The beauty of bicycle touring is that you can visit scenic places that you couldn’t access on foot or by vehicle. Cycling is faster than walking and you can cover more miles. The ride allows you to immerse yourself in the elements, to smell, hear and feel your surroundings.
Riding offers you the chance to enjoy the open fields, the canyons, the mountains, the ocean waves, and the beautiful flowers along the route. In fact, with a bicycle, you can go anywhere you want. A bicycle tour is not only enjoyable but easy to organize. With just a little practice, even those who’ve never ridden a bike before can take part in long term bicycle trips.
(For long term travel without a bike check out this great guide on Claire’s site)
Decide the Touring Type that Interests You
Among the things that need consideration when you decide to start touring is the type of bike trip you want.
Bicycle touring can cover a huge range of options. This can be as simple as grabbing a pal or two and hitting the road for a couple of hours. Another option is packing and carrying all the stuff you need for a day or two.
For a proper adventure, you can even sleep under the stars. If you’re wondering what to camp in I’ve written about the best sleeping gear on my cycling blog – Pinch-Flat.com
If this doesn’t appeal you can opt for the type where you only need to swipe your credit card and all else (except peddling) is done for you. The choice is yours but it’s best to decide before you venture out.
Decide Where to Ride
Apart from the obvious like the scenery and the history of the route, look for routes that have low-traffic and/or roads that have good shoulders for your own safety.
As you plan, remember that most of the routes that quickly come to your mind may be undesirable for cycling due to heavy traffic. The same could apply to routes which you would love to view by bike like national parks.
If you are a mountain biker, you may want to go for a route that experiences low motorized traffic and with minimal pavements. The question you need to ask yourself is whether you can ride all the way with a bike carrying your load.
Choosing Your Bike
The success of your bicycle tour could largely depend on the type of bike you choose. While in some cases it’s possible to rent a touring bike or even use the one you already own, if you are just starting out, it is wise to prepare well.
Find out the best type for the kind of touring you are considering.
The type of bike you choose will depend on the kind of terrain you will be riding on. In general, any quality touring bike can do on most routes, but be wary before you attempt to take an off-road bike route, where a mountain bike may be more appropriate.
What should you take?
Most cyclists will want to keep their gear at the bare minimum, especially if you want to take a route that has several hills to be conquered. For your first bicycle tour, don’t attempt to carry too much unless you are sure that physically you are up to it. After all, the idea is to enjoy the tour not to labor with a loaded bike.
Experienced riders will recommend that you go for 2 rear panniers, and perhaps two small front panniers. A bicycle with small handlebar bags is very handy for those items that need frequent access, such as your camera, phone, or money.
Consider the Cost of Touring
The most economical way is to make camp and prepare your own meals. If touring in the US, and assuming you have carried all the required gear, a budget of between $35 and $50 per day ought to be adequate to meet camping fees, buy groceries, and still have something stashed away for the unforeseen such as repairs.
A bike tour is fun. It can be anything from a short cruise to a single-full day ride. There are also events covering several days.
This is where all the gear you will need such as clothing and food are carried for you by a special vehicle. The support vehicle meets you at designated checkpoints on the pre-selected route.
It can even be a group or solo adventure where you carry all you will need on your bike. Put simply, bicycle touring is not only fun but highly adaptable.
So what are you waiting for! Give it a go!
For more advice on bike touring be sure to check out Mikes Blog pinch-flat.com
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