8 Potential Side Effects Of Cycling Across Europe
Europe is the most popular cycling destination in the world so it may surprise you to learn that when you take a long cycling trip through the area, there are real dangers lurking along the roads and trails. It may be the smallest of all of the continents, but it encompasses 500 million people, 28 countries and has immense wealth – 23% of global GDP and 50% of global spending. So no matter which way you cycle – west to east, north to south, in an arc from Helsinki to Lisbon, or from Athens to Amsterdam, you are exposing yourself to so much knowledge and history that you may start to suffer some of the following side effects.
1. If You Aren’t Careful, You May Just Be ‘Reawakened’
A few dozen years before Columbus started fundraising for his epic ocean explorations, European society was getting restless. There was a general feeling that a re-birth or reawakening was what was called for. However, the people in the ivory towers decided that a better brand name was required, something more highfalutin so they called it the Renaissance. Now this period was quite interesting with all sorts of things happening to the point that some moderns get totally enamoured by the time period and spend a lot of time in Europe visiting the places and art that was created during that time. The trouble is, as we all know, that once someone is re-born or born again or reawakened, life changes significantly and it is their loved one that suffer all the consequences.
2. You May Find Enlightenment, Whether You Are Interested Or Not
After being ‘reawakened’ the continent was getting bored, so they started questioning traditional religions. This created an intellectual movement which emphasized reason, individualism and skepticism. Once again this was not enough for the highfalutin guys (overall, gals were not allowed into the club) so they decided to call this particular epoch in Europe, the Enlightenment. Enlightenment is potentially dangerous as it creates all kinds of problems for dictators, authoritarians, single party governments and other people who would prefer that you simply stay at home and play with your iPhone, iPad and other such wonderful, progressive devices.
3. If You Stay Long Enough You Will Be In Danger Of Becoming A Romantic
If you grew up in North America or, for that matter, the Anglo-Saxon world, you probably grew up on Westerns – films best represented by tough guys such as John Wayne. Europe, on the other hand, is the birthplace of Romanticism, characterized by its emphasis on emotion, certainly not something John Wayne was able to do – at least not in movies. So whether you like it or not, once you start pedalling in Europe you are exposing your body and mind to the corrupting influence of romantic ideology and we all know where strong emotions can take us. By the way, the Romantic era came after the Renaissance and the Enlightenment.
4. If You Are Not Already A History Buff, You May Become One
Even if you fell asleep regularly during your high school history classes, you will still vaguely realize that there have been many wars, revolutions, plagues and famines in Europe. What they did not teach you in your history classes is that Europe has over 350 World Heritage sites and no matter which cycle route you take, there is no avoiding them. Now if you are a history buff that is all fine. If you are not, imagine how tired your friends and family will be of you constantly reminding them not to repeat the mistakes from the past.
5. Your Vocabulary Will Grow & You Will Learn New ‘Descriptive Words’
There are 24 languages spoken in Europe so, inevitably, as you cross a border, you will hear a new language. Of course, this can be very scary. The way to overcome this is through the oldest language-studying method in the world. Focus on easily remembered words that become handy when, for example, you get a flat tire, when you can’t find a clean toilet, when the food you ordered an hour ago comes burnt or cold and so on. In general, these words may not endear you to the locals but they sure will show to your loved ones when you come home, how multi-lingual you have become in Europe.
6. The Potential Danger To Your Gut, Inflationary & Otherwise
Cycling through Europe exposes one to many tempting types of foods, from herrings to thin crusted pizzas, from donairs to bratwurst, from slivovitz to champagne, from Guinness to absinthe, from apple strudel to gelato, from goulash to Bisque. To some, this may sound like a great tasting opportunity, but your microbiome, better known as your gut, may not agree.
7. The Danger Of Questioning Capitalism, Even, God Forbid, Becoming A Socialist
If you happened to be from the non-European world, you may be flabbergasted that, in spite of the 24 languages, you can cross borders without noticing them or most European countries have universal health care system and long summer vacations. What is worse, they even seem to be very relaxed and enjoy life a little more. After cycling in Europe for a month or two you may just become a heretic.
8. The Danger Of Becoming A Malcontent
Europe has many cycling paths, routes and now even cycling highways. Every city, no matter how big or small, seems to have pedestrian only streets where people, children and the elderly can walk without being harassed by automobiles. They even have plentiful public transport. So after spending months in such places, when you go back home, you will be in danger of becoming an ingrate, unappreciative that your local taxes are being spent on all sorts of things that do not give you a better quality of life.