Anyone who spoke to me prior to leaving home will know that I was originally opposed to writing any kind of blog. I was setting out to be free and thought a blog would simply become a burden. To a latent Luddite like myself, even the idea of carrying a computer seemed utterly absurd. The purity of bike travel was supposed to be helping me escape today’s rabid over-communication, not make me a part of it. And who the hell would be interested anyway?
All this changed just two weeks into my journey following a chance encounter on the Denali National Park road, Alaska. My inspiration was Aurelie & Florent, an enigmatic French couple in the process of cycling around the world*. They opened my eyes to the benefits of spreading my experiences and set me thinking. Then once I started blogging my enthusiasm quickly grew, to the extent that after only five months on the road I found myself adding a laptop to my load. Blogging has since become an integral part of my tour routine. But why?
⦁ Where’s the first place I look when planning a route? The internet. And where do I get the most up to date and relevant information? Other people’s blogs. Over the years I’ve discovered a collection of about five other riders touring the America’s who enjoy the same kinds of riding and challenges as me. It is their websites that inspire me onto many routes. Although we may not all have met in person, we are still a community of sorts. A virtual community of which I am proud to be a member. I find this feeling of belonging and identification with a tribe to be particularly energizing during extended periods of detached solo travel.
⦁ It never fails to amaze me how many people are keen to invest in my journey. Whether through hospitality, the gift of some fruit, a drink or just taking the time to show genuine interest. It is only natural to want to show these people thanks. Documenting my journey and making it accessible to everyone is the only way I have found to show my universal gratitude to all this kindness.
⦁ Long distance extended bicycle tours are by their very nature an exercise in progress. We’re always moving somewhere, always valuing our forward momentum and looking ahead to whatever surprise experience may lie around the next turn. But what value is perpetual experience if we don’t take time to digest it? Most bicycle tourists find their riding naturally breaks down into a series of legs. It is at the end of each leg that I settle in to put together a blog entry. Doing so forces me to look backwards and think about the experiences I’ve just had. This evaluation, remembering and documentation helps me learn and helps me remember. Being forced to look backwards is one of the most valuable parts of committing to a blog.
⦁ I am lucky to be able to swan around on a bike like I do. Sure I’ve given up a lot but for me it’s worth it. I love to travel on my bicycle… nothing else comes close to the feeling it gives me. All it has taken for me to get here is a series of choices and recognition of what is important to me in my life. It is essentially a selfish pursuit. Through sharing my experiences I am able to add a little altruism into my life. Documenting my travels makes them accessible to people who are not as fortunate as me or maybe committed to other priorities. It was reading a cycle touring blog one lunchtime at my work desk in London that first sparked the fire that has become this journey.
* It is in homage to Aurelie & Florent that the name VeloFreedom came about. ‘Vélo’ being the french word for bike.