You may enjoy bicycling. You may love traveling. You may love both—but it’s not necessarily a prerequisite. Bicycle touring brings the best of both worlds to you in what some people call the experience of a lifetime.
Here are seven lessons we’ve learned along the way, through lots of bike tours and miles down the path. But it just takes one—one bike tour to open your eyes to a new way of seeing the world and yourself.
1. Slow down. Be in the moment. Seeing the world on two wheels forces you to slow down and absorb what’s around you—not like when you’re riding in a car, bus or train. You can apply this to life in general, too.
2. “Be in the movie.” As one writer said, traveling around Europe in a car, bus or train is like watching a beautiful movie. But exploring by bike is like being in the movie. Immerse yourself in your surroundings on a bike tour. You’ll see and experience things you may not have otherwise noticed.
3. Everyone has a story. Traveling by bike, you’ll encounter so many interesting people, and you’ll likely hear their stories, regardless of language barriers.
Founder Jim Johnson fondly recalls a tour in a Slovenian village when an elderly gentleman heard the group speaking English. He asked, “England?” A member of the group replied, “No, America.” The man knew perhaps 15 words of English—five of which he used in his response: “God bless America!” Thank you!” His daughter walked over and explained that his village had been occupied by the Germans in World War II and liberated by the Americans.
4. People are inherently kind and generous. Like the farmer, Jim met in Austria riding by orchards along the Tauern Bike Path. After asking if he could buy some apples or peaches, the farmer said he couldn’t BUY them but he could HAVE them—if he agreed to share with every cyclist he encountered. After a wonderful chat (and a slice of apple pie), Jim pedaled off with two bags of fruit. You never know what kindness you’ll find while traveling by bike.
5. Cycling lets you break the rules in regards to food. Pedaling for upwards of 20 to 30 miles daily burns calories. Enjoy a French feast or morning pastry. “A minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips” does not apply to bicycle touring.
6. Take the road less traveled. Find yourself on the less-traveled roads—or bike paths—and encounter something entirely different than by car. Even herds of cows!
7. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Fear can be a roadblock to wonderful breakthroughs. And fun! Step beyond your comfort zone, whether that’s booking your first tour or planning your first solo trip. Our team and clients can all attest to the power of touring by bike.
We’ve got you covered. Read more tips about why a bike tour, common questions and fears about bicycle touring, and our favorite first-timer tours.