The Day the Kilometers Died

June 9, 2017 - Willie Weir sends Adventure Cycling a blog post every other Friday. Thanks, Willie!

It was late in the morning on a humid, hot, and soon to be hotter, day in Cambodia. Shade was at premium. We pedaled on a dirt road north of Sihanoukvilee. Our skin was chalky from dust that flew up and stuck to our bodies from the occasional passing truck.

I heard Kat curse after looking down at her handlebar where her cyclometer used to be. She remembered having checked it 10km back. I wasn’t riding with a cyclometer, so it was our only distance-measuring device. I offered to retrace our route along the bumpy, dusty road. I reached the 10km mark, and nothing. I turned to head back and noticed a black rectangle in the dust and gravel. I’d found it … but not before a petroleum truck had crushed the life out of it.

Kat probably knew the result of my search from the look on my face when I returned. I placed the crushed cyclometer in the palm of her hand. Stuff happens. Our future kilometers would go unmeasured. There was nothing we could do about it.

But there were water buffalo families to observe, 

coconut to eat, 

sugar cane juice to make,

and people to meet.

By the end of the day, measuring the kilometers didn’t matter.

Travel isn’t a distance ... it’s an experience.

Photos by Willie Weir and Kat Marriner

SIGHTS AND SOUNDS is posted every other Friday.

Willie Weir is a contributor for Adventure Cyclist magazine. His books, Travels with Willie and Spokesongs, will inspire you to hit the road and might change the way you approach bicycle travel. He lives in Seattle with his wife Kat. You can also find him at, Facebook, and Instagram.  



Al Hutchings June 9, 2017, 7:09 AM

Agree totally with the sentiment expressed in this article .

Always disliked the feeling of being a slave to the damn thing on the handlebars of my bikes .

Ted June 9, 2017, 7:59 AM

But how will you know if you won any Strava segments???? ;)

Dana June 9, 2017, 10:50 AM

Well said. I just bought a new off road touring/bikepacking rig and thought "I need a computer for it." I'll let it slide for now since I'm broke after purchasing the new bike. :) Al Hutchings makes a good point. We've become slaves to these devices.

Recent case...

My friend said: "Did you record your ride on Strava?" I said: "No." He said: "Then it didn't really happen." I laughed and lifted my pint glass at the absurdity of such a statement.

Bryan Lorber June 9, 2017, 1:12 PM

True enough, but sometimes (often) you need to measure distance in order to navigate. I carry 2 and paper cue sheets. :-)

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