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TOURING

I'm self-taught, on maybe a dozen trips between 2 and 5 days, all alone or with one other person. I haven't done any group deals, nothing wrong with them, but I'm OK by myself. I have done a lot of camping and backpacking in the past and it's about the same as backpacking, but you go 60 miles a day rather than 10 (and you can coast!).

I've also done a dozen or two long day trips between 50 and 100 miles round trip, in the summer you can get pretty far from home in half a day. When we lived in Virginia I would ride to DC or to Harpers Ferry, or get on the C&O towpath along the Potomac. Every hour or two your perspective changes, when you are 25 miles from home the "issues" you've been thinking about get a lot smaller. At 50 miles they get smaller and simpler, and you cannot believe how easy the solution is and know exactly what you need to do. This is always a laugh out loud moment... (I think this is a trick in your mind, and the truth is you've been thinking of little else for 2 or 3 hours, and of course if you take time to look at all sides it's easy to come up with a solution).

Credit card touring, you take a change of riding clothes, minimal casual clothes (shorts/tank/sandals) , toothbrush, shaver and sunscreen. You always have the basics, tool and flat tire kits, camera, energy bars, sunscreen, swimmers towel, all that fits into a little backpack, trunk rack or handlebar bag. Pick your mileage for the day and make a motel reserve, or just take off and see where you end up. The next day will be easier because you recover quicker than you expect, and you know your limitations better. In the summer , it's nice to have a clean shower, bed, and air conditioning at day's end, not to mention sit down to a served meal and iced drinks before calling home and going to bed. I think you rest better and recover quicker. Another nice thing about credit card touring is you can pick up anything you forgot along the way, and you can get back home easily.

After a few of these, you can camp, or go further. I HAVE camped and backpacked a lot, and bike touring is very much like backpacking (easier on your feet and back)! Buy lightweight gear, take the minimum, organize by "rooms" (house, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, first aid, garage, technology). Going for longer times loaded with 25-50 lbs you pace yourself a little more, and go a little slower, but I found only about 2 mph slower than your normal average. You can go 30-90 miles a day, depending on many things you soon learn about yourself.

My longest self-contained tour, so far, was 5 full days of Florida in the last week of July, and it was hot. About 300 miles in all, with a wreck laying me up for a day to repair my bike and tape up by big toe... I was too tired to cook dinner so after a spring swim and shower thought to ride up the road in shorts and sandals for dinner, but all was closed and it got dark and when I went to turn around I didn't see that median until it was tooo late! So I ended up with a microwave dinner on the sidewalk at the quick-shop while I repaired my toe and bent my bike frame back to a rideable state and limped back to the campground.

I thought I was done for sure, 90 miles to home, a bent bike and bloody parts here and there... I'd call my wife in the morning and ask her to come pick me up.... but in the morning, after breakfast and discovering the bike was rideable, and there was a hardware store in town... I changed my mind... by 10pm that night ... I was ready to head home in the morning, day long rain forecast notwithstanding. And I made it... 90 miles in the rain, but, once you are wet... it's like backpacking... you put on a poncho and keep on truckin. I can't wait for my next tour. Update, we've moved to Arizona so I didn't get a tour last year, hope to get one this year!

We vacationed in Canada a few years ago, and of course I took my bike and rode 30-50 miles a day around the cottage country near Georgia Bay.

A couple winters ago I did my first cool weather tour from Orlando to Gainesville and back. It got down to mid 30's in the nights and mornings but I was OK w a 20 degree sleeping bag and an extra layer of lightweight stuff. Much easier on the bod than the summer heat!

In a few years, I plan to get training to lead tours and participate in a group tour or two... I think my "retirement" will almost certainly involve helping people ride bikes and more touring is likely.

 
 

 

TYPES OF TOURING
Self-contained

Supported

Off-road

Camping

Credit card


GEOFF'S TOURING TIPS
Start easy, do long day loops

Credit card tour overnight

Visit Adventure Cycling Assn

3 DAY CAMP PACK LIST
In Florida

In the summer

Solo self contained

Camping in campgrounds w showers