Where Do You Want to Go, Really?
In fact my choice of route is deliberate and I know exactly what that area is like. Still, I am taking the warning seriously. Often we imagine what we think is a dream destination, only to learn that it's not that great to actually cycle there. It can be a matter of traffic, of overly challenging terrain, of insufficient amenities, or even of scenery that, while beautiful, becomes unexpectedly monotonous at bicycling speed. Or maybe our memory of a place focuses on one specific spot that is stunning to visit, but glosses over the fact that the route to it is in itself unremarkable. I have had these experiences on local rides, so I can certainly imagine the disappointment on a long tour. After all, a tour is something we need to to plan for, take time off work - we want it to be special and worth it.
So how can we tell where we want to go, really? Reading others' ride reports of the route we are considering might be helpful. It's also worth paying attention to what we personally enjoy and don't enjoy about the cycling experience. I know that I prefer rough scenery to the more manicured postcard-pretty stuff. I like sparsely populated areas. I love to see bogs overgrown with green algae, dilapidated barns, ghostly forests. I don't mind badly maintained roads. I prefer as little car traffic as possible and am willing to pay for the backroads experience by climbing extra hills. I do not grow bored of looking at the ocean. But I also cannot ride for long in direct sunlight, and I know that coastal routes tend to have much less shade than inland routes. It's hard to say whether my hypothetical dream ride along the Maine coast will be enjoyable in practice. But it's nice to dream for now.
How have your dream bicycling destinations measured up against reality?