Questions & Solutions – Bicycle Touring Professional

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Jeanne Roberts was not too long ago introduced because the recipient of the 2013 Bicycle Touring Professional Journey Scholarship and the $500 USD money prize.

Nonetheless, there have been over 80 different superb younger folks from all around the globe who utilized for this 12 months’s scholarship cash… and I didn’t wish to go away them completely out to dry. I didn’t have any extra funding to present away, however I did wish to assist as a lot of these 80+ folks as I may, so I despatched all of them an e mail and requested them to ship me their two greatest questions or issues they have been having with their upcoming bicycle excursions.

On this article I will probably be sharing with you a number of the questions I obtained, and taking the time to reply every query at size. My hope is that by answering these questions right here on the web site, not solely will the person who requested the query profit, however the whole Bicycle Touring Professional group will be taught one thing as effectively.

So, with out additional adieu, listed here are the primary seven questions I obtained from this 12 months’s Bicycle Touring Professional Journey Scholarship candidates:

Query: What photo voltaic panel do you utilize in your travels and what do you energy with it? I’ve a pill that I’d wish to deliver alongside. – Aaron Dixon –

Reply: For the previous 12 months I’ve been utilizing an incredible photo voltaic charger referred to as the Voltaic Fuse 4W Photo voltaic Charger to cost my iPod Contact, GoPro video digital camera and lithium digital camera batteries. See my full overview of the product proper right here.

The Voltaic Fuse is the very best photo voltaic panel I’ve ever owned (and I’ve used at the least a half dozen completely different photo voltaic panels over time) and the one one I might suggest to be used on a bicycle tour. The Fuse 4W (which is the smaller of the 2 Fuse fashions) is the right dimension to suit on the rear rack of a bicycle, however it isn’t large enough, and due to this fact not highly effective sufficient to recharge a pill or laptop computer laptop.

If you wish to energy a pill or laptop computer, you will want to improve to the bigger Voltaic Fuse 10W Photo voltaic Charger. I’ve not used the 10W for myself, however I plan on shopping for one very quickly to check and use on my future travels to recharge my laptop computer and bigger digital units. I’m afraid the 10W charger could be too massive to placed on the again of a bicycle (and would possibly higher fitted to a bike as an alternative), however we are going to see.

When you’re in search of an incredible, straightforward to make use of photo voltaic panel that really works, then I might extremely suggest the Voltaic merchandise: – additionally obtainable at

Query: What’s the greatest (most secure) approach to fly with a motorcycle? I learn this text about utilizing plastic baggage vs different means and I used to be questioning the way you bundle your bike to fly. I like the concept of the compactness of a plastic bike bag (it may be simply folded and saved) however I’m nervous concerning the lack of safety it provides. – Kara F. –


Reply: Watch this video. I might by no means fly with my bicycle inside a plastic bag except it was a final ditch effort and I had no different choices. I’ve flown with my bicycle both one or two occasions on virtually all of my long-distance bicycle excursions… and each single time I’ve flown with my bike, I’ve packaged the bike inside a cardboard bike field.

When your bicycle was delivered to the bike store the place your most likely bought your bike, it was delivered to that store in a cardboard bike field with the pedals, entrance wheel, and seat put up/saddle eliminated and the handlebars turned to the aspect. That is precisely how I like to recommend you bundle your bicycle when flying with it on an airplane.

Earlier than you permit residence, go to your native bike store and ask for a cardboard bike field. Be certain it’s appropriately sized to your bicycle (in different phrases, be sure that they offer you an enormous field and never one sized for a BMX or youngsters’s bike). Most bike outlets provides you with the cardboard bike field without spending a dime. I’ve by no means in 13+ years paid for a cardboard bike field. Most bike outlets find yourself simply throwing them within the trash, so don’t be afraid to ask for the field without spending a dime – though providing a bit of money is all the time a pleasant factor to do.

When you get your field, take away the pedals, seat put up/saddle and entrance tire out of your bicycle and twist the handlebars to the aspect. For a touring bicycle, you will want to take away the entrance rack and entrance fender as effectively. In most cases, you’ll have to take away the water bottle cages, and in some circumstances, chances are you’ll have to take away the rear rack and rear fender as effectively. When you’ve finished all that, you merely slide the body of your bicycle (which accommodates your rear wheel and drivetrain) into the cardboard bike field. The entrance wheel will slide in subsequent to the bike (normally someplace in the midst of the field close to the middle of your bicycle’s important triangle) after which the seat put up, entrance rack and fender could be match into any additional house that’s obtainable. Relying on the scale of your bicycle and the bike field, you would possibly be capable of additionally suit your tent, sleeping mat, sleeping pad or every other non-fragile gadgets in together with your bicycle. Simply make it possible for the load of your bike field doesn’t exceed the load limits for the airline you might be flying with.

When you’ve obtained your bicycle contained in the field (it shouldn’t be bulging out the perimeters – whether it is, you’re field is both too small otherwise you’ve packaged it incorrectly), tape the field shut with a ton of tape, wrapping it round in each doable path… after which write your title, contact e mail, cellphone quantity, and an deal with close to your vacation spot the place the bike ought to be delivered within the occasion that it will get misplaced on the airport, and many others.

Then, you merely deliver that bike field, together with all the opposite gear you want to your journey to the airport on the day of your flight and test the bike in as extra/sports activities baggage. Once more, test your airline’s web site for his or her guidelines/costs with regard to flying with a bicycle. Some airways will fly the bike without spending a dime and others will cost at outrageous sum of money. So do your homework earlier than you even buy your airline tickets.

When you attain your vacation spot, you’ll decide your bicycle up in the identical space the place all the opposite baggage is being claimed on the airport, or it should have to be picked up in a particular outsized/sports activities baggage space – normally positioned close to the common baggage decide up space.

I normally suggest that on the primary evening of your bicycle tour, you sleep in a lodge, to be able to go straight from the airport to a close-by lodge the place you possibly can then unpack your bicycle, put it again collectively and put together it for it’s upcoming bicycle tour. Nonetheless, you possibly can (at most airports) discover an space on or close to the property the place you possibly can put the bicycle collectively proper there on the airport. Then you possibly can merely leap on the bike and trip proper out of there (though I don’t suggest this – it may be tremendous irritating).

After you might have unpacked your bicycle and put it again collectively once more, merely throw the cardboard bike field within the trash and decide up a brand new field on the finish of your bicycle tour.

In some cases, nevertheless, chances are you’ll wish to maintain onto that unique bike field. For instance, once I not too long ago flew to Iceland, I knew that the probabilities of discovering a brand new cardboard bike field on the finish of my bike tour have been slim to none, so I had a Bicycle Touring Professional reader who lived close to the Keflavik airport maintain my cardboard bike field for me and I merely picked it up from him as soon as my bike tour was over. I then used that very same bike field to fly my bicycle on to its subsequent vacation spot.

Normally, nevertheless, these cardboard bike containers are straightforward to search out in most massive cities the place airports and bike outlets are positioned. On the finish of your tour, arrive in your remaining vacation spot metropolis just a few days early and discover a bike field to make use of to ship your bicycle residence.

In case you are nervous about not with the ability to discover a cardboard bike field on the finish of your bicycle tour, name a pair native bike outlets effectively prematurely and ask them to carry a motorcycle field for you. If that doesn’t work, test the native airports and practice stations. Many of those locations have cardboard bike containers that they promote to individuals who wish to ship their bikes by way of airplane/practice.

In some cases, an airport gained’t have a cardboard bike field, however may have a plastic bike bag to wrap your bicycle in whereas it’s being transported. I might keep away from these bike baggage if in any respect doable (particularly when you worth your bicycle in any approach), however they can be utilized (and used safely) in some cases.

Query: How do you retain your bike maintained throughout your tour and what provides do you utilize to do that? Cleansing it, preserving it in good working situation, and many others. – William Groth –


Reply: There are a number of steps you need to take over the course of your bicycle tour to maintain your bike clear and in good working order.

Initially, you wish to begin every day by performing a fast security test of your bicycle. You’ll do that earlier than you even get in your bike within the morning. This entails merely wanting on the bike for any irregularities (equivalent to flat tires, damaged spokes, lacking elements, and many others). After you might have finished this, really feel the air strain within the tires together with your hand to test for correct inflation. Additionally, test the screws that maintain your bicycle’s fenders, water bottle cages and entrance and rear racks in place. These screws can wiggle themselves free over the course of a number of days, so it’s good to test them commonly to ensure they’re staying in place. Lastly, be sure that your brakes and shifters are working correctly and wipe off any particles out of your bicycle’s body, wheels or drive-train. That’s all it’s good to do most days.

Each few days (perhaps as soon as every week) it would be best to test your bicycle’s chain/drive-train for the correct quantity of lubrication. In case your chain is dry, it should start to squeak, rub, and put on… so you will need to preserve the chain correctly lubricated. You must most likely test your chain each day to ensure it has sufficient lube, however you’ll most likely solely want so as to add new/extra lube each one week or extra. It will rely on the terrain you might be biking in, the climate, and many others.

Lastly, it would be best to carry out a deep clear of your bicycle each couple weeks. A high quality touring bicycle can go for fairly a very long time with out being cleaned. You don’t want to wash your bike each day and even each week. However the extra you clear it, the higher it should carry out over the long term.

When you’re on the street, cleansing your bicycle isn’t all the time straightforward. One of the best ways to do it’s to discover a hose at a lodge or elsewhere after which use that hose to rinse off your bicycle, and many others. When you don’t have entry to a hose, a bucket or heat water can be utilized. And if a bucket of heat water can’t be discovered, merely wiping the bike down as greatest you possibly can with water and an outdated rag will work wonders.

So far as which gear it’s good to carry as a way to preserve your bicycle cleaned on the street, the one factor you actually need is a bottle of chain lube. Some cyclists like to hold an outdated rag with them solely for the aim of cleansing their bicycles. However I favor to search out outdated rags whereas I’m touring (yow will discover them in rubbish cans, on the aspect of the street, or by merely asking for them at inns, guesthouses, automotive washes, and many others.) – that approach I don’t have to hold a heavy, soiled rag on my bicycle whereas I trip… and as soon as I’m finished cleansing my bicycle, I merely throw the rag within the trash.

Query: I’ll be touring on an inherited Raleigh Revenio 3.0 – a racing bike roughly. On high of getting bigger 25mm tires and any type of fenders that may match, what sorts of changes would you suggest I make earlier than embarking on my tour throughout California on the Pacific Coast Freeway? – Alison Quach –

raleigh road bicycle

Reply: I discuss this at nice size inside The Important Information To Touring Bicycles, however you’re going to be driving each single day on a non-touring bicycle, which implies not solely is your bicycle not correctly outfitted to hold massive masses, however it might negatively have an effect on how your physique feels on the bicycle after a number of days on the street. You possibly can doubtless count on to have a sore neck, again, shoulders, palms, arms and crotch throughout the size of your tour. Conventional touring bicycles look very very similar to street bicycles, however there are a selection of delicate variations that make them higher fitted to long-distance driving.

There’s little you are able to do to show a street bicycle right into a touring bicycle. The variations within the body materials, measurements, and many others can’t be altered. My solely suggestion is that you just preserve the load of your bicycle as little as you probably can. Attempt to match the whole lot you want to your journey into two small panniers that match on the again of your bicycle… or take into account carrying the whole lot in a trailer that you just pull behind your bike. Including an excessive amount of weight to your bicycle may destroy your bicycle’s body, fork and/or wheels.

Whereas your journey could be finished on a street bicycle just like the Raleigh Revenio 3.0 (I did my first bicycle tour down the California Shoreline on an outdated Sierra Schwinn mountain bike and had some difficulties with each the bike and my physique, however nonetheless made it to the top of the tour, as a result of the bike was not designed for long-distance touring), I wouldn’t suggest it except you might be planning to journey ultra-lite and are extraordinarily snug driving in a hunched over street driving place for days on finish.

Query: How do you take care of electronics/valuables safety whereas driving and tenting, and likewise handle web security (so each digital and bodily threats to electronics)? – Ben Corwin –


Reply: So far as carrying digital gadgets in your bicycle, you to begin with wish to be sure that they’re secure towards the bumpy roads that you’re certain to come across in your travels. This normally means packaging every gadget in some type of padded case. Digital camera lenses, laptop computer computer systems, and exterior arduous drives have to be specifically padded for all times on the street.

After you’ve finished that, you then want to consider preserving your electronics dry. This could simply be finished in three easy methods:

Initially, use waterproof panniers (or a water-proof bag inside your bicycle’s trailer, if you’re utilizing one). Whereas waterproof panniers price greater than waterproof panniers, they’re value the additional cash – particularly with regards to defending your valuable priceless digital gadgets.

Subsequent, by no means let your electronics and liquids combine. This implies all the time storing liquid and digital gadgets of any variety is separate panniers. For instance, you’d by no means wish to put your digital camera in the identical pannier with a bottle of soda. The soda may leak or explode inside your pannier with out you realizing it, and the liquid may rapidly destroy your digital camera. Similar with different liquids equivalent to water, wine, gasoline, milk or chain lube. Don’t let any of them get close to your digital gadgets. Hold your liquids and digital gadgets distant from one another and in separate panniers in your bicycle.

Lastly, take away all electronics out of your bicycle and place them inside your panniers (or trailer) when it begins to rain or grow to be particularly sizzling/humid. If it’s raining closely and also you’re nervous than the panniers containing your digital gadgets may not be defending your belongings, cease driving completely and discover a secure dry place to attend out the storm.

Clearly, it’s good to be sensible with regard to the way you deal with your digital gadgets on tour. Don’t toss them round, keep away from massive bumps within the street that would jostle or destroy the devices you might be carrying in your bike, and take note of the temperatures you might be driving in (ensuring to not get your devices too sizzling or too chilly).

So far as securing your electronics from folks you would possibly meet on the street, I like to recommend not having any digital gadgets displayed in your bicycle Even a easy bicycle laptop can appear to be an invite to a thief to hi-jack your bicycle or any of your belongings. So when you can, preserve your electronics inside your handlebar bag or panniers in any respect time.

Discover how on my bicycle you possibly can’t see any of the digital gadgets I’m carrying. But, I’ve greater than $5,000 USD value of electronics on my bike. However due to the way in which I’ve packed my bicycle, somebody passing me on the road would by no means know. They’d most likely simply assume that my baggage have been crammed with soiled garments, used tenting gear and a bunch of squished meals gadgets.

In terms of Web safety, I’ve one main suggestion: a VPN community.

When utilizing a laptop computer, sensible cellphone, or pill gadget by an unsecured WiFi sign, your data is in danger to native hackers who may me monitoring your on-line exercise and stealing your usernames, passwords, and many others with out you even realizing it.

When you plan to make use of public WiFi in your travels, spend money on a VPN service (I used one referred to as BolehVPN, which I might extremely suggest) to cover your on-line actions from potential hackers.

Whereas it has grow to be simpler and extra fashionable during the last couple many years to hold an enormous array of digital gadgets on a motorcycle tour, needless to say most electronics are usually not meant to deal with the calls for of long-distance bicycle touring. Don’t be shocked if an digital gadgets does break, rattle aside or just cease functioning after a major period of time on the street. Generally that is merely the price of touring with an digital merchandise!

Query: How do I discover a group or a associate to bicycle tour with me? – Alison Quach –


Reply: My first suggestion is to contact any mates or household you would possibly know and ask in the event that they wish to be a part of you. In my expertise, it’s a significantly better concept to journey with somebody than to journey with a whole stranger.

When you can’t discover a buddy or member of the family to hitch you, attempt wanting on-line. There are a number of locations on the Web the place yow will discover a bicycle touring parter. Strive for instance:

When you discover somebody on-line who’s excited about becoming a member of you in your bicycle tour, I recommend you try to meet with this particular person effectively earlier than your tour begins. If doable, conduct at the least one (if no more) brief 2-4 day bicycle touring excursions with this particular person earlier than you set off on an extended tour collectively.

You wish to be sure to discover somebody who isn’t solely excited about touring the identical route as you, however somebody who additionally has the identical objectives for the tour, is within the needed bodily form to finish the trip, has a optimistic can-do angle, is self-reliant, and who needs to cowl the identical distances every day as you.

There’s nothing worse that occurring a bicycle tour with somebody who is just too gradual for you, too quick for you, complains the whole time, drives you loopy, has fully completely different objectives/pursuits or depends on you for each little factor.

Personally, I might somewhat go on a motorcycle tour on my own than go on the tour with a whole stranger and threat having to place up with that particular person for days, weeks and even months at a time. I like to recommend you decide your journey companions very, very fastidiously… and when you can’t discover anybody to hitch you, don’t be afraid to journey by yourself.

Query: Do you suppose it’s essential to have a footprint to your tent? – William Groth –

Reply: No, it isn’t 100% essential to have a footprint to your tent. Eliminating your tent’s footprint will prevent each house and weight in your bicycle. Nonetheless, when you care concerning the long-term survivability of your tent, then a footprint isn’t solely a good suggestion, however is extremely suggest.

Most light-weight tents (which are perfect for bicycle touring) have extraordinarily skinny flooring. Which means even the smallest thorn, stick, or rock on the bottom can penetrate the ground of your tent and trigger a gap. As soon as a gap has fashioned, you open your self as much as water leaks, insect infestations, and extra!

Utilizing a footprint helps to guard the ground of your tent from any such objects which could in any other case simply trigger harm to the ground of your tent.

Whereas many tents are offered with additional footprints, most of this stuff are massive and heavy. I are likely to decide out of utilizing an organization’s pre-designed footprint and as an alternative use a customized reduce sheet of light-weight painter’s plastic. The sort of plastic could be discovered at virtually any residence restore or design retailer (equivalent to Residence Depot). I purchase a roll of this skinny plastic after which once I get residence, reduce out a bit of the plastic to suit the precise dimension of the ground of my tent.

Making your personal footprint this fashion sometimes seems to be cheaper, lighter and extra compact than utilizing a correct footprint … and I like to recommend you give it a attempt.

Query: How do you get sponsorships and the way do you elevate cash to your travels? – Aaron Dixon –


Reply: In terms of getting sponsored to your bicycle tour, I usually inform those who they need to neglect about it. Getting sponsored sounds great, nevertheless it not often ever occurs – particularly to somebody planning his or her first bicycle tour.

If by getting sponsored you imply receiving free or discounted gear, then sure, you are able to do that. That is a lot simpler. However receiving a monetary scholarship for a bicycle tour of any variety (it doesn’t matter how spectacular the tour could be) is nearly completely unparalleled.

Receiving free or discounted gear from each massive and small corporations, nevertheless, is completely doable and does occur from time to time. Nonetheless, you need to do not forget that outside corporations are approached on a regular basis by folks conducting bicycle excursions and related expeditions and in the event that they gave away free or discounted product to each particular person going off on an journey, they’d be completely out of enterprise.

That mentioned, some corporations provides you with free or discounted merchandise when you contact them, clarify your journey objectives, and ask for a restricted quantity of product in a brief and succinct method.

The rationale getting product without spending a dime or at low cost is comparatively straightforward is as a result of it prices an organization little or no to ship you a free or discounted product.

For instance: Whereas a brand new tent may cost a little $300 USD in a retail retailer, it most likely solely prices the corporate that makes it about $75 or much less to create that product.

This is the reason many corporations provides you with what is commonly occasions referred to as a “professional deal” on their merchandise, which is usually round 50% off the conventional retail value of the product. It looks like an important deal to you, however the firm is principally simply promoting the product to you on the identical value they’d promote it to any outdated retailer.

Ultimately, you suppose you might be getting an important deal, the corporate will get you to unfold the phrase about their firm, and so they nonetheless find yourself earning profits off you since you bought the product for greater than twice the quantity of what it price them to make it.

Regarding the stage of problem in acquiring free, discounted or money sponsorship to your bicycle excursions, it goes one thing like this:

Discounted product – reasonably tough
Free product – tough
Financial compensation – extraordinarily tough

In terms of elevating the cash for a bicycle tour, I might by no means suggest chasing scholarship cash from a big company. The probability of it occurring (particularly if that is your first bicycle tour, you don’t know easy methods to obtain publicity and also you’re unfamiliar with the sponsorship sport) is slim to none. You’ll solely find yourself losing your time.

As an alternative, I like to recommend you elevate the cash to your travels by:

1. Working – get a job, do one thing helpful, and lift up the cash you want to your travels.
2. Writing to family and friends – ship your grandma, aunt, uncle, cousins, and everybody a letter (not an e mail or a Fb message, however an quaint letter) and inform them what you might be planning on doing and ask them to assist you. The folks closest to you might be more likely to assist you than a faceless company that doesn’t know you and receives hundreds of sponsorship requests every 12 months.

I do know that this isn’t doubtless what you needed to listen to, however attending to the purpose of sponsorship requires an unimaginable period of time, effort and inside data. For most individuals, it merely isn’t even value pursuing.

My recommendation is to spend your time chasing one thing extra practical. Work for the cash you want to your travels. Save up each cent you possibly can. Then hit the street, get pleasure from your self, and be taught as a lot as you possibly can from the expertise.

* * *

Do you might have a query about bicycle touring that you just’d like for me to reply? Or is there one thing in my solutions right here that you prefer to me to increase upon additional? Depart a message beneath and let me know what you need to say!


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Questions & Solutions – Bicycle Touring Professional  
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