After a weekend spent riding in rural areas, I am reminded of a number of rural riding ‘coping techniques.’ I use the term coping loosely, as rural riding offers the bucolic pleasures of cows, pastures, and miles without traffic controls. However, for those used to distance riding in more urban areas, some things are quite different.
- Water is always available. Cheap yellow beer is always available. Don’t count on anything more. I’ve found that carrying a ziploc with enough Gatorade powder or even those ‘single serve’ TANG packets designed for use with bottled water is really helpful. (Note to the unfamiliar: I love TANG. If it’s nutritious enough for astronauts, it’s good enough for me!)
- Know that a bar may be your best stop opportunity. In the country, everything is a bar, often with off/on-sale, and propane exchange. If you get water and use a restroom, try to buy a Snickers or something. Be nice to the nice proprietors, who think your nice little spandex pants are a little bit fruity.
- Watch out for cow turds in the road. This is self-explanatory.
- Railroad crossings are often pretty old-school in a lot of rural areas, meaning they eat tires. Watch for the signs and be prepared to slow, stop, and even carry that bike across.
- Carry a bit more than a tube and a patch kit. I recommend electrical tape. There are only about 5 things that can’t be fixed with electrical tape (exaggeration).
None of this should suggest opposition to the country. Some of my best riding experiences have been deeply rural. I’ve had Mennonite families refill my water bottle and give me apples. You don’t get that in Minneapolis. But you need to be more prepared, or be with some prepared people, in the country. There are fewer rescue points, and if you get stranded or bonk… hoo.