Why am I biking through India? 

Because for 50 days, my life will be getting up in the morning and riding my bike, eating fabulous food, meeting interesting people, being open to whatever circumstances and chaos present themselves, … and then getting up and doing it again.

Because India seems to be one of the most interesting, vibrant and culturally challenging places to visit in the world.  I was there for only 5 days as a college student staying with a family in Bombay (now Mumbai) and I was overwhelmed by the poverty, chaos, smells, humanity and energy.  But equally impressed by the warmth and generosity of my host family and their friends and the amazing richness of India’s history and vitality.

Because the experience of traveling through a country at 15mph on a bike is entirely unlike backpacking, the train or a tour.  You are on the road going at the pace of the ox carts.  You are at the bottom of the highway food chain navigating cow pies and potholes and avoiding anything faster and bigger than you are with others in your non-motorized caste.  You really feel what’s happening – good and bad.  Dirt in the face.  Sweat.  Cool breezes.  Smells.  Encounters.  Stories.

Because on a bike you are very approachable, an object of curiosity.  You have a unique chance to experience the country and meet and interact with people without the insulation of tourist areas, backpacker districts and English speaking guides.  (But it’s always nice to retreat back when it gets overwhelming).

Because I’ve learned that embracing experiences like this gives perspective on my life and what’s possible.  Distance from the familiar and a physical separation from my normal routines help me to better see my world when I return and recognize changes I want to make.

This is what I’m anticipating…we’ll see what actually happens.

Leigh Pate
Leigh Pate is a writer, former political consultant and two time cancer patient and cancer research advocate living in Seattle, WA