5 ways bicycle touring book authors motivate

Many books on my book stack involve bicycle touring. I am a cyclist and enjoy touring by bike. These interests brought me to the books. My book stack also has many motivational books. Bicycle touring books have several things in common with motivational books. Here are five ways authors of bicycle touring books offer motivation by telling their stories.

They learn         

It’s like riding a bike, once you learn you never forget. Some multi-month and multi-year cyclotourists are not what you expect. Some are casual cyclists and bike commuters. They may not have cycled since their grade school years. They toss fear and apprehension aside and see the bike as the vehicle to open their eyes to new horizons.

They often struggle in the early days of their tour. They learn. The repetition of 8 hours a day in the saddle is the classroom that makes them wiser. The lesson is that touring by bike is more than seeing improvement in their cycling skills and endurance. Their bike immerses them with the people, culture, and day to day life that gives them a deep understanding of life and the world.

Old Man on a Bicycle: A Ride Across America and How to Realize a More Enjoyable Old Age, Don Petterson – A non-cyclist in his senior years undertakes a challenge to cross American on a bike. He learns a good bit about himself and becomes a skilled cyclotourist.   

They change

Count how many times you tried to change a bad habit into a good habit. Change is hard. Bicycle tourists often head out on a tour to change themselves. The loss of a job, a broken relationship, and an unhappy life are some examples. Cycling in a distant land far removed from their current situation appears to be the ideal fix.

Change inevitably occurs as they pedal the miles away. The change is sometimes predictable and other times unpredictable. Sometimes it is subtle and builds over time. Other times it happens in a single chance encounter or experience.

Cyclotourists experience change in their life. Life at the speed of the bike allows time for self-reflection free of everyday distractions. Quiet times at night provides time to digest on the day’s events. The seeds of change come in the form of the challenges met and interactions that unfold over the miles.

Miles from Nowhere, Barbara Savage – A couple sets out on a multi-year tour around the world in the late 1970s. Along the way, they encounter and overcome inconceivable challenges that shape their life and view of the world.

They inspire

Inspiration from cyclotourists takes on different forms. It might be completing a tour around the world or along the spine of the Americas from Alaska to Argentina. Inspirational bicycle touring is not solely about the miles pedaled. Some of the best inspiration comes from people cycling for reasons other than racking up many miles.

Bicycle touring books, like motivational books, seek to inspire the readers. It is not through advice to change your life but through life lessons told in daily journal entries. Foreign lands and people, uncharted paths, and the unexpected set the stage for an inspirational story. The cyclotourist puts you on the saddle to live the story with them.

Half the World Away: A 27,000 km bicycle journey from Alaska to Argentina, Ian Lacey – A person whose cycling experience is commuting to and from work takes on a tour reserved for the experienced. Inspiration comes from how he looks inward and takes on the challenges he faces.

They challenge

Getting on the saddle and behind handlebars turns everyday life into an adventure. Suddenly life is defined by the bike and the possessions carried on the bike. The cyclotourist depends on their knowledge, intuition, and mental attitude to take on the challenges presented daily on tour.

Adventure is high on the bicycle tourist’s list of things that make for an enjoyable tour. Overcoming challenges make that adventure. On your own and dependent on your actions, large and small challenges are overcome. The bicycle tourist learns from challenges and carries that knowledge forward.

The Cyclist Who Went Out in the Cold: Adventures Along the Iron Curtain Trail, Tim Moore – A British adventurer embarks on a bicycle tour following the path of the Iron Curtain. His Cold  War-era two-speed bike takes him on a largely undefined route with a variety of challenges.

They open themselves

It is hard to be honest in presenting ourselves to others. It’s easy to tell a happy story. It’s harder to reveal something that shows personal shortcomings or unhappiness. Most bicycle touring books rely on the cyclist’s daily tour journals. The good journalist jots down the good and the bad thoughts of the day while their memory is fresh.

Alone and self-reliant, bicycle tourists find themself at a point in their life that is changed by the tour. Change may be about being honest and comfortable in telling the whole story. Sharing deep personal motivations and thoughts bring the tour’s story to life. As Paul Harvey often said, “And the rest of the story.” It is the rest of the story that completes the book.

With You by Bike: One Couple’s Life-Changing Journey Around the World, Katrina Rosen – A couple sets out on a tour around the world to rediscover love. Cycling 24/7 together, their relationship is restored. The author finds herself with a wider view of the world.

Happy Trails!

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  1. Greg Veal March 29, 2020 at 11:48 pm

    Yes. And no two of us are alike. No twp of us do it for the same reasons or in the same way. No two of us put the same things into nor get the same things out of the journey.

  2. Pingback: Tom’s top 3 bicycle touring reads of 2020 – Tom Bilcze

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