My first tour was almost 10 years ago. It was the first time I had been west of the center states. The transition from riding steep green mountains in Virginia to the rolling hills of Missouri, and then the open flatness of Kansas was slow (over a month of riding!) and quite amazing.
People often ask what I like best about bike touring. There are so many reasons that I can never bring it down to just one — I love feeling autonomous to go where I want and whenever I want. It amazes me that I can have everything I might need for a week or more in only one or two packs. I love the pace of biking where it isn’t so fast that I don’t notice where I am going, and it isn’t so slow that I never get very far. Bike touring makes me feel good knowing that I am not relying on gas fueled transportation to travel. I even enjoy the possibilities of meeting so many new and interesting people along the way. I actually feel a stronger connection to places I visit because I am able to interact with it in a way I never could in a car, bus or train. I like to ride on smaller roads and see the varying landscapes rather than concrete, billboards and fumes. On country roads, I often come across local vegetable stands and cafés as opposed to the chain stores that tend to ring American towns.
There are also more challenging aspects of bicycle touring, including long days of riding in sometimes less than perfect conditions, all to be followed by pitching a tent, cooking dinner, washing the shorts, and planning the next day. I often ride for 8-9 hours a day, including a few stops to eat, stop at a town library, or to sit somewhere with a nice view. That amount of time, depending on hills or weather and wind, usually gets me 50-75 miles in a day. Some days I prefer to lounge more, and maybe only go 40 miles. I have had moments while biking that feel full of despair: two flats in a day, endless fog and rain, exhaustion of riding against the wind and feeling lonely. Yet, I keep going when I just want to stop and discover it is all worth it when I find little gems like a pond, waterfall or a breathtaking scenic view.
If you have ever thought about taking a bike tour, there are numerous resources available for you to help you prepare and plan for your adventure. You can find answers to questions about training, the potential costs of touring gear, roads and routes, weather, what to bring and how to carry it, what to know about bike repair, where to sleep, how to ride alone or with others, and anything else you have thought about.
The Essential Touring Cyclist by Richard A. Lovett, McGraw Hill 1994.
301 Cedar Ave S,612-238-3593
3026 Minnehaha Ave S, 612-729-0437
Offering touring gear and workshops.Twin Cities Bicycling Club