“He went out and did the things he dreamed about, not simply for a two-week vacation in trimmed wonderlands, but for months and years in the very midst of wonder.”
One of the questions I get most often is, “what inspired you,” or just simply, “why?” It’s hard to say really, it wasn’t just one event that sparked this trip, but rather a gradual build up of things that lead me to type in “bike touring around the world” into google. Once I had read other cyclists blogs though, I was hooked.
I clearly remember at fourteen sitting in a hostel in Switzerland when a few older Belgium boys (probably only eighteen or nineteen at the time) walked in, decked out in their biking gear. They were biking the Swiss Alps for a few weeks (not touring, just different day trips) and I remember thinking to myself, “someday, I’m going to be that cool too.” At sixteen I remember briefly meeting a young man in a German hostel who had just graduated from law school. He had taken the summer off to bike through Europe, and I remember being completely awe-struck at how amazing that sounded. After that, the thought of biking across a country didn’t enter my mind again until a few months ago.
When I realized the nursing school I wanted to attend had a two year residency requirement (and I was only at one) I decided I was going to backpack through Asia for a year. I had become completely enthralled with Tibet, and before even realizing that there is no way to travel there right now, I decided I wanted to bike across it in order to really experience the culture. (Though Tibet is unfortunately impossible, Tibetan refugees now live in northern India and Nepal where I will be going, and they have preserved their people, language and culture just in a new location). That’s when I first typed “biking around the world” into google, something I would type in hundreds of times in the coming months.
There are families who have biked thousands of miles together, there are people who, if you looked at their mileage, have gone around the world multiple times, and there are people who have spent their lives biking through every single country. These people’s blogs have been the most inspirational pieces of writing I have ever gotten the chance to read, not because of the ground they have covered, but because of the things they have experienced by using their bike as a method of travel and ultimately as a lifestyle. It’s not about the bike. It’s about the fact that you aren’t just another tourist, jumping from tourist town to tourist town. It’s about the fact that the bike gives you the opportunity to pass through villages that no one else has seen, and stay with locals no other traveler would get to stay with. It’s about how amazing people treat you when you are biking, and the opportunities that present themselves because of it. It’s about the experience of traveling slowly through a place, and taking the time to really get to know its customs, people, and culture.
Bike touring is also one of the healthier and simplest life styles possible. You carry with you only what you need, and there is no way to accumulate the mountain of stuff anyone with a house finds themselves surrounded by. You bike for hours everyday, you live outdoors, and you learn to appreciate everyday for what it is. There is no stress, no deadlines, and no place you would ever rather be. After reading about other people who have done this, who have experienced this ultimate freedom, who have taken part in amazing rituals around the world, and who have been immersed in other cultures in a way no other traveler ever will be, how could I not fall in love with the idea?