10 Issues I Realized From My First Bike Tour – Bicycle Touring Professional

by jpc_touring-bicycle

After I left house in the summertime of 2001 to journey my bike from Eureka, California to the Mexican/American border, I didn’t have a clue what I used to be doing. So far as I used to be involved, this entire “bicycle touring” factor was a completely new idea – perhaps even a completely new sport? I didn’t understand how I used to be going to journey over 1,000 miles on my rusty previous mountain bike, however I did know I might determine a technique to make it occur!

After 30 days of biking down the Pacific Coast of the US, I discovered quite a bit – each about myself and about what it takes to drag off a profitable bicycle journey.

The next is a listing of ten necessary classes I discovered whereas on my first bike tour.

1. Be comfy in your bike earlier than you permit house.

On the primary day of the journey, my using associate (Jason Weber) and I stepped off a Greyhound bus and located ourselves immediately thrust into our fist bicycle journey. It was pouring rain, the campground was greater than six miles away, we hadn’t slept in over 24 hours, and we nonetheless needed to put our bikes collectively.

As soon as our rides have been assembled, we each jumped on the bikes and rolled out into the road. To our amazement, the bikes have been extremely onerous to regulate. Full of gear, the entrance of our bikes wobbled from measurement to measurement as we struggled to achieve management.

This was the primary time both of us had ridden our fully-loaded bikes. We have been carrying a lot of stuff and we had no thought learn how to make the bikes go within the route we needed them to.

I can nonetheless bear in mind these first few moments of using. I bear in mind pondering to myself, “We aren’t going to make it! If that is what it’s going to be like, there’s no means we’re going to make all of it the way in which to Mexico. I’m wondering if we will even make it to the campground? What have I gotten myself into?” I’m positive Jason was pondering the very same factor.

Whether or not you’re utilizing panniers or a trailer, I extremely suggest that you just journey your bike earlier than you permit house. Not solely must you journey the bike, however you have to be comfy using it in its totally geared up state. Use the methods I like to recommend right here to get used to dwelling in your bike earlier than you ever go away house. The very last thing you need to do is get out on the highway, not be capable to management your bike, and both crash or cancel the tour since you are ailing ready. Know learn how to journey your bike earlier than you permit house!

2. The primary three days are going to be powerful.

As soon as we had gotten used to the texture of steering a totally loaded touring bike, the following factor we needed to get comfy with was the ache in our legs.

After I awakened on the second day of the tour, I bear in mind pondering that my leg had doubled in measurement. I had by no means skilled pains fairly like this. It felt as if the muscle groups in my thighs have been about to burst out of my pores and skin. It was unimaginable!

I had a tough time getting up that morning. And the following morning wasn’t a lot simpler. However as the times went on, the leg pains went away… and by the point I reached San Francisco, I wasn’t in any ache in any respect. I used to be having enjoyable, rolling with the punches, and having fun with the journey.

One factor I’ve constantly skilled on all of my bicycle excursions is that the primary three days are normally the hardest. If you may get previous the primary three days, you’ll most likely be capable to make it the remainder of the way in which with none main incidents.

3. You’re going to be hungry. Cope with it!

One factor that by no means left me on my tour down the California shoreline was the extreme starvation pangs I used to be experiencing. I used to be consuming lower than $3.00 of meals every single day… and there was even a stretch of time after I went for 3 entire days with out consuming a single factor (just because I couldn’t afford to purchase meals).

As a result of I used to be on such a good price range, and since I had a lot time to simply sit and assume whereas I used to be using, numerous my ideas centered on the meals I needed I have been consuming. As I sat on my bike and struggled up hill after hill, all I discovered myself excited about was meals. Particularly, pizza and ice cream.

It has taken me a while, however I’ve slowly educated my thoughts to cease excited about meals on my bike excursions. Don’t get me incorrect, I nonetheless get cravings, however I’ve discovered to consider different issues.

When touring by bike you’re burning numerous power and also you’re going to be hungry, so that you higher get used to it. My advice is that you just not let the starvation get to you. Practice your thoughts to consider one thing else and also you’ll take pleasure in your journey a complete lot extra.

4. This isn’t a race. Go at your personal tempo.

My good pal Jason Weber was my first using associate in 2001. He joined me for the leg of my tour that stretched from Eureka to San Francisco… and whereas using with Jason was a blast, one of many principal variations between us was that Jason favored to go quick, whereas I favored to go a bit slower.

Day after day Jason would push himself to get to the campground forward of me… or to meet up with the riders in entrance of us. Time after time he would cost up a hill, whereas I slowly make my means up the mountain passes and rolled into camp as he completed organising his tent.

Whereas I don’t essentially assume both of us was proper or incorrect in our strategy to bicycle journey, I do assume that you might want to take issues at your personal tempo. For those who don’t need to go quick, don’t bought quick. For those who don’t need to go gradual, don’t go gradual. Journey at a tempo that’s each comfy and fulfilling to you.

If you’re using with a associate who desires to journey at a sooner or slower velocity, make preparations for the sooner rider to cease and look ahead to the slower rider on the subsequent flip. Communication is essential. Don’t get misplaced. Don’t get separated. Have enjoyable and journey at your personal tempo!

5. Choose your using companions rigorously.

I had 4 totally different individuals come out to journey with me on my first tour down the California Shoreline. Jason Weber joined my on the primary leg; Jason June joined me on the second leg; and Ryan Nakashima and my Uncle Tom joined me on the ultimate leg all the way down to the Mexican/American border.

After a month of using with 4 totally different individuals, I started to see simply how totally different all of us have been. All of us favored to journey at totally different speeds. We bought alongside at occasions and argued at others. Typically all of us simply needed to go house.

In the long run, I discovered quite a bit about getting together with different individuals. I’m not what you’ll name a “individuals individual” and getting together with these totally different personalities was extraordinarily tough for me at occasions.

If you’re planning to journey with one other individual, or perhaps a small group of individuals, ensure you choose your using companions rigorously, You’ll be spending numerous time with these individuals, and also you need to ensure you can at the very least get alongside. Greater than something, you need to ensure you gained’t kill one another when you get out on the highway.

Choose the best using associate(s) and your journey will likely be unimaginable. However choose the incorrect associate(s) and your journey might be over earlier than it’s even begun.

6. Have enjoyable!

Having enjoyable is necessary and it’s one thing it’s best to try for in your bicycle excursions.

On this primary tour of mine, my using companions and I didn’t have the cash to pay for leisure, so we made up video games to play as we have been using (comparable to making an attempt to identify limousines or making an attempt to get the opposite individual moist with our water bottles once they weren’t paying consideration).

Lots of our leisure got here from merely exploring our instant setting. We’d stroll via the woods, skip stones within the surf, and peruse the neighboring communities on foot.

Greater than anything, we created our personal enjoyable by merely getting out and speaking to individuals. As a result of we have been on bikes, we have been a straightforward goal for individuals passing by. They’d need to know the place we have been from, the place we have been going, how a lot weight we have been carrying, and a complete host of different issues about our journey. It was numerous enjoyable to speak to those individuals… and if we hadn’t accomplished it, the journey would have been a completely totally different expertise.

7. You gained’t want half the stuff you assume you want.

As soon as I used to be out on the highway I spotted that I used to be carrying numerous stuff I merely didn’t want. That is the error many first time bicycle vacationers make. They carry the whole lot from house that they’ll probably consider. However as soon as out on the highway, they shortly notice they’re solely utilizing 1 / 4 of the gadgets they origionally introduced with them.

On my first bike tour, I introduced an ice chest, a full measurement bathtub towel, a spare tire, and a complete bunch of different stuff I merely by no means used. I carried all of it for over a thousand miles and by no means used this stuff a single time.

Study which gadgets you might want to carry with you and which gadgets it’s best to go away at house. For those who discover that you really want one thing when you get out in your bike, you may all the time purchase that merchandise someplace alongside the way in which.

8. Know learn how to make repairs to your bike.

Among the best issues I discovered from my first bike tour was learn how to restore my bike. Previous to leaving house, the one factor I actually knew learn how to do was change a flat tire. However as soon as the tour was over, I may make nearly any restore that wanted to be made. I wasn’t essentially a mechanical knowledgeable (and I’m nonetheless not), however I may make the wanted repairs that might get me again on my bike and rolling down the highway.

If you’re planning a bicycle tour, it’s best to know learn how to at the very least change a flat tire, wonderful tune your derailleurs; alter the handlebars, seat, and brakes; and set up your entrance and rear racks. Ideally, it’s best to be capable to take your bike fully aside after which put all of it again collectively once more. You’ll save your self numerous hassle if you know the way to make these fundamental repairs earlier than you get out on the highway.

9. Gear choice is necessary.

As a result of I didn’t have some huge cash on my first bike tour, I purchased and used inferior gear. As a result of the gear I used to be utilizing was low-cost and ailing geared up for the circumstances I used to be throwing at it, a lot of my most necessary gadgets broke, tore, or have been destroyed by the point the tour was over.

For instance, I purchased my tent for $30 at a neighborhood sporting items retailer and shortly came upon that the explanation it was so low-cost was as a result of the tent had no air flow in anyway. Each morning I woke as much as a gallon of precipitation hanging on the highest of my tent, immediately drenching me as quickly as I moved a muscle.

As well as, my bike was a 15+ 12 months previous mountain bike my dad had been preserving within the storage for years on finish. It was a whole piece of junk, however I used it anyhow. If I had had a nicer bike, my journey would have been a lot extra fulfilling.

And imagine it or not, as a result of my bike was not made to hold a entrance rack, I used a skinny piece of wire to carry my entrance rack in place. After a couple of days on the highway, the wire would break and my panniers and rack would crash into the pavement in entrance of me. I might then connect extra wire to the entrance rack and proceed down the highway, solely to repeat the method yet again a couple of days later. It was a critically harmful scenario and I used to be fortunate to haven’t been injured on quite a few events.

The purpose I’m making an attempt to make is that it’s value it to put money into high quality gear. If you’re planning a motorcycle tour that lasts for less than a pair days, you may get away with a budget panniers, the awful bike, and the tiny non-ventilated tent. However on longer journeys, you’re going to need to spend the additional cash and get high quality touring gear.

10. As soon as it’s throughout, you’re going to need to do it once more.

Greater than anything, my first bike tour taught me that this entire bicycle touring factor was not going to be a as soon as in a lifetime occasion.

After I began my tour, I believed that I might do that journey, go off to school, and look again on my experiences as an unimaginable lifetime achievement. However as soon as I bought house and started pondering again on my biking experiences, I spotted that bicycle touring wasn’t one thing I used to be prepared to surrender on. I needed extra! Much more!

Many individuals plan and execute their first bicycle tour with the intention of constructing it only a one time factor. However as time goes on, I’m seeing increasingly more individuals who get on the market as soon as after which develop into addicted.

It’s onerous to explain, however bicycle touring isn’t one thing that’s straightforward to stop. If it have been, I wouldn’t be writing about it as we speak. The experiences stick to you and alter you in so many various methods. It’s not one thing you are able to do simply as soon as and neglect about. It stays with you… and also you’re going to need to do it once more. Belief me!

In order that’s it. These are the ten large classes I discovered from my first bicycle journey. I hope you’ve discovered one thing… and I hope I’ve impressed you indirectly to make your personal bicycle touring goals develop into a actuality.

For these of you who’ve traveled by bike earlier than, I’d love to listen to what you could have discovered via your travels, and I’m positive those that have but to tour want to hear about your experiences as effectively. If in case you have a lesson you discovered in your first bicycle tour that you just want to share with the opposite BicycleTouringPro.com readers, please go away a remark beneath.


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