You take a turn and see a lake unfolding. You can feel the breeze on your face and smell the typical hot air of a tropical summer. There plays a group of monkeys by the water. You quietly stop pedalling to watch over the little ones.
That is one in many fond memories of your travels on two wheels. To travel by bike is much more than those memories. It is a way of life with incomparable benefits and joy.
1. You enjoy getting off the beaten paths and into more adventurous ones
Remember the time you were stuck in an over crowded underground in London? Or when you couldn’t manage to take a photo with Eiffel Tower.
It’s no longer the case. You are getting off paths that is so full of tourists to enjoy tranquility.
Besides, some paths are much more enjoyable when you are exploring on a bike. Think about exploring Machu Pichu, a small village along the Mekong River, the deserted archaeological sites in Turkey, or Tuscany on the pedal – That is just to name a few.
2. You meet interesting people
Along unbeaten paths, you meet some local people who have never seen foreigners before. They are often much less grumpy than town dwellers who secretly blame you for their city being overcrowded. They are more likely to be interested in talking to you, showing you a nice route or offering you some home-grown fruits.
You also meet like-minded cyclists, and share a grilled fish over a campfire. This kind of relaxing encounter does not happen as often when you drive a car or rush around in a cross-country bus.
3. You have the ultimate freedom
You can stop at any time you feel like, to pet a horse from the farm by the road or to take a photo of a stunning sunset. Such freedom is not feasible when you travel by public transport. You can go as fast (or as slow) as you want, take a random turn when you see anything intriguing. You stay in the moment with your focus on where you are rather than where you are going to.
Also you can say goodbye to all the time wasting waiting for a bus or a train to show up late. We all know that happens often in many parts of the world.
4. You find clarity
Amidst the rush of modern life, a journey on a bike gives you the chance to slow down. You are able to soak in the fresh air around you. You can hear, see and smell things differently out on a bike, compared with being boxed in a car or a train. Moving your muscles gets your circulation going, releases stress and clears your mind.
5. You improve your health
Cycling is a great way to improve your health. It gets your legs moving and your heart pumping without stressing your body too much. You can cycle for a long time and regularly, which is the best way of exercise. Besides, fresh air and cool breeze have good effect on your health and your mood.
6. You can afford it
After lodging, transportation is the most expensive part of travel. You can find cheap buses but they often choose the shortest route rather than the most scenic route to save fuel and time. Traveling by car is about six times more expensive than traveling by bike. Taking the train and flying are even more costly.
7. You are being environment friendly
Considering the global warming, cycling is the most ethical way of travel. You leaves no carbon footprint from fossil fuel usage. People take much less from the earth in order to make a bike comparing with making a car or a plane.
To travel by bike, you are much more aware of the changes in the environment and appreciate things like unpolluted air, healthy-looking trees, harmonious rivers and so on. Those are things that are not so easily felt and appreciated when you are sealed up in a metal air-conditioned wagon. Car drivers sometimes end up forgetting about how important it is to have more fresh air and less smoke from burning fossil fuel.
8. You have it easier
This might sound odd but fast cars are not always the best. On a bike, you don’t have to worry about parking when you stop, running out of fuel in the middle of nowhere, and driving over the speed limit. You can let your guard down now and then to just enjoy the scenery. If it gets boring, you can always go off-road. You are worry-free.
9. You have a lot of time to think
When you are alone on a quiet track through sand dunes, it is a lot of time to think. You need to make a tough decision? You want to find a new idea? Nothing beats a long bike ride through the countryside.
10. You are always learning
You learn about your own strength. Cycling is a mental exercise. It has little to do with your physical condition, age and sex and more to do with pushing your limits. The weather can be just too hot and humid. Some hills just seem too steep for you to climb up. But you will do it. You push your limits further pedal by pedal. You get over the hill and you feel great. Then you know boundaries are there to be broken.
You learn to be sensible. Drink more water, take regular breaks or even make a fire.
You learn to enjoy time alone, even just to find out you like it best when you have company. You also learn to talk to strangers. When you are out there in the open, you are more willing to open up to strangers. Some of the best conversations come from random encounters like that.