Why do I go on Bike Tours?

While Touring Cyclists exact reasons will vary, most see the answer to this question as being obvious. But if you’re reading this, and have never gone on a long bike tour, you may be wondering what would posses someone to leave the comforts of home, live off of a bike for 3 months with just the bare necessities, and sit on a hard bike seat for 6-8 hours a day?

The most obvious reason I do it is simply to see what’s out there. Sure I could do it in a car. I’d see a lot more in a lot less time, but I’d only see it as it flew by in my metal and glass cocoon. On a bike it is more like being immersed in the surroundings. You see, smell, and really experience it. You interact with the people. You learn about them. Bike touring exposes one to the world in a much more meaningful way. That’s part of why I do it. But there’s more.

One of the internet / YouTube sites that I follow is written by a guy named Darren Alf. Darren goes by the name of The Bicycle Touring Pro. In one of his articles he makes a couple of statements that I think really speak to this. the first is a quote buy a motivational speaker named Fred DeVito:

If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you“.

The second is:

If you want to make a positive change in your life then you need to do something catastrophically different and break the pattern“.

Bicycle touring does that to me. Especially long, multi month tours. They force me out of my comfort zone and makes me confront my fears and grow beyond them.

But there is another reason.

While I didn’t grow up wealthy, I did grow up in a home with above average wealth. We didn’t live extravagantly, but we had all we needed and more. From that I learned that “things” don’t make people happy. If anything, our possessions posses us.

When I go on a bike tour, I only take what is needed. I have found that living for three months with only what is needed, both changes, and settles me. It also gives me a sense of peace.

That was really made clear to me on the last day of my 2012 “From Father’s to Son’s” SF to LA trip. After 10 beautiful and peaceful day’s or riding down the California coast, I rode into Materialism central. My title for that day, “Riding into Sodom” say’s it all. Here is what I wrote:

One half mile down the road I passed a sign welcoming me to Malibu. …

Malibu stretches for quite a few miles along the coast. Most of the homes selling for more money than I have made in my lifetime. Expensive cars are the norm, and a sense of over the top materialism prevails.

After 10 days living peacefully with only what fit in the 4 bags on my bike I felt very uncomfortable. I’m anxious to get home, but not back into the in a hurry, materialistic madness that is our world.

As I have been preparing for my summer 2017 trip, I have had to deal with taxes, work needing to be done on my townhouse, car issues… And all I want to do is get out of here and on to the road where my only decisions are where to spend the night and what to eat for dinner.

I am now not only not drawn towards material things, I am pushed away from them. Touring truly has changed me in that way. That’s a good thing; and a lot of why I like touring.