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The Joys of Traveling by Bicycle

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The Joys of Traveling by Bicycle
Vila Nova de Milfontes, Portugal
November 1, 2007
Wade from: http://www.vagabondjourney.com/

To take trains and busses is to merely travel from point A to point B; to travel the same route by bicycle is to feel it every rock, hill, breeze, tribulation and joy of the entire way. Traveling by bicycle is the perfect way to fully experience the paths which crisscross the entire globe, and to do so under your own power, while maintaining your precious self determination. The bicycle allows you to get close enough to the essence of adventure to capture the precious freedom that travel provides. The bicycle allows you to connect the dots on a map.

There are various speeds at which you can travel, and I feel that the velocity of your chosen mode of transport affects the way that you approach and feel the places you travel through. Speed has a lot to do with your mind-set and how you go about structuring your day and, if you are a long term traveller, your life. I have always been an aficionado of walking, but now I think that, although it feels like the most perfect and natural pace to move at, it may be a little too slow to really get around the world in the course of a singe life time. While the airplane is a truly riveting way to travel: its quickness is simply against the natural grain of being human. The harsh biological, psychological, and emotional effects of air travel are many, and it simply does not feel right to me. To be freezing in a northern tundra during winter in the morning only to bed down in a tropical paradise later that night is simply a shock to all facets of the naturally slow moving human body. Traveling by bus and train seem to represent a good medium between the two extremes of walking and flying, but I still think that it is too quick of a way to continuously wander. You miss too much while using public ground transport, and, most hampering of all, you are not in control of your own movement.

I travel to feel free. This is all that eight years of wandering the planet has taught me. Traveling by bicycle raises your level of freewill by leaps and bounds. No longer do you have to think about train schedules, bus maps, confusing urban public transportation systems, and living on the time-frame of other people and companies. You can simply hop on your bike and ride away into your chosen horizon whenever you feel the urge. Getting on a bus is to create a sort of contract that you will ride out the full ride to your ticketed destination. What if you want to get off to check out some curiosity along the way? What if you simple do not feel like moving anymore and just want to bed down for the night? You can’t. What if you do not want to be in the place that you bought your ticket to go to? Too bad. The bicycle puts you outside of this cycle completely. You decide where you go and when you do so. If you do not feel like riding anymore you just run off into the nearest woods, fallow field, or river bed and set up camp. If you want to eat, you stop to eat. If you have to pee, you just pull over and pee. If you do not wish to stay in a city that you roll into, you just hop back on your steel framed steed and ride off towards another destination. Bicycle travel is freedom incarnate. Simply having the ability to stop along a given route to check out a curious object is to grant oneself a far greater freedom of mind and body than can ever be had through traveling by public transport.

Traveling by plane, train, or bus also demands one to do a lot of idle waiting. You wait in line to buy tickets, you wait for the bus to leave, you wait out any delays, and then when you finally get on the vehicle, you sit and wait some more until you arrive at your destination. In point, traveling by means of public transport means so much sitting and idleness that it actually can become detrimental to your level of fitness. Sitting still for ten hours on a South American bus is not a natural thing for a human to do. I need to move, I need to exercise, I need to use my own body to get from place to place in this world. I need the bicycle.

I am now a lover of the bicycle. I do not know if I will ever set off on another journey without one.

Up the bike punx!

Bicycle Travel

  • Long Bicycle Journeys
  • Bicycle Philosophy
  • Travel Philosophy
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    Filed under: Bicycle Travel, Big Overland Journeys, Europe, Portugal, Travel Philosophy

    About the Author:

    Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3048 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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