When sport becomes tran-sport

I am watching TV. The helicopter zooms in on the Italian landscape and finds a group of bike riders. They all wear colourful shirts with a number on it. They enter a village. Masses of people by the side of the road. To watch the Giro d’Italia. It is amazing yet understandable that professional cycling still remains popular after the parade of drug-taking champions that has passed by in recent history – mind you, the Giro even started this year at the place of birth of Bjarne Riis. It is popular because its playing field is the road network. The riders travel on roads that we want to travel on ourselves. It’s adventure.

It is the same kind of adventure we experience on a cycling holiday. Which is of course much more relaxed that the Giro d’Italia. But look at the similarities. You have stages from one place to the other, you travel over roads, you take in food and drinks every now and then, and your life is reduced to cycling, eating and sleeping. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend your holidays.

A couple of weeks ago we cycled from Luebeck (Germany) to Szczecin (Poland). It was a nice route along the East Sea coast. I enjoyed the views of the coast, cycling up and down the dunes (or occasionaly pushing my bike up them), and the GDR-heritage pavement. But still something was bothering me after the first few days of cycling. I was missing something, but I did not know what. And then, on a certain day, that feeling dissapeared. I started analysing. Was it the weather that was nicer than the days before? The smaller amount of other cyclists on the road? Was I just getting better in shape? No, there was something else.

Suddenly, I realised it were the roads and paths we had been riding. The first few days we had mainly been cycling on dedicated bike paths along the coast, through the fields, and through the woods. The paths were beautiful, but their main function was for leisurely day rides and walks. Not to get from one place to the other. And that was the difference I experienced on that very day. We were cycling more often on small back roads, with few other traffic, but which were actually going somewhere. Just as we were. The sense of travelling came back to me. This was not just sport, this was tran-sport. And if you’d ask me, it can’t get any better than that.

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