Bi•cy•cle; noun, verb, adj.
a. A device that allows the user to experience high degrees of freedom; I’m going to use this bicycle to go wherever my heart takes me to… A place cars don’t see, I am free to ride as I please, as fast as I want, and to the soundtrack of my own heartbeat.
b. A mobile home that is fueled by three ingredients: desire, simplicity, and tacos; After all of these incredibly delicious tacos we’ve eaten, I feel ready to take my bicycle and my four bags to the town that we decide to make home for the night.
c. A tool that is best utilized to create friendships; After two weeks of riding my bicycle in the desert, I ran into another crazy person using their bicycle to travel the world. He was forty years older than me, from a different country, and doesn’t like pineapple juice nearly as much as I do. Thankfully, through our connection with bicycles, we had enough to talk about for days.
d. A natural supplement to increase appreciation of life; Holy hell. After riding my bicycle for six hours to reach the top of that mountain, I kissed the ground and shed tears of joy when I saw 20 kilometers of downhill ahead of me. And to top it off, I sliced a pitaya off of a cactus the day before and kept it in my bag for that very moment. Glorious.
e. A teacher of discipline, patience, and language; That truck driver said it takes him five hours to drive to Mexico City from here… If we want to make it to Mexico City in four days, we need to ride our bicycles for eight hours each day while carrying enough food and water to stay healthy. What a fantastic opportunity to learn Spanish while meeting all the wonderful people in the small towns in between!
f. The world’s best form of exercise; I really need to get in shape… I was thinking about starting a new indoor gym routine for the next few months. Or maybe I’ll ride my bicycle for 100 kilometers every day under the sunshine, over tall mountains, through steep valleys, along rushing rivers, while seeing all kinds of exotic plants and new animals, tasting local cuisines, and experiencing weather conditions. Yeah, I’ll probably go with the bicycle thing.
a. To propel one pedal in front of the other over and over again until you have reached a state of nirvana; I was having a pretty rough day, so I decided to bicycle and after a few hours I found myself smiling from cheek to cheek without a single negative thought in my mind holding me back.
b. To escape your comfort zone; Sometimes the only way to move forward in life is to willingly put yourself in difficult situations. There’s a fine line between exposing yourself to real danger and being uncomfortable. When I bicycle, I expose myself to difficult elements of life and deal with situations that I don’t normally encounter in the comfort of my own home.
c. To fly; On a bicycle I levitate above the things that hold me down. With two wheels that take the form of wings, I have the ability to carry myself anywhere the heart desires.
Since the early 1800’s, bicycles have been utilized all over the world in a number of ways ranging from transportation to exercise and everywhere in between. It has been calculated that when taking into account the amount of calories, or energy a human uses to travel a certain distance, that the bicycle is the most efficient means of transportation available.
In addition to supreme efficiency, the bicycle has a different significance for every cyclist that decides to hop on the saddle. Below, you’ll see heartfelt responses from passionate cyclists from all over the world that we’ve had the pleasure of meeting on the road, and see what exactly the bicycle means for them.
What does the bicycle mean to you?
“My bicycle’s name is ‘Libertad’ (in English, ‘freedom’) because it is an instrument that provides me with just that. But more than that, it provides experiences that enrich myself physically, economically, intellectually, and emotionally, making me a better version of myself. I’m convinced that our main responsibility as humans is to be better, for everyone and everything.”
– Raul Morales (San Luis, Sonora, Mexico)
Raul is touring with his bicycle throughout all of Mexico and reporting back to his town’s local newspaper. In addition to being a great reporter, Raul is also a master behind the bar – some say he can pour up the best margaritas in Mexico!
“My bicycle and choice to travel by bike breaks down social barriers. Somehow, it creates a conversation bridge between me and all kinds of fascinating people and I can’t get enough of that!”
– Christina Vietinghoff (Canada)
Christina is an inspiration for people feeling like their routine-centric lives could use some more adventure! She decided that a desk job wasn’t quite giving her the vitality she needed, so Christina hopped on the bicycle in Canada to start a solo journey with one destination in mind: south!
“I ride my bike to try to find the soul of the places, going slow makes you part of the landscape, part of the society for a moment. The bike doesn’t intimidate people. It invites people to talk and to help to be real. For me the bicycle is the instrument to find that.”
– Tomas Rebora (Córdoba, Argentina)
Talk about a legend… Tomas lives on an island off the coast of Africa, has spent time living in the Amazon, Spain, Argentina, and more. He started in Alaska, and has made a big name for himself in the bicycle touring community of Mexico, as he has been traveling with a trailer carrying a surfboard! Legend! Check out his professional photography here.
“Our tandem bike is like a metaphor for marriage. We got married just before starting this tour 6 months ago, so as we learn more about the bike we’re learning more about communicating with each other. The tandem bike balances out our abilities, unites our strengths, and combines our efforts. It also teaches us to compromise, be patient, and to work together for a mutual benefit. It means that together we can go to places we might not both reach on our own.”
– John and Lydia (Australia)
Some get married and buy a house, and others get married and decide to ride a tandem bicycle from Alaska to Patagonia… I think John and Lydia have the right idea! Check out their blog here.
“The bicycle is the best way to tour the world. Slower than a car. Faster than feet. It’s like adventure. You never know where is your home, your destination, and your girlfriend. Haha. I very much enjoy it.”
-Su Yaowu (China)
Su can be found with a smile on his face 100% of the time. This young bicycle tourist has already cycled throughout many countries in Asia, and is now tackling the famous Alaska to Patagonia ride.
“La Bicicleta me ha enseñado La Libertad, El Respeto y La Compasión hacia outros seres. La Bicicleta me he llenado de Histórias que contar de pueblo en pueblo. Rodando por los pequeños caminos de Tierra, admirando el Verde pasto y el Bello Cielo, mire dentro de mi y supe que era Feliz.”
-Ana Galván (Argentina) and Adrien Vedrune (France)
Ana and Adrien are our bicycle touring role models. This incredible couple has been traveling throughout the Americas for over three years on bicycles, and has left their wonderful mark on every person and place they have encountered along the way.
“A bicycle is a way to fly through the forest and taste first hand the oxygen from the trees. The bicycle is a way to connect to the country, to the land, to really know your home, where you live, the landscape, the trees, the forest types. A bicycle is a way to explore new neurological pathways in your mind by exploring new ways of traversing the landscape of our planet.
A bicycle to me is a way to discover freedom in the moment, and push beyond our self-imposed limitations to taste what we are capable of. It can take us outside our comfort zone, into the realm of growth and discovery.
It is a a self initiation device, exploring the textures and tones within your internal landscapes. It is a way to journey into your true self. To let go of who you thought you were or should be and become who you really are. To find yourself anew. Over and over again, like the spinning wheels on the bicycle or the Earth itself rotating around the sun.
The bicycle has shaped who I am by expanding what I thought I was capable of. It has helped me to see the world through the eyes of beginners mind. Through the bicycle journey I’ve been able to see my place in the land and my connection to the bio-cultural landscape in a fresh way.”
– Paul Daley (Australia)
Pauly is an organic human being (who I am more than proud to consider a brother of mine!), who has ridden his noble steed throughout the continent of Australia, and more recently throughout the Western region of the USA. His passion for self discovery and self awareness serves as an inspiration to everyone lucky enough to cross paths with his life. And you should hear his bird calls… Paul can sing bird notes that blue jays can only dream of!
The bicycle, among many other things, is a privilege. It’s a privilege that not everyone has the fortune to experience – especially some of the people who could use it the most. Some students have to walk four hours to get to school, some mothers travel incredibly long distances to get food to provide for their kids. World Bicycle Relief is doing phenomenal work to bring bicycles to those that are in desperate need. If you want to improve the lives of humans in need through the magical life enhancement found within two wheels, you can find the link to our donation page here.