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Willie Weir : August 29th, 2011

Mirror Images

There is something about those roadside mirrors … it’s hard not to stop and take your photo. You know the ones I mean. The big circular mirrors placed on the road so that motorists can get a view of traffic before they pull out or go around a blind corner? They are not that common in the U.S., but I’ve run into them (though not literally) around the world.

Why can’t I pass one without stopping and snapping a few shots? Maybe it’s the realization that after all the dreaming and scheming and planning, we are finally there. In some magical foreign place, filled with new sights and sounds and smells.

I always feel a bit silly trying to focus my camera on the mirror and getting it just right to include the background, our bikes, and us in the photo. But I always laugh and smile as I realize that I’m fortunate enough to have the time and health and good fortune to be able to travel this way.

So I’ll continue to snap these silly little portraits for as long as I am able.

Originally posted on the Adventure Cycling Association’s blog.
Willie Weir : August 22nd, 2011

Candy Break

I always smile when I look at this photo. It was taken many years ago, but it feels like I snapped it yesterday.

It was early morning in India in the state of Himachal Pradesh. Lots of climbing, steep grades, and snow on the ground. I pedaled up to this tiny roadside store to buy a cup of hot chai to warm my hands and get my daily sugar rush.

The four girls in the photo were walking to school and stopped at the store as well. They all bought candy and quickly unwrapped the sweets and popped them in their mouths. I already had my camera out. As I was about to take their photo, some of the men outside began to joke with the girls that they shouldn’t be spending all their money on candy. Three of the girls are reacting to the teasing. But one of the girls looks right into my camera. Her gaze has intrigued me over the years.

Looking at this photo, I can feel the rock I was sitting on. I can smell the wood from the fire built to boil chai. And I can still hear the girls’ laughter.

Many a journey’s details are lost over time. But some travel memories never fade.

Originally posted on the Adventure Cycling Association’s blog.
Willie Weir : August 15th, 2011

Total Bliss

One of my favorite moments of any bike trip comes when I’m not on my bike. It is that time after a long day’s ride. The tent is set up. The sun is getting low in the sky. There is nothing to do but observe the beauty around me and listen to the world as it winds down.

I’ve heard it said, “If you listen closely … you just might hear your priorities.”

Total bicycle and travel bliss.

Originally posted on the Adventure Cycling Association’s blog.
Willie Weir : August 8th, 2011

Sweet Encounters

It is a Pavlovian response. The moment my feet hit the pedals and my legs start pumping … I want a cup of coffee and a treat. No wonder I am a world-class bicycle lingerer.

Donuts. Pastries. Cookies. Fudge. Croissants. Scones. If I didn’t ride a bicycle, I’d probably tip the scales at 600 lbs.

But that need also makes me a better traveler. It forces me to take more breaks and spend more time observing. Watching kids share a bubble tea in Thailand. Witnessing an old Turkish man place a sugar cube on his tongue before drinking his already sweetened coffee. Or, as in the photo above, watching men take a break from working on their coffee plantation in a cafe in rural Colombia.

These little moments stack the shelves of my collective travel memory. And the more I think of it, maybe it’s not the sweets that I’m addicted to, but the sweet encounters.

Originally posted on the Adventure Cycling Association’s blog.
Willie Weir : August 1st, 2011

Low and Slow

I truly feel sorry for people who have only observed the world from the seat of a speeding car. It all becomes a blur … literally.

The pace of bicycle travel suites me. But even pedaling can propel you too quickly through your surroundings. To experience the intense beauty of nature, sometimes you’ve got to get off your bike and wallow in it.

While cycling around Crater Lake, my buddy Thomas and I came upon a huge field of dirt and rocks.

At least from a speeding car that’s all you’d have seen. Especially after the grand scenic views of the lake. But at bicycle speed you could still have missed the beauty. Just some flashes of color.

It wasn’t until I got off my bike and onto my belly (I was already sweaty and dirty, anyway) that I experienced the beauty of this place. Among the dirt and rocks were thousands of tiny wildflowers. Little explosions of color. In this mountain climate the flowers were tiny, most barely reaching more than a couple of inches above the dry earth. Yet up close their beauty rivaled that of anything we’d encountered on our trip.

While some prefer fast and furious … I prefer low and slow.

Originally posted on the Adventure Cycling Association’s blog.