For me, one of the most surprisingly aspect of bicycle touring was how it allowed me to explore my mind as well as the physical world. Exploring is inherent in human nature - "a search for information" and bicycle touring allows you to do this in abundance.
I tried as best as I could to be open-minded and open to new experiences whilst bicycle touring. Part of this involved accepting invitations from people I met. Accepting invitations often led me to have interesting experiences. Each day before bedtime I kept a journal and found it to be a good way to assess what happened in the day and it also strengthened my memories when I looked thought back. I wrote up all my experiences in two self-published travel books and the level of details in my books wouldn't have been as high had I not kept a journal.
Riding for extended periods of time offers plenty of opportunity to let the mind wander and meeting people along the way gives the chance for conversations and exchanging stories. Bicycle touring offers an excellent opportunity for meditation. There can be times when the road is clear and everything is calm. Whilst pedalling you are away from distractions like computers and mobile phones.
Usually with meditation you sit somewhere calmly and you focus on the sensation of your own breath. After some time you thoughts can start to take over and you are supposed to refocus on your breath. You can try this technique whilst bicycling by focusing on the sound of the bike, the sensation of your body, or some specific aspect of experience like focusing on a point in the distance. You can can see how this affects your experience and reflect on it.
Focusing on the Present not the Destination
When I was travelling by bicycle I realised that it was a bad idea to have the habit of focusing on the destination. What I learnt was that it was much easier to be open-minded and to accept things as they came along as opposed to having a reaction when I didn't get what I wanted.
When you travel by bicycle your environment is always changing and there is always new information coming to you. I found I could then observe how I reacted to the world which was a good gauge of my personality and how I tended to respond to events.
Bicycle touring can be a way to break away from the routine of modern Western life and offers the opportunity to have a different rhythm of life which can be slower and more reflective.
Originally written 11/12, updated 01/19