Saturday, 18 April 2015


It's so easy to forget how privileged we are to be cyclists. We get to see the world and explore places in a way that a majority of the population don't. I was reminded of this on a recent trip to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

I spent most of my holiday riding about: along the beaches, through the city and up into Tijuca National Park. The views were stunning, the experience indescribable. Then one day I caught a minibus up to Christ the Redeemer in the National Park. On the way up, passengers were tripping over themselves to take photos of the amazing views over the city - Maracana stadium, Pao de Acucar, Copacabana etc it really is a stunning city.

I, however, had no interest in taking these photos through minibus windows, because I already had them all. My previous few days had been spent riding from Copacabana up in to the National Park via the Vista Chinesa along Cristo Redentor and generally hanging out in the sunshine, enjoying the views and just taking it easy. The numerous jeep tours and minibuses passing by hadn't escaped me though. But the realisation of this didn't dawn on me until I was in one of the aforementioned minibuses.

People who don't ride have two transport options: foot or vehicle. And for Tijuca National Park, being too far to venture for most on foot, the only option a tourist is to go by vehicle where the route, speed and stopping points are completely out of their control. They don't get to experience the sweat of the climb, the glimpse of the race course through the trees, the pull in at the hairpin, and the world going by at an appreciable rate.

All of this, I take for granted. Exploring a new city or country on a bike is the obvious and simple thing to do. So it's easy to miss all the things that we see, and the rest of the world doesn't. We appreciate the world around us because we travel at a speed that allows us to see enough of it in one day to feel like we're discovering things, but that speed also allows us to 'see' that world. It's quite remarkable really.

So next time you're on holiday, riding about on your bike, just remember all those poor tourists who don't get to see beyond a couple of miles of the city they're in, or who are in a vehicle with the world speeding by at a pace they can't appreciate; and smile, knowing that as a cyclist, we are the privileged ones. We experience and see and feel and hear the world in a way so many others don't, and all because we ride bikes. We are the lucky ones.