Before dropping everything and cycling 30.000 kilometres across two continents we were “normal” people. Actually, that’s what we usually say but it’s a lie; we lived in Spain and did everything by bike which automatically made us a bit weird. Needless to say we used the bike to go to work even when it rained and that’s something that the huge majority of people just couldn’t get their heads around!
As the bicycle slowly gained importance in our lives, it became easier to find excuses to ride them and so we eventually started going on holiday on our steeds too!
Why not ?
This post is for those of you who think that we’re crazy, different maybe, and that what we do is extraordinary, but who are drawn to the pictures and stories that we post and are wondering if you could do something like this. The answer is simple;
YES, YOU CAN!
I mean really, all we’re doing is pedaling! We do that a lot but that’s all there is to it! We didn’t just set off one day and pedaled 100 kilometres a day. We slowly built up our strength, resistance and skills as we cycled and it gradually grew on us.
The truth is that bike touring is by far the most rewarding type of travel there is; nothing compares to the feeling of “I did it all myself” and it allows you to access some pretty awesome places which are otherwise off the charts for many conventional tourists. It goes without saying that it’s incredibly healthy both for your mind and your body and really good for the planet.
So, you’re thinking about trying? Good for you! Where would you like to go? You know, a bike can take you anywhere but, if we must be truthful, the best place to start is at home. The trips we enjoyed the most were those which started on our doorstep. Leaving your street, then your neighbourhood, getting out of the city and finding yourself in a totally different dimension, one which you normally don’t pay attention to because of life’s hectic rhythm, is amazing!
“Has that shop always been there?”. “OMG look at that garden!”. “Oh, I bet this area would be nice to live in”. “Wow, you can really feel that the air is much less polluted here”. “So many stars!”
These, among many others, are experiences that a slow vehicle can give you; simple but enriching down-to-earth moments!
What do you need?
Many people tell us that cycling is too hard. We believe that is because they are out of shape and/or their bike is not adequate. The former will come with practice and the latter we need to talk about. When it comes to bicycles, it’s easy to go for the cheapest option because you’re not sure if the investment will be worth it. That’s okay but please bear in mind that a decent bike is 50% of the equation so, ideally, you should think about spending a little extra as soon as you can. Aurelie really started liking mountain biking, for example, once we bought her a 650€ model. Just to say that you don’t have to spend 6 months salary on a bicycle! She used said bike non-stop for a very long time, even taking it on 1000 kms tours around Europe! A good alternative is borrowing a good one from a friend (even if it’s just for a few hours) or even renting one for a day or two to notice what you’re missing out on.
You still have no idea about which equipment you need to take with you on your first trip? Have a look at what we have in our panniers and get some Five Star tips! LINK
Where will you go?
Ideally, the first trip should be somewhere easy but also interesting in order to counteract the initial difficulties you may encounter. Once it has become like second nature, you’ll be able to be on the saddle for many hours without feeling pain, discomfort caused by the position or boredom. Just like anything else, cycling can be a type of meditation since the continuous cadence can lead to a trance-like state of mind where you are fully aware of your surroundings (very important) but also able to think, or not, about a million different things. Aurelie calls this “being in a bubble”.
Maybe you’re interested in architecture, perhaps wines is your thing, you might prefer nature and camping … find an area where those things are abundant and go for it. You’ll be able to take regular breaks from cycling, indulge your personal pleasures and take satisfaction in all those amazing feelings and sensations that cycling can offer you.
Don’t take our word for it …
Just before we leave you with, hopefully, a pretty seed implanted in the “dreams” section of your mind, we’d like to share with you the witness of a first-timer, a.k.a. Aurelie’s sister, who joined us for a month from Yangon in Myanmar to Chiang Mai in Thailand;
“Looking at their pictures, I always thought that bike touring would be all about physical fatigue and mind-blowing places. I discovered that it’s a lot more and better than I had ever anticipated and those 3 weeks on the saddle have changed my life in so many ways! I’m really glad to have tried it since it’s simply impossible to imagine what’s it’s like until you do it!“
How to prepare your trip by bicycle ? The shops Cyclable in France have edited a special book (available online through this link – in French) with many details and advice for you to dare the adventure 🚲