One of the best ways to travel is by bicycle. It seems to me to be the perfect compromise. Just like walking, you get the fresh air and sights, smells and sounds of the towns and country you pass through, but you can also get where you want to go quite quickly.
Not as quickly as a car or train, but still fast enough to cover fifty or a hundred miles in a day, if you want to.
And that thought – about the choice of how far and fast we go – led me to think about the two main types of cycle tourist. Some cyclists like to take their time, take in the atmosphere and scenery, absorb the culture and make new friends with the people they meet on their travels.
Others, and I’m probably in this group, set themselves challenging targets and test themselves to travel a good distance in a day, a week or more, climbing all the hills they can and concentrating on the challenge and the achievement of meeting it. We still enjoy the scenery, take in the local atmosphere and so on – we’re not out-and-out racers – but our rest stops are short and only at the end of the day do we relax, savour the local culture (mainly food!) and take the time to really appreciate where we are.
Both approaches are equally valid when we’re talking about cycle touring, but when it comes to the way we live our life, racing through it with all our focus on the end result is a pretty unintelligent way to go about it.
And yet, some people will live their lives that way, ignoring the scenery (or only half-noticing it), too busy to take in the culture, the architecture, the weather, and all the things that add their textures and tastes to the pleasure of the journey. Their own feelings can get ignored and some people are even too busy to make friends from the people they meet on the way.
That’s a sad way to live a life. It’s a fun way to ride a bike – if riding a bike is only one of the many things we do to add pleasure to our journey – but lives need to be lived, not raced through as though we can’t wait to reach the end.
So, if you find you’re in a hurry to live your life, ask yourself if you’re also taking the time to enjoy the journey, because, whether you do or not, you’ll reach your destination soon enough.
And if not, ask yourself what you can do about that.