According to Green Progress, a 3000 mile trip produces 1319 pounds of CO2. That means to fly from Los Angeles to New York round trip produces over a ton of CO2. You get the idea.
Now I was born with a serious case of wanderlust. For me the thought of giving up travel is just not an option. I’d rather give up beer, and I really like beer. This is where Adventure Bicycling comes in. Travel by bike is about as green as it gets.
Bike touring can take many forms. For the longest time I was a confirmed bike-credit-card-adventurer, traveling with just clothes to change in and purchasing food and accommodations with my card. Then, there are organized bike tours where luggage gets hauled from point ‘A’ to ‘B’ by your host who makes all your arrangements from hotels to restaurants and sights. These are fun tours but can get rather expensive.
And finally, there is true Adventure Cycling where you carry everything you need — tent, sleeping bag, clothes and supplies — right on your bike.
All this might sound a bit crazy, but until about a hundred years ago most people traveled great distances on foot or horseback.
Consider this: a car ride of a hundred miles can be achieved in a couple of hours. You’ll fly down the highway, bypass anything interesting and arrive at you destination with very little sense of achievement. But ride that same distance over two or three days, and instead of rushing through the trip, you’ll become immersed in the trip. You’ll notice smells and the changing light. And that hill up ahead will be a challenge to be conquered, the descent, a reward earned. On top of it all, the health benefits are obvious.
Plus, with the economy forcing many to take stay-cations, travel by bike might be your best option.
How to get started with Adventure Cycling?
Travel of any sort requires planning and bike travel is no different. You need the right luggage, the right clothes, visas etc. Adventure Cycling really isn’t any more difficult, it just requires a bit more planning. The greatest advantage to Adventure Cycling however, is that you will never have to travel on someone else’s schedule. When it’s time to go, you just get on your bike and start pedaling.
If you are new to this whole concept, a great place to start is AdventureCycling.org, a comprehensive site with tons of info that also organizes bike trips. Another great resource for inspiration, as well as practical advice, is Stephen Lord’s Adventure Cycle-Touring Handbook.
In the next article, Adventure Cycling Part 2, we’ll discuss training for a long bike trip and in Part 3, the necessary cycling equipment for adventure cycling.