Faces from the Road: Ray from Quebec

Ray from QuebecSome people just embody an activity. Ray, who we met on a remote highway in NW Montana, sums up the essence of bike touring.

We crossed paths with him on the 4th of July as he biked west. Sporting a cotton shirt with “America: the best things in life are free” emblazoned across the chest with an eagle patterned in stars and stripes, Ray was astride an old, well-worn bike with thousands upon thousands of miles on it. He had been all over the place on tour – Mexico, Canada, the US, and elsewhere.

Ray doesn’t travel with a computer, GPS or a specific route in mind. He camps along the way and is simply out exploring the world while enjoying the heck out of it. When we asked if he was all good on water, he gestured behind us and said, “There is lots of water in the mountains.” Hell. Yes. A true adventurer!

I love the common ground that bike touring brings to life. Chelsea and I with our shiny bikes and glossy panniers, helmet lights blinking and reflective jerseys on, were doing the same thing as Ray with his rig: pedaling across the country trying to find food, water and shelter while taking in whatever scenery, people and adventures present themselves. Every day is a fresh landscape and challenge to surmount, and we can point our tires wherever we please. And that seems like true freedom to me!

Happy (belated) Independence Day,

Dakota

3 replies
  1. Jeffrey Fritts
    Jeffrey Fritts says:

    To many the World is a large wondrous place, from the saddle of a bicycle it is not so large, however even more wondrous. I too met Ray from Quebec. He was at a LBS in Walla Walla, WA. looking to buy a new Brooks leather saddle. I led him into the quiet neighborhoods around Whitman University as he test rode the Brooks and decided to give it a try. He had the LBS make a slight adjustment to the new saddle on his old stead and we set off to shop for food. He told me about his travels and said he wanted to go south to Oregon. “Ray,” I said, “you are in luck I know how to get to Oregon from here.” We stopped at my house in College Place and did some minor repairs then off we went by the back roads to Milton-Freewater Oregon. (Walla Walla is only a few miles north of the Oregon border.) We had a wonderful afternoon riding together. Ray said he was heading to Arizona and might ride into Mexico if he could find a partner to ride with. I bade him farewell and safe travels and turned for home. Jeffrey Fritts, College Place, WA. USA 10/9/2014

    Reply
      • Jeffrey Fritts
        Jeffrey Fritts says:

        Way!!! I really felt fortunate to have met Ray he embellishes the sprit that is touring by bicycle. Adventure Cycling’s Lewis & Clark trail passes through Walla Walla, WA. I often find bicycle tourist at Allegro Cyclery on Main St. in the heart of Walla Walla.
        Several weeks ago I ran across a father – son pair from Portland riding the son to college in Montana. The father explained it was a last hurrah trip with his son as he set off for college. What a wonderful bonding experience for a father and son.
        The weather here in the east side of WA has been rainy of late and since the AWOL does not yet have fenders I stayed in and appreciated the true beauty of a fine bicycle, mounted in the repair stand. Under close examination I am finding all kinds of well thought out features. For instance the right blade of the fork has a hole complete with rubber grommet for dynamo/light/or other wiring. More news from the Great North West as soon as it happens in the sleepy farm town of Walla Walla.
        AK Jeff riding his AWOL

        Reply

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