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  1. #1
    Senior Member crazybikerchick's Avatar
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    I live in Toronto, its November, its getting cold here. I'm not working right now, I'm rather bored, I just want to get away and go somewhere on my bicycle.

    Where would be a pleasant place for a winter tour that is also reasonable airfare cost from Toronto (so Australia probably being out)? I also must mention I'm female and would probably travel alone so somewhere that would be reasonably safe to do so. I prefer to go solo rather than on an organized tour to save money, I'd be digging in to retirement savings to go on the trip (probably not the wisest of ideas but I feel I really need to travel right now) I'm assuming Europe would probably not be pleasant until say April weather-wise?

    Anyone that's done any self-guided tours on a tight budget before, what area did you go to, and what was the approx daily cost for accomodation and food? Trying to figure out how long of a trip I can reasonably go on.

    I've only done one loaded tour before, a one week fairly flat terrain trip that we cut short of its planned destination because of general unpleasantness, (most notably nerve damage to my left hand on the first day) and of course the fact we found the distances we planned each day were not realistic. Hopefully I've learned some lessons from this trip that would make a future trip much more pleasant.

    My bike is a Devinci Caribou. In front it has 30-42-52 gearing, and I think the back is 11-34 (not sure), so not terribly useful for heavy loads or mountainous terrain. The top tube is long, and even with a fairly short stem I keep wishing for my hands to be about an inch closer to myself. This was the first dropped-bar bike I bought so I didn't have the experience to know it wasn't such a good fit. The bars are quite wide and my shoulders quite narrow. I'm wondering if I'm best off buying some parts (though not sure if I can solve the TT issue) or attempting to sell the bike and purchase one that's a better fit. The tires are 700x28c, and I find the ride fairly rough when encountering unpaved roads. So obviously it depends on where I am going and what the roads are like there, I think I can accomodate bigger tires on the bike, would 32 or 35 be better?

    Any ideas of ideal destinations or ways to do this cheaply and comfortably - not sure whether I'd prefer hostels or camping.

  2. #2
    Marathon Cyclist MediaCreations's Avatar
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    Australia certainly is a great place to ride but airfares would make it a little restrictive and it'll probably be a little hot for you within the next couple of months.

    If you do decide to do something radical and head down under, make sure you let some of us Aussies know.

  3. #3
    Caffeinated. Camel's Avatar
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    I'm not sure what the airfare runs, but have you checked out touring Cuba? From the safety side, I'd consider it very safe (from what I've read) outside Havana, other than "hispanic machismo".

    As far as I know, there aren't any legal issues for Canadians touring there.

    Check weather in South American countries too (Brazil?).
    mmmm coffeee!

    email: jfoneg (_"a t symbol thing"_) yahoo (_"period or dot"_) com

  4. #4
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    You might want to go to the "fifty plus "forum and check out the string on Cycling to Cuba,they are planning a trip to Cuba and may be able to hide you in the luggage.

  5. #5
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Australia would be MY #1 pick right now <<sigh>> ... I was touring there last year at this time.

    Oh and ... it wasn't exactly hot!! But then I was in Tasmania, not on the mainland.


    However, as for possible tours, check what your local cycletouring club is up to. http://tbn.ca/nf_members/links.htm Some cycletouring clubs do a winter tour. Mine, in Calgary, is doing one to San Diego sometime over the winter. Cycletouring clubs usually have tours that are less expensive than the travel agent type of tours, and could give you the opportunity to get to know some cyclists in your area. Plus then you wouldn't have to ride alone.

    As for tours on your own, head down to your local CAA http://www.caa.ca/ and pick up a bunch of maps and travel guide books of areas that interest you. You can also check here:
    http://www.voyage.gc.ca/consular_home-en.asp
    for travel information for various countries (advisories and so on). That site will also give you a lot of good information regarding travelling. For example, they've got a brochure on women travelling alone:
    http://www.voyage.gc.ca/main/pubs/PD...own_way-en.pdf

    If you are concerned about airfare, go to the Air Canada website and plug in some possible places and dates and see what the airfares are. http://www.aircanada.com/en/home.html

    That's the great thing about having the internet ... you can look up a bunch of this stuff without any commitments and without sitting on the phone on hold.


    As for cost for food and accommodations ... that depends on what you choose to do, but I've found most of my tours cost about $30 a day ... I mainly camped, and took hostels once in a while.

  6. #6
    Marathon Cyclist MediaCreations's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    Oh and ... it wasn't exactly hot!! But then I was in Tasmania, not on the mainland.
    I don't think Tasmania ever gets really hot. They've been known to get snow in the middle of summer.

    Where else in Australia did you ride?

  7. #7
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MediaCreations
    I don't think Tasmania ever gets really hot. They've been known to get snow in the middle of summer.

    Where else in Australia did you ride?

    Here's my journal: http://www.machka.net/australia/ride.htm

    I landed in Sydney, cycled down to Melbourne via the Snowy Mountains, Wilson's Prom, and Philip Island. Then I did the Great Southern Randonnee which took me around the Great Ocean Road up into the Grampians and back. Then I flew to Tasmania and spent three weeks cycling around there. Then I flew to Cairns, where it finally started to warm up. From there I cycled up to Cape Tribulation and back down again, then over to the Atherton Tablelands, and back out to the coast ... down to Brisbane, and finally bussed back to Sydney, where I caught a flight home. The whole tour took 3 months starting at the end of September and returning at the end of December.

    I had wanted to go to Australia for about 15 years before I went, and I had in mind that whole time that I might want to immigrate to Australia. I decided that if the tour went well, I would more seriously consider the option of immigration . . . the tour went well . . . .

  8. #8
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    The day I arrived in Hobart, Tasmania, it was 35C (95F). 2 days later, it was snowing. Though I was in the interior by that time, I met people who had driven up from Hobart who said it snowed there, too. I believe it was either late February or early March. I've never experienced such wild temperature swings as on that trip to Australia. In Victoria during the previous 10 days, there were wild temperature fluctuations as well, though not quite as dramatic as in Tasmania.

    For an entertaining account of a woman who toured solo in Cuba, read Lynette Chiang's "The Handsomest Man In Cuba".

    One other suggestion, crazybikerchick, is the Yucatan. The Mayan culture makes for a very safe place for touring. I've known one woman who toured there alone, and 2 women who toured together, and they all said they felt quite safe in the Yucatan. Prices are very reasonable away from the "Mayan Riviera". I don't know if the area around Tulum had much hurricane damage, like further north in Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, & Cancun. In any event, I thought the most pleasant part of the peninsula for biking was the Pu'uc Hills region south of Merida, far away from the Caribbean coast.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Camel
    I'm not sure what the airfare runs, but have you checked out touring Cuba? From the safety side, I'd consider it very safe (from what I've read) outside Havana, other than "hispanic machismo".

    As far as I know, there aren't any legal issues for Canadians touring there.
    On a somewhat related corollary, a Massachusetts couple got busted rather recently on a bike tour for spending $$ in Cuba. Of course if you are not a US citizen, then this doesn't affect you at all.

  10. #10
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    Ms. Chick,

    Regarding your bike,

    – You may be able to find a very short stem. To give you an idea, I have one which is 90-mm long and with a 45° rise. Or to get bars close and high, get the Zoom adjustable stem and put the stem almost vertical. Be prepared to visit many bike shops to find one though.

    – You may change the rings for smaller ones. A relatively cheap improvement would be to keep the two largest ones, but change the granny from 30 to 26.

    – Comfort wise, tires make a huge difference. If I remember correctly, the Caribou accepts 700x37 tires (with or without fenders, I'm not sure). Depending on your weight and the load you carry, you'll be much more comfortable on 700x32 or mabe 700x32 front/700x37 rear.

    - Depending on your language skills, Central + Southern Spain or Central + Southern Italy should have good weather, as long as you don't climb too high in the mountains.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

  11. #11
    Hooked on Touring
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    Dear CBC -

    I'd recommend Crazy Woman Canyon, but then it's in Wyoming and the snow is flying.
    So "Plan B" would be to drive or have someone shuttle you over to Buffalo, NY.
    Southwest Airlines is offering great winter rates. $299 US round-trip to Buffalo to Las Vegas.

    From Vegas you could do Death Valley and the Mojave Desert National Preserve.
    Death Valley's average Hi/Lo for December is 65/38 - that's 18/3 in Canadian.
    Of course, those are averages - you can have cold spells or heat waves.
    But you are unlikely to get colder than 52/25 (11/-4) or hotter than 78/51 (24/10).
    Here's a website for their average temps in Dec/Jan.
    http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/summary/climsmsca.html

    Perfect time of year to visit - plus you can do it on the cheap.
    Hope you have fun wherever you go.

    Best - J

  12. #12
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    If Americans can't spend US dollars in Cuba... change before you go to canadian currency........voila>>>>>>>..

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by crazybikerchick
    I live in Toronto, its November, its getting cold here. I'm not working right now, I'm rather bored, I just want to get away and go somewhere on my bicycle.

    Where would be a pleasant place for a winter tour that is also reasonable airfare cost from Toronto (so Australia probably being out)? I also must mention I'm female and would probably travel alone so somewhere that would be reasonably safe to do so. I prefer to go solo rather than on an organized tour to save money, I'd be digging in to retirement savings to go on the trip (probably not the wisest of ideas but I feel I really need to travel right now) I'm assuming Europe would probably not be pleasant until say April weather-wise?

    Anyone that's done any self-guided tours on a tight budget before, what area did you go to, and what was the approx daily cost for accomodation and food? Trying to figure out how long of a trip I can reasonably go on.

    I've only done one loaded tour before, a one week fairly flat terrain trip that we cut short of its planned destination because of general unpleasantness, (most notably nerve damage to my left hand on the first day) and of course the fact we found the distances we planned each day were not realistic. Hopefully I've learned some lessons from this trip that would make a future trip much more pleasant.

    My bike is a Devinci Caribou. In front it has 30-42-52 gearing, and I think the back is 11-34 (not sure), so not terribly useful for heavy loads or mountainous terrain. The top tube is long, and even with a fairly short stem I keep wishing for my hands to be about an inch closer to myself. This was the first dropped-bar bike I bought so I didn't have the experience to know it wasn't such a good fit. The bars are quite wide and my shoulders quite narrow. I'm wondering if I'm best off buying some parts (though not sure if I can solve the TT issue) or attempting to sell the bike and purchase one that's a better fit. The tires are 700x28c, and I find the ride fairly rough when encountering unpaved roads. So obviously it depends on where I am going and what the roads are like there, I think I can accomodate bigger tires on the bike, would 32 or 35 be better?

    Any ideas of ideal destinations or ways to do this cheaply and comfortably - not sure whether I'd prefer hostels or camping.
    San Diego. And they have some decent hostels. From there, you can jump a trolley cheap (under $2?) and head into Mexico and do daily trips and some sightseeing.

    You can also try Mexico. I'd recommend Cancun. If you go there, immediately take a ferry to the island (Isla Mujeres was great!) and stay at a $3 a night hostel and just lay on the sand every day and if you stay at one of the hostels that has hammocks on the roof, you can sleep under the stars. You can scuba dive cheaply there too.

    Koffee

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