4) Responding and befriending your surroundings
This is the contrast to precept 3. The idea is not to keep silent with a vengeance, but to retain a degree of conviviality. So if someone shows interest in your equipment or wonders where you’re from, be open and friendly. If you meet a poet along the track (this happened to me), stop and listen to his stanzas even if the lines don’t quite scan, (his did). If you hear a song in your head, feel free to sing out loud, (as you won’t always be cycling in a group, nobody will mind). Another tip is when struggling up the hill and you notice a bench positioned in a particular strategic spot stop and sit, take in the view, you may find that it has been donated by a deceased local who treasured this view and wished to share it with passing travelers. Not knowing the local languages need not be a total bummer.
Once leaving a French city on the last train carriage – this is a sure place to put a bike – I noticed a women with cases trying to make the train. I helped her aboard and she then spent the next 5 minutes telling a tearful tale of her husband and his impeding operation that she was on the way to comfort with. But just by listening I understood, she settled into a compartment and at the next city where I got off and was loading the bike, I noticed that she was standing behind me, nicely made up and smiling: “Now I am ready to visit my husband, thanks to you.” I felt flattered. In fact, try to work towards letting go of the group and experience the feeling of being completely alone in a foreign land.