Tag Archives: Bicycle Touring

Top Ten Bicycle Touring Tips

It’s that time of the year again: the days are long and the nights are plenty warm. Unless you’re in Colorado all the snow has melted and it’s time to get out on a bicycle tour. I’m not much into telling people how to have fun, but I’ve recently had a few friends and readers reach out in regards to any advice I might have for getting out on your first long-distance tour.

Trying to speak in absolutes and give sound advice can be hard, everyone is different and we’re all coming to the table with different levels of fitness and varying expectations. Despite that, I’ve managed to comb through my experiences and come up with some basic ground rules to share with anyone getting ready to hit the road – my top ten bicycle touring tips. This advice applies to anyone regardless of age, gender, experience as well as solo or group rides. Bicycle touring has given me some of the greatest experiences of my life, it’s changed the way I see the world both literally and figuratively, and it’s my belief that if we all had the opportunity to share this experience, the world would be a better place. As sappy as that sounds and as seriously as I can take bicycling, all it takes is a few pedal strokes to remember why you had this idea in the first place – because riding your bike is so damn fun.

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Pilgrims of Gnar

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The video is grainy, shaky, and shot from my phone.  I didn’t make it in a shot where I wasn’t pointing the camera at myself and I missed out on capturing the tough moments, hard conversations, deep belly laughs and silent tears.  Looking back through all the footage it’s somewhat unbelievable what we accomplished.  Not because we’re strong or smart or creative. It’s amazing because we managed to say no.  No we’re not taking the easy way, we’re not looking for shortcuts.  We set out to be deliberate, to do things simply, correctly, honestly.  We managed to do this and more, to embrace our path, to pursue it with a devotion I’ve never before found.  We’re not trying to set an example, to hold anything over another.  Our goals are infinitely simpler than our lives: have fun, be happy, that’s about it.  There’s a lot of the world to be seen, a lot of mountains to be climbed, but at the end of the day, I wouldn’t want to do it any other way.   I’d like to show it to you here, but I’m not that techy, so you’ll just have to click once more.

The long road home.

Cars equal comfort.  They make things easier, faster, and less committing.  When you drive to the crag or the trailhead, it’s like you’re leaving a safety net in the parking lot.  With a bike, not so much.  When the day is done or the climb is over, there’s no jumping in the rig and punching the cruise control home.  When you’re cycling for transportation, the ride home is as integral a part of the climb as the summit, whether it’s a few blocks home from the gym, or a week-long ride back from the desert.  The lesson is this: the climb isn’t over when you reach the top.  You’ve still got to get down, you’ve still got to get home.  When you’re on the bike, there’s no easy escape, no quick way to pull the plug.  This requires commitment and dedication, but it also builds patience and understanding.

This is the last installment in our series of trip reports from the fall’s Pilgrims of Gnar expedition.  At 35 days and over 1500 miles of riding, this experience taught us a lot about ourselves, each other, and life on the bike.  A journey this long tends to change your perspective and leave you in a daze, but even as you readjust to the world around you, the important lessons and values avoid erosion.

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We’re all seasonal creatures. Try as we might to insulate ourselves from the reality of winter, patterns change, and with them our habits and routines. Many of us chase the seasons from place to place, as if they are beholden to a specific location.

Every spring for the past ten years, I’ve rolled down the same small canyon in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains. And every fall, I stumble back, penniless and parched for powder.

As the nights begin to cool and the days begin to shorten, my thoughts look forward to the winter ahead. But before the faceshots, before the early mornings and frozen toes, comes the migration. Continue reading

Moving Pictures

If you read our last post, or are friends with us on the Facebook – Instagram, you already know I managed to put together a short video for submission into the Adventure CyclingAssociation’s Bicycle Touring Video contest.  If not, then, well, I did.  While I have a pretty extensive history with some aspects of photography and relatively none with videography, this was my first real attempt at putting together a project that, while I might not consider it professional, it was intended for public consumption, and while the equipment I used was largely amateur, it is hands down the most advanced and highest quality I’ve used to date, and I’d like to think the film’s content and quality reflects that, at least a little.  If you haven’t yet seen the video, or would like to hear a little more about my experience in putting it all together, then read on.

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Lessons Learned

We each want to progress, to learn and improve.  Each generation is not only lucky enough to build upon the efforts of those before us, but we too act, practice and refine our thoughts, our crafts, and our lives to be more in line with an evolving world view.  As climbers and adventurers we strike off, in an effort to learn more about life by experiencing it in extremes.  As we scratch the surface, the experiences call us back again and again, and soon we become more proficient and comfortable with the logistics, trouble, and physical hardship that often go along with these trips.  We learn from friends and relatives, books and movies, and of course our own personal adventures.  Certain disciplines call us, whether it be bouldering or alpine climbing, creek-boating or surfing, as the specialists we are we devour this lifestyle completely, striving to understand every angle and aspect of it’s execution.  Along the way we come to understand more about ourselves and the world, and subsequently the relationship between each.

This concept of bicycle-powered adventure is not new, and there are seemingly more and more resources appearing every day on it’s subject.  While I do not claim much experience from my limited adventures, from the meager amount I’ve learned along the way, I do wish to add my voice to the chorus of encouragement.  Truth is this is all still so new to me, and although we’ve been living the bicycle-life for about two and a half years, I constantly find myself exploring new aspects that keep it fresh, challenging, and exciting.  This was the first trip I’ve ever done that involved skis, only the second that involved snow, and the first that involved multiple stages of shipping gear.  In an effort to clear away some of the confusion, and help with the logistics of your own ride, I wanted to share as much of this knowledge as I can, in hopes that you’ll be able to take it one step farther, while doing it easier.  While in no way comprehensive, chronological, or even ordered, what’s below is one part trip report, one part advice, and three parts rambling rhetoric, enjoy.

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