Tuesday, October 27, 2009

First Item On My Bucket List

No, I am not planning on kicking the bucket any time soon, but lately I had a revolving thought about bicycle travel and also some outside inspiration from books and magazines, that I feel I have to put it on record, so that it starts to become a more concrete goal. Besides, I am sure that when I start to think about other goals, I would soon be able to find other items for the list.

Anyways, back in summer, in one of my reading-like-crazy phases, I picked up several travel report books. One guy was hitch-hiking around Ireland with a fridge, two dudes rode around the world on their BMWs and then there was this guy, that circled the globe several times in every possible direction on his bicycle in the last three decades.

Source of picture is here.

Especially this last guy (Tilmann Waldthaler), made a career out of travelling on a bike. His very first tour in the 1970s, he did on a touring bike, built for him... At the time he was in Australia and basically biked through the Australian Bush on skinny tires. He also described the first time he saw a mountain bike several years later and how he embraced this new sport. He actually wrote a mountain bike guide for the Alps only to be shown the door when trying to sell his book to his editor, because there was no market for this content in the editor's opinion... Only to sell it a couple of months later, when the need for it was even evident to this said editor. This guy really works to live. It was the revolving theme in his book, that he took on a job, just to finance his next trip of several months. He said, he always worked and doesn't need a lot. While reading excerpts out of three decades of travelling on a bike, he made the impression of a grounded dreamer, if this makes any sense to you. Now he doesn't have to take a regular job anymore to keep on travelling. He travels and then writes books about it, gives speeches and showcases his pictures. He is a professional adventurer. Here is an interview with him in German.

Even though I admire this lifestyle, I am a creature of comfort. I can take camp sites, porta johns, heat and coolness, discomfort and dirt for a couple of days, but then I want to get back into civilization with all of it's amenities. And yes, this is maybe the most extreme case of bike touring that you can do, but between this and doing a bike ride around the block, there are tons of possibilities. It's just the question of which shade of gray fits to your abilities, your preferences, your wallet and your time resources.

More food for thought gave me an article in the Roadbike Action Magazine (August issue) about two guys that went from Canada to Mexico in around four weeks. Those guys did the structured approach (I like structure) and they travelled light... very light. They basically did this trip on their credit cards. They didn't carry food other than water, stayed in hotels every night, didn't even have a full change of clothes with them, so they washed every night. I read this article and first I thought, this is just crazy expensive, but on the other hand... I did three weeks of road trips before and I had to stay in a hotel every night and also had to eat out every night. Besides, if you don't have thousand things with you, you can use your regular road bikes for this trip (like these guys did) and don't have to buy/ rent a touring bike. On a road bike, you are also able to log some serious mileage as log as your legs and your butt are game for it.

We'll see... It's on the bucket list now and I am going to work from here! ;-)

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