The Psychological Benefits Of Bicycle Touring
Henon Ghirmay has joined the TDA Global Cycling team as an intern for the next few months. In her first blog she explores some of the positive effects of exploring the world on a bicycle.
Why do we take vacations? The first answer that comes to mind for most people is because they need a break from work, everyday life and all the responsibilities that come with it.
We get tired of doing the same things everyday, following a routine, going to work and interacting with the same people on a daily basis. So, we decide to take a break in the hopes of relieving some stress and comeback recharged. Taking a vacation from time to time is healthy and refreshing and it helps you regain the motivation you were starting to lose to lead your life.
Vacationing in a luxury resort, laying down under the sun while sipping on margaritas … sounds great, doesn’t it? It seems like the ideal escape when we feel overwhelmed with problems that are present in everyday life. Once out there, we forget all about our problems at home and enjoy the good life. Sadly, this vacation always comes to an end quickly. Then it’s back to real life where you find yourself picking things up where you left off and doing the same things you were sick of dealing with just a week ago.
Now try making that break slightly longer and, most importantly, adding a purpose to it. One way of experiencing that is, of course, bicycle touring.
As researchers have shown, cycling makes your brain grow. It’s a scientific fact that aerobic exercise can create new brain cells and, as all cyclists know, the most enjoyable way to achieve sustained aerobic exercise is by riding your bicycle. This combination, travelling while cycling, will usually result in an incredible vacation experience.
It will not only introduce you to many different regions and cultures, but will also serve as a self-realization point where you can improve various areas of your personal life. Taking up challenges, sticking to commitments and working hard towards achieving goals are some of the main lessons that you can take away from such a cycling adventure. You will learn life lessons that help you grow stronger as a person and that are applicable to the challenges you face in your daily life back home.
That’s exactly what most, if not all, riders claim to have gained from their cycling experiences. Henry Gold, founder of TDA Global Cycling, recently shared the memories of his first bicycle touring experience. He reflects on all the life-long learning he brought back with him and describes the experience as transformative. Looking back at how the tour changed his perceptions, he writes, “It challenged my perceptions about my abilities, about what is mentally and physically possible, even for a 50 year old, non-athlete like myself. It provided a direction for my future and, most importantly, it gave me an opportunity to share a unique experience with a wonderful group of people, many of whom have become my friends.”
We all thrive on a sense of adventure and when you’re signing up for this type of trip, you’re accepting a challenge, as well as unlocking and fulfilling your potential as a human being to experience more than the everyday.
Since I’ve joined the TDA Global Cycling team, I’ve learned a lot about bicycle touring. Reading different stories from the tours has led me to seriously consider participating in one of these tours. I believe that many people, myself included, get caught up in their busy lives and take too many things for granted. An extended cycling trip, especially through developing countries, would help us appreciate and be content with what we have at home.
The therapeutic effect that venturing far away from home has on your brain is remarkable. Just like shopping, some people seek out adventure in order to escape failure or to deal with a trauma they may have experienced.
Hopping on your bicycle and riding through some new and exotic landscapes will always beat beaches and margaritas. Make it an addition to your bucket list. Pack your bike and fly far, far, away from home and embark on a once in a lifetime cycling journey.