ExperiencePlus! - Bicycle Tours since 1972

Travel Stories

Why I Bike – Episode 1

by ExperiencePlus! - Friday, August 27, 2010 atop_ventoux

ExperiencePlus! employees are passionate about bicycling so we thought we’d query them and find out exactly why they ride. Our first responses come from owners, Maria Elena and Monica. If you’d like to share why you bike we’d love to hear from you too. You can email us at tour@experienceplus.com or tell us why on our Facebook page.

Maria Elena:

I ride to travel – and I’m not just saying that because I have a bike tour company! I realized it was that simple when I started to imagine what the perfect ride looks and feels like for me.  That ride looks a bit like this….

I get on my bike in the morning, anywhere in the world – my doorstep, my office, a campground, a nice hotel on top of a hill in a medieval village.  As I settle into my saddle I look forward to the physical feeling of traveling through space (the wind usually being the first indication of that Maria Elena riding in Arizona.movement!) and noticing the details I would not see if I weren’t on my bike – or maybe I look for something new if I’m riding a familiar road. I seek out a nice overlook, cute café, bakery shop or little food stand where I can stop and notice the landscape and sights around me.  If I’m traveling somewhere new I’ll probably have to stop and look at a map (or maybe just follow our arrows!) or ask for directions – but wherever my ride takes me, the perfect ride will have either brought me to new experiences along the way, or it has landed me in a new destination.

I love to have a destination at the end of my ride (even if that destination is unknown).  I even need a destination when I take the dog for a walk (mid morning that is usually the coffee shop).  So when I ride my bike, I ride to visit, explore and to travel – after all, traveling is not just about going somewhere new and exotic, but it is everything that involves the change and movement from point A to point B. I bike to get the most out of my travels.

Monica:

I bike because it engages all of my senses. The steady pedaling motion keeps rhythm with the breeze that gentlyMonica riding in northern Argentina on our High Andes ExpeditionPlus! trip. blows against my skin, keeping the sense of touch engaged with the air. I bike because only while biking do I cover enough ground to feel like I get somewhere while still traveling slow enough to watch a farmer prune his vines as I pass his vineyard. You have a panoramic view with a near 300 degree radius (if you have a small mirror on your helmet or glasses, you can even look behind you on a bike….). You can’t get that kind of an uninhibited view from any normal kind of vehicle, not even a convertible car…

On a bike, I know when it is harvest time because the sweet grape smell permeates the air. In Andalucia, Southern Tuscany, Provence, Sicily or Puglia you can smell olive oil in the air when olives are being collected and pressed. (Or, in Italy or France, you know that you’re near the farms that raise the pigs or the geese that will become delicacies on our table thanks to the smell that surrounds you on a bike….)

I bike because I love cycling through towns and hearing soccer games in the churchyard, or women arguing, or bocce balls clanging together….I also bike because I love singing out loud as I pedal down some great hills—singing out loud in the car might be fun, but it’s not nearly as exciting as doing so after having conquered a tough climb! You perceive so much more when cycling than when traveling in a vehicle, and hearing and smell are two of the senses that are more satisfied while on a bike.

My sense of taste is heightened while biking (not because of the bugs that occasionally find their way into my mouth….) because when eating local specialties whose ingredients you’ve just seen growing in fields you feel a deeper connection with the food. It’s one thing to say that you traveled through Barolo, it’s another thing to say that you biked through there. Plus, biking gives me a healthy appetite, so I can really enjoy what I’m eating. I always feel sorry for the bus tours that get on and off the bus to eat lunch and dinner and just can’t seem to enjoy what they are eating because they aren’t hungry. Our restaurants on tour can tell that we are cyclists and not bus tourists; we please the cooks when they see the plates returning empty!

I bike because it is a full immersion in the place, a full, satisfying experience (plus!).

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