Monday, January 15, 2007

Why bicycle touring?

First I should clarify what bicycle touring means in general terms. It's similar to back-packing and like back-packing, it's a way to travel around the world to different places, staying at cheaper accommodations, exploring sites, meeting people, for a longer period of time. But in contrast to back-packing you must take care of the transportation yourselves, that is, you bike from one destination to another opposed to taking a train, bus or plane.
Bike touring requires a specially designed bike (read The Bike in this journal) to tackle the specific environment and be comfortable for a long period of time riding. Other than panniers (bike bags) and extra gear, your equipment is similar to back-packing, but preferably a bit lighter.
The major difference, and the reason why I have chosen bike touring opposed to back-packing, is that you will experience things that you most likely would miss travelling with bus or train. Being it a local villages where the bus doesn't stop, meeting locals in their authentic environment, exploring rare sites, bike touring gives you the freedom and the opportunity I'm looking for.
Another important reason why I have picked bike touring over back-packing is the feeling of being on the road. With back-packing I could easily get bored after a few days at a destination, where with bike touring I rarely stay at one place more than two days. I simply see and experience more.
Last but not least, I'm looking forward to the physical challenge. Can I make it? However, I set the limits and I set the pace, so it can never get out of control.
Bike touring is becoming a quite popular way of travelling. Especially in Germany you can see many magazines, books and maps on the subject. A key factor to its success, I believe, is the freedom it offers. That's why bike touring comes in many varieties, being it a 2-day excursion to a castle, or a 5 year trip around the world, there are people who do both.

I settle for a 100 day trip through Vietnam to China.

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