Interview with Alana - Part 2
I've known Alana for 9 years, and she never ceases to amaze me. As she divulged in Part 1 of this interview, Alana embarked on her first-ever bicycle tour with her boyfriend this past August, after a season of working in Alaska's salmon fishery. They pedaled together from Anchorage, Alaska to Whitefish, Montana. In Part 2, Alana and I continue discussing the challenges of her epic journey.
Note: this interview is honest, uncensored, and rated "R" for language and partial nudity.
You mentioned many challenges, one of which was cycling with your boyfriend. Tell us about that.
Alex and I started arguing the week before the bike tour. There were countless reasons to be tired and/or upset, from prep-week to the day we returned to Portland. Getting through these disagreements took a lot of admitting we were wrong, or at least understanding why the other person felt and reacted they way they did when “X” happened.
We learned a lot about each other’s quirks, priorities, peeves, and desires, and we learned a lot about how to handle them and each other when shit really hit the fan. There was no argument that went unresolved - which is not to say that the same ones may not happen in the future! We are hardwired humans, after all.
You mentioned that riding in the rain was another difficult challenge.
There were a few reasons why the end-of-tour rain was much harder to deal with than the beginning-of-tour rain. Less excitement, less tolerance for discomfort, etc. etc.
However, we also had just bought a return train ticket, so we were racing the clock. I felt trapped all of a sudden, having to bike when I didn't want to in weather that was positively miserable, whereas earlier in the trip when we didn't have a schedule we could ride whenever the fuck we wanted.
I began to look around at people shopping, wearing normal clothing, filling up their gas tanks, and I began to resent them. I had a legitimate breakdown one day at a pub where we stopped for lunch that forced me into a bathroom stall where I sobbed hysterically. It was in that moment I decided that there had to be another option, and there was no way I could go on being this miserable.
"I began to look around at people shopping, wearing normal clothing, filling up their gas tanks, and I began to resent them."
So, long story short, I turned my desperation into some problem solving, and I proposed an alternative plan to Alex. We agreed on it and the rest of the tour was fucking amazing, the end. :) There is always another way.
Do you have some favorite foods from the tour?
Meat sticks. Rx Bars, Elevate Me Bars, Solo Bars (at least two of which I think are Canadian-made, but are the best energy bars I think I've had). Gummy candy. Packet pasta (Warning: only tasty on a bike tour or while backpacking).
Tell us about some other non-bicycling adventures you've had. How have they helped you grow?
Well, salmon fishing is certainly one of those. That was one of those things that made me realize I was capable of anything.
"Salmon fishing... made me realize I was capable of anything."
Um, I've lived in a travel trailer for about 3.5 years now, which has been an adventure in and of itself.
I once hitchhiked solo from Alaska through Canada, which is yet another thing that taught me I'm capable of anything. It helped me re-learn the kindness of strangers (another constant learning experience in life), and also reassured me that my instincts are pretty spot-on and that I can take care of myself when no one else is there to do so.
Those last few lessons were also learned during my first solo trip overseas during college, when I was broke and alone in Cancun and had to work for lodging at a cheap hostel.
I would say my relationship with Alex is also an adventure, one that I'm very fond of and that teaches me about patience, joy, desire, and the capacity for love, both from me and for me.
What would you say to women who want to travel/bike more, but are afraid to do so?
Find a friend. Accountability is KEY to any large goal. Also, if you really want to do it, tell everyone you know that you're going to do it whether you've fully committed or not. The more you say it, the more likely it is to happen.
Don't wait for the “right time” or money or whatever, just keep talking about it until people are so sick of it they ask you when you're going to leave. Then you'll have no choice but to leave them alone. Like, long-distance alone.
"Find a buddy who's as crazy as you are. Get into it. Bond over it."
And find that buddy who's as crazy as you are. Get crazy into it. Bond over it. Plan, but don't over-plan, because at some point you have to leave and over-planning will delay that. Don't worry about inexperience – you're about to get some real fucking experience.
Where do you see bike culture heading in twenty years?
Oooh, good question. Maybe a whole new category of racing will be created to accommodate electric bikes. One day, purely human-powered bikes will be the old-school way.
I think there's also been some bounce-back from the ultra-athletic view of the bike world, and we're leaning towards making biking more friendly for the doof with the shitty bike and the streamers coming off the handles (and I don't think that's just because I live in Portland). I think that will continue to balance out and biking will become a thing that is for EVERYONE; the ultra-marathoner, the fair-weather commuter, the group cyclist, the hick, the hippie, the heroin junkie and the everyone in between.
"I think that biking will become a thing that is for EVERYONE; the ultra-marathoner, the fair-weather commuter... the heroin junkie, and the everyone in between."
Read Part One of Alana's Interview
Alana on Instagram: @gnats.in.my.wine (bike tour) or @alana.ks (personal)
Alana's blog: alanaandthesong.tumblr.com
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