Last year we cycled 8,000 kilometers through Central Asia and the Indian continent. This has truly led us to believe that cycling is the best way to travel. Here are the four things we like best.
You wake up in the morning by the chirping of the birds in the apple orchard. Yesterday afternoon you had a chat with the apple farmer and he invited you to join him and his family for supper. You were treated like their guest of honor and the children kept firing questions at you about your trip.
After an extensive dinner accompanied by the family’s delicious homemade wine, you excuses yourself. You are quite tired after that beautiful bike ride and still have to find a place to pitch your tent. "Put it in the orchard!" the man suggests. The children happily show you to their favorite spot where you can camp under the stars.
Hospitality at its best
We experienced this kind of hospitality nearly every day. Passing cars spontaneously stopped to fill our panniers with fresh fruit. A favorite in Central Asia is the watermelon, which is quite a challenge to carry on a bike! As a cyclist you will experience this kind of hospitality and helpfulness more as a rule rather than the exception. We thoroughly enjoyed it.
Pure bliss of freedom
On a bicycle trip, no one tells you what time you should be ready. There is no travel schedule and you decide where you go and how long it takes you. You can stop anywhere and anytime to take pictures. Or for a chat, usually started by the curious inhabitants of that small village that you just cycled through.
On a bicycle trip it is also not necessary to book expensive excursions to see the area. You simply cycle through it yourself. This makes it much easier to get off the beaten track. Encouraged by the locals, who often like to give you an insight into their daily lives. You simply cannot compare that with an excursion to places where thousands of visitors flow through day after day, year after year.
You got this
Of course there are also challenges with a bicycle trip. You have to know how to fix a flat tire, and if you’re chain gets stuck there’s no-one but you to fix it. It is also important to think carefully about the right camping equipment and good cycling clothing. For example, it is advisable to purchase good cycling shorts with chamois for rides that can easily last as long as six hours.
You can put bags on almost every bicycle, but be wary you don't bring too much. Every extra kilo on your bike means a lot more effort on your side. This might seem easy in flat areas, but cross a mountain range and you will definitely start to feel it. Fortunately, the mountains also bring lots of joy. After that steep climb when finally reaching the top you quickly realize you did that all by yourself! An ultimate sense of bliss.
Cycling makes you happy
Being outside all day is very likely to make you happy. You get more energy and enjoy the abundance of vitamin D. You don’t have to worry about the dreaded holiday pounds on a bicycle trip. You can (and want to) eat all day long, which is actually for the best. You burn a lot of energy with all that cycling! Sports have also been proven to lower the stress hormone cortisol, making you not only feel happy, but also relaxed.
Enough reasons to leave the suitcase for the next trip but take the bike inestead! After a year of world cycling, we are convinced. Our steel rods will takes us everywhere from now on.