Have you toyed with the idea of setting off on a self-supported multi-day cycling trip but not sure if it’s for you? Before you think about kitting out your ride, it’s worth getting a sense of what cycle touring is all about.
Having cycle toured over 6000km on three continents, I can safely say that it might just be the best way to really experience the world. Yes, I recognize that seems like a bold statement, so let me explain.
Cycle touring allows you to travel at a leisurely yet efficient pace, allowing you to easily make stops along your route. Want to take a quick photo or pop into a café? Keen to take a different route or call it quits for the day? The world is your oyster, especially if you’re travelling with a tent and some food.
There are no trains or buses to catch or be dependent on. It’s all up to you to make it where you want to go. With that freedom comes a tremendous sense of accomplishment. There’s nothing quite like travelling on your own self-propelled steam.
Cycling exposes you to the elements, allowing you to viscerally see, smell, hear and feel the world around you. You won’t experience any of this when trapped inside a hermetically sealed car, bus or train. Instead, you’re reminded by how connected you are to your surroundings.
There is a raw vulnerability at the heart of cycle touring that opens you up to encounters you might never otherwise have. I’ve found that most people are generally curious what you’re up to when they see you balancing all your worldly possessions on your frame. Your odds of striking up a conversation with a stranger are significantly increased. This often leads to genuinely friendly conversation and a reminder of how similar people are no matter the differences in culture, language, socio-economic status or country.
This vulnerability and openness is at the heart of “Warm Showers”, an online community that matches travelling cyclists with local hosts. In our experience, some of the most memorable experiences we’ve had cycle touring is connecting with like-minded hosts and sharing stories of the road. Staying with a complete stranger (who often becomes a quick friend) fosters a tremendous sense of gratitude and respect that lasts far beyond an overnight stay.
Cycle touring is the perfect minimalist experience. You realize pretty quickly what’s important in life and what you really need. By nature of your limited carrying capacity, there’s no temptation to buy frivolous things. Focusing on being present and enjoying the few things you do have with you is deeply affective. Life really is simple on a bike.
Pedaling dozens of kilometers each day is a surefire way to get fit too. If you’re loaded down with gear, it’s all the better to give your thighs a daily work out. Plus, spending your time outdoors all day is an invigorating experience regardless of the weather.
Lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t note how economical cycle touring is. If you’re happy to camp, or even stay in hostels or vacation rentals, you can really stretch your money and save your pennies for food and drink. Because when you’re pedaling all day, you might be surprised at your appetite!
The Kootenays are the ideal starting point for a self-supported tour. With multiple routes to choose from, spectacular campgrounds, quiet roads and jaw-dropping scenery, it’s a magic formula. Contact us for details on renting a bike and gear (including panniers) to make your adventure a reality!