Marvellous Memories.

For quite some time now I’ve been pondering about bike touring memories. Going on a cycling tour is a BIG thing, for us anyway. I don’t think there would be many cycle tourers out there that do not have some sort of camera device on them, be it a mobile phone, DSLR, ipad, video recorder, GoPro etc to record at least some aspect of the trip with.

So what is it with our need to record our memories?

Last year I decided to reignite my passion for photography that had been sadly waylaid during my child-rearing years. In high school I fell in love with photography and during my early twenties I actually had a fully functioning B&W lab set up in our laundry.

When the kids were growing up I became a point and shoot photographer recording countless birthdays, Christmases and yearly vacations. Now that the kids are leaving the nest and we started bike touring, I thought it was high time to get back into my creative side. I really missed it…

On our first tour I thought I wouldn’t ‘need’ a separate camera, and in fact I just used my iPhone for all my photos. I even purchased a small contraption off eBay that let me use the iPhone on a tripod for selfies. Yeah, no, I don’t think so. It was pretty impossible to compose a decent shot. A new camera it was and so I treated myself to a Panasonic LUMIX GX7, a micro 4/3 DMILC that is compact enough to fit into the handle bar bag but still able to take sensational photos.
snaps 010

My new camera!

Having a twenty odd year photography hiatus meant that I needed to have a few refreshers on aperture and ISO, let alone the whole film to digital transmission, but luckily Mr Google was able to help me out!

So once I’d remastered the art of taking photos, what is one to do with all these happy snaps? Sure, some of my favs end up on our Facebook page and this blog, but what about the rest? They get filed in my laptop under photos, bike touring, name of the trip etc. They get looked at a few times maybe, but then what?

Great Ocean Road, September 2014.

 If they don’t get looked at what is the point of taking them in the first place? Is it that we don’t trust our brains to remember what we’ve experienced so we need a digital copy? Is it so we can prove or boast to our loved ones that we’ve been away? As a kid I remember ‘slide show evenings’ whereby my parents would invite a bunch of friends over and they would set up a screen and show slides of our latest holiday. Last year I helped my mum move to a smaller house and there they were, the SLIDES! Boxes and boxes of them full, collecting decades of dust in a wardrobe. How sad, I thought.

Great Ocean Road, September 2014.

The other extreme is to take no photos at all. Last year we hosted a Swedish Warm Showers guest, which is an organisation that provides reciprocal hospitality for bike tourers worldwide. He was a quietly spoken man that carried no electronics with him. No phone, no laptop, iPad or CAMERA! I was gobsmacked. He said he stores all his memories in his head. If he needed the Internet he would go to a library and use the few remaining public phones if he needed to call someone.

Taking bike touring photos is not new of course. I absolutely love seeing old B&W photos of loaded touring bikes perched at high altitudes with beautiful vistas behind. I guess the difference here is that this may well be the only photo of the whole tour. Nowdays we shoot thousands, filling up storage after storage cards without a second glance. Perhaps because there are so many photos they decrease in their value? Or is each single digital photo still treasured as much as the lone B&W one?

When I was little I remember reading a story about a man who kept everything. Photos, momentos, souvenirs, hair and nail clippings, belly button fluff, samples of food etc… It took him years and years to get all of his childhood sorted and then he meticulously kept everything from then on in. Every single event had to have a physical representation. He filled up his whole house with memories. When he finally died his poor wife promply threw everything out except one photo…

It was a picure of their wedding.


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