It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle. ~ Ernest Hemingway
The other day I traveled across town by bike on a scorching summer day to visit a friend and take a dip in his pool. Along the way I was halted by the train that blazes through Tucson on its daily route. As the other cars had to remain a certain distance away, I pulled my bike right up to the cross section. As the multi-colored train whistled and blew by with flashes of kaleidoscopic intensity, I thought to myself how easy it would be to jump aboard, or misstep and fall into the dash of racing colors. I looked back and saw the line of cars, people boxed in like sardines, unable to take in such an intimate aspect of Tucson culture. My bike, had graciously given me front row seats.
Whether you live in Metropolis, the suburbs or the boonies, there is always more to ogle and take in when traveling by bike. Since trading in the tread of my 2010 Nissan Versa for the simple treads of my 1930’s vintage Schwinn, I have become intricately more observant of my hometown. Noticing cracks, hidden alleyways, micro-cultures and spastic graffiti around town, can all be attributed to pedaling my way through my quirky city.
Wherever you are in the world, venturing out by bike will expand your peripheral vision. Whether you are planning a trip around your hometown or seek to enlighten your senses in a foreign land, seek out a bicycle (there are plenty of bike rentals abroad). Then be prepared for your senses to sponge, becoming keen and absorbent as they take in all your surroundings. On bike, you will soak up things you can’t emotionally or physically consume when constricted to the confines of a car. On bike, you will witness the movement, hear the noises and feel the subtleties of life.
On your next bicycle adventure open your eyes and your mouth, use all your sense to marvel and savor your experience. Your bike is your ticket to the front row seats of life’s magnificent and complex arena. You may be amazed at all the little sweet and sour intricacies of life you may have missed before. If it’s a new land you travel, try taking the same route by bike twice and take note of what’s different and what stayed the same. Your bike is your vehicle to explore your own curiosity and the hidden facets of the world!