Being on the road for a very long time does have countless advantages that we won’t bore you with right now but, just to name one of the best ones, it gives friends and family the chance to come over and spend some time together. Depending on how far you have traveled, loved ones might come for a few days or a week or two and do some good old exploring around giving you the opportunity to get off the saddle for a while and enjoy some hard earned comforts.
Having said that, today we would actually like to talk about two very special visitors who opted for a cycling “holiday” with 421adventure and, by doing so, enrolled on several weeks of fun, pains and wonders of bike touring in distant lands.
The first person to ever being tempted by said quest was Aurelie’s sister, Delphine, who flew across two continents as a special birthday surprise (laugh and cry a little as Aurelie is surprised in our Vlog Episode 4) and hanged around with us for a whole month. She cycled with us for about 900 Kms from Yangon in Myanmar to Chiang Mai in Thailand and we had an absolute blast!
Now, if you’ve read our previous entry about Myanmar (link here), you should know that it’s actually a very “extreme” place to start bike touring and would normally persuade newbies to take another pick. However, Delphine was very lucky and was going to be under the wings of two experienced world cyclists… us.
This brings us to our first point; if you’re thinking about trying bike touring, joining experienced tourers not only gives the advantage of not having to worry about a huge bulk of the everyday chores, but also offers a confidence boost which will definitely put you on the right track towards you very own adventure. Some flexibility is required from both parts but, it’s definitely a very interesting learning experience for everyone and having company is always a plus!
If we may though, a word of advice is to make sure that the “guest” be given tasks in order to remain proactive to avoid falling into a state of over-laziness; it’s easy for them to think that they’re on holiday and for the hosts to consider their own way to be better or faster, but it can actually put stress on both parts…
Our second guest, Florence, is a very good friend who we met about 15 years ago in France. She has always been very supportive of our cause and had previously visited Thailand on several occasions. She was worried that this would somehow spoil her experience there but we managed to convince her otherwise; to see a country you already know through the eyes of a bicycle tourer instead of a normal tourist is absolutely mind-blowing. She was used to the great outdoors (hiking, camping, etc) but had never really just “left her front door and wandered”. Florence also had the time of her life with us (or at least we hope so 😂) and we absolutely adored having her with us for 3 weeks. Check out how well she did in our Vlog Episodes 22 and 23.
Point number 2 of this post; the world is full of wonders and if you leave the yellow brick road, it will surprise you tenfold! We had previously never been in any of the 25 countries we have visited along our trip but, through the people we meet along the way, we know how different they are to “common tourists”. When you travel by bike you always stumble upon the real attractions, the everyday world, and you quickly become annoyed by how much thrill seekers and picture hunters have changed the tourism industry.
Admittedly, at the beginning we were a bit worried about inviting someone into our routine but ultimately we realised that whoever came on the road with us would have some kind of idea of what we did and knew more or less what to expect.
We discovered that the secret is to find out where the limits of their comfort zone are. With a bit of good old communication and by trying to stay within reasonable limits of craziness, everything went as smooth as oil. In the case of Delphine’s time in Myanmar (a real, authentic “developing” country) for example, we tried to plan a little ahead so as to avoid over-adventurous situations which would possibly have a negative impact on her experience. We soon found the right balance of cycling and sightseeing, adventure and comfort, mingling with locals and having alone time and Delphine rolled on like… a bike on wheels!
Surprisingly though, both Delphine and Florence told us, at one point or another, that they now really understand what we actually do and how our day to day is and that during those weeks spent with us they had found out that they had had no idea before trying it.
They both thought that it was going to be a lot more physically strenuous and not as mentally challenging but by the end of it they understood that it’s often the contrary. It’s a common notion to think that cycling is incredibly tiring and people don’t normally think about all the rest of the tasks involved such as getting food (5 times a day), communicating with locals, choosing where to go, planning ahead, finding a place to sleep, wash and clean, pack and unpack, communicating with friends and family and, in our case, dedicate time to our social media platforms and fundraiser (don’t forget that we’re cycling for charity).
We always say that life is simple on a bicycle and that it’s the rest that really tests you while travelling and it’s absolutely 100% true.
To sum everything up; it was amazing for us to spend huge amounts of time with our loved ones while doing what we love and showing them not only that it’s amazing to travel by bike regardless of the good and challenging times you must face on a daily basis, but also that they could definitely do it too! And that, is point number 3 of this post.
If you found this post interesting and you’re thinking about either starting your own tour or inviting someone who has never toured before (whether they are cyclists or not), you’ll also love the section of our Blog dedicated to this topic; Anyone can do it , including some tips on what to pack; In our panniers