Arie Hoogerbrugge is cycling from Canada to Belize, Central America. Once a long distance lorry driver he has been planning his cross-continent cycle tour for many years.
He set off in 2019 from Newfoundland and biked 12,340 kilometers across Canada during the 2019-20 Canadian winter and through Covid-19 and is now in Las Vegas and having slowly zig-zaged his way south.
His aim is to pedal a total 50,000 kms through 24 countries to the bottom of Argentina and then onto Belize where he has a home.
On his long journey Arie has discovered a number of things that are unique to cycle touring, essentially the perfect slow, eco-friendly way to travel.
Read on for what Arie’s learnt and wants to share.
10 Reasons Why Bike Touring Is The Best Way To Travel
1. Your senses become heightened
Your senses will come alive like no other experience when you are experiencing the outdoors 24 hours a day for days, weeks or months.
You will feel the sunshine on your face, the wind through your hair, the rain on your head and the cold through your clothing in a new way when there is no escaping the elements.
How much more will you appreciate a forest travelling 10 kilometers an hour for 10 hours on your bike versus travelling 100 km/h for 1 hour in your car?
All your senses heightened all day on a bike will cause you to feel more alive inside and out. There is nothing better than travelling through verses arriving at.
2. You’re more likely to meet people
When you stop in a town you are not seen as a tourist but as a traveller.
A fully loaded bicycle represents an adventure and a long physical journey to arrive wherever it is that you have arrived.
People are naturally curious and you are quickly respected for your effort and sense of adventure. I’ve often found this results in invitations to be hosted or a free meal.
3. Find mindfulness on the road
Most of us live in the past or the future. When all you have is the open road in front of you and your senses so exposed to the elements and landscapes you may find yourself distracted from both your past and your future.
Because you are living your day without the regular distractions of a normal day, bike touring will also give you the much needed time to work through various issues or challenges that have been holding you back in your normal life.
And because of your daily accomplishments, you will create many happy memories. All good things for mental health.
4. Bike touring is great exercise
I don’t bike tour for the benefits of exercise. I don’t even like exercise because I find exercise to be a boring way to spend my time.
But when you bike 50 to 100kms a day for weeks or months at a time you get a lot of exercise and all the health benefits of exercise.
Some of the benefits of biking exercise is improved strength, endurance, healthy weight loss, joint mobility and of course cardio.
5. Challenge and discover yourself
Bike touring comes with the mental challenges of potential loneliness or uncertainty if things don’t go as planned.
Few people are actually used to biking 50 to 100kms a day every day.
Problems may come up that you have to solve or require help to solve. These are the regular challenges of bike touring.
More importantly, these are challenges that you get to overcome and feel good about.
6. Make new friends all over the world
Whether you are sharing your journey on social media or not, people love to be a part of a great story.
And because you are more approachable by locals you should be prepared for lots of casual conversations but also be prepared for deeper conversations and hosting invitations that lead to friendships.
7. It’s the eco-friendly way to travel
Bikes don’t burn fossil fuels.
And because you are only carrying the essentials you are living a minimalist lifestyle.
Bike touring will likely change the way you live by learning to live with less.
And after you realise how easy it is to get around on a bike you may find yourself giving up your car at home all together.
8. Discover how strong you really are
Biking 1,000 or 10,000kms or more might seem physically impossible.
Sleeping in a tent for weeks or months might sound horrible.
Travelling solo in a foreign country might sound like the scariest thing in the world.
Solving problems when there is no one around to help might feel like an overwhelming scenario.
However, they are more doable than you think.
You will find them easier and easier to face and to succeed at as time goes on. And as a result you will walk away with a new set of emotional skills and a more confident you.
It is amazing how quickly a stranger will help a travelling cyclist when they most need it
9. Bike touring will restore your faith in humanity
It is amazing how quickly a stranger will help a travelling cyclist when they most need it.
Whether it’s a lift, a meal or place to stay for the night.
On my current bike tour while crossing Canada I have been hosted 55 times so far, mostly by complete strangers.
10. Bike touring can become a lifestyle
Once you have actually experienced all these bike tour benefits, possibly for the first time, you will no longer be satisfied to visit countries or places like a tourist when you can travel through these places as a traveller.
Why visit countries like Peru or Vietnam as a regular tourist when you can bike tour through these countries as a traveller?
Follow Arie’s adventure across America and through South America at www.safariarie.ca. Or find him on Facebook – Safari Arie on a bike.