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  1. #1
    DavidARay@gmail.com DavidARayJaxNC's Avatar
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    Ride by YOURSELF or in a small GROUP???

    I need to know what I should do, should I just take off, or should I try to get a group together to go. Can't it be dangerous to go by yourself.
    '92 Trek 920 Singletrack Fashioned into a Touring Machine.
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  2. #2
    Hazardous biker Ricardo's Avatar
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    I usually ride by myself because I am a crappy rider and can't keep up to the speed of my mates.

    Ricardo

  3. #3
    Senior Member Shemp's Avatar
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    I've traveled in a small group and with just my wife. Both have their advantages. Just a few:

    Group: "more the merrier," split cooking duty, share the experience with friends, post-ride group activities, more stories to tell, more assistance if you need it

    Individual/couple: easier to plan, go your speed, peacefulness, stop where you want, when you want for as long as you want, or not

    I'll go either way, but I like sharing the experience with friends, so I like the small group.

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    i have toured solo, small group (2), and larger group (12).
    each has their own atributes (sp).

    -have you toured before?

    even though i had toured "solo" before x-USA bikecentennial/adv-cycle (1982), there is much to be learned in a group tour.
    if this is your first tour, go w/a group and learn!
    enjoy the ride!

  5. #5
    DavidARay@gmail.com DavidARayJaxNC's Avatar
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    Well this would be my first tour, that is why I am reading up as much as I can... I want to go in a small group of 4-6, but interested people are hard to find. Everyone is either, I'm busy or I don't like road riding, I just want to mountain bike, and I say you road ride all the time. They are all just being lame.
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  6. #6
    Have bike will travel.
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    My first tour was a solo trek on the Katy Trail (rail-to-trail) in Missouri. It was a blast to do, but got lonely at night in the campgrounds. Also had what I call "Jason" moments. That's when the black walnuts fall from the trees at night, making sounds like footsteps and you turn your head so fast your light convinces that you just saw someone in a hockey mask coming at you. Also had the morning where dogs growling outside my tent woke me and I realized much to my dismay that I should have brought something besides a water bottle to defend myself with.

    Second tour was a large group, sag-supported ride. I had a blast, but the lines were a pain to wait in. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. I would do both again.

    For my first tour, I chose to do a trip close to home so if I found I didn't like touring, I could easily head back and not feel like I wasted money. Or I could call for someone to pick me up.

  7. #7
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shemp
    Group: "more the merrier," split cooking duty, share the experience with friends, post-ride group activities, more stories to tell, more assistance if you need it

    Individual/couple: easier to plan, go your speed, peacefulness, stop where you want, when you want for as long as you want, or not
    This post summed it up perfectly. I'll add that if you're going with a group, it's nice to find out what interests the other members of the group, and what they're looking for beforehand, and come to an arrangement. There are stories over at crazyguyonabike.com about people who have set off in groups only to later discover that they wanted different things and/or couldn't get along.

    If you're touring in a small group, you're going to see a lot of those people over the duration of the ride. In a large group you'll probably break off into a smaller group, so I'd advise coming to an arrangement that allows the flexibility to break off from the group for a while to "do your own thing", and meet up somewhere else later. Either that, or be absolutely sure before you set off that the people you're riding with are looking for the same things along the way as yourself.

    I also concur with the poster who suggested making your first tour an overnighter or something of relatively short duration close to home. It will give you the chance to test your equipment and your ability to set it all up, as well as allowing you to find out more about the experience as a whole.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
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  8. #8
    Crawlin' up, flyin' down bikingshearer's Avatar
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    I've toured alone, with one friend, with three friends and a sag, and with 15 or so in a fully-supported commercial tour. Which to do is largely a matter of making a serious, accurate assessment of yourself.

    Do people and their foibles drive you nuts? Will sudden changes of plans because of the needs/strong desires of others make you want to climb the walls (assuming you can find some)? Does the idea of having disagreements with a travelling companion give you hives? Going solo, or with one carefully chosen person is for you - but be sure you are comfortable being alone with your thoughts for significant periods of time and/or are able to reach out to strangers for any needed social interaction. Also, be sure you have the emotional fortitude to see yourself through the occasional tough times that can happen in any endeavor, and certainly can happen on tour. (Example: five straight days of non-stop headwinds, rain on the fifth day, capped off by a big rig passing so close at 65 mph that I thought I could have licked the trailer - not a happy time, and I was a raving lunatic for about ten minutes. That was in Nebraska during the solo portion of my cross-the-US trip, and the rest of the trip was great, but that one day really sucked. Can you will yourself through such times?)

    On the other hand, does the idea of being on your own for more than 15 minutes strike terror in your heart? Do you have to have people around you to feel comfortable in the world? Can you get over minor to moderate disagreements and disappointments quickly and not have them ruin an entire day (or more) - or better yet, be able to laugh about them that evening? Then going with a group is absolutely the way to go.

    I am guessing that you are somewhere in between the extremes on this, and could have good tours either way. I know I have. But be brutally honest with yourself about your personality - and how your own foibles will mesh with your riding partners'. Do that, and your question will answer itself.

    Also, don't be too worried about doing an initial tour solo, especially if it is fairly short. This isn't rocket science we're talking about here.
    "I'm in shape -- round is a shape." Andy Rooney

  9. #9
    Senior Member Sebach's Avatar
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    Shemp has it down pretty good.

    But if you end up going for a longer tour, it could be that you'll just meet up with people and end up doing a defacto "group tour" for a while. On my cross-Canada, I probably spent almost half of my time riding with various other tourers. Sometimes it would be a single person and other times it would be a small group of 3-4. I spent as little as a few hours riding with someone else to more than two weeks.

  10. #10
    Scott n4zou's Avatar
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    I usually go solo. I am not the unsociable type; I am retired and go biking much more than most people have time for. I have a severe form of Arthritis and biking is the only thing I have found that provides me a pain free life other than being doped up and laying about like a beached whale and not caring about the pain. I also like the freedom to change routes and/or the destination. Stealth camping along the way keeps the costs low and groups make Stealth camping almost impossible. I go so much that I can't afford credit card touring either. Something else that becomes a problem with groups is being a known mechanic by the locals. I become the person that works on all the bikes in the group and not just the occasional breakdown. People will show up with repair requirements and I get stuck tuning up bikes before the trip even starts. If I received a donation for my efforts I would not mind it too much but most people will dump there repair problems on me or bring in upgrade parts and expect the work to be done free. I guess I am "too nice" and let people take advantage of me too much.

  11. #11
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    If you're nervous about going solo, but can't find others to accompany you, then I suggest doing a solo tour of the Pacific coast. There are many people cycling the coast, so you won't be alone for long. When I did it, I often cycled with others, and there was always a group at the hiker/biker sites at the end of the day. It's like a rolling community.

  12. #12
    Senior Member xilios's Avatar
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    For the first tour I would go alone, did it myself last year and had a great time. Also learned a great deal.
    It's nice to have the freedom to do what you want and when you want it.
    Don't be nervous about heading out alone, I was nervous for the first couple of days, thinking there was a thief behind every rock and so on, but after a couple of days it was over.
    Enjoy the ride which ever way you choose to go.

  13. #13
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    bikingshearer's advice is EXCELLENT, for your first LONG tour. For a long tour, the social aspects of solo vs group are going to be very important, and completely dependant on your own personality. Only you can know how you'll feel. I believe the social aspects outweight the logistical / safety ones for a long tour.

    However, if you can manage to hook up for a first short tour - like a week or less, even a few days - with someone experienced, that could be very useful. If you could get this person to help you plan and pack, even better. I did my first long tour (and a pre-tour 4-day shakedown) with an experienced friend, and it was really helpful for a number of reasons. It was really lucky that my friend had a lot of touring experience, and was very smart, and very good at lots of things. (but on the other hand, he started out the tour as my boyfriend, and we mutually broke up the instant we got finished touring)

    Reasons it was good to have a mentor:
    - someone to learn about packing / loading the bike - getting it loaded safely can be an art form, what with all the potential hazards of un-balanced loads and dangly bits.
    - touring tricks - like how to do your laundry, how to keep your stuff dry, how to read maps to find a decent route, how to find where to camp, how much food and water you need to carry - all of this was great to learn.
    - someone to share the actual load with - he carried a lot more of the shared gear. sharing the actual camping gear load was nice. i didn't think i could carry it all myself, but it turns out i can, even though i'm a pretty small person
    - someone to help with mechanical issues (i was very inexperienced with that)

    The other possibility, if you have a little extra money, is to take the Adventure Cycling learning to road tour class, or even go out with them on a self-supported tour. I don't know anything first hand, but would imagine that you can learn everything you need to know from them, and then can make your decision for your 'real' tour based on your personality / social needs.

    Paul2 is right about the pacific coast: As my current (wonderful) boyfriend says in the context of rock climbing, to find a partner for a specific place/time period, just go there. The other people who want to do the same stuff at the same time are there already. you'll hook up.

    Anyway, I'm typing too much because I ran out of work at work.... so I'll stop now

    anna
    ...

  14. #14
    Senior Member RDW3261's Avatar
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    Someone mention long lines. So these tours that go across states tend to have long lines for the rest rooms, showers and luggage?

  15. #15
    Velocipedic Practitioner
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    Since you're in Jacksonville, NC, I suspect this will be solved for you. I used to live in Greenville and it was difficult to find other tourists, even harder to find tourists willing to take the time to do the trip you want to do. Spare yourself the angst and plan to go solo. If you happen to find someone willing to join you, then all the better.
    No. Touring solo is not dangerous. Simply exercise the same precautions you would anywhere else. You are FAR more likely to run into people eager to chat than planning to do you harm.
    Other forms of transportation grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart. - Iris Murdoch

  16. #16
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidARayJaxNC
    I need to know what I should do, should I just take off, or should I try to get a group together to go. Can't it be dangerous to go by yourself.
    The only thing worse than going on tour solo is going with someone ...and vice versa I've done 3 weeks with my wife and, amazingly enough, we're still married 20 years later (but we haven't toured together since then), I've done week long and multiweek long tours solo and most recently I've toured with my daughter (her first nonsupported tour). Each as their own good points and bad points.

    Solo:
    You can go as far and hard and long as you like but you can go further, faster and longer than you should. You are alone with your thoughts but all you have are your thoughts. You carry only the stuff you need but you have to carry it all. At the end of the day you don't have anyone to talk to or share your day with. You can stop whereever and whenever you want. You don't have to take a shower if you don't want to but saddle sores really, really, really hurt!

    With someone: You go as far and fast as the slowest person but you might be that slowpoke Leaving your ride mate behind isn't an option...especially if you are related to them or you don't want to pay a lawyer lots of money. Logistics are more than double for each person added. If you happen to be married to the person with you or at least involved with them, don't expect to be doin' the wild thing that often...bike saddles and sex don't usually mix But, at the end of the day, you have a shared experience. You have vivid shared memories that last a lifetime. You have someone to talk to, complain to, laugh with, cry with or just plain be with.

    I know this is a shameless plug but go read my journals. Both capture my feelings on riding. I enjoyed both trips but for entirely different reasons.
    Stuart Black
    Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
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  17. #17
    Crawlin' up, flyin' down bikingshearer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PurpleK
    No. Touring solo is not dangerous. Simply exercise the same precautions you would anywhere else. You are FAR more likely to run into people eager to chat than planning to do you harm.
    +1. From personal experience, I can assure you that rolling into a public campsite on a loaded touring rig will quite often bring someone (very often one or more kids) who want to (1) know where you are coming from and going to and/or (2) feed you. I can gurantee you that pulling into a campground on a fully loaded toruing rig will make people assume that you are safe. A little odd, maybe, but safe.
    "I'm in shape -- round is a shape." Andy Rooney

  18. #18
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    I've always toured alone. On longer tours (a week or more) I've always started alone and ended as part of an impromptu group - we just "fell together". It's great that way - you have companionship, but you are also a "free agent" - able to break off and do your own thing whenever you want, since you have no official ties to anyone.

    One problem I've had twice is that I've met unescorted females and felt the need to act as a protector. I know I was not obligated to do so; I guess it's my personality, and in both cases the females were very happy to have me accompany them. These weren't romantic entanglements, by the way.

    It was nice to have feminine companionship, but I also found myself frustrated. I got tired of waiting at the top of every long hill so I didn't ride away out of sight. I normally stop whenever I feel like it - to pee in the bushes, to eat a snack, to check out a bookstore, etc. I started feeling inhibited - like, maybe she won't want to stop here; maybe I'm stopping too much (especially a problem because the female had her own stops to make, which I might not have wanted to make.) All these things are creations of my own personality, but that's who I am.

    After the last time I made a resolution. First of all, in future, the only person I will tie myself to that closely will be someone pre-determined. Perhaps my wife, my son or daughter, my future grandchildren, etc. If I ever meet other people and find myself falling into a group, I will make it clear that I don't intend to ride with anyone for any length of time. In other words, I may choose to ride with someone for awhile, maybe even all day, but I might also decide at any time to stop and let them ride on, or ride off on my own.

    I think most bike riding is a solitary activity. I don't believe in riding side-by-side if there's traffic, and it's pretty difficult to carry on a conversation when you're single file. When my wife and I ride, every time one of us says something, the other one inevitably yells, "WHAT?" and we have to repeat what we said. So most of the time we ride along, quiet in our own thoughts. Conversation happens when we stop. Then the feeling of companionship is wonderful!

  19. #19
    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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    I'm with others at all times, except when I'm touring. I really enjoy the solitude. It gives you a chance to focus, get inside your head, make plans, come to closure and so much more.

    Also, I stealth camp, so it's not stealth camping if you are with someone.

    Why do you tour? If it's a social thing then great, go with others.

  20. #20
    Occasional poster countrydirt's Avatar
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    I have never toured more than three days(it was solo during the ride, but with family at night) I am so looking forward to having every minute away from everyone I know. Cycling is my relief from my professional life. I want at least 3 weeks alone!

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by RDW3261
    Someone mention long lines. So these tours that go across states tend to have long lines for the rest rooms, showers and luggage?
    On week long state rides, lines of 5-10 minutes can be normal if you leave with the pack. If you leave earlier in the morning, around 6:30 to 7:30 you can ride several hours or most of the day without seeing many people. Sometimes the first rest stop of the day is not set up with snacks if you leave early. Another idea is to pack in supplies from the last stop of the day to be used the following morning. If you leave when the majority of the riders leave (1,000-3,000 riders) (or RAGBRAI, 10,000) between 7:30 and 9:00 am then you will be waiting in lines. Another tactic, is to grab your food and eat it while waiting in the portajohn lines at the break and lunch stops. If you are female (I am) there is seldom a wait for showers. Lines are a great time to chat. I have found that I meet many of the same people each day because some people like to get up early and leave early. I like to leave early because I have worked on midnights for over 20 years and I don't sleep well at night, plus I don't like to ride when it is really hot outside. I ride early, get to the campsite early, and then get a nap in before I head out the nightly entertainment.

  22. #22
    DavidARay@gmail.com DavidARayJaxNC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paul2
    If you're nervous about going solo, but can't find others to accompany you, then I suggest doing a solo tour of the Pacific coast. There are many people cycling the coast, so you won't be alone for long. When I did it, I often cycled with others, and there was always a group at the hiker/biker sites at the end of the day. It's like a rolling community.
    Thanks,thats what I think might happen, but I am in North Carolina... are there any of the sort here? I have the Dept of Recreation Maps from NC, but does anyone actually do them on a weekly or even a daily basis, enough people for it to be similar to what you are saying?
    '92 Trek 920 Singletrack Fashioned into a Touring Machine.
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  23. #23
    Left OZ now in Malaysia jibi's Avatar
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    For me touring alone means I am forced to talk to other people.

    I have seen other groups who stay within themselves and never speak to others.

    Get out and meet people, find out where they have been, where they are going, and let them know the same about you and your tour.

    tailwinds

    george
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  24. #24
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jibi
    For me touring alone means I am forced to talk to other people.

    I have seen other groups who stay within themselves and never speak to others.

    Get out and meet people, find out where they have been, where they are going, and let them know the same about you and your tour.

    tailwinds

    george
    I find that people don't want to talk to me when I tour solo. They just aren't that interested in some old crazy fat guy riding a bike. If you really want to get people to talk to you take a young (19 year old) female with you. Everybody wants to talk to her
    Stuart Black
    Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
    Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
    Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
    An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.

  25. #25
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    I've learned that i can tour solo in areas that are rich in campsites and hostels. (Ireland for example) They make it so easy to talk to others.
    I just got back from a tour in Maui and was too lonely. Altho the cycling and the nature were spectacular, most of the campsites have been closed to 'force' tourists to pay for hotels, and the very few hostels were awfully expensive. From now on i'm going to do my research and figure out which areas i can tour alone and where i'd be better off with a partner or group.

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