The Pros and Cons of Upcountry Cycling
Just to get the record straight, I thoroughly enjoy cycling around here, great exercise and plenty of photo ops. However it’s not all bliss and continuous Instagram friendly moments, like life in general there are lots of ups & downs (& anything in between!).
The pros look pretty straight forward:
- Off the beaten track experiences
- Lots of nature
- Friendly people
- Photographer’s paradise
The cons are perhaps not what you’d expected…:
- Off the beaten track experiences > Yes and sometimes they better stay there as it can be really boring. My Cambodia cycling trip was great, but more than a few parts of cycling along the main road were …., yawn!
- Lots of nature > Yes, but also occasionally thrashed nature, garbage dumps, left car wrecks, slash & burn parts, dead animals (the smell!), etc.
- Friendly people > on the whole yes they are friendly, curious, at worst indifferent, but if they could only keep their dogs on leash…
- Photographer’s paradise > If you have a photographer’s eye, yes, but then the danger exist that you start paying more attention to potential attractive photo ops than the road you’re cycling on…
- roads/lanes/alleys/trails > In my area most are in good condition, but the smaller, elevated concrete paths along small canals can be challenging. Potholes are to be avoided where possible, especially when you’re cycling on a folding bike with small wheels like yours truly.
Other times what seemed like a decent, solid road, suddenly ends in the middle of nowhere or (more common) against a wall as some developer decided to built a new village there.
Highways usually have frontage roads, but cycling along those is not my idea of fun. Also crossing a 6 lane by shouldering your bicycle across a foot bridge isn’t that great either.
Crossing unguarded railway tracks though is easy, just look carefully several times in both directions!
- Dogs > the average dog is friendly/lazy and happy to see you passing by, however at other times they can turn into a rabid, foaming on the mouth, monstrosity that escaped from Games of Thrones.
There seems to be no rhyme or reason, days can go by with only friendly dogs and then suddenly… Showdown At Dog Corral! Best is to pretend to throw something or hold up your bicycle chain lock (good reason to have one!) as trying to out-cycle them is highly dubious, those bastards got stamina!
- Other Animals > I seldom meet any, so far I had a tiny lizard between my wheels while it was crossing the road. Monitor lizards like most larger animals are shy and tend to stay away. The illusive 10 to 15 meter long Tom Yamanaconda snake I haven’t encountered yet and if I do, well, either it will turn into a great blog post here or it was nice knowing you…
- Roadkill > there isn’t that much anyway and despite all the zombie movies you may have seen, they do stay dead (at least in my experience).
- Sun > the sunshine can be intense and seriously hot, therefore I always wear a wide brimmed hat. After discovering ’sunstroke’ on YouTube my wife nowadays always warns me to be very careful, although I do at times have the impression she watched David Cronenberg’s ‘Scanners’ instead of a documentary.
Oh well, tomorrow I’m back on my bike again!