Let me tell you: if you’re planning a long cycling journey, you’re about to get to know yourself really, really well.
Even if you’re riding with other people, traveling by bicycle is going to involve long stretches of time when there really is nothing to do but pedal, watch the world go by, and deal with the looming spectre of being by yourself.
SO why with a bike?
1 A bicycle to reduce ever increasing speed in our western way of life:
Modern life tends to be overwhelmingly oriented towards goals, targets, objectives and deadlines – especially in the context of work, which of course constitutes our main hobby in the developed world.
When we take a break from work, it’s natural to want to drop out of this mindset and to enjoy the present moment. But – though it sometimes feels like it could go on forever – it’s rarely long before we return to our previous goal-oriented state.
Something funny can happen when we take a much longer chunk of time out, however, or when we quit our jobs altogether in order to travel. We are creatures of habit, and it doesn’t take long before we start to crave a new goal to work towards, because that’s how we’ve come to understand purpose and progress in life. And so we begin to invent goals and objectives to work towards. Am I capable of living in the present?
For me constant speed is a condition that can become a disease without someone to even notice that its effects have become “the normal and natural way of living”.
For some people those effect can become so deep that they lack the ability of enjoying the now, paying attention to their environment, only to pursue a goal of an ever coming dream where you have to be successful and important to be happy, but which most will never achieve (96% of the time) and to only discover that they have become old. And for those that do achieve some of it, to discover they want even more with the promise that then; they will be happy! But that procedure doesn’t seems to end. So why is happiness so difficult to achieve?
Are you constantly striving, constantly ameliorating yourself, constantly looking for better opportunities, constantly trying to secure your basic needs so you can then be free to do the things that matters, constantly reading and listening about it, constantly wondering if you are in the right job, constantly making new plans, constantly……Do you feel like an opposition here? Do you feel like not having enough time? Or maybe you are thinking that you should have don’t a bit more of this in order to be a little bit in a better place than where you are and what you have achieved?
Let me ask you something: can you stop all of it for just a few seconds or for let’s say ten minute? Stand still for a moment and have nothing else but the absolute now where there is no past, no future. In other word, there is no thought but the admiration of bins of sunshine penetrating the sky, the little butterfly that just landed in flower, the warm filling of the air caressing your skin without the notion of time…
Modern Western culture does not have a tradition of proactive training in self-reflection techniques, with the result that we aren’t well-equipped to deal with a prolonged absence of external stimulus. We’re good at dealing with quick-fire material and intellectual issues because we’re confronted by them every day, but when it comes to dealing with the voices in our head, our usual remedy is distraction. Work, play, entertainment, socialising; all can be (and often are) used as avoidance techniques, which of course is why Facebook is so popular because it combines them all.
For me I don’t remember the last time I was able to be in the now, but I wish being able to experiencing it more and whenever I fill the need to.
I fill the need of slowing time down and a bicycle seems to me the perfect exercise….
2 Slow down and make your trip an interacting one with the places you cross by
Interacting with a village shopkeeper, lingering over a fresh meal and a good glass of wine, experiencing a changing landscape – We believe travel should be about being in a place, not just passing through it. And there’s no better way to engage with a new land and culture than from the bike saddle.
Traveling by train or bus can be like watching a beautiful movie going by your window, but biking that same landscape puts you in that movie. You have to get out from behind the windshield and your camera’s display screen to really experience a destination.
Bike touring is a great way to get yourself out of a rut and get in shape at the same time. Socializing with a constant stream of new people exposes you to fresh ideas and challenges you rethink the way you live.
When you’re bike touring you don’t normally know where you’ll sleep, what you’ll eat or who you’ll run into on the road ahead. What you do discover is that you’ll always find food, shelter and friendly folks along the way. Biking helps you deal with the vagaries of life and builds confidence in dealing with any set of circumstances thrown your way.
With thousands of empty hours spent hunching over your handlebars, you’ve got plenty of time to contemplate life.The steady turn of the wheels induces an almost meditative state that helps you focus on what really counts in life.
3 I love sports!
Sport is a way of life and except for the last few years I have always be a fan….Running and hang gliding have been my two passion of the past and I would love once more to feel that same sensation which is really difficult to describe.
We all agree that bike touring is not a race. But sometimes you’ve just got to find out what you’re made of. 200+ kilometers in one long haul feels pretty darn good from time to time.
No tossing and turning and fitful rest for someone who’s been cranking the pedals for six hours straight. After a hard ride, flopping down on an inflatable mattress is as comfortable as sliding between fresh white sheets at the Hilton.
4 Not working for months on end can be exhausting.
Have you ever experience a long holiday or a period of long unemployment where the first few weeks seems magical and as the weeks passed by to discover that the sensation of rest have now become reality and a normal way, and as time passes and passes by to only discover that something is missing? Maybe you don’t deserve this anymore or maybe you are not made for doing nothing and maybe after some time the appearance of some problem in your psychology is simply the result of month and month on end of inactivity…..And all of this to conclude that vacation or rest can be tiring !!!
Well, for me the one and only way to avoid this and visit the world is to deserve it, and trust me touring bike is just perfect for it.
It is true that bike touring does offer a change in routine, a break from the monotony of daily life. But this is as far as the similarities go. Though some long distance ride lovers tour during holiday from work, they do so with the understanding that it requires hard work. Nothing about bike touring resembles the lounge chair on the beach or the ride in the golf cart on the green kind of trip. Bike touring is not a vacation; it’s another way of life.
Furthermore, most people on a tour choose a life by bike as the norm for however long or short a period of time as the trip lasts. The experience of a modern day nomad on wheels is both a lifestyle alternative and a way to journey, experience, and discover the world in a unique way. Vacations from this life are what you take when your knees are throbbing, your skin is fried, or you’re just plain wiped out from all the pedaling and pushing.
I have heard dozens of people telling me that you need money to do such a trip (from Europe to Asia) and I can’t say I disagree with them. But this is exactly why so many people opt for a touring bike….
If you can afford to buy the bike and its equipment, you will end up having your entire house with you at all time and no need for further expenses whatsoever! Camping at some places more that 85% and cooking your own food can limit your budget less than 10 euro on average…No need for gasoline and no need to pay for extra visas, insurances and parking lots for a motor bike, car or wagon.
6 It may restore your faith in humanity…or so I hope so!
So this sounds a little funny, but you will meet so many amazing people and be blown away by their kindness. You will inevitably find yourself in some sort of pickle and need help. Then, out of nowhere, all sorts of wonderful people will come to your rescue. You will be invited into homes for dinner, have meals paid for at diners, and have people stop on the side of the road just to talk with you a bit.