Phil Moore is one half of Permaculture People @permapeople and a keen cycle tourer working with, in his words, the awesome Brake the Cycle. They are planning a week long ride through Wales focused on permaculture and the exploration of new (& old!) ideas around ecology, economy and conviviality during May this year and calling it Dragon Dreaming. He explains…
WWOOFing and wheeling go hand-in-hand. Brake the Cycle is a social enterprise that runs cycle tours to ecological projects across the UK and Europe and shares the WWOOF ethos of openness and inclusion.
Our rides visit a number of WWOOF hosts where cyclists get to inhabit spaces they ordinarily wouldn’t see, including delicious food grown by the host and, if there’s time, a brief tour. This marks out Brake the Cycle tours from the normal ‘holiday’ or cycle tour. It’s something else and WWOOF is a big part of it. The privilege of being welcomed into people’s spaces as active participants, not simply as customers is hugely appealing. The interaction and opportunity to ask those who create special places, how they’ve done it, is important to us and for those taking part. Indeed, many of our past riders have been so inspired by meetings with remarkable WWOOF projects that they’ve returned as willing volunteers.
Over the Pyrenees, from one side of the Iberian Peninsula to the other, around the Greek island of Evia and through the lost lanes and verdant valleys of Wales, our cycle tours are designed to see things differently.
This is largely inspired by the idea of ‘Slow’ cycling. In short, the destination isn’t the goal. It’s all about the ride, about the ‘now’. And about rekindling connections — to those around us, our friends, our community; to place, to the rhythms of the world, to looking up and hearing the geese honking high in the clean blue sky. If poetry is composed of a patchwork of felt details — the sun kissing your cheeks as the wind blows through your hair whilst puffing up a hill knowing that your eyes, now fixed on the seemingly infinite tarmac will lift to reveal a grand vista when you get to the top — then cycling is a portal into poetry. Peddling helps reconnect you to the world around you. It gets you out and about.
In large part ‘Slow’ cycling is about visiting places and really breathing them in. That’s why Brake the Cycle is necessarily drawn to projects that are keen to share, and of the projects visited, many of which are WWOOF hosts, it is the examples of natural builds, abundant food spaces and places using organising tools and spaces for more communal and cooperative models of living that are hugely appealing.
As one of our past riders said of the temporary travelling community that is a Brake the Cycle ride, ‘being on a bike with others reminds you you’re not alone in this world as well as offering you time to mull over the beauties when it’s just you and your bike’. We’ve found that many joining our rides are often at a critical juncture in their life where they need some perspective and space to think. This is a beautiful thing, and having the support of your fellow riders can be hugely beneficial.
What’s also important to Brake the Cycle tours is a break from the ‘norm’ and seeing how things can be done differently, how another world is possible. This is where WWOOF hosts, who, having welcomed us into their spaces, demonstrate that there are other ways to produce and consume food and how we can communicate with one another. These are laboratories of insurrectionary imagination at the edge of change but also dynamically abutting on mainstream society.
Brake the Cycle rides are open to all. No previous experience of cycling is required — just enthusiasm and an open mind. An adventure for both body and mind, Brake the Cycle invites contemplation of the inner terrain as riders push pedals up and over mountains and beautiful scenery. If you’re seeking change, adventure and personal transformation, create the space for it on a Brake the Cycle adventure. To find out more visit www.brakethecycle.xyz
photos: from www.brakethecycle.xyz