One Road Ends, Another Begins, Virtually
Fit To Ride
Awareness of the outside world. World Bicycle Relief. I’m hesitant to mention specific charities because I never know who is doing good and who is buying ski condos in Switzerland. The Fat Cyclist appears to approve of this one, Just Look at What You’ve Done, 2012.
Team Peachtree is nearing the end of Virtual Route 66. As of Wednesday, we were at 95%, with 107 miles to go, out of 2,280 total. Therefore, I am scouting around for my next virtual bike ride. [Biking Virtually, Route 66]
Option 1: Ride My Bike – Go Nowhere
No cost, no entertainment.
Get on bikes. Ride. Be done. There is an attraction to not fussing with logging miles, taking screenshots, or updating posts. OTOH, no pretty images to take screenshots of, no armchair traveler tie-in, no blog fodder.
This is what I did for years. As we all know, this is not a normal year. Cabin fever and stress levels are off the charts. Amusement is hard to come by. Which leads to …
Option 2: DIY Virtual – Silk Road
No cost, more entertainment, more work.
One of best parts of virtually walking along the Mississippi river is the amount of reading available: travel narratives, bridge history, river management. When railroads wanted to build bridges across the river, they had to fight the water commerce folks. Car bridges were a later add-on to railroad bridges. [Walking Virtually, Mississippi River, Table of Contents & General Info]
My “route” is the Great River Road. Right now, I am estimating mileage with Create My Route. I have not been looking at streetviews, but I haven’t really investigated how to generate them on my own without a specific address. Between satellite views, books, and media available online, I’m getting enough vicarious viewing.
Ultimately, I hope to follow the mileage in Bicycling Guide To The Mississippi River Trail: A Complete Route Guide Along The Mississippi River by Bob Robinson. Bought a copy. Went walkabout. Can find all my other Mississippi books. Not that one.
Given the success of this method, I looked for other famous roadways to virtually bike.
The Silk Road fits the bill for reading material. It’s an area with millennia of history about which I know little. I don’t think I’d run out of reading even if it took me 10 years to virtually bike the route. I started poking around on websites and in books. Yay research! For your amusement, The Atlantic:A Photo Trip Along the Ancient Silk Road, by Alan Taylor November 27, 2017.
What I’ve learned so far. The Silk Road is not the name of a specific path. Rather, it covers a network of trade across central Asia. Everyone agrees that it starts in Xi’an, China. The end is variable depending on who’s talking.
Trade was regional. You didn’t load your camel in China and walk to Turkey, or Damascus, or wherever. You sold your goods to this dude (and it was probably a dude), who sold it to that dude, who sold it to the next dude, and so on down the line.
The label is a retronym. “The German geographer Ferdinand von Richthofen coined the term ‘Silk Road’ with the publication of this map in 1877. Before this date, people referred to the route as the road to Samarkand (or whatever the next major city was).” Valerie Hansen: The Silk Road, Gallery
Since there is no one road, I would be on my own for wayfinding. Not a problem. Pick two cities. Figure out the best route from one to the other, which is pretty much what the dudes with camels were doing.
The project would take a couple of years, at least. Encyclopaedia Britannica cites the figure of 4,000 miles. At height of summer with maximum light, we were biking 10 miles daily. As the light and weather ebb, that rate will go down. An optimistic rate would be 2,000 miles a year. If I started horse showing, that number could drop off dramatically.
A long-term project is not necessarily a downside. I’m going to be virtual alongside the Mississippi for ages. Walking 3,000 miles will take far longer than biking 4,000.
The more I read about the route, the more I thought that, while the cities are interesting, that’s a lot of time in the virtual desert. I’ll most likely go back to my original plan …
Option 3: Paid Virtual – Great Ocean Road
Trading money for ease and virtual postcards.
Stay with the Virtual Challenge folks and head to The Great Ocean Road in Australia. This is the company through which I did the Inca, New Zealand, and Route 66 virtual rides. I give them coin. They track my progress on a map, provide streetviews, and send digital postcards. [Will Bike For Bling].
At 149 miles, this should take from two weeks to two months, depending health, weather, and/or other diversions. At which point, I’ll will return to armchair travel planning.
“So the next day we were on the Great Ocean Road, which should be called Good Ocean Road. It was nice, but not overwhelming.” The Big Trip: Melbourne to Adelaide
Stay safe. Stay sane.