I don’t know about you but I get a huge amount of inspiration (and envy) from reading other people’s stories of bike tours - short or long. However more often than not it is the long distance adventurers who have the most impact on me – particularly bikepackers who spend months or even years on the road crossing continents and the globe with seemingly apparent ease. They get to visit and become immersed in remote places that (at best) I’ve barely heard of.
Does this inspire me to do a big expedition of my own? Probably not, I honestly can’t imagine going without at least basic creature comforts for very long – and I’m only talking about knowing there’s a hot shower, prepared meal and comfortable bed at the end of a hard days riding. I’m sure it is exciting to meet and even cycle for a time with all sorts of people along the way but being apart from friends and family would be hard. What I’m trying to say is, that I want to do and experience all those things – but maybe only in shorter bites when time and budget allow for the type of tour I enjoy.
I know for many, it is the exactly the unknowns and being out of your comfort zone that create the best experiences and memories. I certainly don’t doubt that but am content to live the epic tours vicariously through stories and videos that expedition cyclists use to chronicle their journeys, which they love to do - very fortunately for the rest of us! The beauty of this is also that we really only hear the interesting bits, and the more challenging or even dangerous parts have become amusing anecdotes (in hindsight anyway).
It’s not hard to find good inspiration – just search for ‘bike touring’ on YouTube or Vimeo, watch a video and have suggested many, many more. Some videos I particularly recommend are from Dave’s Travel Pages and Bicycle Touring Pro. For blogs, a great place to start would be CyclingEurope.org where, as well as his own amazing adventures, Andrew Sykes lists a top 50 of awesome blogs.
I’ve been fortunate to have met or heard some people whose blogs are perhaps not so well known, but are inspiring to me none-the-less:
Kate Leeming kateleeming.com Canada, Greenland, Africa, Australia, Siberia
Dave Briggs davestravelpages.com Europe, Americas, Africa
Matthew Harris arctic-cycler.com Holland to Australia
Crazyguyonabike.com is another great repository of blogs including a friend of mine Paul O’Reilly and an awesome woman I saw presenting at a slide show last week at my LBS Omafiets, Heather Burge (main image), who rode from Beijing to Paris.
A favourite place for me to keep track, and to check in when I feel my inspiration is waning, is a Twitter List I’ve created ‘Cycle Touring Inspiration’.
These people (and more) and my own, much more modest, cycling experiences (some of which I’ve written about elsewhere in the CTG blog) are what have inspired me to seek out awesome bike tours wherever I can find them – no destination or tour type is off limits because I want to do them all. As I’ll never have the time or means to do them all, reading about them and savouring the images will have to suffice. I’m delighted to have found a way I can share all this research with many other like-minded people and perhaps encourage more people to get hooked on the wonderful world of exploring the world by bicycle.
I hope cycletoursglobal.com can also be an inspiration for others who, like me, are looking for a more structured or organised (and shorter) bike tour. That said there are tour listings of durations ranging from a few hours to a months, and from luxury guided tours to very basic self-guided. Perhaps a bit selfishly, I certainly find it an inspiration and constantly change my own wishlist of tours to undertake or just drool over!
What inspires you to explore the world on your bike?