Tue 24 Apr 2018
Imagine you’re nearing the end of another long day in the saddle, partway through your latest cycling tour. Your panniers feel heavy and your tyres sticky as you drag your bike over the final climb of the day. You pull your map out and wrestle with the foreign characters on the paper, trying to match them with those on the road sign ahead.
The underlying excitement that accompanies every bike tour is still there – the freedom, the freshness; it always is – but for the moment it’s forgotten. You begin to feel a little apprehensive about the prospect of trying to find a wild camping site at this hour, and the fact that you’re in a foreign country, don’t speak the language and certainly don’t know anybody nearby, only fuels your unease.
Fortunately there is a network of like-minded people – cycle tourers just like yourself – who have experienced these situations plenty of times before and are only too willing to help you negotiate this lonely, testing side of cycle touring. People around the world who are only too happy to let you sleep on their floor or sofa, or set up your tent in the security of their garden; who listen to your stories from the road with relish, and regale you with theirs over a cold beer.