When planning my 4th long distance bicycle tour down the Mississippi River, I really wanted to find someone to come with me. I had been fortunate enough to have riding partners on my first bicycle tour down the California coastline, but I had been forced to travel alone on the subsequent two tours. That’s why, when I began planning my 4th long distance bicycle tour, I made an extra effort to find a riding partner.
It was 2004 at the time and I was in college. I had a few friends that were interested in joining me on my bike ride, but each of them seemed to have an excuse for as to why they could not join me out on the road.
One of the people I was pursuing as a potential riding partner was my good friend, Ryan Nakashima. Ryan had joined me for the final leg of my bicycle tour down the California coastline in 2001 and he had had a great time, but I had been unable to get him to join me on any of my subsequent tours.
When I approached Ryan about joining me for my ride down the Mississippi River, he said he’d love to come, but felt that he would be unable to make it happen because his parent wanted him to take summer school classes and get a job. I understood where he was coming from, because my parents wanted me to do the same thing, but I wasn’t going to give up on him that easily.
Instead, I decided to write his parents a letter, asking them to consider letting Ryan join my on my bicycle tour down the Mississippi. Here is what I wrote to his parents:
Mr. and Mrs. Nakashima:
The intent of this letter is to persuade you that Ryan should accompany me on part of the bicycle tour I have planned for this upcoming summer. Below are the main reasons that I want Ryan to accompany me on this once in a lifetime adventure.
First of all, I would like some company out there. It can be lonely sometimes and the miles sure go by quicker when you have someone to talk to. I don’t mind traveling alone, but having someone to talk to, to help you out when you are in need, or to push you up that next big hill is always a nice luxury.
Secondly, I want Ryan to come on this trip with me because I want him to experience some of the things that I have been experiencing for the last three years. I was incredibly happy that Ryan could accompany me for that short distance on my first tour down the California coastline, but I think he got cheated out of the real bicycle touring experience. He was riding the streets of Los Angeles for goodness sakes!
First of all, he has seen those streets a million times and the scenery in Southern California is almost non-existent. Secondly, the traffic in So-Cal is just horrendous. He biked in some of the worst conditions I have ever seen on my travels. I biked through some major cities on my last tour up the east coast and nothing was even close to some of the things Ryan and I biked through on that first trip through Southern California. If he can make it through the streets of LA, he can definitely make it down some lonely Mississippi farm roads.
I want Ryan to experience just a small piece of what I have been experiencing these last three years and I feel that the trip I have planned for this summer is a perfect opportunity for Ryan to get out there and experience an entirely new slice of America.
I have included some information about my planned bicycle adventure with this letter. I have included the itinerary, a summary map, a scan of the maps that we will be using to guide our way through the states, an article from Adventure Cycling magazine about why you shouldn’t worry about us making this tour, and also a highlight page of my own which documents just some of the adventures that I have been on in the last three years. I hope that this information will be of some assistance to you. My hope is that this info will make you at least think about possibly sending your son out there to ride with me for a couple days.
I feel that each and every one of the bicycle trips I have ventured on has been life-changing experiences and I would hate to see Ryan miss out on such an opportunity. Please think it over. If you have any questions or concerns, send me an e-mail or give me a call.
I have said it a number of times, to both my parents and to Ryan, but I will say it again. There is no way that in five, ten, twenty or even thirty years that we (Ryan and I) are going to look back and say, “Remember that summer we spent taking summer school classes and working? Wasn’t that great!”
No! In thirty years we will be saying, “Remember that time we rode our bicycles down the Mississippi River? That was one of the best experiences of our lives!”
That’s what I want to be saying! In fact, that’s what I will be saying! I hope that Ryan has the chance to say that as well.
Think it over,
Despite my best efforts, Ryan was unable to join me on my tour down the Mississippi River. He went to summer school and got a job working for minimum wage. I’m sure that if I asked him today what he did in the summer of 2004 that he would be unable to tell me.
The reason I share this letter with you is because I want you to see just how difficult it can be to find a riding partner for your bicycle tour. You’ll talk to a lot of people who are interested in joining you, but when it comes right down to it, most people are unable or unwilling to make the leap. But you can’t let this stop you! Do what you can to find a riding partner for your tour, but if you are unsuccessful, don’t cancel the ride. Instead, go it alone! You won’t have someone to talk to each day, but the experience you will have once it is all over will be more than worth it.
What kind of experiences have you had in trying to find a riding partner for your bicycle tour(s)? If you were able to find someone to join you, how exactly did that work? If you were unsuccessful in finding a riding partner, did you go it alone? Or cancel the tour?