I remember the time I did my first 60-mile bike “tour” with a friend a few years back. We left Brooklyn on a crisp Saturday morning and just decided to head to New Jersey. There was no particular reason for it, but this abstract and random destination gave us a sense of purpose and a goal to strive for. The truth was that it could’ve just as well been Connecticut, Long Island or any other destination within half a day’s bike ride – as for us, the ride itself brought the pleasure.
We’ve rode thorough the bustling downtown of Brooklyn and then crossed the Manhattan bridge filled with picture-snapping tourists. From there, we’ve weaved through the maze of Chinatown and have eventually emerged on the West Side Highway. Stopping for snacks and coffee whenever the mood stroke us, we’ve slowly headed North towards the George Washington Bridge. A couple of hours later – with a detour through Central Park – we’ve reached the bridge and decided to go over the river to grab some lunch. A diner that would’ve likely barely have registered in our minds if we were in a car, turned out to cook up one of the most delicious lunches we’ve tasted. It was only when the sun slowly started to set that we have decided it was time to turn back.
That day certainly sparked something in me regarding the merits of bicycle travel. Since then, I’ve done a number of century (100-mile a day) rides, weekend-long trips to Boston and Washington, and more recently, a 4 week bike tour through New Zealand (with Anna – who is also joining the Trans-American!).
Allow me to be the first one to say – touring by bike is certainly not all paradise, no matter how romanticized it can seem from afar. It can be slow, challenging, at times frustrating. But even with all of that, I still have to say that it is probably one of the most special and rewarding ways to travel through a country or a region.
There is something very special about traveling at a speed of 15 miles per hour, being a part of the environment rather than merely an observer from behind a car window, and being open to people and situations you encounter that simply would not occur in any other ways of travel. It’s oftentimes the little things – generosity of a local who takes you into the house during an evening when you can’t find accommodations elsewhere, swapping stories with other travelers you meet, being able to appreciate the views because you’ve worked to get to them.
Now, touring with the electric bikes carries a number of benefits. It allows you to relax and enjoy the scenery just a little bit more, rather than have to struggle with a persistent day-long headwind. It allows you to do the route you really want to, instead of worrying if the steep hills are going to be too much for your knees. And it allows you to venture just a little bit farther, because you know that even if you go outside your comfort zone, there is always a reliable, efficient electric-assist available to help you finish those last few miles.
It’s no car, however. You’re still traveling at roughly the same speed, you’re still exposed to the elements, you still pedal your way through whatever distance you’ve set for the day, and you’re still dealing with whatever challenges the adventure throws your way.
But the beauty of touring on electric bikes is that it makes it so much more accessible to more people.
When you’re touring by bike, you frequently meet people who say that” if only I was a few years younger, or in a better shape, or have cycled more in my life, I would love to do what you are doing”. Well, fortunately, none of these factors have to be a stopping block anymore. The most important element remaining is mental – actually making the decision to do it.
Start with a weekend trip, or spend your next vacation bike touring in the U.S. or Europe. We guarantee you’ll like it!
p.s. To help you get started, we also prepared a brief overview of what it takes to tour by bike. We encourage you to check it out here.