A bicycle tour is an unusual thing, one that often defies the expectations of the first-time touring cyclist. In this report, the experience of touring cycling is examined in two parts: a narrative documenting the author's tour down the Pacific Coast, and a reflective work that examines the journey and the major themes which persist throughout. In examining the trip, two major dichotomies arose as themes. The first major dichotomy is found in the expectation of a solitary experience for one who is touring solo. In reality, tours are often built on the goodwill of others in the cycling community. On this particular tour, a website called Warmshowers was central to this point. By offering lodging to tired touring cyclists who would otherwise camp alone, this website serves to bring the cycling community together, and allows for connections that would otherwise never exist to be formed. However, it is true that much of a solo tour is, in fact, spent in solitude. This allows a cyclist long periods for self-reflection and meditation, an opportunity to strengthen one's connection with oneself and the natural world around them. The second is a contrast between the planning that goes into embarking on a long trip and the entropy and randomness that inevitably causes the experience to wildly differ from said plan. When the unexpected occurs, there are two options: to reject the unknown and cling to the framework one sets out for themselves, or to embrace the unexpected and see where it takes you. Often, diverting from the plan can allow for new and exciting experiences. However, there is also value to the framework and stability afforded by adhering to a plan. Through these experiences and more, a bicycle tour changes the way one looks at the world.
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- Zen and the Art of Bicycle Maintenance: An Examination of Bicycle Touring
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