See the world from the seat of your bike!
By: Kaitlyn Bailey
MSc, University of British Columbia
“We are neither expert cyclists nor physical fitness fanatic,” says Dan [Burden]. “We simply see the bicycle as an excellent tool for more fully appreciating our environment.” (National Geographic, May 1973)
In the 1970’s Dan and Lys Burden, along with Greg and June Siple, set out to ride their bikes from Anchorage, Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, Argentine. During their trip they wrote an article for National Geographic about the unique vantage point that a bike provides travellers.
“The very struggle to get over [mountains] gives you a more intimate understanding of their size. You become acutely aware of the contours, even of the changes in temperature and environment as you change altitude,” writes Dan in the article. “With our modest physiques and merely adequate stamina, we four offer living proof that long range biking is more than a vainglorious exhibition by an athletic elite.”
I departed on my first bicycle trip two and a half years ago. Similar to the Burdens and Siples, my friend and I were not hard-core, Lycra-wearing cyclists. We knew how to cycle but my friend didn’t even own a bike before the trip. We were just looking for an inexpensive means to get around. What I learned was that the advantages of travel by bike extended far beyond the monetary savings.
One of my most memorable days was along the coast of Northern California. The road winded in and out from the ocean, making hairpin turns at the top of each peak that left me feeling practically suspended midair over the water below. My legs worked hard on the uphill but I felt proud when I reached the top, and my efforts were rewarded with a soaring ride down the other side.
I experienced my surroundings with all of my senses. The ocean breeze brushed against my skin and the tangy scent of fish and salt filled my nostrils. It was getting later in the day and the sun was setting turning the sky a brilliant spectrum of oranges and pinks. As we crested one particular turn I felt overcome with joy. My friend pulled off the road ahead of me and when I reached her she was wiping her glasses. “This is only the second time in my life that a landscape has brought me to tears, “ she said.
I know that we would have experienced that moment differently had we been looking out from the window of a vehicle. In fact, as we stood and looked back at the highway beside us we saw cars zooming past and passengers looking straight ahead. No one seemed to even notice.
On another day we were cycling past farmland, and as we pedaled up a short hill I heard a quiet squeak. I looked closer at the land beside me and noticed ten piglets frolicking around their mother. I couldn’t stop laughing as I watched them run and summersault around her legs. They blended well with the dead grasses they were surrounded by and I am certain I wouldn’t have noticed them if I was driving.
In my opinion the bicycle provides the perfect cadence to explore a new place. It is fast enough that you can cover some distance but it is slow enough that you don’t miss out on the little things that mean the most.
This year Exodus Travels is sponsoring the Grand Prize for Bike to Work Week –a week of bike touring for 2 along the coast of Portugal. I guarantee that if you want to really experience this country this is the way to do it! Register today at www.biketowork.ca so that you are eligible to win this prize! And if you are intrigued about bike touring and want to learn more about other trips that Exodus Travels offers go to www.exodustravels.com. Don’t forget that everyone who registers for Bike to Work Week can get $150/person off any of trips booked before June 30, 2018.
Sponsored Trip Highlights
- Discover Lisbon and Porto, the two main cities of Portugal
- Stay in premium accommodation and try delicious local cuisine
- Enjoy gentle coastal rides and free time to relax by the sea
- 7 nights 4-star hotels, all en suite
- 8 days land only / flight inclusive
- 5 days cycling with full vehicle support (limited seats)
- Group normally 6‐16, plus leader. Min age 16 yrs
- 90% tarmac roads and cycle paths, 10% unpaved trails
- Mix of flat riding and gentle undulations throughout
- Local bike hire included
- E-bike hire available on request
- All accommodation
- All breakfasts, 1 wine tasting and 1 dinner
- London flights (if booking incl. flights)
- Airport transfers for group flights
- Local bike hire
How to Qualify:
You must log kilometers for at least one trip that you choose to ride your bike instead of drive a motor vehicle to during Bike to Work & School Week, May 28 - June 3, 2018 (for example, if you choose to ride a bike instead of drive a motor vehicle to work, school, the gym, run errands, meet a friend for coffee, etc.). Enter the Exodus Prize Draw here: https://www.exodustravels.com/ca/cyclingBC-registration Note: if you enter, you will only qualify if you have logged a trip during May 28 – June 3, 2018.
This grand prize trip package includes economy class round trip airfare from the nearest international airport, hotel accommodations, a local leader and planned routes and itineraries with support vehicles to follow. Prize winner must be 19 years of age or older. Contest terms can be found here: https://www.exodustravels.com/sites/exod/files/bike_to_work_bc_tcs.pdf?t=1F1blF
Click here: to learn more about the Grand Prize Trip
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NOTE to School Teams: Staff must register in the Bike to Work registration system in order to qualify for the grand prize trip draw.