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Old 05-19-08, 12:49 AM   #1
stevage
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Solo touring

Anyone here do much solo touring? Particularly in the sort of 3-5 day time frame. Where do you go? How much do you enjoy it?

Steve
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Old 05-19-08, 04:28 AM   #2
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Yes. Anywhere I fancy. A lot.

I did quite a lot when I lived in Tasmania because the island has so many options when leaving Hobart -- north, there are the Central Highlands; south there is Bruny Island and the D'Entrecasteaux Channel, or the Tasman Peninsula; east there is the East Coast; and west there is the Derwent Valley. Round trips are quite easy to plan.

Victoria has been a little different only because of the logistics of getting out of the place I live, plus there is still much to explore here. But central Victoria has some interest in terms of artsy stuff as well as gold mining history. I enjoy the coastals such as from Wonthaggi to Wilsons Prom (although not done solo), and Great Ocean Rd (also not solo, but highly doable solo). And the Murray River makes a grand route, although I have only done parts of it (one must-do is a ride from the Snowy source to the mouth in SA).

As to the enjoyment, it depends on what your aims are. If you are egalitarian, then you have opportunities all along the way, if you take your time, to meet and chat with people from all walks of life. Country people are far less self-conscious than city people about engaging you in conversation.

If you are "competitive" or target oriented, then you have the ability to pursue those goals without being impeded by a slower partner.

And if you are solitary in outlook, then you can meet your needs too by picking an appopriate route... there are plenty of lonely roads even in Victoria.

Touring solo makes you much more resilient and resourceful than you might be with a group. You can also make mistakes with gear and riding style and so on without exposing yourself to ribbing from others. That is, you can iron out the rough bits in your style of bicycle touring.

You can pick and choose where you want to go, even mid-tour, if, say, the weather turns sour. And if you aren't happy with what you are doing mid-tour, you can just up stumps and go home.

The down side is that you might miss the "other perspective"... there are many times I have thought it would have been nice to share a special moment with someone. And there are times when I have because I have been on a group tour. Even stopping for pictures takes on different priorities when touring with a partner who is reasonably matched with your own riding style.
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Old 05-19-08, 04:28 AM   #3
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Can't say I have ever done a solo tour. For me most of the fun comes from the fact that you are experiencing the world with your friends. It is also good not to suffer alone on the big climbs :-)
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Old 05-19-08, 05:58 AM   #4
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Almost always tour alone. The wife and I have done one short organized tour and enjoyed that. I just don't enjoy seeing the special places in this world when I am standing around with a group of people.
As I pedaled the Southern Tier I met a number of folks that had begun their tour with a group. Most of those groups had split up enroute. There are just too many factors on a longer tour that mitigate against compatibility of more than a couple of folks.
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Old 05-19-08, 06:20 AM   #5
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I've toured both alone and with several other riders. When I've toured alone it's been usually close to home (I suppose that's based on the fact that when I organize a larger tour farther afield, I tend to invite others). I really enjoy touring alone as you have the timetable, you don't have to wait for anyone, you can stop when you like -bluntly put, you don't have to be considerate. However, I still enjoy touring with others.

Both have their advantages and disadvantages. If pushed I'd probably say that touring with at least one other person is preferable, if only to have someone to talk with, have a drink or play cards at the end of the day. When I've toured alone, I've stayed in campsites that are well populated -I think I'm of a strong disposition, but I'm not sure how much I'd like to be stuck in the middle of absolutely nowhere by myself (I do go mtbing at night by myself, and I've got to say now and again when I'm in the middle of some woods, my hairs on the back of my neck stand up for no apparent particular reason, and then I find myself with an average speed improved by 2mph and an urge to get home quickly....... Plus a deer can really sound like a charging elephant at night!)
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Old 05-19-08, 06:39 AM   #6
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Most of my tours have been alone. When I toured across Canada with a friend they turned around whining that they were cold and they missed their girlfriend. That was after 3 days. Pick your touring partners carefully. Personally ever since then I have toured alone, I can do whatever I want when I am on tour and don't have to negotiate my actions with someone else.
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Old 05-19-08, 08:08 AM   #7
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I've always toured alone. It's not by preference, it's because I can't find anyone odd enough to go with me. (My wife wants to try touring with me, but work hasn't let her....yet.) Touring alone gives one great independence. I do whatever I want, whenever I want. I pull over and stop without worrying about whether anyone else wants to.

On the other hand, after awhile I want company. I invariably start thinking about home and longing to be there. If you've never spent time camping alone, it can get lonesome and weird. I'm used to it, but it would be nice to have some friends along.

When I tour alone I usually meet other tourers along the way, especially if it's a popular route. Both times I've ridden down the Oregon coast I've fallen in with an impromptu group of people who ended up traveling together. On both of those trips there were also various others who I met and saw from time to time, but didn't really travel "with".

I'll be heading out alone along the Northern Tier route in the U. S. this summer. I wonder if I'll fall in with anyone?
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Old 05-19-08, 08:21 AM   #8
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I do long mega tours and so it is hard to find somene who wants to go off for 3months, 6months etc.

suits me though as I can go where I want when I want.

and when there are problems like at the moment, I am not holding someone back.

george
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Old 05-19-08, 08:37 AM   #9
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Anyone here do much solo touring?
Every chance I get.
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Originally Posted by stevage View Post
Particularly in the sort of 3-5 day time frame.
My favorite kind of solo tour.
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Where do you go?
Where ever an interesting road leads.
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How much do you enjoy it? Steve
I sometimes lead scheduled and supported tours. I don't like schedules or telling people we must leave a delightful place to keep on schedule. Once I lead an unscheduled and unsupported tour. We ran across a wonderful primitive campground in a state forest and stayed two days of the five everyone had previously agreed to do. We stretched it to seven days because everyone was having such a wonderful time.
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Old 05-19-08, 07:43 PM   #10
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I've only toured alone. Next week I leave for a week solo. However, in September, my wife is going to do a section of the Pacific coast with me for her first tour. That is quite an ordeal for her and I: Her getting into shape for it; me getting her bike and gear up to snuff; her getting committed to the dog days that inevitably occur. I am allowing 10-12 days for what should be a week tour. So the adjustment will be all mine.
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Old 05-20-08, 03:55 AM   #11
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All interresting answers and probably on line with the original question, but nobody mentioned the gear situation. Without having another person or people to spread out gear with, is the load pretty much the same? Seems to me that it would be a lot easier say for one person to carry a tent and ground tarp while another to carries the kitchen and repair stuff could be split. No big deal?
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Old 05-20-08, 04:35 AM   #12
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I usually tour alone as my wife doesn't know how to ride a bike, despite my efforts to teach her. I'm thinking of getting her a trike.
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Old 05-20-08, 06:08 AM   #13
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Most of my tours (counting number of tours here, not kms) are like that: solo, 3-5 days and enjoyable. I like to start and finish at my door, but if I want variation, I'll take a bus or train somewhere and start from there. I go anywhere I fancy.

Shareable gear is basically tent and stove+kettles+fuel, and in my case those are good for 2 people. Tools and spares could be split, but I prefer to have my own set with me at all times. So weight distribution is no rocket science, one takes the stove etc, and the other gets the tent. It pretty much evens out.

Lately I've been sleeping in a hammock, so I rarely share any gear with touring partners nowadays.

--J
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Old 05-20-08, 07:52 AM   #14
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All interresting answers and probably on line with the original question, but nobody mentioned the gear situation. Without having another person or people to spread out gear with, is the load pretty much the same? Seems to me that it would be a lot easier say for one person to carry a tent and ground tarp while another to carries the kitchen and repair stuff could be split. No big deal?
I don't use a tent, I just carry a tarp and use the bike as support by just pulling the tarp over the bike and staking it down. I use a Korean era stove and boy scout kit. Both pack small as can be seen below.


Personally, I would never depend on sharing the load among people. I've seen lots of stuff expensive stuff abandoned when one or more members give it up a couple of days in leaving the others to attempt to haul the extra gear.
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Old 05-20-08, 08:14 AM   #15
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I've only toured alone. Next week I leave for a week solo. However, in September, my wife is going to do a section of the Pacific coast with me for her first tour. That is quite an ordeal for her and I: Her getting into shape for it; me getting her bike and gear up to snuff; her getting committed to the dog days that inevitably occur. I am allowing 10-12 days for what should be a week tour. So the adjustment will be all mine.
Be patient with her. There are a lot of ups and downs on that route. I rode it for a few days with a woman I met. I perceived that she felt safer riding with me than alone. I found myself resenting the time I spent waiting at the tops of hills for her to catch up. I found myself irritated that I was worrying about whether she would be annoyed at the number of times I had to stop to pee, or stop to eat something to keep my blood sugar up (I'm diabetic.) Alone, none of those things would be a concern.

Of course, she wasn't my wife. If my wife were along I'd be happy to wait for her at the top of hills, because I'd be so glad she was finally able to come. (That's presupposing I'd beat her to the top - not a safe bet because she's pretty strong!) I wouldn't worry about any of the other because she's used to me.

So be patient and grateful she's along. Be willing to carry 60% of the weight if you're the stronger rider. After all, you'll be sharing things - the tent, cooking supplies - that you have to carry alone normally. I think the total load will be less than twice your normal single load.

It sounds like 10-12 days for a normal week's tour is about right. That way you'll have plenty of time to enjoy things along the way. By myself I usually don't do much sightseeing, walking, etc. I ride all day, set up camp, eat, and sleep. Most of my free time is spent lying around reading. I think I'd want to do more if I had someone along to do thing with.
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Old 05-20-08, 08:25 AM   #16
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I am allowing 10-12 days for what should be a week tour. So the adjustment will be all mine.
This is how I thought before doing my first small tour with my SO. But then I saw the effort she put into it during the tour. She was adjusting a lot, maybe more than I was. We were way out of her comfort zone in many ways, not so much in terms of physical endurance, but in other aspects of touring. Me, I was just riding slower than usual.

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Old 05-20-08, 09:09 AM   #17
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BOB carries all my gear for me.
My BOB Ibex.

good luck
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Old 05-20-08, 11:47 AM   #18
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>I use a Korean era stove and boy scout kit. Both pack small as can be seen below.

I think I have the exact same "boy scout kit", but didn't know that's what it was. The stove looks a bit heavy though.

Steve
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Old 05-20-08, 11:51 AM   #19
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Thanks for the comments, all - I think I relate to a lot of them. I've been camping with or without bikes by myself a couple of times and generally loved it. I've tended to go the "camp in the middle of a forest by myself" option, and can certainly relate to deer sounding like elephants (or in my imagination, wild boar) in the middle of the night. Though possibly the scariest moment was stepping out for a pee in a Czech national park and very nearly stepping over a 10 metre cliff.

So next question: have people managed to have non-solo tours that gave them all the freedom of touring solo? Could you find partners that had the same spirit of adventure, didn't want to plan anything in advance, and ended up inspiring you to have an even more interesting, adventure-packed trip than you would have by yourself?

Mmm, bike touring philosophy...

Steve
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Old 05-20-08, 01:53 PM   #20
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I toured with a friend once......after three days I was beginning to contemplate murder. Thankfully, reason endured and we're still friendly...but he doesn't know how close he came...BwaaaaHAHAHAhahaha

Seriously, touring with a friend has its benefits, but touring solo has just as many. I think it's basically a tossup though I do like not having to negotiate with someone about routes, cuisine, responsibilities, etc.
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Old 05-20-08, 04:18 PM   #21
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The stove looks a bit heavy though.
It's weight is less than you would think. It was designed with weight as a major factor as it was to be carried in a pack on the solders back. This stove weighs less than the steel canteen cup and plate that were issued with it.
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Old 05-21-08, 01:28 AM   #22
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So next question: have people managed to have non-solo tours that gave them all the freedom of touring solo?
If we're talking purely about the freedom aspect (freedom to do whatever you want on a whim), it's obviously worse, and at least my experience seems to confirm that. On the whole, I would not say non-solo touring is worse (or better) than solo touring. It's just different, it has its own pros and cons. How you value those pros and cons is naturally very subjective.

As I've posted in another thread, finding a good touring partner can be difficult. I would never tour with some of my dearest, closest friends.

--J
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