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Old 01-11-14, 07:43 AM   #1
capejohn
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Have You Always Wanted To Bike Tour But Never Get Around To It?



While touring, (I have done both supported and unsupported), it's inevitable that I strike up a conversation with someone who says he has wanted to tour but never got around to it. Most times they talk about a solo epic tour and just thinking about all the things that could go wrong stops them from taking the plunge. My answer has always been for a first tour at our age, "plan a tour, pick a support company, and go".

I have been talking about riding the GAP since 2009. This year neither of my regular partners is able to tour, and ironically this is the year I'm riding the GAP. I signed with Rails to Trail group who do an annual Sojourn which this year is the GAP. The price is right and I was able to mix camping and B&B/hotel accommodations.

If you have been thinking about touring for years, why not this year. Look into different touring groups and sign up soon. The good ones sell out very quickly.
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Old 01-11-14, 08:42 AM   #2
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Yes.

I had wondered about GAP. We have family in Pittsburgh, so I was thinking of an out and back credit card type of solo tour. I have their tour book but haven't studied it much.
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Old 01-11-14, 11:15 AM   #3
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Touring can be intimidating, so going with a tour is a good way to get started. Going on a short 1 or 2 night local tour is another good way. Once you get the tour bug though, watch out! :-)
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Old 01-11-14, 12:14 PM   #4
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Are you referring to supported or unsupported? I've not done an unsupported tour (well, other than credit carding it), but I LOVE supported tours.

OMG. Anyone of you that hasn't done that owes it to yourself. If I had my way, I'd do almost nothing else.
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Old 01-11-14, 12:20 PM   #5
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Boy Scouts , back packing in the 50's, and Bike riding combined nicely,

the problem was Exploitation .. Suck Wages were taken up in just living indoors ..

Started Trying , more, at 40, 1st with AYH volunteer trip Leader Program ,
so I didnt have to get a $ pile ahead ..

got in 4 trips , ~2 with AYH , 2 on my own , solo , Europe , my stuff in storage , so no household expenses too ..
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Old 01-11-14, 02:22 PM   #6
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The GAP is one of the possibilities for us this year. Pittsburgh is only about a 5 1/2 hr drive from here, so that would be a good starting point provided I could find secure parking for a week or so.
We were just tossing ideas around earlier today about where we want to go this year. We have not ruled out Europe. We've done the Danube from Passau to Vienna, and a bike/boat tour in France. I'd still like to do a bike/boat tour in Belgium and the Netherlands, but I can't seem to get my wife too excited about that.
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Old 01-11-14, 03:32 PM   #7
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Boy Scouts , back packing in the 50's, and Bike riding combined nicely,

the problem was Exploitation .. Suck Wages were taken up in just living indoors ..

Started Trying , more, at 40, 1st with AYH volunteer trip Leader Program ,
so I didnt have to get a $ pile ahead ..

got in 4 trips , ~2 with AYH , 2 on my own , solo , Europe , my stuff in storage , so no household expenses too ..
You have nothing to lube but your chains. Shoes for industry, comrade.

If anyone is interested in traveling the GAP from Pittsburgh to Cumberland and back, let me know. My wife agrees to it in principle, as she can stay in Pittsburgh with the grand babies. The odds of this really going off, by the way, are about 25%, so don't cancel a trip to Crna Gora. I like the sound of the credit card route, but I might be convinced of roughing it, except I own no appropriate equipment.

The Sojourn looks cool, but that is a lot of people on the trail at one time. Sounds kinda like a cruise ship to me.
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Old 01-11-14, 04:38 PM   #8
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I've been checking out other peoples stories and pictures of their tours for about three years now at: Crazy guy on a bike (crazyguyonabike.com). That's more than enough to give me thoughts/dreams about touring.

But I haven't decided on a jumping off place. A local group does annual 4 day tours of various areas around the state... I think they might be my first. The wife doesn't like the idea of me doing a solo unsupported tour. What I'd really like to do is a supported mid-winter tour.... in a warm climate. I like the idea of escaping the Midwestern winter.... and riding my bicycle.
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Old 01-11-14, 06:39 PM   #9
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Are you referring to supported or unsupported?
This one is fully supported, and everyone spreads out nicely every day. 300 people spread out over 10-12 miles is not that crowded. It could also be called a credit card tour. It certainly put quite a dent in my card.

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Old 01-11-14, 11:24 PM   #10
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Ok not Crna Gora, Montenegro. I did get of a train from Warsaw in Jelenia Góra, in Poland and ride south into Prague

Czech Republic (91).. had a few liters of Pilsner along the way
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Old 01-11-14, 11:28 PM   #11
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The problem I run into is that none of my friends is really interested, I don't mix well with new groups a lot of times, and don't want to ride solo. So I kind of stick to activities where I know I'll company.
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Old 01-12-14, 12:50 AM   #12
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I've thought about it alright. I'm modifying my drive-train on my Trek 500 and the lowest gearing would be about a 36x28 (about 34 gear inches). I've never even carried big loads before so I don't even know if that would cut it. I'd only use that setup to start out with on weekend short trips just to see what's what.

If I wanted to do anything serious I'd have to get myself a real touring bike I imagine and wait until I retire. All of this is in the future anyway since I have time constraints so long as I need to be gainfully employed. I also need at least another summer riding season to get back into reasonable shape and can't afford all the gear I'd need just yet anyway.
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Old 01-12-14, 06:09 AM   #13
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I prefer a couple week long trips each year rather than the "epiclifechangingeventfortheages" tour which ends up intimidating most people. I think it becomes more work than fun if you get more than a couple of weeks involved.

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Old 01-12-14, 06:11 AM   #14
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Have You Always Wanted To Bike Tour But Never Get Around To It?

My earliest cycling activities back in the 70s and 80s, were cycle-touring with my girlfriend-then-wife, including a honeymoon cross-country tour. Since then, I've been strictly a cycle-commuter, and sport road cyclist, mainly due to work and family lifestyle. Recently on the Fifty-Plus Forum was this thread “What do you find hardest about cycle touring now we ain't spring chickens any more?”:

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…Last year, I avidly read the posts on BF about a perimeter tour of Lake Ontario, and I experienced some surprising mental discomfort that struck me as a sign of getting older.

While I would still enjoy riding about 50 miles a day for an extended trip, the thought of the uncertainty of finding a place to stay for the night was unsettling. (Our previous tours were all self-supported and self-guided. If I/we were to resume touring, it would at least be a credit card style, if not an organized tour.)
One of the best quotes I have seen about the cycle-touring experience is this:

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A thought or two, based on personal experience.

… what's the hurry? One of the joys of touring is the singleness of purpose and absence of demands. All you have to do is get there: you don't have to get there fast or get their first - and if you are touring with camping gear, odds are you can be incredibly flexible about what "getting there" means on any given day. Embrace that. Don't let your tour become an exercise in trading one rat-race for another.
I think I can get back into that if the opportunity arises.

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Old 01-12-14, 06:27 AM   #15
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I prefer a couple week long trips each year rather than the "epiclifechangingeventfortheages" tour which ends up intimidating most people. I think it becomes more work than fun if you get more than a couple of weeks involved.
On our eight-week, honeymoon, self-supported cross-country cycle tour we had left both our families in Michigan where we had lived all our lives for new lives and careers in Boston, where we essentially knew no one, and hadn't even arranged for housing. I have described the tour itself as:

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...It was a great way to start married life, since every day we would have to find and set up a homestead for the night in a new environment where we only knew, and could depend on each other…

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Old 01-12-14, 06:46 AM   #16
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My wife and I have done lots of VBT trips but that is hardly touring. More like food, wine and semi-luxury accommodation trips with biking added in for fun. I love that style of trip and will continue to do them. In fact we are headed for one in New Zealand next week. I would also like to try some less comprehensive tours like Adventure Cycling's camping or mixed trips. My wife doesn't want to camp so we have stayed with the comfort trips for now. I may look for a GAP trip with B&Bs since we are fairly close (DC) and have long been interested. One we plan to do soon is the Petite Train Du Nord in Canada's Laurentians (B&B to B&B with luggage transported).

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Old 01-12-14, 08:36 AM   #17
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A few years back while touring the Oregon Coast, my group encountered a couple in their 70's who had been touring together happily for decades. A couple of us had been trying to get our wives to try touring, so we asked this couple (particularly the wife) for advice. She said to start out slow: maybe a 3-day weekend tour, and to pick a destination our wives would love - maybe a quaint little bed and breakfast in a town with a couple of nice restaurants, etc. In other words, it would be less of a hard core bike tour, and more of a fun and relaxing weekend getaway where we got to our destination by bicycle.

Seemed like good advice.
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Old 01-12-14, 08:48 AM   #18
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I've been checking out other peoples stories and pictures of their tours for about three years now at: Crazy guy on a bike (crazyguyonabike.com). That's more than enough to give me thoughts/dreams about touring.

But I haven't decided on a jumping off place. A local group does annual 4 day tours of various areas around the state... I think they might be my first. The wife doesn't like the idea of me doing a solo unsupported tour. What I'd really like to do is a supported mid-winter tour.... in a warm climate. I like the idea of escaping the Midwestern winter.... and riding my bicycle.
I hear ya on the warm climate tour. I would like to escape Nebraska for awhile in the winter.

I like the state supported rides (BRAN), But I love the solo tours. And nothing like the memories from the first tour. I did my research, mostly from CGOAB, but still made a lot of rookie mistakes. ( https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/..._id=10146&v=85 ). But that just added to the adventure! Sometimes, you just have to take the leap. And for what it's worth, my wife didn't like the idea either. But I convinced her everything would be alright. Three tours later, she is pretty cool with it. Good luck and just do it!
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Old 01-12-14, 09:02 AM   #19
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On our eight-week, honeymoon, self-supported cross-country cycle tour we had left both our families in Michigan where we had lived all our lives for new lives and careers in Boston, where we essentially knew no one, and hadn't even arranged for housing. I have described the tour itself as:
I've also recently run across a couple who are teachers and spend the summer months on their bikes travelling. To each his own, I would miss the golf course.

Marc
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Old 01-12-14, 09:37 AM   #20
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I hear ya on the warm climate tour. I would like to escape Nebraska for awhile in the winter.
........... I did my research, mostly from CGOAB, but still made a lot of rookie mistakes. ( https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/..._id=10146&v=85 ). But that just added to the adventure! Sometimes, you just have to take the leap. And for what it's worth, my wife didn't like the idea either. But I convinced her everything would be alright. Three tours later, she is pretty cool with it. Good luck and just do it!
I think you're right! I've been thinking about all this enough. Time to start making plans.
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Old 01-12-14, 09:46 AM   #21
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I hear ya on the warm climate tour. I would like to escape Nebraska for awhile in the winter.

I like the state supported rides (BRAN), But I love the solo tours. And nothing like the memories from the first tour. I did my research, mostly from CGOAB, but still made a lot of rookie mistakes. ( https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/..._id=10146&v=85 ). But that just added to the adventure! Sometimes, you just have to take the leap. And for what it's worth, my wife didn't like the idea either. But I convinced her everything would be alright. Three tours later, she is pretty cool with it. Good luck and just do it!
just read your journal. Very good! I drove to Georgetown this summer to take grandchildren to the train. There's serious climbing there.
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Old 01-12-14, 10:09 AM   #22
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I prefer a couple week long trips each year rather than the "epiclifechangingeventfortheages" tour which ends up intimidating most people. I think it becomes more work than fun if you get more than a couple of weeks involved.

Marc


I'm on a similar track. Oh boy, I thought, when I retire I'll be out for weeks and months at a time...didn't work out that way.

What I enjoy is no specific route planning or reservations...basically just pick a direction and go. Being self-contained is a must to make it work for me, and of course having the luxury of adding days when I feel like it.
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Old 01-12-14, 10:28 AM   #23
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The problem I run into is that none of my friends is really interested, I don't mix well with new groups a lot of times, and don't want to ride solo. So I kind of stick to activities where I know I'll company.
This.

I'll never get anyone I know to do a tour. I've got one friend that's into bikes, but not that into bikes. I want to do a tour and camp along the way. But camping by myself is a little intimidating. That said I'm going to pull the trigger this year and do an Erie canal trail tour. I read a lot about this, and it looks like a pretty friendly way to get started. I'd love to have some company along for the ride, but I'm not going to wait any longer. I'm going either way.
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Old 01-12-14, 10:40 AM   #24
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A few years back while touring the Oregon Coast, my group encountered a couple in their 70's who had been touring together happily for decades. A couple of us had been trying to get our wives to try touring, so we asked this couple (particularly the wife) for advice. She said to start out slow: maybe a 3-day weekend tour, and to pick a destination our wives would love - maybe a quaint little bed and breakfast in a town with a couple of nice restaurants, etc. In other words, it would be less of a hard core bike tour, and more of a fun and relaxing weekend getaway where we got to our destination by bicycle.

Seemed like good advice.
It sounds like you are describing my wife and me. Actually, we may have been the couple you talked to because we have been touring together for decades and rode the Pacific Coast route from Lund, British Columbia to Mexico. It also sounds like the advice my wife would give.

We are not teachers, but we had jobs that allowed us to get in at least a month-long tour every year, and a tour of 2-3 months duration every 3 or 4 years. Since retirement we manage a 2-3 month ride every summer, and a couple of shorter tours if we have the time. We do take a traditional annual short tour with our 2 daughters, which is a very special time for me. We started them touring just like BigBlueToe suggested above.

I am very fortunate to have a wife who is an enthusiastic and competent cyclist. Many of our conversations are about where we will ride next. We ride self-supported, but do stay in motels occasionally. Our rides have taken us to 9 different countries as well as riding across the United States, and a major portion of Canada. Next summer we are planning on riding a loop around the Baltic Sea, starting and ending in Amsterdam. However, we are torn about finishing our trans-Canadian trip, and may go for it.


A bike is a wonderful way to see the world. I do have to say that it can become addictive!

Alberta, Canada
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Old 01-12-14, 10:48 AM   #25
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I'll never get anyone I know to do a tour. I've got one friend that's into bikes, but not that into bikes. I want to do a tour and camp along the way. But camping by myself is a little intimidating. That said I'm going to pull the trigger this year and do an Erie canal trail tour. I read a lot about this, and it looks like a pretty friendly way to get started. I'd love to have some company along for the ride, but I'm not going to wait any longer. I'm going either way.
Good for you. I have done the Erie Canal twice. Once in 2008 and again in 2012. It can get difficult at times and if it's your first tour I would highly recommend a group ride. Bike New York does a wonderful job with it's Erie Canal tour and registration is going on now.
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