From the time I first started bicycle touring back in the mid-90s, my modus operandi has always been to eat a small breakfast in camp when I wake up, then ride 10 or 15 miles until I come to a town and stop at the local diner for a big breakfast. Breakfast is about the cheapest meal you can buy on the road, and it’s a great way to get to talk to the locals.
But over the last few years I’ve noticed that fewer and fewer of these diners exist anymore. On this years trip we several times rode all day looking unsuccessfully for a place to eat. On the second day of our trip we rode clear across southern New Hampshire looking for breakfast. We actually passed two diners, both of which were out of business. We didn’t find a place to eat until lunch time, 47 miles later. We had similar experiences on several days of the trip.
My first thought was that diners have been replaced by McDonalds, but these little towns don’t have a McDonalds, or anything else apparently. My current theory, based on absolutely nothing but conjecture, is that most people who live in small towns don’t really live in small towns anymore. They sleep there, but every day they get up and drive to a larger town for work, and stop at the fast food place in that larger town on the way to work.
But whatever the reason for their disappearance is, the lack of diners has complicated the logistics of bike touring, and has also removed one of the most pleasurable elements of it.