I have been riding for about 2 1/2 years and i've probably put nearly 14k miles on in that time on my mountain bike.
I am migrating to a Road bike and I am also thinking of expanding my riding skills. I am just not sure where to go, or how to get there.
I recently began looking at touring and it seems alot of fun if one is capable of taking the spare time. However, I do have a few questions.
Do most people who do tours do these primarily for fun?
Do most people cover their own costs or is that what sponsorships are for?
I looked at a 362 mile Texas Hill Country Ride which was a 6 day, 5 night Tour and the entrance fee was nearly 1.6k and probably comes out to a bit more then that after sales tax. To me this is a bit outrageous. I mean I could probably easily polish quite a few tours off a year and that would get outrageous. Could buy a 10k bike probably.
there's tours and touring. Touring is usually self supported long trips, camping, cooking own meals etc. Go when and where you like. Tours, like in groups, are a diferent kind of tour and may involve hotels and fees to an organisation who organises it all for you.
There are many ways to do a bike tour. Many people like to sign up to one of the many organized bike tours that are available. These vary in the services provided. Some do just about everything for you including transporting your gear, arranging accomodations, setting up camp, cooking meals, etc. Others cater to self supported riders and just provide routes, tour leaders, advice, and such.
There are cross state rides like the OK Freewheel (www.okfreewheel,com) that provide routes, arrange camping locations, and transport your bags that are very reasonably priced.
Many people opt to forego organized tours and strike out on their own. There's no reason you can't pick a destination, plan a route, load up the bike, and go. It certainly helps to be familiar with the roads between you and the destination. If you plan to do a long cross country tour, look into adventurecycling.org for well researched route maps that might interest you.
Some people pack camping gear and sleep outside most of time to save money and enjoy the great outdoors. Others leave the tent and campstove at home and spend each night in a motel. It's all in what you want to do.
Touring at times is just packing what you need and going away for one day. There are lots of places near you that probably have been overlooked in favour of the "exotic" distant destination. Even if you ride over the same road every other day, there's always something different that makes the short trip worthy.
Non competative day rides (Bike clubs, Audax/randonee style)
Hostel/motel touring (no camping)
Self supported expeditions
Supported tours commercial/charity.
Just Riding Along.
My favourite style of touring is hostelling. Some people call it "credit card" touring but in fact you need to take stuff with you just like on any holiday, just not a heavy camping load.
If you live in a wilderness area rather than European style bike country, then camping is the best choice.
I'm not a fan of riding for charity, I think cycling has its own worth and you dont need to justify cycling by raising money for anything.
You can get bikes designed for each of these styles of riding:
Get the heaviest duty you think you will really need.
I love just filling up the panniers and taking off for a day or two. Most of the time I just leave from the house. I'm looking into jumping on Amtrak and heading up to nor cal for a few days. For me its fun and I love meeting all the people on the road.Lots of nice folks out there.