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What’s your ritual?

This is another benefit of biking that you don't usually hear about. It's a ritual that gives you an intimate connection with the places you ride. In the short time I've lived in LA, I've learned my way around better than many people who have been here all their lives.

About a million years ago when I was a tour guide out of Rome, there was an 85-year-old man named Doug in the group that I was leading around Europe. Doug always seemed to disappear whenever we went into a museum or started a tour. Italy bike tour Appia Matera

I quickly learned where to find him. He would inevitably be sitting at an outdoor table at a nearby cafe, sipping a pint from a big glass mug. He'd grin at you from underneath the bill of his Oakland A's baseball cap and say, "I decided to just sit down and have myself a beer."

This man fought in the Second World War. He worked grain elevators, assembly lines, and forklifts. I can't ever really know what was going on in his head, but I would imagine that sitting casually, drinking a beer outside the Louvre, the Colosseum, the Ponte Vecchio or the Acropolis must have really felt like he'd finally arrived, after a long life of struggle.

Or maybe there was even more to it than that.

A few years back there was a guy on YouTube who traveled all over the world and filmed himself dancing in front of famous landmarks and in exotic settings. That was his way of sealing the experience, saying "I'm here." And when you thing about it, we have something like that when we travel.

Dean Karnazes, who once ran 50 miles in 50 days, hints at this in his book. He sees a beautiful vista in Hawaii, Costa Rica, or wherever and he just has to run to feel one with the place, to grok it.

We take the picture, buy the souvenir, but usually there's something deeper and more personal, even if it's simple. I go to a new place and try the local coffee and dessert, such as it is. One of my friends lights up a small pipe with a special green herb burning inside. Doug sits down and has a beer.

This is another benefit of biking that you don't usually hear about. It's a ritual that gives you an intimate connection with the places you ride. In the short time I've lived in LA, I've learned my way around better than many people who have been here all their lives.

Now you have a chance to experience Italy in a way that most tourists never get to do, not even Doug. I'm retracing the Appian Way next spring, and I'm looking for companions. This is a tour of rural, heartland Italy, and you'll get to know her in your heart, your legs and your knees.

Crossing the land on your own power (as very few people have done since the centurions), you'll feel every gust of air and every curve and contour of the road. You'll eat the food that was grown, raised, or caught on Italian soil. Make friends with the locals who can sometimes trace their ancestry to pre-Roman times.

Leave a comment if you want to come along, or shoot me an email: jacob {at} bicyclefreedom.com. (You know where to put the @ symbol).

3 thoughts on “What’s your ritual?

  1. Doug

    Wow! This sounds like riding a bike isn't just exercise, a sport, or a way to save money on gas. I always trying to explian why I like 2 ride a bike and you finally did it. It's a ritual, almost a spritual way 2 connect w/the world and the universe.

  2. Peter

    Hi,
    when are you planning to do this trip? Spring time or during the really hot summer months? I have always wanted to go to to Rome and kind of planned this summer, bicycle from Sweden (it has to be possible 🙂

    But if you are going a nice road in the south... who knows...

  3. Hi Peter,

    We're going in the spring, but the dates aren't set in stone yet. I'm going to be in Italy for a few weeks in April or May (not for a bike tour). Once I know those dates, the via Appia bike tour will come either before or after this. I'm aiming for May 1st, however, because that's a beautiful time to do a bike tour in Italy. I'm sending more detailed emails to people who are serious about coming. If you'd like to be on the list, just shoot me an email and I'll make sure you get the next one.

    Jacob "at" bicyclefreedom.com

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