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Old 07-27-08, 12:59 AM   #1
Clarenza
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Touring Styles Lexicon

There are lots of threads about what's a reasonable weight to carry on tour.

But discussions about touring weight really only make sense if the style of touring is understood. What's suitable to carry on a tour lasting a couple of days is different from what's required to live on the road for a couple of years -- and there are a few touring styles in between. Maybe it already exists(?) but it would be handy if the touring community had some agreed terminology and descriptions for each broad style of touring. A few that spring to mind are:
- Multi day
- Credit card
- Loaded
- Supported
- Expedition

Not a perfect list -- anyone got a better set of words to add to the touring lexicon, and maybe some definitions?
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Old 07-27-08, 01:12 AM   #2
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Single day? (personal favorite).
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Old 07-27-08, 01:14 AM   #3
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If its not multi day its just a ride. Though some rides are multi day...
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Old 07-27-08, 01:30 AM   #4
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Loaded Touring?...is that where you cycle from bar to bar without camping gear and just pass out on the sidewalk each night?....

Stealth Loaded Touring would be the same as above, but you have the decency to pass out behind a hedge or dumpster?...
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Old 07-27-08, 02:41 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Clarenza View Post
There are lots of threads about what's a reasonable weight to carry on tour.

But discussions about touring weight really only make sense if the style of touring is understood. What's suitable to carry on a tour lasting a couple of days is different from what's required to live on the road for a couple of years -- and there are a few touring styles in between. Maybe it already exists(?) but it would be handy if the touring community had some agreed terminology and descriptions for each broad style of touring. A few that spring to mind are:
- Multi day
- Credit card
- Loaded
- Supported
- Expedition

Not a perfect list -- anyone got a better set of words to add to the touring lexicon, and maybe some definitions?
I've been described as "photo-journalistic" - meaning I stop frequently to take photographs. I've also heard the term "mileage guy" used to describe a tourer hung up on getting in miles.
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Old 07-27-08, 08:07 AM   #6
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There's a whole cult of sub-24 tourers out there.

I like the overnight tour too - you can get pretty far afield from your doorstep on a single overnight, camp out, and ride back home. Great way to spend a weekend.

What about 'winter tourer?'

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ORO_nxEba0
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Old 07-27-08, 08:23 AM   #7
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I've heard "sagged" being used interchangeably with "supported".

Damn, Bek. I was wondering why I haven't seen you posting recently. It's apparently because you've been producing touring videos at a prolific rate! Awesome!

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Old 07-27-08, 08:55 AM   #8
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I have to ad "ultralight touring", there are some nice definitions on bicycletouring101

http://www.bicycletouring101.com/TouringMethods.htm
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Old 07-27-08, 05:03 PM   #9
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nun, excellent link to bicycletouring101, thanks. Jamie's categories are
- Paid touring adventures and sag wagon touring
- Credit card or lightly loaded touring
- Self contained/fully loaded touring
- Unencumbered or ultralight touring
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Old 07-28-08, 05:26 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by znomit View Post
If its not multi day its just a ride. Though some rides are multi day...
+1 if it isn't multi-day it isn't a tour to my way of thinking.

The sub-24 tours do meet my definition of touring, but I personally fail to see the attraction. It is kind of like camping in the back yard. If all I can manage schedule-wise is an overnight I am inclined to just do two day rides. Different strokes though.
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Old 07-28-08, 05:46 AM   #11
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nun, excellent link to bicycletouring101, thanks. Jamie's categories are
- Paid touring adventures and sag wagon touring
- Credit card or lightly loaded touring
- Self contained/fully loaded touring
- Unencumbered or ultralight touring
I think the first three cover the gamut.

To me ultralight really isn't a well defined category. It is a subset of loaded touring, but where do you draw the line when there is a continuum of self contained tourists who carry anything from 10-150 pounds. It is all covered under fully loaded touring even if fully loaded is only 10 pounds. If you insist on including ultralight as a category then you really need to break it out into several weight categories. If you do that you have to set very arbitrary criteria.

Similarly expedition touring is a subset of self contained/fully loaded touring and not a clearly defined one at that.

You can use term like ultralight or expedition to refine the definition of the trip, but I don't think they are full fledged categories.
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Old 07-28-08, 06:26 AM   #12
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I think the first three cover the gamut.

To me ultralight really isn't a well defined category. It is a subset of loaded touring, but where do you draw the line when there is a continuum of self contained tourists who carry anything from 10-150 pounds.
I include "ultralight touring" as a separate category only because so many tourists default to the heavier style of touring because it's the norm. Many times people have commented to me that I'm not carrying enough to be comfortable because I don't have 4 panniers etc, just a handlebar bag, a saddlebag and a tent strapped under my saddle. Then they pick up my bike, they are amazed that they can actually pick up my loaded bike.
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Old 07-28-08, 07:02 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by nun View Post
I include "ultralight touring" as a separate category only because so many tourists default to the heavier style of touring because it's the norm. Many times people have commented to me that I'm not carrying enough to be comfortable because I don't have 4 panniers etc, just a handlebar bag, a saddlebag and a tent strapped under my saddle. Then they pick up my bike, they are amazed that they can actually pick up my loaded bike.
I am definitely not knocking ultralight. It is a joy to ride a very lightly loaded bike and I can't imagine how folks who carry much over what I do manage. I just don't really see it as a full separate category.

Looking at your list It looks like a pretty normal list other than being very vigilant to pick light weight stuff, what is the total weight including bags?
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Old 07-28-08, 07:43 AM   #14
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staephj1 may have a good point - a tourist camping out is carrying his kit regardless of how little or much it weighs. Where to draw the line of 'ultralite' versus trad?

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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
The sub-24 tours do meet my definition of touring, but I personally fail to see the attraction. It is kind of like camping in the back yard.
when your backyard is the cascade and olympic mountains and you can range 250 miles over a two day trip, there's a lot of appeal to weekend trips. not quite sub-24.

Sometimes I go 'ultralite' and just bring a tarp. And I carry an 'ultralite' alcohol stove. Yet I bring all four panniers for weight distribution and end up having 5 pounds in each bag. Is this ultralite touring? What if I go overboard and bring an extra sweater? I camped out under a tarp on this trip...
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Old 07-28-08, 08:17 AM   #15
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Clarenza,
Just my .25 cents worth.


I have read with interest the many questions that appear on this forum about touring. And I am amazed at the wide range of undertakings that fall into this Touring business. Many of the questions contain little information about what the questioner intends to do other than the use of a single term such as the ones that you have listed. Those terms give me little comfort that I have any idea of the actual intentions of the poster.
I would be the first to define myself as a beginner to this business, but after a couple of cross country tours I have met a lot of tourers of many different stripes. They use all kinds of bikes and equipment. And they use that wide variety of equipment in more ways than we can ever categorize.

When I see a question posted here about a touring bike, the first things I need to know are:
will it be used
a. on road or off road, and
b. supported/unsupported

With this information I can begin to visualize those bikes that would work.
When a question is posed concerning panniers/trailers I need to know things like how long the tour will be: The time thing is much more than multi day. I think in three terms:

c. Short term -- a week or less
d. long term -- two to six months (think cross country in the U.S.)
e. Really long term -- multi year, multi country stuff

And then we need to know what kind of stuff will be carried. The weather may be a factor here since a tour only in 80 degree weather will require much less clothing than a tour encountering cold weather. Camping gear (tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad) are the next big items that might be on the list. Cooking gear is another list of stuff that may make up the gear to be carried. And then there is food. How much to carry. I find that the terms in b. above begin to define these variables.

And then these terms would be helpful:

g. camping gear/no camping gear
h. cooking gear/no cooking gear
i. food/no food

I have met a lot of fellow tourers who were carrying camping and cooking gear but they seldom used that stuff. For a log time I did not understand its purpose. After crossing the U.S. with camping gear and without camping gear, I have decided that even if I donít use it much, the camping gear provides me a peace of mind each day knowing that I can stop at any point and get comfortable. I have also found that if you donít carry any food with you at all when touring long distances, you will end up getting hungry. I donít personally like to get bogged down with cooking stuff, but there is plenty of food available to carry along that does not require cooking.

I think that your terms ďmulti dayĒ and ďcredit cardĒ are almost useless in providing useful information about a specific tour. As I have noted already multi day doesnít begin to describe time frames in useful terms. I also believe that almost everyone who tours today carries a credit card with him/her. While this term appears all over the web it is mostly used to describe what the poster doesnít do, or doesnít think real tourers do. Whatever that means. It is not important to know the method of payment for food for instance, it IS useful to know if one plans on carrying cooking gear and/or food. It is not useful to know the method of payment for a campground, it is useful to know whether someone intends to carry camping equipment or not. As I have noted, I meet a lot of tourers that are carrying full camping/cooking equipment but staying in motels, hostels, B&B, etc on many nights.

Finally, if we think that we can provide a list of five terms and with those terms have any real idea what a tour means I think we are kidding ourselves. To provide useful answers to questions posted here we need to use a combination of terms. Think about any tour that you have read about on Crazy Guy and then try to describe it using only one of the five terms that are listed by the original poster. Canít do it because tours donít fit into five neat categories. We need at least eight as I see it and we need to use them in combination with each other.
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Old 07-28-08, 09:30 AM   #16
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I am definitely not knocking ultralight. It is a joy to ride a very lightly loaded bike and I can't imagine how folks who carry much over what I do manage. I just don't really see it as a full separate category.

Looking at your list It looks like a pretty normal list other than being very vigilant to pick light weight stuff, what is the total weight including bags?
Sure, I can see your point, it just bugs me sometimes to see folks laboring with heavy loads and sometimes I think its because the term "fully loaded" actually encourages overpacking.

My bike comes in at 25lbs with lights, racks etc and my bags and gear hover between 18 and 20lbs. Then I add 1 to 2lbs of food and 2L of water. When I roll out of the door I try to keep the total weight of everything (bike, bags, gear, food, water) below 50lbs. I don't actually consider this ultralight as I carry a single walled tent and not a tarp, a sleeping pad and not bubble wrap, and my bike could be lighter, I'd say its lightweight....., but now I'm being even more semantic about weight categories which I agree are rather arbitrary. I just want people to be aware that it's possible to be comfortable on an unsupported tour without 4 panniers of stuff. Here is some inspiration.

http://milly.org/rambouillet/
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Old 07-28-08, 10:49 AM   #17
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*The Following s just my interpretation/opinion of what I have observed from other posts, blogs, and websites. I have not toured yet (save for a "credit card" tour earlier this spring)*

Credit Card Touring= The tourer does not plan on camping or carrying their own food with them. Just enough tools to fix the bike quickly. They may or may not carry more tools/spares than what they would normally go on a ride with.

Self Supported= The tourer plans to take camping gear and/or food along. Typically, load outs appear to carry a few extra specialized tools (freewheel or freehub remover) and spares (spokes, spoke nipples, and tires/tubes) that they wouldn't normally cary on shorter rides or one day rides. Time frame can be 2 days to multiple years. Subsets consist of Ultralite (equipement is sub 20 lbs or so), Stealth tourering.

Expedition Touring= Same as credit card and self supported, except the vehicle of choice is a mountain bike or a hybrid, typically with flat bars or trekking bars (aka, butterfly bars). Important point is that the bike is not a typical road bike. Advantages over road bike can include more upright riding postures , hardware that is tougher, and possibly a cheaper bike that is just as strong or stronger. Importantly, it is easier to obtain a bicycle that has lower gearing than typical touring road frame for mountainous routes.

The following two are not categories, but rather they describe the conditions that the tourer will be in.

Road= The surface is usually assumbed to be smooth paved roads, but chipseal and badly maintained roads (lots of cracks).

Trail= the rider will need to clarify if it is a paved bicycle/pedestrian trail or a off-road trail Skinnier tires will do better on the paved surface, like a road bike. The single track rider will have to use much larger tires and will have to ensure that all hardware chosen is strong enough to handle the abuse it will recieve from the off-road conditions.

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Old 07-28-08, 11:46 AM   #18
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Sure, I can see your point, it just bugs me sometimes to see folks laboring with heavy loads and sometimes I think its because the term "fully loaded" actually encourages overpacking.
I understand your point and generally agree. That is why I prefer "self supported" to "fully loaded".

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My bike comes in at 25lbs with lights, racks etc and my bags and gear hover between 18 and 20lbs. Then I add 1 to 2lbs of food and 2L of water. When I roll out of the door I try to keep the total weight of everything (bike, bags, gear, food, water) below 50lbs. I don't actually consider this ultralight as I carry a single walled tent and not a tarp, a sleeping pad and not bubble wrap, and my bike could be lighter, I'd say its lightweight....., but now I'm being even more semantic about weight categories which I agree are rather arbitrary. I just want people to be aware that it's possible to be comfortable on an unsupported tour without 4 panniers of stuff. Here is some inspiration.

http://milly.org/rambouillet/
I carry a bit more and use panniers, but I consider your setup elegant. Unless in the flatlands would definitely find your setup more comfortable than the kitchen sink approach. To me taking 50 pounds of gear would be a trip killer and lugging all of that over the mountains would have me looking for a post office to send stuff home.
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Old 07-28-08, 03:13 PM   #19
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If you are an adventure cyclist I suppose you could go "adventure touring".

http://www.adventure-cycling-guide.co.uk/about.htm
http://www.adventurecycling.org/
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Old 07-29-08, 07:14 AM   #20
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Thanks for the input. Based on this, I reckon there are five categories that are useful and sufficiently different to warrant their own touring category. All of them can take place on various road surfaces so it doesn't make sense to me to differentiate on this basis. All can vary significantly in duration so I haven't included length of tour as a factor either. Nor the purpose of the tour (photography, adventure, etc). There doesn't seem to me to be enough difference between lightly loaded and ultralight to warrant a distinction there either. And a one day tour? Sounds like an oxymoron.

I wanted to summarise my thoughts in a table -- tough to do without html, so apologies for the clumsy appearance. Comments welcome.


. . . . . . . . clothing . .camping . . . cooking . . . . spares & tools . . food . . . . . . .comments
supported . . . average . . usually not . usually not . . minimal (+vehicle) snacks (+vehicle) accompanied by vehicle that carries most gear
credit card . . average . . no . . . . . .no . . . . . . .minimal . . . . . .snacks . . . . . .paid accommodation, food from eateries
lightly loaded .minimal . . compact . . . minimal . . . . some . . . . . . . minimal . . . . . weight conscious, low on luxuries
self-sufficient average . . average . . . well equipped . yes . . . . . . . .yes . . . . . . . typically single country & one or two seasons
expedition . . .all seasons often larger .better equipped yes . . . . . . . .yes . . . . . . . typically multi-country & four seasons
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Old 07-29-08, 06:34 PM   #21
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Would it be worth separating one-way tours from circle tours? This is not so much about the style of touring itself as about the mindset of the person, especially on longer tours.

It also may be useful to separate paved road touring from rough road or trail touring as the trails and back roads often get a cyclist farther from supplies than paved highways.

Another difference is between solo and group tours.

Last edited by Newspaperguy; 07-29-08 at 06:39 PM.
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Old 07-29-08, 06:51 PM   #22
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Loaded Touring?...is that where you cycle from bar to bar without camping gear and just pass out on the sidewalk each night?....

Stealth Loaded Touring would be the same as above, but you have the decency to pass out behind a hedge or dumpster?...
This is by far my favorite post.
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