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Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

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Old 09-02-07, 04:33 PM   #1
Lost again
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Touring guides

Next year I'm going to do a tour of 2 to 3 weeks. I'm undecided about where and when and weather to use a touring company or just go off on my own. I'm kind of leaning to ride to Iowa and do RAGBRAI as I did it this year and would love to do it again.

But in case I don't, the question is, should I do a guided tour for my first tour, or should I strike out on my own?

Also does anyone have any recommendations on a touring group/guide around the western US?
I'm not worried about mileage as I do a lot of centuries and double centuries.
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Old 09-02-07, 07:13 PM   #2
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That's such a personal choice, you're not gonna get a simple answer here -- unless you can trust complete strangers to have the same preferences you do. All we can do is point you to some factors to consider.

It's like asking "Should i buy frozen lemonade, or should i make my own?" "Hire someone to paint the fence, or do it myself?" Depends on how resourceful you feel, what gives you satisfaction, what you consider work vs. fun.

You have 4 choices, as i see it:
1) Tour companies. These are catered vacations,, they take care of all your needs (for a hefty price); they have to gear toward the lowest common denominator of the group, they focus on comfort and amenities rather than exploring. Best choice if you like comforts and luxury, and need company.

2) Get a friend, or small group of friends, to make a summer of it. Especially if one of the friends has touring experience. The best way to explore touring, especially if you doubt your preparation and bike maintenance skills -- like any other activity, you learn the ropes, share the tasks, and have others to fall back on.

3) Adventure Cycling Association (www.adventurecycling.org) has well-organized fully-loaded "independent" tours. This is like a combination of #1 and #2, and you have a professional leading the tour to learn from. ACA is an excellent resource for touring info. Their tours are also expensive, and some people find they can't handle the 3-month (or whatever) commitment to the group.

4) Head out on your own. If you've prepared and you like to be alone, do it yourself. Maximum flexibility, no contraints on your pace or direction. But some people can't handle days of solo riding.

Going solo or with friends, you get to choose: loaded touring, or credit card. Another basic decision.

Mass rides like RAGBRAI are rolling parties , and you learn if you can do big mileage and spend multiple days in the saddle. But they're most like touring companies (#1 above). It's a huge leap from there to loaded touring. The best thing you can do is to take a few weekend (or 1-week) trips as shakedown tours, to check your enjoyment factor, learn what to tweak, find out what works and what doesn't. After a few of those, you'll be ready to head out on your own (or not...)

-- Mark
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Old 09-02-07, 07:54 PM   #3
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I've just started a series that (in part) deals with this issue. The series is entitled, "So You Think You would like to Tour." You can go here to read my first few articles: http://www.bbtc.net/index.htm The first one was in our July, 2007 issue. Click on the News Letter tab to get there. It can take a while to load, so be patient. My articles appear near the end of the newsletters. Hope you find them helpful.
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Old 09-02-07, 11:57 PM   #4
Lost again
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That was the kind of answer I was looking for,Thanks, Mark.

And Old Hammer I'll keep reading your blog.

I'd already decided to try a short 3 or 4 day tour, once I get my bike all worked out. Still not sure where I want to ride as Southern Cal isn't the safest of places. I may just start out along the coast and ride north.
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Old 09-03-07, 06:23 AM   #5
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Mark's answer is right on.

There is one more option: Adventure Cycling offers a course called "Introduction to Road Touring" which you could take to teach you how to tour, if you aren't lucky enough to have a friend who can teach you.
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