dark - pitch black! Will I be able to deal with that?
I agree with all of these points if I stop to think about it. Yet, I continue to depict myself as a rural cyclist in my mental picture of the "ideal future". Is it pure fantasy? Will I be longing for the bike lanes and the urban landscape of Boston when living in my farm house in the middle of nowhere? I do wish there were more websites out there that focused on rural cycling, so that I could form a better idea of its practical aspects. The cows refused to share their honest opinion.