Friday, December 28, 2012

Slow poem


While walking and bicycling I see things,
while moving slow
Slow is fun and good
but often misunderstood,

"I could never walk or bike for transportation"
my busy friend says,
"We have too much to do,
and too many places to go,
I need to move fast,
not slow!"

"Living your Carfree lifestyle
sounds well and good,
but it is not for me!
I'd rather drive a car
save time,
and be free."

"Now wait just a minute!" I say back to my friend,
"Bicycling and walking may be just the thing you need
just think about what you said,

"Too much of this
Too much of that
maybe a ride on a bike
or walk
would eliminate this and that."

"Too much of anything is not good
you know?
So again I say, go slow"

I continue my rant
my friend starts to listen.
I stand up tall,
To confirm my postion.

"You say you want to save time,
that I can see,
but time smelling flowers, seeing the world,
hearing birds, and feeling the earth
Is more important than driving,
Don't you agree?"

"Better to dump your car
and move slow
than sitting on your arse
in a metal cage
with no soul."

Monday, December 17, 2012

Zen Cycling

Zen Cycling

Anthony Golding introduces the eight precepts of zycling and explains how to wheel freely.

There are a few principles that can help you on your way to really appreciating of the joys of zycling:

1. There must be no sense of urgency

So, as you cycle along mostly traffic-free routes or very minor roads, even though you may have considered some kind of destination (e.g. camp-site, staying with people, a city or town even a railway station), try to avoid the tendency to constantly check the time or the distance to your destination. Your destination is really often a place that you didn't anticipate when you started. Once I was visiting my meditation group which was quite a distance, and I was hoping to put the folder in someone's car for the return trip, but the car was full. The host offered me a bed for the night. At first I declined, as I hadn't anticipated staying over, but I didn’t really need to go home for the night – so I accepted. As someone who often needs to be in control, this felt really good for me.

2. Leave the radio, music players, cell-phones and (if you can) your watch at home

What we are trying to create is a sense of being in the now. This requires as little outside stimulation as is possible. One then notices one's habitual tendencies and those familiar distractions. So one's attention begins to focus on the slowly passing surroundings, bird sound, smell of the crops, changing temperature, and the silence that you suddenly become aware of, the muscular effort of going uphill and the exhilaration down the other side with the relaxing feeling in the legs.
I must confess, once when cycling along a bike trail in Washington with the cascades on my left and the Skagit river on the right, I switched on the tranny and the Garrison Keilllor show on PBS came on – which completed this ideal American scene.

3. Staying silent during parts of the day

When I'm not cycling, I find myself being over-sociable, and generating too much interest and excitement. But on the bike the need to chat falls away as I focus on those points in precept 2. A passing wave or smile is all that's necessary.

4. Responding to and befriending your surroundings

This is the contrast to precept 3. The idea is not to keep silent with a vengeance, but to retain a degree of conviviality. So if someone shows interest in your equipment or wonders where you're from, be open and friendly. If you meet a poet along the track (this happened to me), stop and listen to his stanzas even if the lines don't quite scan (his did). If you hear a song in your head, feel free to sing out loud (as you won't always be cycling in a group, nobody will mind). In fact, work towards letting go of the group and experience the feeling of being completely alone in a foreign land.

5. Recognising and handling fear

This is the big one. As soon as we are away from our comfort zone, we experience a form of fear which often drives us back to a position of the familiar. Now if you're travelling in Canada and you spot a bear up ahead, it's probably wise to stop and retire slowly to a safe distance. Or if you’re in the depths of winter and you see a storm bearing down, then it's wise to take shelter. These are real fears. What isn't helpful is the worrying fear of getting somewhere late because you may have to find somewhere to camp where you haven't planned. Just let go and a suitable place will turn up. On finding out that you've taken a wrong turning, don't fret but instead explore the unexpected and eventually the map will take care of things. If not, a passer-by comes to the rescue and you can experience that lovely feeling of being looked after. Now we are entering the area of serendipity, where fear starts to drop away and you experience the reality where the self isn't always in control.
Another fear producing experience is listening to others, with comments like, "can we do this?” or "they won't allow that". This is often a projection of someone's own fear. For example, I often free camp: on the Danube cycle path I found a clearing in the forest and put my tent up near a trailer. Just as I was falling asleep the farmer drove in and told me it was forbidden to camp and pointed out that the trailer was a mobile beehive. I reassured him in my most polite English that I would leave first thing before the sun warmed up and the bees became active. He seemed happy with that and left.
By the same token, it's sometimes better to be open. Once in Tuscany I saw a clump of trees by a field up a farm track. As I was putting the tent up a boy cycled up from the farm and said something in Italian which with my almost zero languages, wasn't able to understand. He returned with dad who wanted me to join them for supper and sleep in the farmhouse. I felt so silly having crept by their property. What is important is your intention. After a while, when you feel physically fit, you will be able to take what you would have considered risks physically and mentally. That is the learning experience.

6. Handling competition

This is a strange one as we are so brainwashed into achieving. Questions like: "How many miles have you done today?” "How long did it take to get up the mountain – did you walk?" or "What! You put the bike on a train!" "I must have the state-of-the-art machine and equipment." (The world-renowned writer and cyclist Dervla Murphy used a three-speed sit up Hercules on her trip to Afghanistan). By all means have a serviceable and roadworthy bike, but if the going's too steep, get off and walk, experience the land by foot and work another set of muscles. "I must keep up with that good-looking rider, can't let them think I'm a wimp". If you pass by an interesting feature and your inner guide says stop and have a look, it's so important to acknowledge and respond to that voice. (For more on this, see "LISTENING" by Lee Coit ISBN 0-936 475-00-5)

7. On being assertive

This is important when cycling on ordinary roads, but on many routes you are able to forget the busy world and manic cars. Eurovelo6 a 2,485-mile bicycle road is one example – an amazing mostly traffic free route from the Atlantic at St. Nazaire, France to the Black Sea, Romania. The EuroVelo 6 is one of 12 routes network EuroVelo born at the initiative of the European Cyclists' Federation (ECF) in 1994. Its objective is to follow three of the largest European rivers: the Loire, Rhine and Danube. Watch out for the Lycra-clad 'Furters being more than frank with cries of "ACHTUNG" on the Danube section in Germany.
Every four or five days, leave the bike alone, and, if you can, stay with the locals. That makes it easier, as you can then enter their world. Even if they don't adventure-cycle, they probably have other interest and passions. (I belong to SERVASBRITAIN.ORG, which is a wonderful way to meet people.)

8. Have an adventure by yourself

So, finally we arrive at another biggy – going away by yourself. Not having someone to share that wonderful market, or spectacular view. But don't worry – there will be moments when you meet up with others to share the adventure, and you won't fall into the trap of using your companion as a protection. But, you will have to interact with strangers if need be, out of delightful interest.


Looking over these musings, they do seem rather directive. Please remember, these are only ideas and my experiences. The important thing is to have your own unique moments. As I get older, I often travel with a folding bike, as it's easier to get on the train and bus. Whatever you buy, get the best that you can afford. And finally, one of my more eccentric habits is to stop and pick up stuff on the trail. I still have an umbrella from several years ago and a lamb's wool sweater that after a wash was as good as new. This takes off the pain of losing one's own stuff.

Before you venture abroad try some Sustrans routes. You’ll find information on the Sustans website: You might also enjoy Land's End to John O'Groats: The Great British Bike Adventure by Phil Horsley – a must for any warm-blooded peddler. For visiting Intentional Communities and Ecovillages in Europe see EUROTOPIA.DE ISBN 3-00-007080-x. I recommend the L'Arche communities inspired by Gandhi. For those not adverse to North America and are particularly fearless try: Cycling the Great Divide by Michael McCoy ISBN 0-89886 698-7 Mountaineers I haven't done this route yet – but I still dream that one. Do take an AMTRAK Visit USA Month Pass, it's easier with a folder in a bag and have the ride of your life. Meet Americans as nice as apple pie and stations like palaces. LA's Union Station is an Art Deco gem. Do take a couple of days out in Tucson Arizona and cycle up Mount Lemon – 25 miles of steady climb from 2,000 feet to 9,000 feet and back to the SeƱora Desert with it's amazing cactus, and don't miss Savannah Georgia (fortunately General Sherman did, thank god, it's a Colonial gem). Enjoy and have a nice day.

Anthony Golding is a keen cyclist and originator of the eight principles of zycling. Now retired, he is enjoying life without a car.

Article taken from

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

News from the Adventure Cycling Association

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                             
December 4, 2012
Contact: Winona Bateman
(406) 532-2759
9 new indicators that bicycle travel and tourism are booming
Globally and in the U.S., bike tourism is becoming more popular and lucrative
Missoula, Montana — As 2012 winds down, bicycle tourism and travel are zooming upward. Recent studies and stories from around the world indicate that bicycle travel of all kinds — short trips and long, luxury and cheap, big events and small tours — is enjoying the kind of popularity not seen since the 1970s, when bike touring experienced a major renaissance. Here are 9 new indicators that bike travel and tourism are booming:
  1. European Bike Tourism Generates 44 Billion Euros Annually: In September, researchers in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands found that bicycle tourism (including day trips and overnight trips) generates 44 billion Euros (or about $57 billion). The comprehensive study indicates that the bike-tourism sector generates 2.3 billion cycle trips in Europe every year and also takes visitors (and their money) to rural areas that are not often visited by other tourists.
  2. Greater Global Interest in Bike Tour Business: This year at the Adventure Travel World Summit in Lucerne, Switzerland, there were more bike tour operators than ever. There were also many tour operators, which have focused traditionally on walking and trekking tours, that are now edging into bike travel as an alternative (and growing) revenue stream. Companies also noted stronger demand for their bike-tour offerings. KE AdventureTravel, based in England, has seen classic bike journeys such as Bhutan’s Thunder Dragon Ride and Nepal’s Pokhara to Kathmadu attract double the numbers that they did in 2011. KE has also added a variety of new road and mountain biking tours in Rajasthan (India), Toubkal  (Morocco), and Phuket (Thailand). In the European bike tourism study, researchers surveyed hundreds of bike tour operators on the continent and found that they were seeing rising demand for cycling adventures, whereas demand was flat in 2009.
  3. Bigger Bike Route Networks in Development: Around the world, countries, states, and provinces are creating bigger and better bicycle route networks for use by locals and to attract tourists. In Quebec Province, La Route Verte — a system of urban, suburban and rural bikeways — has grown over the last five years from 4,000 km to more than 5,000 km. In Europe, work has accelerated on establishing EuroVelo, a 70,000 km continental system of bike routes; the goal is to complete the network by 2020. In the U.S., agencies and non-profits have begun creating an official U.S. Bicycle Route System (USBRS). In the last two years, eight new U.S. Bicycle Routes have been approved, and 41 states are now involved in planning, implementing, and signing routes. At the state level, agencies are developing unique route networks, some which will dovetail with the USBRS. For example, last year, Oregon quadrupled the number of routes in its statewide scenic bikeway system and is researching and mapping others. The states of Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin are working to develop a bike route system around all of Lake Michigan. Also, in the Great Lake region, the Waterfront Regeneration Trust recently announced that the Waterfront Trail, which extends along the shore of Lake Ontario, will now extend westward to Lake Erie, connecting 27 new waterfront communities along a signed, mostly on-road route.
  4. More North America States and Provinces Studying Bike Tourism’s Economic Impact: Until now, only two states in the U.S. (Wisconsin and Colorado) had conducted in-depth studies of the economic impact of biking and bike tourism. In Wisconsin’s case, researchers found that bike tourism generated an impressive $924 million from in-state and out-of-state visitors. In 2012, three more states began economic impact studies, which will be completed in 2013: Oregon, Michigan, and Arizona. A new study of the economic impact of La Route Verte, the provincial cycling network in Quebec Province, is also underway.
  5. U.S. Bike Events Expanding, Re-branding: Attendance and fundraising at large multi-day bike events — like RAGBRAI (Iowa), Ride the Rockies (Colorado), and the popular Bike MS events — are surging. In fact, the national organization of bike-event directors has re-branded itself as the Bicycle Tour Network (BTN) and, in November, experienced the largest turnout ever at its annual conference in Denver, Colorado. The BTN has begun conducting an economic impact survey of its member events and hopes to draw in smaller tour operators as part of the network.
  6. States Investing in Bike Tourism Public Relations: In a clear indicator that states and tourism bureaus are realizing the financial value of cycling tourists, 2012 witnessed the rollout of major investments by Oregon and Minnesota in TV spots, websites, and other public-relation devices to draw traveling cyclists to their states. Particularly notable were videos produced for Oregon by the global ad firm Wieden+Kennedy, and for Minnesota with the backing of a unique consortium of health, tourism, and non-profit organizations. The race for the most bike-travel friendly state is on!
  7. Rural Communities Invest in Bike Tourism: Over the last several years, more rural communities have discovered that attracting cycle-tourists is a low-cost, high-yield proposition. Adventure Cycling Association has documented the efforts made by many small communities — from Twin Bridges, Montana to Monroeville, Indiana — to develop special facilities for visiting cyclists. The most recent to come to its attention is a unique partnership in Pittsburg, Kansas, to develop a cyclists’ visitor center on the TransAmerica Bicycle Trail.
  8. Bike Tourism-Related Sales Take Off in the U.S.: In October, the influential trade journal, Bicycle Retailer and Industry News reported on the substantial increase in sales of gear and bikes for touring in its story, “Touring market racks up mileage at retail.” The same article also noted that bicycle travel is becoming especially popular with a younger demographic.
  9. Non-Profits Set New Records: Cycling non-profits with a stake in tourism have enjoyed remarkable success in membership and activity in 2012, from the re-branded Bicycle Tour Network to the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) to Adventure Cycling Association. Adventure Cycling's membership reached an all-time high in 2012 at 45,225 members and it recently reported records in all the major revenue categories — including memberships, map sales, and tour sign-ups — a trend it attributes in part to the new boom in bicycle travel.
# # #
Adventure Cycling Association inspires and empowers people to travel by bicycle. It is the premier bicycle-travel organization in North America with more than 45,000 members. Adventure Cycling produces cycling routes and maps for North America, organizes more than 70 tours annually, and publishes the best bicycle-travel information anywhere, including Adventure Cyclist magazine. With 41,420 meticulously mapped miles in the Adventure Cycling Route Network, Adventure Cycling gives cyclists the tools and confidence to create their own bike-travel adventures. Contact the office at (800) 755-BIKE (2453),, or visit www.adventurecycling.