Cyclists for Cultural Exchange
Is this trip right for you? Read this insider's view
by Serine Sahakyan
I will start my story with a response to a question raised during our evening discussions around the campfire: “What do you like most about biking tours?”
To me, cycling tours are the best way to explore new places. On a bike you are entirely open for new observations and feelings. Biking allows you not only see, but also hear, smell and sense. The layers of the landscapes touch you.
This is how we got acquainted with a beautiful part of California. The nature is amazing… It’s well protected by human intervention, but still wild in places. The cycling routes that our tour guide Daniel selected for the trip were totally diverse and full of breathtaking views; we biked through Redwood forests to the Pacific Ocean, from highways to national parks, from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco to Old San Pedro Mountain Highway. Don’t believe it? Just look at the pictures. If you are as impressed and inspired as I was, I recommend that you try it yourself!
It is not only the nature; humans also create or, better to say, complete the environment. We were lucky in this respect, too. Our group comprised about 20 participants from Armenia, Australia, China, Poland, Russia and the US. The cultural exchange among cyclists was a highlight of the tour: we exchanged tastes of our national cuisines, sang folk songs around campfires, and discussed aspects of each participant country. A vivid example - our participants from China sang a Russian song “Pod-Moskovskie Vechera” with the participants from Russia, and Rich from the US with Lee from China played the guitar for Armenians to sing Ruben Hakhverdyan’s song “Im Poqrik Navak”. The CCE home team, including Daniel, Sharon, Rich, CJ, Tim, Teri, Frank and Vita made our experience even better. Their friendly and joyful nature, support, advice, awareness and experience accompanied and guided us throughout the trip.
Before the trip, Tim and Hasmik organized the bike tests and tour preparation activities at their house, and were incredibly generous and hospitable towards all the participants.
The CCE program, including the organization of the trip, the participants’ traveling activities and their homestays in Santa Cruz, was made possible through the efforts of a group of volunteers, all of whom I cannot list in this brief account. But I can say this: It was truly impressive!
My overall impression of the trip in a nutshell:
Cyclists are the strongest, craziest, closest to the nature people I know whose values and activities make a real difference.