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Willie Weir : February 25th, 2014

Essential Bike Touring Entertainment Delivery Devices

They’re cheap. They’re easy to pack. They don’t need batteries. And they’ll allow you to entertain people you meet around the globe on your bike journey.

I’m speaking of juggling balls. They don’t entertain by themselves. You will need to learn the basics. But you don’t need skills worthy of Barnum and Bailey in order to bring squeals of delight from kids and adults alike.

I learned to juggle in high school. I was on the tennis team. I wasn’t very good, so I was on the “B” squad. So I was on the sidelines, in case someone from the “A” squad got injured. Tennis is not the most injury prone of sports, so I had a lot of time on my hands. Tennis balls come conveniently packed in cans of three. So rather than become a tennis star, I became a juggler.

It has served me well.

juggling-bolaven-laos from Willie Weir on Vimeo.

I bought my first set of traveling juggling balls on the road in Mexico. They were hand woven and filled with corn. They worked well, until the weevils hatched. The next set were filled with rice, and lasted slightly longer until they got wet, the rice expanded, and they exploded. The next set I bought in New Zealand in 1993. They were made of leather and filled with little plastic beads. I still have them, and they have accompanied me on every trip since.

I’m a much better juggler than a linguist, so this skill allows me to entertain people around the world, even if I don’t know their language.

But what if you can’t juggle, and have no desire to learn. Well. What can you offer the world? Do you play an instrument? Travel with a ukelele or a flute (of a tube if you have a trailer). I met one cyclist who did card tricks. I met a woman cycling in Central America who could draw a sketch of anything or anyone in two minutes. I traveled briefly with a 7 foot 2 German who pedaled with a basketball bungee-corded to his back rack. He was a rock star!

Whatever talent it is that you can share with the world, find a way to pack that talent with you.

Traveling cyclists are loaded with stories of people giving to them — find the simplest, most packable way to give back. It will make the people you meet smile, and fill you with joy at the same time.

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