I’m sitting in my back garden drinking tea while listening to the chickens cluck and scratch about. This first week back is particularly special. With family, friends, fresh food, running water and my own bed. Cycling tours can be divided into three phases; planing and anticipation, undertaking the adventure, then return and review.
So here are a few of the things I’ve learned whilst cycle touring:-
After 32 years, Therese and I can share a tent, a laugh, a meal and the journey with a sense of humour and excitement.
Adaptability is important. Change happens and you can’t control everything. Be prepared to change, just go with it. It was the end of summer, fewer ferries were operating, some wouldn’t take cyclists, as a result we did less cycling in Croatia and more in Italy.
Be fearless. Bad things will happen but not that often. Stockholm Sweden is a beautiful city which we thoroughly enjoyed despite having our bicycles stolen. It didn’t stop us or ruin our experience.
Most people are good. Sketchy characters, wild dogs, mechanical breakdowns and aggressive drivers never last. Detours, back roads and getting lost are exciting opportunities.
You need very little to be happy on the road. Despite the cold rain in Denmark, we felt lucky, even blessed to have discovered delicious roadside pears for breakfast, knowing that no matter how wet we got, tonight our tent would be dry. Cooking one pot pasta on our pocket rocket stove would ensure a hot meal for dinner. Living with a growing awareness and appreciation of life’s simple pleasures makes you grateful for what you have.
There are no rules. However, the nature of cycle touring sees us continually move forward towards the next destination. But life is lived in those spaces between places; A bend in the river, a beautiful camping spot or a friendly town where we might stay and explore to linger a little longer. Time is an illusion.
Cycle touring is transformative. You will never be the same again. The new normal is an altered state of consciousness where everything is possible.
I’ve learnt patience. Perhaps becoming a little more tolerant, maybe that’s a feature of age as much as cycling.
The most striking feature of cycle touring is just how easy it is. Essentially you just ride your bicycle as slow or as fast as you want, alone or with others. Around the corner or around the world. You don’t have to be an athlete or have special skills. You will meet other cyclists, some younger, some older, riding their own adventure. We share a simple philosophy of hope and wonder.
A cycle tour only ever ends so another one can begin. You always carry the next adventure within you.
Peace and Bike Grease