10 reasons why you will love long distance cycling (or not)
After having cycled during one year from France to Vietnam over 16,000km , we know why we love so much long distance cycling. It is for us the best way to travel and explore the world but it might not be the case for everybody, as we are all different!
You are considering to go one day for long distance cycling and need to be convinced that this way of travelling is made for you. Or you have already been on a long adventure by bicycle and would like to see if you share the same point of view with us? This post is made for you. Let’s start !
1. The People
Probably our top reason to explore the world on a bicycle: people! We have met during one year some of the most wonderful, welcoming, true-hearted people we have ever met. And it happened pretty much in all the countries we have crossed.
We don’t know why, but kind and honest people have most of the time naturally came to us and invited us sometimes for a snack, sometimes for a full meal or even to sleep in their homes. As we travel slowly and through some places where people don’t get used to see a lot of tourists, we think that our heavy bicycle with all their panniers trigger the people’s curiosity, sympathy and trust.
We had particularly wonderful experiences in Georgia and in Iran – Iranian hospitality is legendary - where local people welcomed us as if we were part of their family. We then could experience and see their daily life from the inside.
Indeed, your behavior and your smile are super important to give a good first impression. But travelling by bicycle will generally make you positive and smiling most of the time !
As we travel with everything needed to sleep, cook and survive, we have the freedom to stop whenever and wherever we want. Just to travel with a tent already makes your mind much more relaxed : no need to worry or to book a hotel for example.
You like this river or this perfect view on that mountain? No problem, just stop here for tonight and enjoy !
You have also the freedom to choose your route and to change your plans if needed! For example, we initially wanted to cycle through China but when we cycled in Iran, we decided to change our plan. We loved this country so much that we decided to extend our stay and to take the Indian route instead of China to get to Vietnam.
3. The Food
If you love food, well, long distance cycling might be the best way to discover the best local cuisine and spices!
No need to say that one cyclist will burn a looooot of calories. And burning a looooot of calories means we have the right to eat a lot of food. Not only you are allowed to eat a lot but you will discover the true variety and diversity of the countries you will crossed.
Furthermore, cycling will make you (really) hungry and you will then truly appreciate and be grateful for the food you eat. Sometimes we have just been super happy as we could eat a mango or even drink cold water.
The probability is also very high that some of the local people you will meet on the road will invite you for dinner. We had probably some of our most outstanding culinary experiences thanks to them. Our two favorite countries for food have been India and Iran : two incredible cuisines with so many different species and flavors. And their breads are unforgettable. We sometimes dream about Sangak (Iranian bread) or Naan (Indian bread)…
But do remember you need to treat well your body will healthy food. Cycling everyday does not mean that should go only for junk food or greasy food.
4. A Philosophy of life
We consider long distance cycling as a true philosophy of life. By travelling slowly and without all the unnecessary stuff we have packed in our houses, you start to consider the world differently.
It is a simple way of travelling made of simple and true joys or happiness: a beautiful landscape, the wind going through your hair, a wild animal crossing your route, a smile or a help from the local people…
During one year we have gotten back to the essential. It has made us wiser and by travelling by bicycle we have discovered better who we are and what we truly enjoy or like. It will then naturally make you going to the people who will make you grow.
We used to live in the city before our adventure. We could feel we were sometimes really cut from Nature. Just one simple example: in a big city one cannot really admire the stars at night just because of the artificial light.
During one year travelling sometimes through very remote places we have spent so many nights sitting next to our tent and watching the incredible show made by the stars. We have also enjoyed bathing in the rivers, cycling alone through beautiful forests, climbing tough mountains, etc.
Travelling by bicycle will reactivate this link we all have deep inside of us with nature.
Furthermore, cycling is a very ecological way to travel as you don’t burn gas (expect for cooking) and that you will most of the time buy the groceries you need day by day. It is also your responsibility to say no to plastics bags which are, unfortunately, still too often offered in most of the countries we have crossed.
6. Cycling community is awesome
Cycling community is generally super helpful and positive! Before our bicycle trip, we could count on the help of so many other cyclists who share with us their experiences and advice.
As well, during our adventure we could count on the help of other long distance cyclists going through the same region : sharing tips on the road to take, camping spots, food to try, etc. It’s always an amazing feeling to meet randomly or not other cyclists during your day: you feel like you are meeting a member of your family and have so many things to share !
Moreover, we must mention the website Warmshowers.com which is a true gem for long distance cyclists. Warmshowers is a “couchsurfing” for cyclists or people willing to welcome cyclists. It is purely based on the generosity of its members. During one year we have been welcomed so many times by outstanding warmshowers hosts who provided us with a room, dinner, but above will with some unforgettable time with them.
As they are most of time also cyclists, warmshowers members will understand and know what you need… Yes, the first thing you need when arriving to their place is a shower! They will also understand if you need to rest after a long day rather than to go around the city or to go for party.
7. Physical activity
Cycling during many hours almost every day will provide with the necessary physical activity !
It is sometimes tough (for us the worst being to climb a mountain under the sun and with very humid conditions such as in Thailand) but it will make your body feel great and strong. Physical activity means the productions of Dopamine which is often synonymous of happiness!
Be careful : long distance cycling can really make your body addicted to it ! If we have too many days rest, we quickly feel uncomfortable and need to go back as soon as we can on the saddle…
8. You truly deserve what you get
As you get to your destination by your own motivation and physical activity it will make you feel that your truly deserve where you managed to arrive !
No need to say that your feeling would be extremely different if you took this cable car to reach the top of this mountain rather than cycling it all the way.
If you decide to go for long distance cycling, you will probably set high goals for your trip. You will have a lot of challenges that you will eventually overcome, a lot of sweat and pains but in the end you will probably make it ! And this feeling of achievement patiently built in the long run is unique.
We remember when we reached our first mountain pass over 2,000m in Georgia (Goderdzi Pass). We were so glad we managed to arrive there and together!
No pain no gain as they say.
9. Unexpected things will happen
Some like to plan from the beginning to the end their trip : where they will sleep every night, what they will eat… But you cannot do that with long distance cycling.
With long distance touring, we have learnt how to really enjoy and adapt ourselves to the unexpected things. As you are exposed during all day to so many variables you cannot master (the weather, the road, the people, etc.), you have to accept the unexpected and the situation in which you are caught in.
For example, one day in Azerbaijan, we had a long way on the road and did not know where to sleep on that night. Khanh Nguyen was so exhausted we couldn’t go further. Thibault quickly use Google translate and stopped a random car to explain we didn’t know where to sleep and couldn’t go further… It happened that inside the car was a super friendly family which immediately welcomed us to their home and then treated us as kings ! What a feeling !
10 . It’s Cheap
Ultimately, long distance cycling is cheap compare to other way of travelling ! Depending on your capacity to camp every day, to cook by yourself you can save a lot of money every day.
You can also count on people’s kindness: so many people have offered us some food or water on the road during one year…
Long distance cyclists have from our point of view a very positive image for many people. Many people have tried their best to help us and welcome us on our way. In some countries you have also countless opportunities to find a place to sleep for free (temples in Thailand, churches in North-East India, etc.)
Ultimately with a bicycle there is no need to pay for gas and maintenance cost are generally low compare to a motorbike or a car. And it will get even lower if you are able to fix many things on your bicycle by yourself!
Do you agree with us? Do you find other reasons to go for long distance cycling that we might have forgotten? Do not hesitate to drop a comment !