You’re driving in a car on the Blue Ridge Parkway and an incredible view opens up before you. You want to stop and take it all in, but that car trailing behind you begs otherwise. You hope for a pullout, but by the time it comes, you’ve lost the moment.
How many times has something like this happened to you? As much as I enjoy a good car ride, this is irritates me to no end. The inability to stop whenever I want actually causes frustration, and I end up enjoying the car ride much less than I would have.
Enter, the bicycle. When you’re riding a bicycle, you have the ultimate freedom. Not only are you experiencing nature full on- you feel the wind, the rain, the sun, and the subtle air temperature changes. You are also able to stop whenever and wherever you want.
This freedom was especially evident on our tour down the Pacific Coast. Riding California Highway 1 along some of the most scenic stretches is something I will never forget. While we were sharing the road with vehicles trying to enjoy the same scenery, we ultimately had the better method of transportation. Whenever the beauty would take my breath away, and I wanted to enjoy it a little longer, I just stopped. No waiting for a turnout. I just scooted off the road, put my foot down, and took it all in. Since a bicycle easily fits in much smaller spaces you can pause to enjoy a view just about any time you want; no waiting for a pull-out crowded with other vehicles.
On the other hand, riding a bicycle may make you appreciate even the “less scenic” rides. Traveling in a car going 70+ miles an hour with everything whizzing past you causes you to miss so much. The slower pace of a bicycle allows you to gain an appreciation for the subtle beauty of nature. The small details come into focus, allowing you to experience life more vividly. Instead of seeing something briefly and passing by you have the time to really admire the view. Even views that may be boring in the car can have subtleties which will amaze you as you are pedaling your way to your destination. On the Southern Tier I would have completely missed that along the side of the road in the deserts of New Mexico and Texas there are wild melons that grow. Who knew? On my bicycle I got the pleasure of learning something new and unexpected.
So, the next time you’re riding your bicycle, pause a moment and take it all in. Enjoy the fact that you can stop and admire the view any time you want to. This is a gift, and take advantage of it. What’s your favorite thing about bicycle touring? Let us know in the comments!