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Tuesday, 29 August 2023

'Two Years on a Bike' book cover

Two Years on a Bike

Martijn Doolaard, while sharing some history and context for his two year, twenty thousand kilometres long bicycle journey along the Pacific coast of the two American continents — from Vancouver to Patagonia:

I had quite a regular life, nothing to complain about, really, I think it is a good life. I am very grateful for it, but at the same time I was just missing a lot of things. I missed the connection with the natural world, being in the city. I missed working with my hands and using my body, and I missed getting physically tired, instead of mentally tired from watching screens all day and sitting inside, it just dulled me down. Also, the continuous rhythm of everything being the same at some point — like five days going to work, then there’s a weekend, then Monday everything starts over again, the same place, same kind of people… I needed to break the pattern.

Break the pattern.

(It’s been a long hiatus. I would be amiss not to address the almost eight year gap between this and the previous post, but I’ll plead guilty and leave it unaddressed. Instead, I want to talk about the incredible documentary that got me to break the silence on this blog.)

Martijn is a gifted storyteller. The production quality of this series is off the charts, which is not surprising once you learn that Martijn is a professional photographer himself. But there’s so much more. He takes his time, much like the way one has to find their body’s rhythm when undertaking any long strenuous physical activity. He invites you into his mind, which is often the stage for the largest struggles during any long journey, especially the more physically demanding ones. He talks about the people he meets and their stories, those building blocks of our memories and experiences. He shares the life-threatening reality of facing nature’s elements — wind, water, heat, altitude, and terrain — which otherwise appear trivially mundane in modern civilisation. And he takes us places. The redwood forests of California, the salt flats of Bolivia, the arid deserts of Utah, the many volcanoes along South America. Places known and unknown, explored and unexplored, magical, terrifying, stifling, but almost always utterly beautiful.

Perhaps you’ve been a cyclist all your life, perhaps you haven’t really been on a cycle since your school days. Perhaps you’ve taken to cycling recently, like me. There’s a lot to geek out on for cycling enthusiasts, but regardless of your enthusiasm for the two-wheeler, Two Years on a Bike is full of riches to give and very little to take.

(via Anshuman Manur, who aptly recommended this to me during my longest ride yet)

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