June 3, 2010
Traveling by bike is a blast! But sometimes you need a break from the long days in the saddle and want to do something away from your bicycle that is both fun and free. During your days off (or even at the end of a long day of cycling) consider taking part in one of the following seven free outdoor activities that are often times held in large and small cities around the world.
Just about every city in the world has a museum of one kind or another. Most city museums are free of charge and the rest are usually quite inexpensive. Leave your bike at the entrance and take in the history of the area(s) you are visiting.
Festivals & Parties
If you plan your trip out well, or if you simply get lucky and stroll into town at the right time of year, you might find that the city you are staying in is hosting a large party or festival of some kind. Rather than ride straight through, get off your bike and join the festivities!
Like visiting a local museum, many cities have art galleries that you can visit and stroll about in. Whether you are an art lover or not, this is a great way to learn about the city you happen to find yourself in and to converse with some of the locals.
Many cities conduct outdoor concerts that are open to the public and free of charge (usually during the summer months). These sorts of events are usually listed in the local newspaper or on the city website, so check in these locations for events of this type.
Parades are another great, free and fun way to spend a day in a new city. Just set your bike up on the sidewalk, take a seat on the curb and enjoy the passing show. Some cities might even ask you to ride in the parade with them – after-all, a fully-loaded touring bicycle is not something everyone in the world has seen before.
Farmers' markets are fantastic -- free and fun as well. You can usually stroll through the market with your bike in hand and shop for fresh fruits, vegetables, and other home-made goods. For the health-conscious bike traveler, there couldn't be a better way to shop for the food that is needed to power you from one city to the next.
Finally, do what you can to search out any movies that might be playing in town. But don't pay big bucks to go to a boring old movie theater. Instead, seek out outdoor movies. Large cities will often times have weekly films playing in the city park or other such outdoor venues. Such films are usually free to attend and they are a great place to meet people; bring a picnic dinner and enjoy an evening under the stars.
DARREN ALFF conducted his first long-distance bicycle tour in 2001 at the age of 17. He's been traveling by bike ever since and just recently returned from a 9-month tour of central and eastern Europe. Darren now runs the website at www.BicycleTouringPro.com and is working to inspire a new generation of bicycle travelers to get out and explore the world.