Planning is an intricate process. Research is step one. Route maps are scrutinized. Topographic data is consulted. The two are meshed with each other in order to provide just the right length of ride per day. Not so long as to be over tiring, which beats you down and makes you want to quit. Not too short, leaving too much time off the bike. Weather history is looked at. Where is the inevitable rain storm likely to hit?
A thousand questions are involved. How far between water stops? Are there stop and rob stores along the route where provisions can be supplemented with sugary, delicious empty calories? Bike stores en route and open? Flats are like the rain- inevitable. Where are we going to sleep at night? Windbreak to camp behind, or resort to the ultimate windbreak- a bed and breakfast?
Flickr is consulted next. Yes, Flickr. There has to be something interesting to see along the route if it is worth taking. What can we look forward to as we roll along?
All of these get scribbled in Moleskines. Bookmarked haphazardly on internet browsers. Clicking of keys and scratching of pens.
It’s not always easy. There is always a gap where towns are too far apart, or water isn’t dependable, or facilities are not available. It’s like rain. And flats. So there’s always a long day where you hit the road early and stay on late. And a day with extra water bottles. It’s part of the ride, and even though you spend time frowning at the mileage and wishing the numbers were different, in the end, you just go with it.
I spend time walking the city, camera in hand. Some new idea for how to capture things, new way to look at things. And it gives me time to think about the other things. The shutter’s click and the gears meshing as the film is wound echo the gears in my head. turning things over and over as I walk and shoot and think. And in the end, it always works out. Every time.
Note I didn’t say it follows the plan every time, because it doesn’t. Improvisation is a handy thing to get the hang of. Very handy.
So why plan, then? Why work things out and turn them over and study and reconsider?
Because I know why planning is such a big part of the fun. Planning embodies the best of the human spirit. Planning is hope, and hope is what makes life livable.