Cycling Along The Way...

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Silver City, NM, United States
Riders of the wheel. Racers, Roadies, Mountain bikers, Touring cyclists, Commuters, and others. Diamond frames, recumbents, trikes, and more. Sharing a web of connections often misunderstood or unappreciated by those who don't ride. Herewith, my attempt to share some of the more rational thoughts that flit around inside my head while bicycling, knocking back a brew or three, or just thinking about life. Reviews of bicycles, gear, touring, and more, plus some unsolicited posts about people, politics, and philosophy. Other things, too. Me: retired, gave up my TV in 1988, avid cyclist, several cross country tours completed with more to come. Your thoughts?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Things I Believe To Be True About Bicycle Touring...


Bicycle touring.  Over the past few years, Eileen and I have hosted quite a few touring cyclists at our house, where I've had the opportunity to chat with them and ask, "Why?".  And it's given me a chance to see how others tour.  Same as other touring cyclists, I'm quite certain about what kind of bicycle I want to use, what gear I use, how I route my tour, and what clothing I take along.  Where I ride, when I ride, and how long I'll be riding are factors that help me decide what to take with me.  Cyclists we've hosted and those I've met on the roadways have surprised me with what they've taken along, how much they have, and how the hell did they mount all of that on their bicycles.

All reflections of who they are, as my choices are a reflection of me.

Some cyclists take the whole enchilada with them while touring.  Amazing!  One cyclist I met a few years ago while training for my 2010 cross country tour had a BOB trailer AND four panniers on his bicycle.  With that set up, a cyclist could carry at least 120+ lbs of gear.  When I caught up with him and got talking to him, he told me that he'd sent back several pounds of gear plus a full size, folding, metal lawn chair that he'd strapped to the top of his BOB trailer.  Is that incredible or what?  In 1988, while touring in Alaska, I met a guy who was headed out on a tour that would take him off the main roads, thus he needed to have lots of food, gear, etc.  When I saw him heading towards me, I really wasn't certain what the hell was coming towards me.  His bike was loaded down with stuff.  Piled high!  Truly, I wondered how he could pedal his bike with everything that was attached to it.  Made me laugh.  In the Fall, I met a cyclist that was carrying the absolute minimum needed to tour plus a small backpack that he could use when he stored his bike somewhere and went off hiking into the woods.  Wow...  I'll skip those I've met who have ridden the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.  They're even more amazing.

Of course, I have my own thoughts about touring on a bicycle.  And other cycling tourists have theirs.  Considering that, please realize you'll have your own "needs" or things that you "must" have with you.  Just like everyone has an "opinion".  And those needs or must haves will be all over the map, I assure you.  When I look at my selection of gear, clothing, bicycle components, etc., I'm pretty certain that all other touring cyclists would choose the same things.  Wrong.

Over the next month or so, I'll go over what seem to me to be some of the main topics integral to bicycle touring.  If I did a single post, it'd take a long time to read it.  There's so much online about bicycle touring which makes it difficult to condense to a single post.  Now, since my primary interest is road touring, I'll be discussing things relevant to that type of touring.  Should you be contemplating other types of touring, what I cover may need to be adjusted for other styles of touring, so it's up to you to extrapolate what might fit for you.

In this post, I'm just going to list the topics that I'll cover down the road.  Believe me, there is a lot, but don't let it overwhelm you.  Take one thing at a time and you'll most likely come up with what works for you.  And what works for you will change up as much as just about anything else life tosses your way.

Here goes:
  • PLANNING
    • DESTINATION
    • WHEN AND WHERE
    • ROUTE AND MAPS
    • MONEY
      • CREDIT CARDS
      • DEBIT CARDS
      • CASH
    • FOOD
    • WATER
  • BICYCLE
    • SADDLES
    • WHEELS
    • COMPONENTS
    • HANDLEBARS/STEM
    • SHIFTERS, BRIFTERS, AND BAR ENDS
    • TIRES AND TUBES
      • HOW MANY SHOULD I BRING?
      • BRANDS
      • REPAIR KITS
      • PUMPS VS. CO2 CARTRIDGE SYSTEMS
    • PEDALS
    • WATER BOTTLES
    • FENDERS vs. NO FENDERS
  • RACKS
  • PANNIERS, TRAILER, OR OFF ROAD BAGS
  • ACCESSORIES
    • CLOTHING: wool or synthetics
      • CYCLING SHORTS
      • CYCLING JERSEYS
      • TIGHTS/UNDERWEAR/TOPS
    • JACKET
    • GLOVES
    • SHOES
    • RAIN GEAR
      • JACKET
      • PANTS
      • PONCHO
      • SHOE COVERS
      • HELMET COVERS
    • SUNGLASSES
    • HELMET
    • MIRROR
  • GEAR
    • ELECTRONICS
    • GPS DEVICES
    • SPOT 
    • LIGHTS
      • HEADLIGHT
      • TAIL LIGHT
    • TENT
    • SLEEPING BAG
    • SLEEPING PAD
    • COT
    • BIKE TOOLS
  • NUTRITION/COOKING
    • FOOD
    • WATER
    • STOVE
    • POTS/PANS
    • UTENSILS
  • EMERGENCY NEEDS
  • ODDS AND ENDS
Am I writing a book?  Nooooo.  While it seems like a lot, it's really not.  In breaking bicycle touring down to the basics, it just looks like a lot.  To keep you occupied in the meantime, here's Adventure Cycling Association's website for you to check out what the more professional touring folks say...and don't thing what they say is the gospel for all cycling tourists.  It's not.  Merely a guide.

For a broader view on touring, here are some other sites:
It's critical here to remember that all of the sites above are just other people's thinking on bicycle touring.  And, like me, they think they know everything there is to know about bicycle touring.  Maybe they do.  Maybe they don't.  One thing they don't know is you.  And what excites you or drives you nuts.  Frequently, sites go on and on about world tours, years long tours, wild jungle tours, and other stuff that may not be of any interest.  Third world countries where I have to think... is this the neighbor's dog I'm eating?... don't interest me.  Maybe it gets your heart racing.  Well, remember...you're the one who needs to figure it out.  Someone else doesn't have your answers.  Want to see what it's like to tour?  Go for an overnighter...a 24 hr tour.  What?  You don't think a 24 hrs tour is a real tour?  You'll carry almost as much gear on a short tour...and it'll give you a taste.  And you'll start to shape your ideas for YOUR tours.  From there, go for a weekend tour.  And then the road goes on forever.  Limited only by you.  Well, work enters into this, too.  Ok, family does as well.  Just tell them you won't be gone long.  A white lie, ok?

Time to hit the road...a tune to exit with.  I've posted this tune before, but I love it...and it fits for this post, too.  "And The Road Goes On Forever" by Robert Earl Keen, Jr.