How to Go on Tour – Thoughts From a Cyclist That Rode the Pacific Coast (Part 1)
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Whenever I tell people about my big Canada to Mexico tour they invariably say what an accomplishment it is. I reply with a smile and a word of thanks but really I’m thinking something different: “There is no reason why you couldn’t do it too.” I saw all kinds of people on bike tours while I was riding. With every cycle tourist I met I saw a different way to go on tour. The range of people was truly vast; I met a trio in Oregon that was riding 100 miles or more every day; in California I met a man who was touring with a broken ankle that never healed. The biggest difficulty in touring is finding a system that works for you.

Camping vs Hotels

There are some big categories of ways people tour. How you spend your nights is the biggest division. You can either stay in hotels and bed & breakfasts or you can camp. Obviously sleeping with a roof over your head and a mattress under you is going to be easier. Of course the big drawback of doing that is going to be cost. In OR and CA the cost for a hiker-biker site in the state parks is about $5. Staying in those hiker-biker sites also lets you meet other travelers.

Training

Training is the largest amount of preparation you will have to do before going on tour. No matter what you do to train you are going to have to do a lot of it. When you are on tour the object isn’t to exert yourself to the fullest every day. That approach is not sustainable. Instead your goal should be to find a balance between exertion and distance. What you do for training will determine how far you ride each day. Training methods don’t have to be complicated, just go for a long ride at least once a week. Each week increase the length of the ride. Simple. When you feel like the rides are getting too easy or take too long start adding weight. If you are going camping I’d recommend an overnight or weekend trip to work out the bugs. Once you have that down you are ready to roll!

In part 2 I’ll focus on eating while on tour.

Ian Harper is an avid cyclist and publishes a blog about bike maps and other topics. The blog also hosts a bike map creator web app.

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