Author Topic: In praise of rest days...  (Read 5279 times)

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Offline dombrosk

In praise of rest days...
« on: October 18, 2012, 11:25:23 am »
Looking back over past threads, it seems that a lot of the discussion of rest days revolves around whether they are necessary and how often they should happen.  Kind of like how most folks approach the idea of a colonoscopy.    :)

I'd like to open up a thread for riders to share stories of memorable rest days.  Perhaps this could be a resource for people who are new to bicycle travel, or experienced riders who are looking ahead to their 2013 rides.  To kick it off, I'll share stories about two past rest days and one that I'm planning for my next tour.

1st - Colville, Washington, 2005
After cycling west out of Seattle and heading north across Whidbey Island to Anacortes, I'd turned east onto the Northern Tier headed for East Glacier.  By the time I reached Colville I was ready for some time off the bike.  I found a cheap motel with doors that opened right into the room, wheeled my bike in, and found some reasonably clean clothes to change into after a shower.  My first night was a hot meal in a friendly cafe followed by a movie at the Alpine Theatre.  I love old main street movie houses, and it was great to be able to visit and support another one.  The next day I slept late, then put on my rain gear and very little else and headed to the nearby laundromat.  Such a luxury to have every bit of clothing clean and dry after 10 days of travel including heavy cold rain on the coast and scorching dry heat around Okanagon.  Once I had clean clothes it was time for a nap before heading out the explore the town. 
There was an impresssive amount of sculpture!

After a visit to an ice cream parlor, more walking, and dinner, I found myself on the hill overlooking town in time for the lighting of the candles for a Relay for Life at the local high school.  By the time I got back to my room it was getting dark, but still enough time for a serious look at my bike and gear before another sound nights sleep. 
The next morning I headed east refreshed and amazed to see the world turn green before my eyes as I headed into a new climate zone.  By intentionally 'breaking' the touring mentality for a day I had managed to get a fresh pair of eyes on the world.  And, it was amazing how much stronger I was after a full day off the bike.

2nd Schiermonnikoog, The Netherlands, 2011
If you've ever run across a children's book called "Paddle to the Sea", you can relate to the theme of this ride which was "Pedal to the (North) Sea".  After cycling south from Amsterdam to Cologne, I'd looped back up to meet my wife in Amersfoort before heading north to Friesland.  The last 2 days heading north were into intense headwinds, so it was a real joy to board our ferry to Schiermonnikoog.  Most of this island is national park, and cars are very limited.  Even for a country with such a cycling tradition, this was a cyclists dream.  Being June, the beach crowds had not yet arrived and we enjoyed having a sleepy village and open spaces stretching to the sea largely to ourselves.

It was during this rest day that my wife christened layover days as a 'vacation from our vacation', which for me sums up the notion of a day to hit the reset button in as many ways as possible.

And next?  Wernigerode, Germany 2013 ?
As I'm planning next summer's ride from Amsterdam to Berlin, I'm already looking forward to a layover in the Harz Mountains in the former East Germany.  This will probably be more than one day, because there's a steam train up Der Brocken, famous for Walpurgisnacht and a role in Goethe's Faust.  And, who knows what else I may discover while wandering about...

I'd love to hear other forum members share their stories of rest days that were about more than 'just' rest.

Happy riding (and resting)!

Offline staehpj1

Re: In praise of rest days...
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2012, 12:05:39 pm »
I will start by saying that I don't really like full rest days much, at least for the purpose of resting.  I prefer to just take a low mileage day here or there if having a break is the goal.  I like to call them half days.

I do like to take a day off once in a while to do something fun.  For me the reason for a fun rest day would usually be to go hiking, whitewater rafting, peak bagging, or something else that really wasn't about rest.

On the TA we never stayed the same place twice, but did do an 8 mile day so we could go white water rafting.

On the SC, we went as far as taking off most of a week to see the Yosemite Valley.  We spent the time hiking, exploring, and doing tourist stuff.

On the pacific coast there was one place (Harris Beach) where I decided it would be fun to take a day off to explore the park and the nearby town.

Of course there can be forced rest days waiting for a part that needed to be ordered, or stops due to injury or illness.  I try to avoid all those when I can.


  • Guest
Re: In praise of rest days...
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2012, 04:21:39 pm »
So many fun times.  Let's see....

After finishing the Northern Tier in Bar Harbor I took a few days off before heading down the coast for home. Took the bus into Acadia and walked along the beach to Thunder Hole. Saw two movies in town. That forgettable one with Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy.  Can't even remmber the name. Bo something or other I think. But it was in a nice, old theater. The next night I saw "Summer of Sam" in a combination theater-pizza parlor. If you ordered food, you got to sit down in front in old living room furniture. When your food was ready, a light lit up on an old bingo board and you went to pick it up.

A few days from home I was forced to take a day off in a Goddefroy, NY motel as hurricane Floyd moved through. The proprietor was incredibly nice. I had no food with me. After the brunt of the storm had passed, she drove me to an open deli so I could get a sandwich.

In Glasgow, MT we got to partake in the customer appreciation day BBQ at Gordon's Warehouse Grocery Store. Met quite a few insteresting locals.

Took a boat tour on Lake Itasca during which we saw a loon family and a bald eagle pair.

Took several days off in Ronda Spain during Semana Santa and got to see the evening precessions. Being from the U.S., the hoods and robes were unnerving at first. Absent the colors, they look just like KKK garb.

Both times I crossed the North Cascades Highway, days off in Winthrop to recover in the warmth was quite nice.

Hiking in Glacier N.P. waiting for Logan Pass to open.

Toured Rock Island and the John Deere center during a day off in Davenport, IA then had a 22 oz. stuffed pork chop at The Machine Shed.

Spent and evening at a county fair in Bowling Green, OH.

In Niagara Falls, ON we stayed at the Rainbow Hostel. They had a multi-hour tour on a Merry Prankster-like bus to lesser-visited attractions, including a brewery and a winery, where I tried ice wine for the first time. Everyone was pretty much snockered by the end.

Offline newfydog

Re: In praise of rest days...
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2012, 12:04:57 pm »
The town of Condom, yes, where they invented the things.  It is in SW France, on the mountain-bikeable pilgrimage trail from LePuy to Santiago.  A rainy day convinced us to hang out for a day.  Started with tour of the Museum of Love and Latex.  From there we went in search of a good bottle of Amagnac, the local brandy, which is better than Cognac and half the price.  We tasted it and realized we had been drinking swill in the US compared to what we had found, so we started on it before lunch.

The afternoon we toured the Armagnac museum, where we learned that Armagnac is aged in oak, cut during the new moon of January only.  Retreated to the room for a bit more Armagnac, then off to find a dinner of roast guinea fowl.....

I guess we could have just ground out another long day in the rain.

Offline DaveB

Re: In praise of rest days...
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2012, 07:54:14 pm »
This isn't about a rest day as much as reporting one of the marvelous things that can happen on a bike tour.

 In the summer of 2004 four of us took a multi-day "credit card tour" of the Finger Lakes in upstate New York. Our fourth day was 81 miles from Watkins Glen to Skaneateles.  Any of you who have ridden in the area know there is a lot of climbing and that day was not only long but most of the significant climbs were in the last 10 miles. 

Our mom-and-pop motel was quite nice but over two miles, all uphill, away from the lake and town.  After checking in and showering, we went back to the front desk to ask for a restaurant recommendation in town, knowing the return trip after dinner was going to be a slog.

The woman at the desk asked how we were going to get to and back from dinner and we said by our bikes.   Where upon she asked if we wanted to borrow her car?!!  All she asked is that we be back by 10:00 that evening as that is when she went off duty.   We were both astounded and thrilled.  Dinner was great, the trip back to the hotel was much easier than expected and we filled her gas tank as a thank you gesture.

You do meet the nicest people on bike trips.

Offline Gif4445

Re: In praise of rest days...
« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2012, 06:32:10 am »
One of the things I love about touring (I'm a relative new-be), is how it slows my point A to point B mentality down.  A rest day slows it down even more.  Last year on a ride to the Black Hills and back ( ), I took a day off in Newcastle WY.  I met many locals, went to a church, a bar, a laundromat and basically walked around town.  Really besides rest, I got to know the town.  What I love about touring is meeting new people and seeing new places.  But most times it can be a little superficial.  Getting to spend more time doing it can be a really neat thing.