December 23, 2014
Bicycle travel has to be one of the most rewarding and gratifying experiences that you can have. Here are the top five reasons I love bicycle travel.
Since I was a youngster I have wanted to visit all the natural beauty that North America has to offer: Death Valley, Grand Canyon, Alaska, Rocky Mountains, Appalachia, etc. I discovered that visiting places by bicycle feels like the natural way to experience these places. A few years ago, I counted the number of states in the U.S. in which I had ridden at least 50 miles. When I realized the total was 38, I set a new goal of cycling in all 50 states. I am now at 46 with only Nebraska, Oklahoma, North Dakota, and Hawaii remaining.
I have been tracing my family roots via my bicycle travels. I have always wondered where and how my ancestors lived. Using my bicycle, I can revisit these places and not just read about them, but walk in my family's footsteps. I recently visited Helena, Arkansas, and the church my great-grandfather attended at the beginning of the 20th century. I stood at the interestion where his house stood, visited the local library to learn more about my family history, and identified the Black cemetary where my great-grandmother is buried in an unmarked grave. Visiting historic places like the Natchez Trace, Gateway Arch, Monticello, Antietam & Shiloh Battlefields, and the C&O Canal makes me feel more closely connected to the events that have shaped our nation.
I love finding those unexpected, small, out-of-the-way places when I am traveling by bicycle. The unplanned encounters are often the ones that I remember the most: The awesome smoothies at the Tomato Place; adding to the largest ball of twine in the world in Cawker City, Kansas; a warm slice of watermelon from a farmer's field in the middle of Illinois on a hot summer afternoon while talking with the local farmers; eating raw corn that tastes cooked just after visiting the hometown of Laura Ingalls from Little House on the Prarie.
I am known to be a foodie and I happen to be in search of the best coconut cream pie in North America. Along the way, I have discovered many different types of food and have tried them all. From frog's legs to fresh Alaskan salmon, and crayfish to blue crab, IT'S ALL GOOD! I love trying the local foods in the communities that I visit, eating what the locals eat, and drinking what the locals drink. There is nothing that I will not try at least once. However, I am still in search of that pie.
I have met the most interesting people on the most interesting journies during my bicycle travels. My best friends are those that I met through bicycle travels. I met my wife while organizing youth bicycle travels. In addition, those non-cyclists that I have met during my travels have been some of the most hospitable, kind, warm-hearted people that I have ever met — many of whom I have remained in contact with throughout the years. I now have a group of riders that I have met over the years, including an old high-school buddy, that set aside 7-10 days each year to share the joy of bicycle travel on a trip designed by one of the group.
Bicycle travel has changed my lifestyle, my career goals, improved my health, and shown me the beauty of the world and people around it. I owe my life to bicycle travel.
Why do you love bicycle travel?
Post and photos by Arlen Hall
ON THE ROAD is written by the tours team — Lydia, Darrah, Mike, Mandy, and Arlen — tours specialists and intrepid bicyclists, covering all things related to the Adventure Cycling tours department. Check out our 2015 Guided Tours today!