Bicycle touring allows you to experience things that you would otherwise never experience in a vehicle. You can stop whenever you like to observe your surroundings, read a plaque, or just “smell the roses”, and you meet all sorts of interesting people.
The best way I can illustrate what it’s like is by telling you about one of my experiences while training for this trip.
My regular training run takes me to a small town southeast of Ottawa called Vars. Vars is the halfway point and I always stop at this small park on the edge of town. Situated in the park is the memorial pictured below.
The memorial is for soldiers that lost their lives in World Wars I and II. Look closely and you’ll see that 10 young men lost their lives in the Great War. Now Vars isn’t exactly a big town – maybe it had a larger population in 1914 – but 10 men! What a devastating loss it must have been to this small town.
Surrounding the monument are posts with lazer etched photographs of each of these men in the prime of their life. Each plaque describes what company they were with, where they lost their lives and at what age. The youngest was 18 – the same age as my youngest son.
I can just imagine at the beginning of the war, the town waving goodbye to the soldiers as they left on their “brief” stint across the ocean to settle this “disturbance”. I doubt any of them knew at the time how terrible the war would be.
I think about my little adventure: 6 weeks cycling across Canada. What a joke, compared to the sacrifices these men made.
Anyway, those are the kinds of things you think about on a bicycle tour. You would never have these kinds of experiences flying by in car at 100kms/hour.
Of course there not all morbid like that. You meet fantastic people allow the way too. On one trip in Germany, Vicki and I were flagged down by a gentleman excitedly waving his arms as we passed by. It turned out he had a cousin back in the US and upon seeing our Canadian flags he wanted to talk to us. He invited as back to his simple but beautifully maintained farm (no electricty!) and I helped him translate a letter he had received. Later he drove us to the top of a mountain to show us the valley below and where we were headed.
I’ve had countless experiences like this. Generally, people are intrigued and fascinated by the sight of a bike and rider packed with gear. I believe conjures up dreams of adventure in everyone.
So that’s a small taste of what bicycle touring is like. Do you have similar experience to share?