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  1. #1
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    What do you do on tour?

    I am curious if any of you have gone on a long-distance bike trip or thought of going on one with some kind of goal in mind. I mean, something more than "go there, see that, take pictures." I would love to take a long-distance bike trip but my personality is such that I am hopeless without a solid goal to provide motivation.

  2. #2
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Most of my tours revolve around a major Randonneuring event (see my website in my sig line below).


    If you want a tour that is a little more of a challenge than "go there, see that, take pictures." check out this tour (or these tours, this organization actually puts on three of them):

    http://www.tourdafrique.com/

  3. #3
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    My first tour was from Perth to Adelaide -- to get home to Tasmania.

    After that, the goal has always been to have fun. Maybe you should re-orient your motivational triggers a bit.

    And like Machka, I think randonnee and ultracycling events are a good excuse to do some touring before, during and after in unfamiliar locations.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  4. #4
    This user is a pipebomb brotherdan's Avatar
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    On tour I spend most of my time riding my bike. Going there, doing that, and taking pictures is usually enough for me. Often I try to push myself to see just how far I can go. And often I don't bother taking any pictures. But the journey is enough to get me going.

    I like microbrew beer. Sometimes I focus on trying to visit as many microbreweries as I can in the course of a tour. I know some people go on winery tours by bicycle. Others try to hit as many historical sites as possible.

    I don't know what would motivate you to take a bicycle tour. I guess the question you have to ask yourself is: why do I go on vacation in the first place? Once you get that question answered, then you can start looking into how to fit YOUR goals into a bicycle tour.
    Bikes belong in the motor city

  5. #5
    Senior Member xilios's Avatar
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    Goals? Sense of adventure, away from the everyday, forget everything (home, bills, kids etc...) see how other people live (what they eat and drink), but mostly have fun.

  6. #6
    I'm made of earth! becnal's Avatar
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    I also like to have a destination. Well, I usually pick my routes based on established bike paths. For example, riding the Camino de Santiago to Finisterre. Or the Fulda and Weser rivers until Bremen. Having a fixed destination also makes getting home easier.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  7. #7
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    It's interesting, becnal, because I have been a "free-ranging" touring cyclist for quite a while now. It all started back in, oh, 2001 or thereabout, with what I called my "Aimless Wander Tour" from Hobart, Tasmania, to explore places I hadn't been on a bike before. I discovered some interesting stuff as I came to junctions that had eyecatching signposts, or just went into the hills. It generally took me into the Central Highlands and back down to the historic township of Richmond. It wasn't a long tour (four days, I think), but it showed me that you don't have have a destination in mind to get something out of a tour. Mind you, it helps that Tasmania has some interesting stuff.

    In 2005, when I left home in Hobart for good, I started out with a 1200km "Golden Circle Tour" from Melbourne northward to Mildura and back again in a big, elongated circle (through old gold mining communities -- hence the name). I had a general idea of where I was going, of course, from map-planning, and the ultimate aim was to see the Murray River as Australia's grandest waterway. It matched my experiences of riding along the Mississippi, and the Rhine.

    In Europe in 2003, I had the general idea of finding the North Sea route and following that until time ran out and I had to head back to Paris. Last year, I had the general idea of retracing some of my Flanders experiences with Machka and while we planned to head eastward after PBP, we didn't decide definitely until we were back from PBP. All along the way, I/we have had "wow" experiences. Having flexibility in transport options helps get over the boring bits, too.

    Even my century rides have been on the basis of picking a general direction and doing a bit of exploring along the way.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  8. #8
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    I can Identify with that Rowan. For me, it's definitely the journey, not the destination. I just like the preoccupation with the day and place as it is, the conditions, diversions to check something out, an interesting or pleasant place to spend the night. Always unsupported, generally camp wherever, just take it as it comes. I try to avoid the "destination mentality"as much as I can. My best trip so far was to Tassie, going first down the trail, then making my way back up the East Coast. Worst aspect of it? Considering days left before the ferry ride booked in advance. I'll go back some day. I had a goal that trip - I wanted to ride the trail. That was 1850km approx over 28 days.

    Next trip? - Probably East Gippsland, over the top at Hotham this Autumn. April/May 4 or 5 weeks. No idea of how far, or where exactly yet.
    Last edited by jstava; 02-10-08 at 06:48 AM.
    The best revenge is to live well.

  9. #9
    mev
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eli_Damon View Post
    I am curious if any of you have gone on a long-distance bike trip or thought of going on one with some kind of goal in mind.
    One of the things I like about cycle touring is an ability to mix a longer range goal with just riding day to day and experiencing things. The longer range goal provides the structure and excuse and some of the advance planning while the day to day experiences are what I remember most.

    My last big tour was a ride across EurAsia in 2007 that was mostly through Russia and took six months (see www.bikerussia.com). This took some planning in advance including taking several semesters of Russian language, reading, etc. Throughout there was a goal in mind (Vladivostok) but enough time along the way that there was also a sense of living and experiencing the country and peoples. What I remember most now though is not reaching Vladivostok but the collage of experiences of people I met along the way and things I saw.

    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    If you want a tour that is a little more of a challenge than "go there, see that, take pictures." check out this tour (or these tours, this organization actually puts on three of them):

    http://www.tourdafrique.com/
    Last year after the Russia trip, I joined the Tour D'Afrique Silk Route in China for the last 4000km to Beijing (see http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/mevchina2007). It was a great trip.

    In the context of this discussion, it was interesting to see and join this group midway through and see how people had adjusted the trip to meet their needs and goals. Early on there had been some very challenging cycling days in Turkey (>40C, long distance, lots of climbing). That combined with potential for getting sick or having mechanical issues meant that there were only three people left who had cycled EFI.

    What was interesting to see was how people had coped with that challenge. For some, including some who had almost never SAGed before, after they realized they weren't going to cycle every inch, they had questioned why they were really on the trip and had adjusted accordingly. For some of those it meant still riding everything they could. For others, they adjusted to making days more reasonable and riding the support truck or skipping ahead as appropriate. There is no one "right" answer here on how to adjust. It was just interesting to see how people were wired differently in making those types of adjustments, as well as how they examined their goals in the face of severe adversity.

    --mev, Mike Vermeulen

  10. #10
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    Years ago, on a five month trip in Europe, I took along several of the miniature books put out by the Shambhala people. I did feel like I was pursuing a kind of pleasant goal. On other trips it was Kant and Heidegger. A bicycle tour offers an extended period of mental tranquility. This makes it a good opportunity to let some difficult ideas role around in the head with the hope that they will become clearer than is possible in the busy-ness of everyday life.

  11. #11
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    Great post, Mike. Hey, I think I met you on a HI-USA Xmas tour, maybe 2004 or so. I'm one of the twins. I was just about to leave for NZ, I was probably spraying about that.

    I had my own EFI vs other goals experience on my XC ride.

    That trip was loosely organized around visiting - relatives in Portland & Milwaukee & DC, a friend in NJ, a climbing area in WY. This came about almost by accident, but then became an important organizing principle for the ride. I ended up hitching past a couple hundred miles of cornfields in SD/MN, so I could make it to WI for family holiday celebration. So in a way, my "goal" of my tour actually interfered with EFI. But it was worth it to get to see all my relatives.

    Another one I'm thinking about is visiting climbing areas. Someone posted a question about that a few months ago, and I wrote a post that my browser ate, listing all the climbing areas I've been to on bike tour. There were a lot of them - like 20! But those were all sort of accidents, or because I was living in those places or climbing there, so I was thinking about doing something on purpose, maybe in Europe. I could ride my bike from one climbing area to another, and my boyfriend/climbing partner could drive & climb, and then I could climb with him.

    But mostly, I like to have some stuff that I'm planning on seeing that I'm excited about, and then enjoying the in between parts for whatever unexpectedness they throw at me. One tour in New Zealand, there were a few days when I got up and just headed whatever direction the wind was blowing!

    (I'm trying to get as many acronyms in here as possible).
    ...

  12. #12
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    I don't see a goal and stopping to smell the roses as mutually exclusive. I like to have a goal, but meeting the people, stopping at tourist attractions, doing side hikes, stopping at a swimming hole, and going rafting or something all are part of the experience too.

    I think that an ambitious goal is a great ice breaker when talking to local folks. They all want to talk about the trip when they find out you are crossing a continent or whatever. They like to be a part of it and it means you get to be the recipient of hospitality from folks who want to vicariously experience your trip.

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    Oh yeah, I forgot, on my Colorado tour my goal was "Ride every paved continental divide pass in Colorado." AS staehpj1 alluedes to, it's nice to have an easy way to explain what you are doing.

    I guess that's different than what you do. I guess what I do is eat, ride, gawk, chat, sleep, repeat.
    ...

  14. #14
    family on bikes nancy sv's Avatar
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    In the past I've always toured just to tour - we wandered aimlessly about and had a great time. But our upcoming tour is very different in that regard. We will be using our experiences on the bike to help kids in NYC learn. We'llpost about what we are seeing and learning, and the kids will read that and do further research as part of their classroom studies. We will also periodically hold live chats with the kids. I'm excited about it all because it kind of gives our tour a "purpose" - not that we ever needed one, but it is nice to say we are reaching out to others through it.
    WE DID IT! Our little family of four cycled 17,300 miles from Alaska to Argentina! The trip of a lifetime for sure. www.familyonbikes.org

  15. #15
    40 yrs bike touring
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    Over all of my years of bike touring the only structured tour was the Divide Ride where I followed someone's predetermined routing day after day. My routes tend to grow from looking at maps for a general path to and/or from a specific event like a mountain bike gathering in Crested Butte, Colorado or to attend a wedding in some distant state or province.

    In 1987 my tour pretext was a school graduation in Montana. The train from Santa Barbara dropped me in Whitefish,MT. where I rode mostly off road to the school event then back to Glacier NP. Rangers there said forget about heading North along the Flathead River because it was too rough, steep and isolated.

    The gravel road WAS rough with lots of deadfall,steep climbs and torrents of rain- just wonderful and empty. After crossing the border at Trail Creek into Canada the forest roads were wonderfully smooth and well graded all the way to Fernie. A few miles later on pavement I asked a local what the trail over Elk Lakes into Kananaskis was like for a bike. He said that he had taken a horse over it but advised to take the long way around over Crow's Nest Pass on pavement.

    The Road over Elk Lakes Pass was steep and muddy and beautiful and rideable. Dropping into Kananaskis Park I scared a ranger by appearing out of the woods on a bike. I continued past the Spray Lakes on gravel until pavement at Canmore and the main route to Banff and Jasper NP along the Ice Fields Parkway. I spent weeks riding the trails in Jasper NP and then took the train to Vancouver to speed up the trip back down the coast for the ride back to Santa Barbara.

    [The Divide Ride is now extended into Canada incorporating much of this route from Glacier to Banff Parks]

    Tours in Mexico and South America have been much the same by wandering around with key guidance from locals pointing out an unknown route going in my general direction. There are always lots of surprises but they all seem to be good ones-far from traffic and cities. To locals I appear as new entertainment or benignly crazy so they tolerate my intrusions. I have often been asked if I was so poor that I rode a bike because I could not afford the five cent bus!

    Pick a direction and wander around without a precise comforting route or goal- it continues to work for me.

  16. #16
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    I'm another one who tours just to tour. My only goals have been my routes: "I want to ride the entire west coast." Other than that I just do it because I like to. These days I usually don't even have a destination as a goal when I set out. I wander at whatever pace I feel like, go where I feel like, and when I feel like I'm done I find a way to come home.

    One big reason I tour is the way it makes me feel, healthwise. I feel strong and healthy during a tour. I feel good about my state of health, knowing I can ride those distances, day after day, carrying that load. I feel good about what it does for my heart and lungs and entire body.

    I tour for a sense of accomplishment. When I ride a long, multi-day (or multi-week) tour, I feel like I've accomplished something worthy, something that few people do. Part of that is knowing that I'm carrying everything I need for the trip with my own power. It's the same feeling I get when I go backpacking in the wilderness: Everything I need to survive and enjoy this experience is on my back.

    I tour for the endorphins! I don't know if that's the right term, but every time I take a long bike ride, it makes me feel good for the rest of the day! When I'm on tour I'm usually much more tired at the end of the day than when I go for a ride at home. I wander around the campground, moving very slowly and unhurriedly, in a very pleasant haze of endorphins. What could be better (and still be healthy and legal?)

    I tour for the unhurried pace. At home during my normal working life, I'm always stressed, hurried, feeling like I have a million things to get done and no time to do them, etc. When I'm bike touring I take it easy. Sure, pedaling a big load up and down steep hills for 50+ miles a day is hard work, but there's really nothing to stress about. You just ride until you're done. You stop to rest when you feel like it, eat when you feel like it, stop to sightsee when you feel like it, etc. About the only decisions to worry about are where to spend the night and where to get food and water.

    I tour because I like being outdoors. In my normal life I don't spend much time outdoors (except for bike rides, hikes, beach walks, etc. that I can squeeze in between my normal responsibilities.) On tour you're outside most of every day. I like that. A lot!

    I tour because I like nature. Most of my tours involve natural beauty - woods, lakes, rivers, the ocean, mountains, etc.

    I tour because it's the best way to see the countryside. I'm so used to it now I sometimes forget how struck I was the first times I toured by being "in" the countryside I was traveling through, rather than watching it through the windows of my car. I also love the slow pace. You can look at every tree, every rock formation (every bit of roadkill!) (every bit of flotsam by the roadside!), and have the time to process what you're seeing, rather than zooming by at 75mph in a car.

    I love the places my brain goes when I'm touring. In the 70s people were looking into "mind-expanding". Besides the drug-taking, they also did a lot of experimenting with meditation, primal screams, biofeedback, etc. I think the point was to achieve the mental state where you're mind wandered completely freely, and through relaxation your brain entered an alpha state. Anyway, when I started touring I discovered that while pedaling away the miles, my mind would start to wander on its own to all sorts of interesting places. I felt I was achieving a mental state through cycling that others were attempting to reach through all those other things. I still enjoy that. The state of relaxation I achieve on a tour is still one of the best things.

    I tour as a political statement - I'm not polluting, I'm not depleting our finite resources, and I'm not contributing to global warming like I would if I was touring by car. Of course, I'm honest. I almost always travel to and return from my tours in a conveyance that burns fossil fuels. But still, on balance I'm doing much less damage to the environment by choosing this as my means of recreational travel.

    This might seem odd, but I tour because I like to read! When I'm home I often don't have time to read. Other times, I'll admit it, I turn on the TV instead of opening my book. When I'm on tour I read a ton, and always love it.

    I've toured as a fund-raising mechanism before, and did so successfully, but that was ancillary. I would have gone even if no one contributed a dime.

    Someday, when I have time and things are right, I plan on riding across the country. There are a lot of places along the way where I wouldn't normally choose to tour, but I think that's a worthy goal - one I want to accomplish before I die. Then maybe I'll do the Underground Railway route. Then maybe the Lewis and Clark route...

  17. #17
    Stand For Something mntbikedude's Avatar
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    Yeah the last tour my and my 13 year old son started out with one goal. Have the best damn summer of our life’s. The idea is we would just ride until we stopped having fun. We stopped when ever there was someplace cool, even if we only went 20 miles that day.

    We fulfilled that goal many times over, we did indeed had the best damn summer of our life’s. And made it all the way to Mexico. We had to end it there not because it had stopped being fun but it was time to start school.

    I see so many people on tour that seemed to have missed this most important part. It isn't how are far you go in a day, it is how far a day goes in you. It is taking time to ditch your bike and run into the ocean without stopping to figure out where you can rinse off.

    Taking the time to look for shells, for your son to talk to boat captains because he plans to build a ship someday. It is feeling the temperature change, it is smelling the sea air and knowing that motor home that just whizzed by was missing the whole thing. It is laying on your back underneath a majestic redwood and telling this son who you love more than life to savor every moment. Because there will be times in life that he will anguish to be riding his bike down the coast behind his dad one more time....... yes that is the only goal one needs, to have fun.

  18. #18
    spaghetti farmer fthrud's Avatar
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    My goal is to hum, sing to myself and smile a lot.

    My everyday life is very full, very stressful and nonstop. I'm always thinking of the company, the project, the task and the people. When I get off work I'm thinking about my family, the house, the mortgage, the bills, the economy, the war, the environment, the....every damn thing. At times I'm not a pleasant person.

    When I get on my bike my goal is to be a big goofy empty headed guy. I look at the birdies and talk to the cows. I talk to strangers. I stop at the top of bridges to gaze at the water and enjoy the breeze. The most complex issue I deal with is calculating the correct intervals for food and drink. If I see a nice shade tree, and want to lay down for a little while, I do. At the end of the day, my goal is to have clean sheets, hot water and a good meal with an adult beverage within walking distance. Cheap.

    I do have set objectives, destinations and daily mileage targets. As I have palm trees and sand in my front yard, I seek out terrain and scenery that's diverse from home. But my main goal, and the point of the whole thing, is to be a big old goof with a smile on my face.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eli_Damon View Post
    I would love to take a long-distance bike trip but my personality is such that I am hopeless without a solid goal to provide motivation.
    Because of scheduling issues, I'm only able to take a week to 10 days at a time and I tend to tour starting from my home. The primary goal of course is to have a lot of fun. The act of cycling by itself is enough to motivate me.

    I also set some other goals. Once, it was to bike to the home where my grandparents used to live. Several times, it was to conquer a mountain pass or to ride where I haven't ridden before. Two years ago, I decided to cycle out to a hot spring and enjoy a relaxing soak.

    Because I ride solo, I reserve the right to change my plans at any time. Once I came 50 or 60 kilometres from reaching my destination when I decided to turn around. I didn't feel happy going any farther and I knew I'd hate the trip if I went on. The next day, I got off the highway and onto an abandoned railway bed. It turned out to be the most amazing one-day ride I've ever had.
    Life is good.

  20. #20
    Savor the journey
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    Big Blue Toe, I couldn't have stated it better. Great summation.
    "Yeah, what he said!"
    Ted
    Veg Cyclist

  21. #21
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
    Oh yeah, I forgot, on my Colorado tour my goal was "Ride every paved continental divide pass in Colorado."
    That sounds like an awesome tour! We loved what we saw of Colorado while on the TA and I can imagine spending a whole summer there. Do you have a journal or trip report online anywhere?

  22. #22
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    No, no journal. I do have this map I made after the fact:
    http://tinyurl.com/2ouoay

    I got some info from a friend who used to live in Crested Butte to plan this, but ultimately it turned out that it's just hard to go wrong in Colorado as long as you stay in the mountains and out of the front range.

    This was about 3 1/2 weeks of riding. I was planning to continue thru Walden, back over Trail Ridge Road, then up to Steamboat, to get the rest of the passes, but I got hit by a car instead. I'll probably do the rest of it this year or next year.
    ...

  23. #23
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    My goal is to get from point A to point B. Between point A and point B I see the sights and take pictures.

  24. #24
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    If you are a newbie not too sure of your level of interest or ability, or someone nursing along a lot of physical disabilities, then the best goal is to just pace yourself so you stay comfortable. A biofeedback goal.

    As an x climber type I like some kind of elegant route that follows natural features, prefered to be challenging. less logical ideas like crossing a continent feel contrived comparatively, though I'm still up for it.

    Too much goal affects the experience, and visa versa.

  25. #25
    mev
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    Quote Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
    Hey, I think I met you on a HI-USA Xmas tour, maybe 2004 or so. I'm one of the twins. I was just about to leave for NZ, I was probably spraying about that.
    I think we met in 2003 (http://www.mvermeulen.com/sandiego2003/index.html), and 2002; prior to your XC ride. In any case, you were excited about the XC ride...

    Quote Originally Posted by valygrl
    One tour in New Zealand, there were a few days when I got up and just headed whatever direction the wind was blowing!
    Fun! That is a type of tour I've wanted to do...just take off for three days to a week and try riding downwind as much as possible. At the other end, find myself to the nearest Amtrak or car rental and come home...or if the wind goes in circles perhaps I won't be too far from home.

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