Every summer I try to go on a bicycle touring trip, so it’s almost like a tradition already. First trip was back in 2013 alongside the western coast of Latvia from Jūrmala to Liepāja (320 km) together with two friends. Since then I have ridden 1500+km in all Baltic countries. Instead of just listing facts and numbers, I wrote why I like to travel with bike.
The pace of moving
Best enjoyed slowly. This may be the slogan for promoting Latvia’s countryside to tourists, but it applies here as well. It’s fast enough to get somewhere, ride meaningful distance, but slow enough to enjoy nature and surroundings. Stop whenever you want to go sightseeing or take a break. Access places where cars can’t or aren’t allowed to go. It just feels good to ride a bike, to feel the wind breeze. Not to mention riding a bike is a very good aerobic exercise with low pressure on joints. At the end of the day it brings sense of accomplishment about the distance covered.
Sooner or later you will become master of camping. Daily challenges include getting food, water and finding place to stay overnight. Fresh air, sun, forest, seaside – this is what we can enjoy for free. I always feel much more energetic when I spend time in nature. Food tastes better and often I get better sleep. Being outdoors also mean that you are exposed to elements. Sometimes it’s pleasant, sometimes not so much, but it’s part of the adventure. Remember – there’s no bad weather, just inappropriate clothing. Without rainy and cold days we wouldn’t appreciate sunny and warm days, right?
Another point worth mentioning – Latvia and Estonia are perfect for travelers who love peace and serenity. Quiet countryside roads, lots of forests, fields and meadows, beautiful lakes. It’s easy to find a place to be alone.
The cost of traveling
The biggest expenses while traveling usually are transport and accommodation. It doesn’t cost much to pedal a bike – food is fuel and bike parts are relatively cheap. Usually I stay in a tent. Mostly freedom camping, sometimes in a camping place for a small fee. Recently tried hammock. Very lightweight option for summer, but it takes some time to get used to. Networks like Warmshowers and Couchsurfing can help to find a place where to stay and meet new people. Bicycle touring is very cost effective after investing in cycling and camping equipment. Renting or borrowing for first trip is also an option.
The most I enjoy the simplicity of travelling this way. All belongings are carried on a bicycle, there’s not much room for unnecessary stuff.