There is an certain amount of risk any time you decide to venture from the safety of your own home. By participating in a bicycle tour (whether it be a short bike ride near your house or a trip that takes you to a foreign land on the other side of the world), you are going to expose yourself to several potential dangers.
Some of these dangers include:
- Vehicle traffic and the chance that you might be involved in an accident.
- People who wish to do you harm (robbers, perverts, etc).
- Wild animals.
- Pesky insects.
- Exposure to the elements (rain, snow, heat, etc).
These dangers, however, are usually easy to avoid with proper education, planning and preparation.
In fact, these external dangers are minimal in comparison to the mental challenges that you, as a long-distance cyclist, will need to overcome in order to complete your two-wheeled adventure.
While car traffic, wild animals, and axe-murders are the things we, as human beings, tend to fear the most, the true dangers of bicycle touring are the mental blocks that we carry around with us all the time.
These mental blocks include, for example:
- Not being able to mentally handle the demands of riding a bicycle for days on end.
- The fear of the unknown.
- The fear of being alone.
- The fear of other people.
- Not knowing how to manage your time.
- Not knowing how to manage your money.
The question, therefore, shouldn’t be, “Is bicycle touring dangerous?” But instead, “Is bicycle touring any more dangerous than taking a short spin by bike around your home city?”
In most cases, the answer to that question is “no.”
Bicycle touring (whether it be in your home country or in a nation on the other side of the world) is a relatively safe means of travel. And like so may other things in life, your safety when traveling by bike is going to depend upon:
- Where exactly you choose to go.
- The time of year in which you plan to travel.
- Your ability to interact with other people.
- Whether you decide to travel alone or with others.
- Your capabilities as a cyclist.
- Your navigational skills (or lack thereof).
- How well you spend your time and money.
- Your mental ability to solve problems and overcome challenges.
- And, of course, simple common sense.
Outside of the inherent pain that comes with riding a bicycle over long distances, your safety as a bicycle traveler is largely up to you. And for those few potential dangers that exist outside yourself (like traffic, scary people, wild animals, and bad weather), there are things you can do, steps you can take, and lessons you can learn, that will enable you to tackle any of these obstacles should you encounter them on your travels.
Photo by Paul Krueger