I want to know how you handle bathroom issues while bike touring. For example, what do you do if you’re on a road with traffic but no bathrooms?
Ummm… this wasn’t exactly the kind of feedback I expected to get. I had posted a question asking what things people were curious about . I didn’t expect to write about toilets. Or lack thereof. And how we dealt with it.
But, seeing as how I didn’t put limits on what people could ask, I figure I’ll answer the question…
Honestly, I never knew boys (of all ages) could have so much fun peeing. Get them out of the house and into the great outdoors and they’ll be entertained for hours with the simple act of relieving their bladders.
One of the great joys of the journey (according to my husband and sons) was that of peeing. They peed on anthills and watched the ants scurrying around trying not to drown, they peed on the sides of bridges and had races to see whose pee could go farther. Their pee served as very smelly fire extinguishers to put out our campfires in the mornings.
One of the regular features of our journey was a “pee barrier” across the road. When one cyclist got far enough ahead so they could stop for a pee break before the others caught up, he frequently made an unbroken line of pee across the road – and then teased the others to no end about riding a “pee bike” when he cycled across the barrier.
As for me? I didn’t have nearly so much fun – I simply headed off the road and hid behind a rock or tree or little hill to do my business. Nothing nearly as glamorous as peeing on anthills.
But what about poo, you ask? Surely you didn’t poo on anthills?
No, we didn’t.
For the most part, our bodies got used to the rhythm of the road and we did our business either in the morning before we left or the afternoon after we reached our destination. For the most part.
But there were days –many of them – when nature called while we were on the road. And then?
Most of the time we could find trees or rocks or little hills to hide behind. We dug a small hole for the poo. We kept a lighter handy to burn the toilet paper. The vast majority of the times when nature called, it was no problem at all.
But what about those times when it wasn’t so easy? Those times in Argentina when all we saw was mile after mile of flat Argentine pampa? When there wasn’t a single anything bigger than a blade of grass to hide behind?
That’s when we waited until there were no cars coming from either direction and we simply jumped off the bike, did our business, and then jumped back on. Yes, it happened that we weren’t quite finished when a car came racing past – not often, but it happened. That’s when we simply pretended we didn’t see them.
And then there was the day when I climbed out of my tent in the morning and headed back behind the trees to take my morning pee – and looked up and noticed a small fox playing not more than fifteen feet away. A few seconds later another fox arrived. And then an armadillo.
As I crouched behind my tree I watched the foxes batting the armadillo around and my legs were starting to cramp from being in that position for so long and I thought, “This is why I do this. This is why I travel the world on my bike. How else would I be crouched behind a tree for my morning pee and be able to watch foxes and armadillos play?”