As experts in cycling travel, we are very lucky to be able to help hundreds of people each year to ride their bikes and explore new to them places around the world. Here are the reasons why we are convinced that exploring somewhere new by bike is one of the best things you can do to treat all your senses…
Inspiring and stimulating
Going somewhere fresh and exciting gives you the chance to shrug off the cares of your day to day life and step outside your normal routine. It can liberate you in many more ways than you expected.
On a cycling holiday, you will encounter things that challenge you; it could be cycling up a mountain; communicating in a new language or meeting new people. Facing challenges gives you a chance to explore how you behave and consider how you react, it can encourage you to draw on reserves that aren’t stretched in your ‘normal’ life. Even cycling itself can benefit your mental health.
Discovering (or simply reminding yourself) that you can handle challenges successfully will stay with you once you return home, and you might find that you’re working or home life improves because of the break-in routine.
Learn from new cultures
We can all get really set in our ways but travelling somewhere new is the chance to see how other people and other cultures do things differently. Immersing yourself in the local way of life is the best way to gain insights. At Skedaddle we stay in small family-run hotels or guesthouses and work with local guides who can help share their way of life.
Whether you’re exploring the Scottish Highlands and Islands, rolling Tuscan scenery or the epic landscapes of Chile there will be something new to learn that you can apply at home. It could be as simple as learning how to spot the best quality of olive oil in Italy or the exact moment that a pineapple is ripe in Costa Rica. Or it might be something deeper, such as the calming power of ritual in Japan.
Shake up your taste buds
There is a whole world of culinary excitement to be had, you just have to get on your bike and find it! From the bitter but invigorating morning espresso in Italy to the smokiness of your whisky night-cap in Scotland there are plenty of new flavours to explore, and they always taste better when enjoyed in the environment they spring from.
As you cycle through a new country, the smells, as well as the scenery, will surprise you. You will be assaulted by the smell of spices in a marketplace, the mouth-watering aromas of food wafting out of a restaurant door or fresh fruit hanging from the trees around you. You honestly cannot beat the flavour of a melon freshly cut from the vine with the flesh still warm from the sun.
It’s not just what people eat in different cultures it’s how they eat. If your lunchtime routine is to grab a sandwich at your desk you’ll be amazed that in France everyone from road workers to office staff downs their tools for a proper three-course meal, often with a glass of wine, and it isn’t frowned upon. Instead of a meal on your lap in front of the television at the end of a long day, you can enjoy the laughs and camaraderie of a long, slow and sociable meal, a reminder that good food is food for the soul, as well as the body.
Visit somewhere new and you won’t be bored of choosing what to have for dinner – you will worry that you don’t have time to try it all!
Leave your inhibitions at home
One of the great joys of travelling to a new place with a new group of people is that you don’t need to conform to your usual behaviour, there is no one there to say ‘that’s not like you’ and make you feel self-conscious. You can break out and try something a little unusual, something that you have always wanted to do but never felt brave enough for. In the company of supportive new people, you can nudge yourself out of your comfort zone.
You might find yourself singing at karaoke, dancing wildly with a total stranger or skinny-dipping in a secluded waterfall. You might laugh out loud as you whizz downhill on your bike, learn a new language, wear a brightly coloured sarong, tell a rude story to make your companions laugh. It’s up to you. Sometimes going somewhere new allows you to be someone new.
You don’t have to go far…
Sometimes life can become very tiring with nothing fresh or new to look forward to. But, you don’t have to go somewhere far-flung to find the ‘different’.
The UK may be very small but you don’t have to go far to hear a new accent, learn a new word or try something new to eat. Let’s not get caught up in the old ‘scon or scoon’ or who puts jam or cream on first, there are loads more interesting regional variations than that!
From Cornish pasties to Eccles cakes, to Bara Brith or Lorne sausages there is a wealth of very unique, very localized cuisines, all as fiercely preserved in tradition ( if not in law) as any Parma ham or Camembert cheese. Up here in the North-East of England a day’s bike-ride, north, south or west would give us something new. We could head to the coast for sandy beaches, climb the mountains of the Lake District or discover the rolling Dales. Over in Cumbria, they count differently “ yan, tan, tethra.” In Wensleydale, they slice cheese to eat with their fruit cake and we could cross the border into Scotland to enjoy haggis. Think about what new things you could see in a week on your bike?
The UK has layer upon layer of history, it’s rich in traditions and has a marvellously diverse landscape. Sometimes we need to step back and appreciate what is right under our noses. You can explore somewhere new without going very far at all, and just a few days stepping outside your normal routine and boundaries can be enough to make life feel lively again.