The Yin & Yang Of Camps & Hotels
I love camping.
I love waking up to the sight of the sun and to the sound of the wind. I love falling asleep to a sky full of stars with light rain overhead. I love the freedom to pitch my tent anywhere I choose, and to customize it to my liking. I love cooking on an open fire. I love a cold beer by the river with new friends. I love watching the animals, big and small, share the open environment with me. I love reading my book by flashlight. I love disconnecting from the rest of the world.
I especially love the camaraderie that camping tours bring to TDA rides – the conversation around the campfire, the morning coffees, and the idle times spent amongst the forests and deserts that span the continent. There is a lot to love about the camping experience, especially when combined with the biking experience.
With that being said… I also love hotels.
I love a strong A/C to take me out of 35°C heat. I love a good Wi-Fi connection to share all of my riding photos and videos from the day. I love clean bedding that I don’t have to collapse and stow away early the next morning. I love a hot local meal made for me in a fancy restaurant. I love to enjoy a glass of wine in an actual wine glass. I love not having to do my own dishes. I love a nice swimming pool. I love staying in the centre of town, and exploring the local venues. I love connecting with the rest of the world.
I guess it’s all a matter of the experience you want to have. Both camping trips and hotel trips have their strengths and their weaknesses. Camping trips can feel so beautifully vulnerable, where you are consistently ensconced in the natural and sometimes brutal conditions of the world. Hotel trips, on the other hand, can feel like a luxurious sigh of relief from the strenuous day of riding, but it’s easy to succumb to those luxuries and to miss out on the diversity of culture around you. If only there was a way that you could get the best of both worlds on the same TDA tour…
Oh, wait! I forgot! The North American Epic starts as a camping trip and ends as a hotel trip, duh!
Yes, I remember now… It was just as we were trudging through the unrelenting Baja heat that the idea of changing from camping to hotels started to peak riders’ interest. While the 2.5 months of campgrounds in Canada and the United States were very accommodating and offered a wealth of experiences in vast and varied ecosystems, we were ready for a change, and the hotels of Central America provided a route to experience the cultural landscape ahead. The hotels that began in Mexico changed a lot more than just where riders were resting their heads at night, it changed the pace and dynamic of the tour altogether.
The biggest downside, however, became the lack of control. Generally, when the tour travels as a group from campsite to campsite, and when TDA staff are handling the food, lodging, amenities, and scheduling, we develop a certain rhythm, learn more about the individual preferences of our riders, and the tour as a whole runs much more smoothly and efficiently. And as nice as hotels may seem at times, we are at the mercy of their policies, each one different than the last. So what may have been true at last night’s hotel, may not be true tonight. For example, rooms may vary in size and comfort, food options may be limited or nonexistent, noise levels fluctuate, and there will always be that little something special waiting to go wrong.
Neither scenario is perfect, and they both come with their fair share of charm and attraction. All in all, the best of both worlds is the best. It’s the yin and the yang. Just as camping was getting too tiring, the hotels kicked in and took over some of the heavy lifting. It provided the riders with an adequate balance between the natural world and the cultural world, the rural and the urban, and the disconnected and the connected.
North American Epic
Cycling from the Arctic Ocean to Panama City will take you through 9 countries and countless variations in landscape, culture, language, cuisine and...