By Sue Brunskill
Bike riding holidays are a great way to get a different perspective – you are going at a pace that lets you see and smell and feel your surroundings, but it also gives you time to think. I have recently been on a bike riding holiday in a few European countries and I had time to observe and “mull”.
It’s interesting travelling now compared to say 30 years ago – there are many parts of the world that look more like each other than they would have in the past – similar crops, similar growing methods and similar sizes of paddocks. However, it’s the differences that make us want to travel.
Riding gives you a chance to more clearly see the paddocks and roadsides and particularly the wildflowers. When you are on a bike it’s easier to see more details because of the (lack of) speed and it’s very easy to stop when you see something you want to investigate – you don’t have to scream to a halt and find a place to park the car, or wistfully look as the train rushes past knowing you’ll never have that opportunity.
There are still small paddocks with wooded areas between, and wildflowers. Even in the paddocks I saw an abundance of wildflowers – the biggest brightest dandelions you would ever see, and many herbs. And in the wildflowers, butterflies, bumble bees and other pollinators. I also watched as a fox stalked a crane in a wheat field but that might have been when I was in the mini-bus and wishing I was on the bike. Would I have been able to make a noise to scare the crane so it could escape?
I remember riding down the Beechworth Rail trail one afternoon after a summer storm and the eucalyptus smell was so strong and crisp, and the leaves had all had a wash and they sparkled in the afternoon sun. Memorable.
So while many people have images of all bike riders being lycra-clad figures racing by focused on getting the miles under the belt, there are others of us that use riding as a leisurely way of getting places at a pace that allows us to observe the lovely things that live near roadsides.
Thistle and bumble bee, photo by Sue Brunskill