I know it's a worn cliché, but the bicycle is really the 'transport of delight'. Whether commuting, going to the shops or being belted down some road or mountain path, no other machine leaves you closer to the actual feeling of travelling. On a mere 0.07 of a horsepower most of us can beat a 200 horsepower car in town traffic, and a mountainbike will go where no motor trials machine will take you. A 60 year old can easily beat Roger Bannisters time over the mile and downhills are free! (ask any backpacker about this last one…). What a machine, and yet the cycles greatest achievement is the ability to carry loads over long distances and give their riders a great experience at the same time. I'm talking about Cycletouring of course.
I'm just reading Barbara Savage's book 'Miles from Nowhere', her account of her round the world cycleride. These sorts of books are everywhere, the 'round the world' ride becoming almost de-rigeur for anyone writing about cycletouring, and yet cycletouring is so easy. We've all got bikes and with the exception of pukka racers, all will take some sort of bag on the back. If yours is a carbon fibre monocoque time trialler or full suspension downhiller then just pinch your son/daughter/mothers hack bike and strap a bag on. Then get out and cycle from place to place. Go-on, try to remember the last time you did that - not a to-and-back, not a round the block or off road bash around your car, but a series of days when you simply travelled. Go from hotel to hotel, or pub to pub, or campsite to campsite the principle is the same. Nothing beats the cleansing that comes from leaving (almost) all your possessions behind and having nothing to worry about but where you're going, when you're going to eat and what that funny noise from the back wheel is. These are the kind of problems we evolved to cope with, you'll soon forget the mortgage, the bank, the boss and why someone thought putting a talking paperclip on your word processor was a good idea. We cyclists know that 25 miles with a saddle bag on the back is a doddle but people you meet will still treat you as a superman/woman or lunatic, but they miss the point. We return refreshed, relaxed, fitter and more alive.
So summer's soon, you've no excuse, give it a go!