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Photo by photo contest 2014
It's the time of year when holiday tunes are playing everywhere. But sometimes when you are traveling far away from home in another culture, hearing a Christmas carol or familiar song can be a wonderful reminder of home ... or not.
If bread is the Staff of Life, it is also, at the very least, the Kickstand of Cycling. It holds you up and keeps you from falling over. I love this carbolicious treat.
I enjoy taking extra time to compose my photos while I'm on the road. The slower nature of bicycle travel suits both me and my photography. But once in the city, I enjoy taking what I call "hip shots."
The cold November rains have come and my mind drifts off to warmer places on the planet. While we are slamming into winter here in the U.S., New Zealand is sliding into summer.
If you have the pleasure of taking a bike trip in New Zealand, don't miss the cathedral. While I know there are beautiful churches in Christchurch and Auckland, I'm referring to one made by Mother Nature.
The smiles of the men in this picture, enjoying a beer after a long bike ride, help make up my mental collage of Colombia. They flew by us in a tightly packed pace line as we pedaled our heavily loaded, lumbering touring bikes out of Bogotá. Waves and smiles and they were gone.
One of the many things I love about travel is that it constantly tweaks our own language. Each one of my bicycle journeys has redefined certain words: beautiful, ugly, loud, serene, rich, poor, fair, unfair, tragedy, happiness.
Their smiles challenge me. Okay Mr. Traveler, can you have as much fun as we do?
They are gifts of the road. Nature's snacks ripened just for you. Their aromas fill the hot summer's breezes and the late fall's chill. Roadside trees, far from any home or farm, display these treats more beautifully than any row of sweets in a candy shop. They must have been planted for the benefit of touring cyclists. Why else would their heavily laden branches lean over the road?
If you like climbing, vistas to die for, glacial gorges, day hikes to mountain lakes, and don't mind pedaling off the pavement ... put this trip on your front burner.
After a long, hard, wonderful slog pedaling the back roads of Colombia south from Bogotá, we took a break in the beautiful city of Cartagena.
I woke up early and grabbed my camera and wandered the streets of this World Heritage city. The colors were incredible. The architecture sublime.
If you are an avid touring cyclist and want an unending supply of beautiful roads with little to no traffic ... negotiate the month of September as your vacation time for the rest of your working days. Then, when you retire, simply continue this travel pattern until your legs no longer spin.
As we crested the hill, it appeared as if it were snowing. In southeastern Oregon? In September? It was 75 degrees!
Last week I confessed my obsession of photographing house numbers during our bike journey in Portugal.
I realize the short "video" might have had a certain entertainment value, but probably fell far short of convincing the viewer that they should hop on a bike and tour there.
While we were pedaling in Portugal, I started noticing house numbers. In the small villages, most weren't generic, but often obviously fashioned by the home owner. I began taking photos of them. Then I got obsessed.
In Thailand, we didn't meet many foreign cyclists on the road (at least on the routes we pedaled), so we got wonderful reactions from motorists. But never honks. The people of Thailand are some of the most polite drivers on the planet.
So when we heard someone honk as they passed it startled us. Then the next car honked as well. And the next. And the next. Were our bikes too close to the road? But each car only honked once or twice. And the occupants were smiling. We smiled and waved back. For the next thirty minutes it was like being on a parade route. We waved at every car and every car celebrated our journey in Thailand with polite honking.
Why can't I pass one without stopping and snapping a few shots? Maybe it's the realization that after all the dreaming and scheming and planning, we are finally there. In some magical foreign place, filled with new sights and sounds and smells.
I always smile when I look at this photo. It was taken many years ago, but it feels like I snapped it yesterday.
It was early morning in India in the state of Himachal Pradesh. Lots of climbing, steep grades, and snow on the ground. I pedaled up to this tiny roadside store to buy a cup of hot chai to warm my hands and get my daily sugar rush.
I've heard it said, "If you listen closely ... you just might hear your priorities."
Donuts. Pastries. Cookies. Fudge. Croissants. Scones. If I didn't ride a bicycle, I'd probably tip the scales at 600 lbs.
I truly feel sorry for people who have only observed the world from the seat of a speeding car. It all becomes a blur. The pace of bicycle travel suites me. But even pedaling can propel you too quickly through your surroundings.
But of all the maps I have (and I have boxes full of them), I do have a favorite. It is no bigger than three by four inches. It was drawn for me by a man I met on the road in South Africa.
I live in the insanely beautiful Pacific Northwest. Due to our cloudy skies and somewhat damp weather (even in July), the color pallet can be quite muted — dark greens, blues, and greys.
So when I travel, I am drawn to the opposite. The rich and vibrant, almost electric colors that you will find on the houses in Cuba, in the shops in Bangkok, and in the markets in India.
I am amazed at how many bike travelers hop on their bikes for a day's ride and rarely stop. Sure, they might stop to fix a flat or to take off a jacket, or to pause to look at their map. But "lingering" isn't in their vocabulary. They zoom to their next destination and check into a hotel or campsite.
Thirty years ago (tomorrow). I left Seaside, Oregon with my buddy Thomas to cycle across America. July 2, 1981. Almost 11,000 days have passed since we dipped our rear tires in the Pacific Ocean. Hard to believe. In some ways it really does feel like it was yesterday.
There is an art to knowing which travel advice to embrace and which to ignore.
Every touring cyclist has had the experience of some local telling them that the road up ahead is flat, only to discover that it is hillier beyond belief. Or that the next town is just over the ridge, when there are three ridges to climb over.