“I cannot make my days longer so I strive to make them better.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
The draw of the “open road” has been written about, sung about, and illustrated as long as there have been roads. To look longingly down a winding path onto a horizon conjures feelings of wonder, contemplation, and the adventure of the unknown.
No single image can capture the full experience of an “open road” adventure. There are too many vistas. Too many human encounters. And too many mud pits and roadblocks checkered with moments of gratitude and epiphany.
There’s something beautiful about every mode of transport. Whether human-powered or fossil fuel charged, there’s a beauty in movement. There’s beauty in the rhythmic patter of your feet running through the woods, in the humm of your car on the highway, and in the click of your bicycle chain down a hill.
By all means, pick your preferred vehicle of outdoor mediation and get out on the open road for a few days – just don’t overlook the dual tranquility and power of a bicycle.
To date, no mode of travel has brought me closer to the experience of being alive than passing through quiet mountain towns and wheat fields as far as the eye can see, on a bike. Known variously as “bikepacking,” “bike touring,” “bike camping,” or “adventure cycling,” any overnight trip on a bicycle can get you quite a distance from home base. Exploring by bike is one of the best ways to really take in the landscape while logging miles – the smell of the air, the sounds of wildlife, the push and pull of the breeze against your balance.
There’s a connectedness to experience I believe happens on a bike tour more than any road trip or extended hike. You can really build-your-own adventure as you go. You can zip between towns or wind through off-road trails. You can chat for hours with the old man wearing a funny hat at the corner store while you eat ice cream (3 scoops). Or, you can bike an entire day and only make eye contact with a few curious cows.
There’s a connectedness to circadian rhythms – to your own, to the morning birds, and to the season. The moving clouds, the angle of the sun, the gaps in the wind: you are more aware of all of it. You’ll learn how your breath calibrates with your cadence. You’ll learn fun facts about the towns you pass through. You’ll hear life stories from strangers if you let them.
You’ll power yourself over a mountain.
“Happiness is a way of travel – not a destination.” ~ Roy M. Goodman
Megan arrived in Denver, by bike, after a year with the EPA in Washington D.C.. She cares a whole lot about water quality and healthy ecosystems and gets worked up about things like world travel, Missy Elliott, education reform, salsa dancing, octopuses and anything with four legs.