Every year, as summer time approaches, I obtain a flood of emails from folks asking me how they need to go about planning for a protracted distance bicycle tour.
“The place do you begin?” a lot of them ask.
Effectively, at present I’m going to let you know! I’m going to point out you precisely how I am going about planning for my excursions and I’m even going to present you some free assets that you should utilize that can assist you plan in your subsequent self-supported bicycle tour.
An important factor about planning a bicycle tour is that you’ve got enjoyable doing it! For me (and for a lot of others) planning the tour is sort of as a lot enjoyable because the tour itself. So take into account, the planning course of must be one thing you may have enjoyable doing!
With that stated, I need to level out that there are quite a few methods to go about planning for a tour, however like many matters mentioned on this website, I’m going to point out you the way in which that I am going in regards to the planning course of. My hope is that you may take what I’ve completed up to now and twist it in your personal use. Sound good? Then let’s start!
To begin, it’s good to have a common concept of the place you need to go. For at present, I’m going to make use of my 2005 bicycle tour by way of Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia for example.
For this tour, I knew that I wished to journey down the Pacific Coast of america and cross off each Washington and Oregon as states that I had ridden by way of. I additionally knew that I wished to attend the Journey Biking Management Coaching Camp that happened in Port Townsend, Washington on the fifteenth and sixteenth of April. Apart from that, my schedule was fairly open and I used to be free to journey the place I happy.
The very first thing I did was create an Excel doc. (Should you don’t have Microsoft Excel in your laptop, you should buy a replica of this system right here. In any other case, there are a variety of free spreadsheet applications you should utilize as a substitute. Many individuals are actually utilizing Google’s free spreadsheet program (part of Google StarOffice), which you’ll be able to obtain right here.)
As soon as in Excel (my spreadsheet software program program), I created a spreadsheet with columns titled, “Day #, Date, From, To, Lodging, Particulars, Miles” and “Kilometers.”
Word: You’ll be able to observe together with me by downloading my free Tour Planning Spreadsheet right here (An Excel doc). This spreadsheet incorporates my “Instance” itinerary that I used to plan my 2005 Bicycle Tour. It additionally incorporates two different spreadsheets which might be all arrange and prepared so that you can use as you propose your subsequent large journey. Within the occasion that you do not need to obtain this doc, I’ve copied parts of the spreadsheet into this text so to observe alongside.
Then I added the numbers 1-45 within the column titled, “Day #.” I knew I solely had a couple of month and a half for this tour, so I began immediately by limiting the variety of days I may schedule to be on my bike.
Subsequent, I made a decision that I used to be going to start out the tour in Seattle, as this could be a straightforward place to search out transportation to… and it was extremely near Port Townsend, which was the place the Journey Biking Management Coaching Camp would happen. So I added my hometown (Oxnard) to the primary day within the “From” column.
I then regarded for aircraft and prepare tickets to Seattle. I discovered a prepare ticket from Oxnard to Seattle for $208.00 and utilizing a $125 voucher I had obtained from Amtrak (due to a prepare I used to be on that ended up being 22 hours late), I’d solely must pay $83 for transportation to Seattle. The prepare would take two days to get there, so I added this info to the itinerary.
Below the “Particulars” column, I added all of the details about my prepare: together with the time it left Oxnard, the time it was imagined to arrive in Seattle (Amtrak is infrequently on time!), the associated fee, the prepare quantity, and many others. Below the “Miles” and “Kilometers” columns, I added “0” because the miles/kilometers I need to maintain observe of on this itinerary are solely the miles that I can be using on my bicycle (not miles/kilometers traveled by prepare, aircraft, or vehicle).
I then found out that I wanted simply someday to discover Seattle and one other day to trip to Port Townsend, so I scheduled within the subsequent days.
You’ll word that I added the dates to the itinerary as nicely. My prepare left Oxnard on April eleventh and arrived in Seattle on April twelfth. The next day I’d trip solely six miles to Bainbridge Island (The primary day of your tour ought to all the time be brief so that you just don’t over exert your self to start with). The day after that I’d trip to Port Townsend (38 miles – a brief day as nicely) and the next day the Management Coaching Camp would start.
The Management Coaching Camp would finish on the morning of the seventeenth and I would go away Port Townsend that day and journey throughout the bay to the small city of Oak Harbor, the place my pal’s dad and mom had only recently moved. It was a free place to remain and it was alongside the way in which, so I added it to the itinerary.
Word how I’ve added the small print of the lodging for the tour to the itinerary. The primary evening I’d be sleeping on the prepare, so I made a word of it and coloured the cell for that day inexperienced. Inexperienced implies that I’ve secured a spot to sleep for the evening. Pink means I shouldn’t have a spot to sleep. As we go alongside, you will note how I exploit this colour scheme to plot out which nights have been coated and which of them weren’t.
On day two I added the Crowne Plaza Resort to my “Lodging” column. The lodge was good sufficient to donate a room within the coronary heart of Seattle for the primary evening of my tour, so I added their info to the itinerary. (Click on right here to learn to get free lodge rooms in your bicycle excursions.)
Days three and 4 I couldn’t discover a place to sleep at evening, so I marked these nights in pink and knew that I used to be going to have to search out lodging for these two nights as soon as I used to be out on the street. I ended up spending day three in a campground and day 4 on the hostel in Port Townsend the place the Management Coaching Camp would happen.
Nights 5 and 6 can be spent on the hostel in Port Townsend and evening quantity seven was to be spent at “Wes’s father or mother’s home.”
Are you following all this? I hope so… as a result of I’m not going to go a lot additional. I feel you get the purpose by now.
I take it daily, marking down my vacation spot for the evening, the variety of miles/kilometers I have to trip in an effort to get to that vacation spot, after which try to discover lodging for the night.
I normally try to discover as many lodging as I can earlier than I depart on tour.
For me, discovering a spot to sleep every evening is essentially the most nerve-racking a part of touring. I do most of my excursions with little or no cash, so staying in lodges and even hostels is normally not an possibility. I normally try to discover free or extraordinarily low cost campgrounds, mates to stick with, or strangers who’re form sufficient to open up their properties for an evening or two.
If I can’t discover a place to sleep upfront, I mark it in pink on my itinerary and know that I’m going to must discover a place to sleep that evening when I’m out on the street.
I additionally do my finest to not go for greater than three days and not using a place to remain. I’ve discovered that in case you go for greater than three days and not using a place keep, you may change into very harassed, very depressed, and really soiled!
Which brings up level!
I speak lots about feeling at dwelling out on the street… and a part of truly feeling at dwelling on a protracted distance bicycle tour has to do with the way in which you propose your tour earlier than you even depart dwelling.
For me, after I’m planning a tour, I wish to plan the tour in such a manner that I don’t go for greater than two days with out having one thing on the itinerary that I’m wanting ahead to. I’ve discovered that if I am going for greater than two days with out one thing to sit up for, I can change into very depressed (and melancholy is one thing you need to keep away from in any respect prices when using your bike for lengthy distances at a time with nobody to speak to and tons of or 1000’s of miles in entrance of you).
To forestall myself from ever turning into depressed out on the street, I exploit the tour planning course of to mark out enjoyable and thrilling issues to do and see alongside the way in which.
Instance: In Seattle I wished to see the market the place they throw the fish round. This gave me one thing to sit up for immediately! After that I used to be wanting ahead to the ferry trip over to Port Townsend. Then I used to be wanting ahead to the Management Coaching Camp. And eventually, I used to be in a position to sit up for seeing Wes’s dad and mom and their new dwelling in Oak Harbor.
Do you see what I’m doing right here?
I’m continually giving myself one thing to sit up for, even when that “one thing” is so simple as taking a ferry over to an island. These are the kinds of issues that you just need to make word of when you’re planning your tour. Should you go for various days with out one thing to sit up for, chances are you’ll be like me and change into depressed and overcome with anxiousness about all of the miles that lay forward of you.
Word: I like to make use of the 2 day rule when planning my journeys. I can go for 2 days with out one thing to sit up for, however three days is pushing it. That is the quantity that works for me, however others might be able to go for longer distances with none such pleasure. Determining how lengthy you may go with out one thing to sit up for is one thing you’ll work out as you trip.
One other vital a part of planning your tour is plotting it out on a map.
Once I’m planning a protracted distance bike tour, I start with an everyday street map for the realm(s) I can be using by way of. I get my maps without spending a dime from AAA as a result of I’m a member. In the event that they don’t have the map I’m in search of, I normally simply purchase an affordable map from Amazon.com
As soon as I’ve my map in hand, I exploit pencil to frivolously define the roads I can be taking to get to my vacation spot every evening.
Which brings up the query, “How do I do know which roads I can trip on and which of them I can’t?”
This can be a good query and one which I nonetheless battle with typically when planning my very own excursions.
If you’re planning a tour on one of many established bike paths in america (just like the Pacific Coast or TransAmerica route) then your finest wager is to buy the Journey Biking maps. These maps let you know nearly every thing it’s good to know with reference to which roads you may journey on, the place you may keep at evening, and what kind of companies you could find alongside the way in which.
Nonetheless, in case you’re planning a tour for which an in depth map doesn’t exist, you’re going to be by yourself… and deciding the place you finally go is as much as you… and also you alone!
If so, the recommendation I can provide right here is that in america you may trip on practically each native street and state freeway… however you can’t trip your bike on the Freeway! (There are exceptions to this rule after all).
Typically even native roads can be closed to bicyclists (i.e. for particular occasions, parades, road festivals, and many others). Many state highways may be closed as nicely (i.e. for street resurfacing, landslides, main site visitors accidents, and many others). And at occasions, using on the Freeway is both obligatory or your solely possibility (i.e. the final time I rode by way of Camp Pendleton in Southern California they compelled me to trip on the freeway, relatively than trip by way of the army base itself. I imagine they’re nonetheless forcing bicyclists to journey a couple of miles on the freeway by way of this space).
There are occasions when the street you need to trip on can be closed. There can be occasions when the street has been dug up or destroyed and you must take it. There can be occasions once you get to the street in your map, solely to search out that the street itself not exists. This stuff occur and they’re a part of what makes a bicycle tour such an journey.
As a substitute of stressing over which roads you may and can’t take, use the overall rule laid out right here, which says that you may journey on nearly any main street aside from freeways.
I’ve copied a state map of Utah beneath and identified which roads you may trip on and which of them it is best to keep away from. The principles I’ve laid out listed below are just about the identical all through america, nonetheless, they could fluctuate relying on the nation and/or space you end up using by way of.
Should you want extra assist planning your tour or discovering out which roads are protected to take and which of them to keep away from, you are able to do what I do and use Google Earth to view satellite tv for pc images of the roads and decide whether or not the realm you propose to trip by way of appears protected.
Lastly, in case you are not sure as to which roads you may take otherwise you want additional help planning your tour, try to discover somebody who has traveled an identical path and ask her or him for help. Discover a bike owner who has traveled a route much like the one you hope to do and ask for his or her recommendation. Most cyclists are very happy to assist.
I’ve created some free paperwork that you should utilize to plan your subsequent bicycle journey. Good click on the hyperlinks beneath and click on, “Save Goal As…”
Tour Planning Itinerary (PDF – You want Adobe Reader to view and print this doc)
Tour Planning Itinerary & Instance Tour (Excel doc)
You’ll be able to obtain Google StarOffice, Google Earth, and Adobe Reader without spending a dime by clicking right here.
Don’t overlook – the planning course of must be enjoyable! Should you aren’t having enjoyable planning your bicycle tour, then it’s good to take a break, go exterior, trip your bike, after which come again to the planning course of at a later time limit.
You probably have any feedback, questions, or recommendations about planning for a protracted distance, self-supported bicycle expedition, please use the “Feedback & Ideas” type beneath.