Bike Touring

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Tomorrow we leave San Cristobal. It is a two day ride to the border, and another country. People find this funny, most take a bus and it is a handful of hours. And so, you may wonder why we travel like this. For me, bike touring is one of the greatest ways to travel. I remember as a kid seeing rain-gear clad tourists on the west coast of Clare slowly making their way along, their lives packed into their panniers, exploring the slow country roads. I was fascinated and the seed was sown. The nomadic life, drifting along in circular motion. My first bike tour was only 5 years ago, from east to west on the Camino de Santiago in Spain and I was hooked. On a bike you see everything, you feel the land unfolding beneath you, you tune into the natural rhythm of life, slow enough to experience, to feel, the ways of those you pass, yet fast enough to cover great distances in days and weeks, time expands, slows down, embraces us.

And so tomorrow the routine begins, the routine that allows you to travel in this way. Days in the tropics revolve around the sun, six to six, we are usually up and about by 6.30am, early starts are necessary, cycling in the relative cool of the morning, breaking after midday and at your destination before the sun goes down. It is not so safe to cycle in the dark. Our lives are packed into four pannniers apiece and another bag laid across the back panniers and rack. It seems a lot, but we have bike spares, camping gear, cooking equipment, some clothes, a netbook, and books of course. Add in water, three bottles each, and some food supplies and the weight quickly adds up. I think that once you get used to a certain weight then you don’t mind it so much, you don’t think about it, your body adapts and you just cycle. Although I haven’t weighed my luggage, I am sure it is close to 30kg, certainly 25kg. Nessa carrying almost as much. Heavy enough to require a certain downhill slope before the bike will actually move under its own power.

We cook every day, it is necessary because we are eating a lot, and using up a lot of energy. We have a water filter and need to filter all we drink. It is far too easy to get sick from local food and water. Posadas with rooms arranged around a courtyard are perfect in the evening, easy to sit out and cook, and to wheel bikes straight into our room. Pasta and vegetables have become our staple meal, but the vegetables are so tasty, straight from the field, and we make enough to have a big lunch the following day, routine, its what keeps us going.

A day on a bike can sometimes feel like a week of adventure. Every turn brings something new, rich experiences that you just can’t get on a bus. Tomorrow we skip the bus and ride, circular motion, two wheels bringing us to unknown destinations and much anticipated adventure.

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