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Old 01-17-09, 04:00 AM   #1
Gotte
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Your first tour - great or terrible?

I always figured that your first tour should be really memorable, defining in its way. Mine was. i still look back at it with fondness.
How about yours? Where was it and how did it go? Are you smiling now thinking about it?
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Old 01-17-09, 04:06 AM   #2
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Memorable. One of life's highlights.
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Old 01-17-09, 05:21 AM   #3
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The first one I'd describe as overnight tour was ~135 miles from Boston to tip of Cape Cod. It was memorable, though mostly because I had faulty brakes and went over the handlebars ~10 miles from the start and was headstrong enough to continue the rest of the trip despite a painful nasty gash on my back. It is the sort of adventure that is sometimes better looking back on than living in the moment. From there it had been a progression of trips with increased length and time.

Though hardly a first tour, my first transcontinental trip nine years later also held a special memorable place and influenced my outlook on life and approach to cycle touring. It was a more aggressive trip than I would do now (3475 miles from Astoria, Oregon to Boston in five weeks). However, it got myself completely in the flow of living as a cycle tourist and focus during the trip. It was a time of transition in my life with multiple high-stress events happening that year and spending some long hours on the bike gave me a chance to reflect and work things through and develop a better understanding of who I was and what was important to me.

That first trans-continental trip influenced me in living a bit more simply and also in working towards a longer extended multi-month cycle trip which I've been fortunate to do every 4-5 years after that.
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Old 01-17-09, 05:38 AM   #4
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First tour....
Fun? yes.
Learning experience? yes.
Glorious? yes.
Miserable? yes.
Painful? yes.
Memorable? most definitely.
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Old 01-17-09, 06:38 AM   #5
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It was a great experiance and one that I'll never forget. I never thought that riding a bicycle 3000kms across Europe would be so much fun. I can trully say that it changed my life in a way.
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Old 01-17-09, 09:07 AM   #6
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I always figured that your first tour should be really memorable, defining in its way. Mine was. i still look back at it with fondness.
How about yours? Where was it and how did it go? Are you smiling now thinking about it?
I remember my first tour in October 2007. It was both delightful and miserable. I was riding with a friend who planned the tour. However, it soon came out he was incapable of reading either a cue sheet or a street map. At one point he led us into a salt marsh. Another he tried to lead us back to the hotel we had just left. My favorite moment was watching him read a street map upside down. Good times, good times.
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Old 01-17-09, 09:37 AM   #7
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First tour was just as memorable as the last. Every tour has it's own personality. It will time to stop if they ever start running together or become boring.

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Old 01-17-09, 09:41 AM   #8
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[QUOTE=wahoonc;8198454]First tour was just as memorable as the last. Every tour has it's own personality. It will time to stop if they ever start running together or become boring.

Aaron[/QUOTE

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Old 01-17-09, 11:46 AM   #9
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My first tour was down the famed "Elroy-Sparta" trail.
Calling that route "bike touring" is like calling "add water and stir" cooking.
Nevertheless, that was the experience that got me completely hooked.
I recall those painful 20 mile days with great fondness..
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Old 01-17-09, 11:48 AM   #10
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I don't know of too many people who attempt a 2nd tour if the 1st was terrible.

I had a great time on my first tour, one really bad day (attacked by a dog), but extremely memorable. I have done two tours sense, they only seem to get better with time and experience.
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Old 01-17-09, 11:52 AM   #11
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First was 350 miles, 5 days. Crazy amounts of climbing but the pain is long forgotten. Lots of mechanical problems, but I was on an old, untested, not-entirely-worthy bike and I've upgraded. I daydream about this year's tour, which should be about 1500 miles and about a month long.
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Old 01-17-09, 11:52 AM   #12
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However, it soon came out he was incapable of reading either a cue sheet or a street map.

Had to check, you said "he". Thought you were talking about my wife.
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Old 01-17-09, 01:25 PM   #13
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It was one of the best experience of my life, if not the best. It was also full of difficulty, trials, and challenges.
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Old 01-17-09, 01:33 PM   #14
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My first tour was great, super easy. No accidents, breakdowns, or bad weather.

It was a credit card tour; a friend of mine and I took fairly light road bikes, strapped on racks, and carried enough stuff to get us from town to town. We usually were done "traveling" by 2 p.m. or so each day; we would ditch our stuff in the motel and take our bikes out for more riding.

We had no big destination to get to - we were just out to get some miles in.

If all you are doing is waking up the morning, throwing your leg over a bike and then riding (no job, no distractions, no camp to put up) you can rack up a lot of miles....
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Old 01-17-09, 03:43 PM   #15
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1300kms of wind, rain, snow and cold northern temps with a few blazing hot days thrown in.
The three of us were 16 and 17 years old. We fought, laughed, conspired and as it turns out it was the most memorable trip any of us ever had to this day.
This was a full tour, unsupported except for the few bucks we had in our pockets...

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Old 01-18-09, 12:16 PM   #16
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Mine was in college - about 75 miles from Bellingham, Washington to Golden Ears Provincial Park, B. C. I had primitive equipment, an old 10-speed Raleigh with a saddle that was torturous, and no money. I rode up in two days, stayed 4 days by the lake, and rode home in one. I was planning on riding home in two days as well, but was having so much fun that I waited until the last possible moment to come home. I was playing in a band at the time. Our first set was "dinner music". I sat on a barstool and almost fell asleep (and off my stool) during "My Funny Valentine." I was pooped but happy. It was a glorious trip and I was hooked!
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Old 01-18-09, 01:23 PM   #17
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1987 England and Scotland

I was expecting endless days of sunshine and soft breezes. It rained, and I mean RAINED, 21 out of 25 days. I melted down first, and my fiance, now wife, spent the early part of the trip cheering me up. Then I slipped into survival mode. My wife then melted down and I had to try and keep her spirits up. Then she went into survival mode. By the end of the trip each day was grim struggle against the elements. Oddly, that's when the trip was at its best. We had no great expectations, and took pleasure in doing battle against the rain and wind.

My favorite memory is of the fifty miles from Fort William to Oban into a stiff, rainy headwind. The castles we passed along the way looked properly spooky in that weather, and the innkeeper in Oban was kind enough to be impressed that we'd ventured out that day.

While I look back fondly on that trip from the comfort of my living room on a snowy day, it put us off bike touring of any sort for ten years.

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Old 01-19-09, 11:20 AM   #18
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My first tour was memorable because of my touring partner, who drove me crazy. I laugh about it now.
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Old 01-19-09, 12:27 PM   #19
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C'mon Speedo, it was probably just a slight Scottish Highlands Drizzle, that's all.....

Seriously, touring through the rain is not my idea of fun. With the exception of a disasterous Nova Scotia tour (that was considerably brightened by my then new found friend, Alexander Keith), I've been very fortunate with the weather.

My first tour was down on Cape Cod, but it really was just a dry run of a Europe tour. It was decidedly uneventful, and to be honest, not very memorable, apart from I knew I enjoyed it!



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1987 England and Scotland

I was expecting endless days of sunshine and soft breezes. It rained, and I mean RAINED, 21 out of 25 days. I melted down first, and my fiance, now wife, spent the early part of the trip cheering me up. Then I slipped into survival mode. My wife then melted down and I had to try and keep her spirits up. Then she went into survival mode. By the end of the trip each day was grim struggle against the elements. Oddly, that's when the trip was at its best. We had no great expectations, and took pleasure in doing battle against the rain and wind.

My favorite memory is of the fifty miles from Fort William to Oban into a stiff, rainy headwind. The castles we passed along the way looked properly spooky in that weather, and the innkeeper in Oban was kind enough to be impressed that we'd ventured out that day.

While I look back fondly on that trip from the comfort of my living room on a snowy day, it put us off bike touring of any sort for ten years.

Speedo
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Old 01-21-09, 10:13 AM   #20
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Belfast to Galway to Dublin on a bike that cost (and just about weighed) forty pounds-- some 20 year old 10 speed from a street makrket in Belfast. Cheap yel
low nylon over-the rack pannier. Slept in my little tent on farmland and the rocky shore of one of the Aran islands. What an incredible trip.

I had to walk up every hill on the way out of NI, but made pretty good time overall. 3 days to Galway, a day and a half to Dublin.

I had no camera, only a sketch pad, some charcoal and watercolors. I should scan some of that into a computer and post it sometime.

Other than MS-150's I did as a kid, I haven't had the chance to do another big tour.

Can't wait until the kids are old enough!
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Old 01-21-09, 01:00 PM   #21
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Belfast to Galway to Dublin on a bike that cost (and just about weighed) forty pounds-- some 20 year old 10 speed from a street makrket in Belfast. Cheap yel
low nylon over-the rack pannier. Slept in my little tent on farmland and the rocky shore of one of the Aran islands. What an incredible trip.

I had to walk up every hill on the way out of NI, but made pretty good time overall. 3 days to Galway, a day and a half to Dublin.
Spent 7 weeks in Ireland, Wales, Scotland a few years ago. It was unguided and self-supported. Contacted the Irish Tourist board and they sent me some info. Found a book called 'Cycle Touring Ireland' by Brendan Walsh. He had a recommended 'Grand Tour' that I adapted to my own route.

My wife and I are planning to do another one within a couple of years. This time we'll go counter-clockwise and NOT take Swords Road into Dublin...not recommended. We'll go from hostel to hostel as they're all to a certain standard of accomodation. There's the Independent Holiday Hostels group sponsored by Guiness that are very good. Dormitory style bunkbeds and fully equipped kitchens. The great thing is that one can book an entire tour in advance and you'll be guaranteed a bed. We're going for at least one month...anything shorter is a waste of time. It takes a few days to get into a 'groove' as any experienced tourer will know.

It was a life changing experience. The adversity I encountered toughened me into a 'touring cyclist' and I learned how much I could actually do without. As soon as I got off the plane in New York I wanted to turn around and fly back thinking, "Man, I've learned so much. This time I'll do it RIGHT!"

Overall, it was a great experience w/alot of terrible and exhilarating moments interwoven. The biggest thing I learned is that good quality equipment and a good quality diet are WAY more important than anything else. Believe me, when my wife and I go every variable in terms of equipment failure will be covered. The biggest preparation will be in pre-tour conditioning. Can't stress THAT enough. I know how to build and true my own wheels now. A skill I didn't have then. I'm a more complete mechanic whereas before I was a 'rider' w/o many mechanical skills. THAT'S really important as well.
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Old 01-22-09, 04:48 AM   #22
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Hi,

I had 3 first times - all memorable.

The first first was a day trip. Two friends of mine and I told our parents that we cycle to the public swimming pool. But we cycle to lake 50 km away from home. In total we cycled 100 km without parents. I was 10 years old.

The second first was a several days trip with my father than I was 13. It was only cycling (no sight seeing) and I continued with style until I was 18. 200 km was an lower average on these kind of tours

The third first was my trip to Morrocco 1996 (I was 24). I would call it "Modern Bike Tour". A lot of sight seeing with an average of 70-80 km per day.

All first tours lighted the fire and it's still burning... and to be honest all other tours (>20) are also memorable.

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Old 01-23-09, 02:06 AM   #23
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Mine was in college - about 75 miles from Bellingham, Washington to Golden Ears Provincial Park, B. C. I had primitive equipment, an old 10-speed Raleigh with a saddle that was torturous, and no money. I rode up in two days, stayed 4 days by the lake, and rode home in one. I was planning on riding home in two days as well, but was having so much fun that I waited until the last possible moment to come home. I was playing in a band at the time. Our first set was "dinner music". I sat on a barstool and almost fell asleep (and off my stool) during "My Funny Valentine." I was pooped but happy. It was a glorious trip and I was hooked!
Interesting! My first camping trip was to Alouette Lake, my first summer in Canada, 1965. I returned many times to Golden Ears Park over the years and climbed the main summits in all seasons. I rode there by bike many times, while living in Vancouver and suburbs.

My first big trip in Canada was in 1972, across to Banff, Alberta with a friend. Awesome trip, despite knee problems, due to high gearing and furious pace. Kids!

My first day tour though was in 1964, in UK, at age 12. I describe it in part of this story.
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Old 01-23-09, 07:46 AM   #24
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I remember my first tour in October 2007. It was both delightful and miserable. I was riding with a friend who planned the tour. However, it soon came out he was incapable of reading either a cue sheet or a street map. At one point he led us into a salt marsh. Another he tried to lead us back to the hotel we had just left. My favorite moment was watching him read a street map upside down. Good times, good times.
That was me, and that's my cue. That tour was my first as well, and truly an experience in how not to tour.

Don't:
  • Assume that parks will have proper roads all the way through
  • Utility roads are not always well-kept or, indeed, proper roads at all
  • Depend on a cheap plastic compass

Do:
  • Get a flat in a hotel room, if you must get one - it's much easier to change it indoors
  • Have proper road maps
  • Reroute without a second thought when the road is impassable, stubbornness doesn't help anyone

Neil, wasn't that the tour where we ended up using a sidewalk for a few hundred feet to cross route 18 in East Brunswick?

I also learned to study the route ahead of time, but not to the point of obsession. I'm better with directions now, but not so much that I didn't pick up a GPS.
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Old 01-23-09, 08:07 AM   #25
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That was me, and that's my cue. That tour was my first as well, and truly an experience in how not to tour.

Don't:
  • Assume that parks will have proper roads all the way through
  • Utility roads are not always well-kept or, indeed, proper roads at all
  • Depend on a cheap plastic compass

Do:
  • Get a flat in a hotel room, if you must get one - it's much easier to change it indoors
  • Have proper road maps
  • Reroute without a second thought when the road is impassable, stubbornness doesn't help anyone

Neil, wasn't that the tour where we ended up using a sidewalk for a few hundred feet to cross route 18 in East Brunswick?

I also learned to study the route ahead of time, but not to the point of obsession. I'm better with directions now, but not so much that I didn't pick up a GPS.
That might have been. We were in East/West/North/South Brunswick so often it's hard to recall.

That's the tour I slipped off my bike at one point on the last day. I was probably dehydrated. I hydrate much more frequently on tours now.

Your sense of direction and map-reading skills improved a great deal, as I told you on later tours and day rides. I remember sending your Princeton day ride route to Bicycle Club of Philadelphia to add to their ride library.
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