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  1. #1
    Senior Member downtube42's Avatar
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    Giving a class our touring next week

    A buddy of mine did a tour in France last year and in Oregon this summer, and came back excited to share the experience. I've done maybe a dozen but nothing over a week. The two of us volunteered to give a touring class at the local library, which is always looking for content. We've put together a plan that goes something like this:

    What is touring
    Why tour
    Where to tour
    How far
    Equipment - bike
    Equipment - camping
    Food
    Overnight options
    Navigation
    Cost
    Safety

    We have photos mostly of our tours; we're going to run through this in 90 minutes. Our talk is going to focus on our personal experiences, with full disclosure that we're rookies. We'll have handouts with links to crazyguy and other sites, and detailed equipment lists etc.

    Seem like a reasonable plan?
    What is bicycle touring?
    "So I kept looking and eventually found that a spark plug had same threads. So I cycled next two days until I got to Jackson, MS with a spark plug instead of right pedal." - mev

  2. #2
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    You're going to cover all that in 90 minutes? Seems like a lot unless you're going to rattle through the topics briefly at high speed.


    What is cycletouring - travelling on a bicycle

    Why tour - for fun, to see stuff, to go somewhere, or to meet a goal

    Where to tour - wherever you want ... locally, elsewhere in your country, in another country

    How far - as far as you want (day tours, overnight tours, weekend tours, long weekend tours, week-long tours, longer tours, hub-and-spoke tours)

    Equipment - bike, tools, clothing (note that in many cases you can buy stuff along the way)

    Equipment - camping, tent, sleeping stuff (note that you don't have to camp to cycletour ... you can choose a hub-and-spoke option, or stay indoors in hostels, B&Bs, inns, hotels, etc.)

    Food - whatever you can find along the way, experiment with local cuisine

    Overnight options - hub-and-spoke, camping, staying indoors

    Navigation - good ol' paper maps found in tourist information centres, bookstores, sporting good stores, etc. Tourist information centres (found all over the place) are often a wealth of information about what to see and where to go. And google maps can help a bit

    Cost - depends what you want to do

    Safety - ride predictably, in a straight line



    Was that pretty much where you were heading with your plan?

  3. #3
    Bike touring webrarian
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    I think you will find covering 11 topics in 90 minutes too much. I'd pare it down to basics.

    What is touring
    Why would you do it
    How to do it
    Issues/fears

    While photos are good, I'd suggest bringing in a loaded touring bike and talk about things as you pull them off the bike/out of a pannier. That way, people get to see what you carry and why, which is most likely the thing they wonder about anyway.

    Be sure to leave time for questions.
    Visit the on-line Bike Touring Archive at www.biketouringtips.com

  4. #4
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by raybo View Post
    I
    While photos are good, I'd suggest bringing in a loaded touring bike and talk about things as you pull them off the bike/out of a pannier. That way, people get to see what you carry and why, which is most likely the thing they wonder about anyway.

    Be sure to leave time for questions.

    Good ideas!


    downtube, you and your friend probably have different ways of loading a bicycle for a tour, so you might each bring your own setups. There is no one right way to do it, so showing two different setups can help emphasize that.

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    I'm not sure what your plans are for incorporating CGOAB into your presentation, but note that Neil will be taking the site down next Wednesday (the 19th) for server maintenance.

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    I think your plan looks good and that you can cover it all. After all, I am sure the class is not meant to be exhaustive. I think that you can cover a lot of ground speaking about many of those topics for 5 minutes or so each, and maybe have time for some questions at the end. After all, "what is touring, why tour, over night options, how far" can be introduced to a good degree in a few minutes. Looks to me like you have given it some good thought and come up with the key things to discuss. Sounds like fun. I would plan to make the presentation covering all the topics and save the question/answer time until the end though. Otherwise you will be drawn into discussions that will definitely not allow you to cover all the material. Just my 2 cents.
    Be the person your dog thinks you are.
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    downtube42, Ninety minutes isn't very much time to cover everything as I'm sure you'll discover when practicing your presentation. I would imagine that most of those that attend are at least curious about the concept so I'd whittle down the 'why' and concentrate on the bike and the rider and the basics while being as generic as possible. Then during a Q&A period hit some of the finer points brought up by the more interested.

    Brad

  8. #8
    Senior Member downtube42's Avatar
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    We'll definitely both have our bikes and gear. What I hadn't decided was whether to have it packed, or have the gear spread out. I like the idea of starting out packed and actually unpacking during the presentation.

    As far as time, if we need to reduce content then some of those topics just become sentences. He's still working on his content, so we can't practice yet.

    The way I'm using photos is each photo is a talking point on one of the topics. I've thought about using a Pecha Kucha format (auto-advanced slides every 20 seconds) but that takes a bit more practice than I can afford.

    Thanks for the tips!
    What is bicycle touring?
    "So I kept looking and eventually found that a spark plug had same threads. So I cycled next two days until I got to Jackson, MS with a spark plug instead of right pedal." - mev

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    Quote Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
    What is touring
    Why tour
    Where to tour
    How far
    Equipment - bike
    Equipment - camping
    Food
    Overnight options
    Navigation
    Cost
    Safety
    I've yet to tour, but I've given a few "Introduction to..." presentations over the years, so obviously take this with a healthy dose of low sodium salt substitute.

    -"What" and "why" can be rolled into one fairly brief topic intro, along with your personal introductions.
    The fact that you are both fairly "new" to the subject can actually help, since there isn't the 'old timer' mystique attached. Also, since you have two distinct styles, one week 'vacation' touring vs overseas longer term, you automatically show there are several types of touring that folks can do. Let folks know how and why you got into bike touring.

    -"Where" and "How far/long" are, essentially, the same topic. Local weekend, state/regional, cross country or around the world. Should be able to cover this, with experiences, pretty quick.

    Both of those should be able to be covered in ~10-15min.

    Having your personals rigs there will be a great help, but since you can do a slideshow, look around here, get in touch with fellow forum members and ask to use their photos of their rigs. Old MTBs, dedicated tourers, improvised bikes, etc. Be sure to highlight that folks don't need a loaded LHT to do fun weekend get aways.

    This isn't an in depth course, so don't get wrapped around the axle on the gear section. Show some of your stuff, show photos you glean from BF. Again, ask some of the more experienced members here to send you photos of their gear, and pull (with permission) 'live action' pics, and run them in the slideshow.

    -Nav, safety, overnighting (which can be rolled into the 'camping' section) can be covered pretty quickly

    - With cashy money being tight, and the economy still rough, I'd also suggest putting together a slide comparing the cost of a bike tour (bikes, gear, food, camping, etc) to the average cost of a week at Disney, or a trip to the Grand Canyon, for example. Show that even though the initial outlay "may" be similar if someone is starting from zero, excepting consumables, the second tour is much cheaper since one already has the stuff. Run the comparison out for a few years. Show folks how much money they can save going this route.

    -Have a handout to give folks with contact info for LBSs, especially the touring friendly ones, the ACA, any local bike clubs or riding orgs, BF, etc. If you feel comfortable doing so, put in contact info for you and your friend, since y'all will likely be the first exposure these folks will have with cyclotouristas. You will, by default, become the experts for these people, and they'll have questions.

    This shouldn't be an in depth "how to". don't get bogged in the small stuff!. Use this as an opportunity to indroduce the idea of touring.

    "Why" is going to be much more important than "how".

    Leave plenty of time for Q&A.

    Sou nds like a cool opportunity! I'd like to come sit and take notes myself.
    Chris

    "I want to see the wild country again before I die, and the Mountains..."

  10. #10
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    Sorry for the double, but long posts on a tablet get burdensome.

    One thing that I've noticed with hobbyists giving presentations (myself included), is that they get tied up in the minutiae of gear and details, and quickly lose the audience. A broad overview, and letting the audience guide the rest of the discussion with questions and comments, I've found to be a much better, and easier, method of giving these little introductory talks. 60min of presentation, and 30min of Q&A is a pretty decent ratio IMHO.

    Lots of cool/pretty/exciting photos in the background can help spark interest much quicker than listening to somebody go on about the benefits of down vs synthetic sleeping bags.

    Personal experiences (stories from the road) go a lot farther in keeping folks tuned in than pulling a bunch of stuff out of panniers.

    This should be fun above and beyond all else, for you and your audience. Keep it light, and show the folks how much gratification they can get from cyclotouring.
    Chris

    "I want to see the wild country again before I die, and the Mountains..."

  11. #11
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    If you've got 90 minutes, you've got 90 minutes. If it was me, here's what I'd say:

    What is touring
    Bike touring has many variants. To me it's taking a multi-day trip by bicycle. (Though I'd also consider hub and spoke tours as bike touring.)
    • It could mean carrying all your stuff yourself. ("Self-Supported")
    • It could mean carrying very little, eating in restaurants, and staying in motels. ("Credit Card Touring")
    • It could mean camping and cooking in campgrounds, but with a support vehicle carrying all your gear except what you need during the day's ride. ("Supported".)



    Why tour
    Again, there are lots of variants, however, I think there are some commonalities.
    • For an achievement - like climbing a mountain "because it's there." You really feel like you're doing something worthy when you're bike touring.
    • Because riding a bike is fun, and touring by bike is fun.
    • Because it's a great way to see the countryside - a slow enough pace to be able to take in everything, and a feeling of being "in" the countryside, rather than viewing it through the window frame of your vehicle.
    • Because it's a very eco-friendly way to travel. Not only is your vehicle non-polluting and not a resource-guzzler, camping on a bike trip has a much lower impact on the environment of the campground. No asphalt pad needed, not so much space needed for vehicle parking.
    • It's good for your body. After a few days on a bike tour you'll start feeling proud of your fitness level, strong and powerful. (At least, that's how I feel. Maybe I'm deluding myself, but I think there's some validity.)
    • Because it's as good for your brain and mental well-being as it is for your body. You have a lot of time for meditative thought when you're riding, and you get into a different "head space" when you're on tour. You feel a bit like a different person. I get the same feeling after a few days into a backpacking trip. I think it's a good feeling. Often there's a feeling of mild depression when the tour is finally over and you re-enter "real life."
    • You meet some great people! I almost always meet up with some fellow tourers during the course of a trip. The majority of them are the kind of people I'm happy to meet. Many times we've fallen into an impromptu group and have toured together for extended periods. I've even scheduled a second trip together with someone I've met on the road.



    Where to tour
    I consider several things when I decide where to tour.
    • I like beautiful countryside.
    • I like quaint little towns with warm, welcoming cafes.
    • I consider whether to go someplace I've never toured, or to repeat a route I've done before and really enjoyed.
    • I look at services along the way - places to buy food for dinner at the end of the day, suitable camping, places with restaurants for second breakfast and lunch.
    • I consider the suitability of roads I'll be riding. Is there a shoulder? How much traffic? How much truck traffic?
    • I'll look at terrain. A route with one or more mountain passes is a different challenge than a tamer route. Sometimes I'm up for climbing a pass or two. Sometimes I like to enjoy a "zero-pass" route.
    • I'll even consider the liklihood of meeting other bike tourers. One of the best things about my two tours down the west coast was meeting so many great tourers along the way.

    I've used books and ACA maps when planning tours. I've also done it myself using road maps, Google Maps, and the internet. I really like ACA maps because a lot of planning and reconnoitering has been done and I trust the ACA to do a good job. Often I use ACA maps but plan some legs myself - sometimes connecting ACA routes.


    How far
    As far as you feel like. I've gone on several weekend trips around home - no more than 30 miles in a day. I've done the entire west coast and averaged 55 miles a day. Lots of people go quite a bit further in a day. Lots ride across the US.

    My caution on this topic would be to be careful about setting too lofty a goal when you have no experience. Many times on tour I've wished I hadn't planned such a lengthy tour. (However, when I've completed them I've felt in reflection that they were worth it - very much so! I like to be flexible on tour and have different places I can stop if I feel like it. Of course, logistics are a major consideration - how will you get yourself, your bike, and all your stuff back home?


    Equipment - bike
    You can tour on almost any bike, but there are reasons for getting a dedicated touring bike.
    • They're sturdy and designed for carrying a load. The handling is good with a big load. There are eyelets for racks. They have long chainstays to avoid heel-strike on your rear panniers.
    • They're usually geared low for carrying loads up mountain passes.
    • They're built extra sturdy to avoid breakdowns on tour - heavy duty wheels especially.
    • They usually have very strong brakes for stopping you and your big load.



    Equipment - camping
    If you're going to camp, get lightweight stuff. Take as little as possible, but also don't completely skimp on comfort. You want to enjoy your tour, right? You may have to cope with being little smelly, or doing things like washing your clothes in the shower with you.

    Food
    I do fully supported touring. I make my first breakfast in camp while I'm packing up - usually oatmeal or a bagel. I eat second breakfast in a cafe down the road. I eat lunch in a restaurant if possible, but I also carry peanut butter, jam, and bread in case there's no suitable place to stop. I usually cook my own dinner in camp, though I'll occasionally go to a restaurant if there's one handy.

    Overnight options
    I camp in campgrounds. If there's not one handy, or if it's pouring rain I'll stay in a motel. I don't stealth camp, but I will stop in a national forest and camp without being in a campground. I like hiker/biker sites. Lately I've been camping more in RV parks. They often have a quiet grassy area away from other campers, they always have showers, and they usually have a laundry room. Sometimes even a store with some basic food.

    Navigation
    As stated before, I like ACA maps, but also use other resources. I carry a gps, although it's often more useful for finding services than for following a route. I've entered routes into my gps and it has been very useful, but there always seems to be a glitch now and then. I use my gps, but like to have maps for backup.

    Cost
    The initial cost of a touring bike, camping gear, tools, etc. is a bit daunting - maybe $2,000, maybe more. I'm figuring $1200 for a bike. You can spend far more. However, that's cheap compared to the price of an RV. Traveling via airplanes, rental cars, and hotels can eat up that amount in no time. Once you've got your equipment the price of touring is mainly food, lodging, and some way to get to and from the tour. I usually take AMTRAK or drive. If you buy high-quality gear it should last decades, so you won't have to spend more money on "stuff" for quite awhile.

    Safety
    Picking a route is important - quiet roads with good shoulders. That's why I like ACA maps. They've done the groundwork to find suitable roads. You also need skills - how to ride in traffic, how to control your bike with a big load (not that tough - just takes a little practice), and how to make safe choices. For instance, in town I'll often take a lane. On a busy road on tour I'll usually just pull off the road when things are dicey and let the traffic pass me by. I've got plenty of time and it's not worth it to push my luck by blocking vehicles or relying on them to wait until they can pull around me safely.

  12. #12
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    Glad you're not giving the presentation BBT. With a $2,000 price tag on the cost of entry you would probably dissuade a lot of potential tourers. As has been mention many times on this forum, a touring bike is one you tour on. It can be any bike and absolutely does not have to be a $1200 bike. A person can make a pair of kitty litter bucket panniers for about $10 and tour with those. My point is that all options are on the table and one of the beautiful things about touring is that each can do it their own way. No one is judging anyone on style, coolness of gear, etc. If you are having a good time and getting from it what you want to or feel you need to, then you are touring correctly. One might tour ultra light. Another might tour ultra heavy. But if they are enjoying themselves is all that really matters.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member downtube42's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ciufalon View Post
    Glad you're not giving the presentation BBT. With a $2,000 price tag on the cost of entry you would probably dissuade a lot of potential tourers. As has been mention many times on this forum, a touring bike is one you tour on. It can be any bike and absolutely does not have to be a $1200 bike. A person can make a pair of kitty litter bucket panniers for about $10 and tour with those. My point is that all options are on the table and one of the beautiful things about touring is that each can do it their own way. No one is judging anyone on style, coolness of gear, etc. If you are having a good time and getting from it what you want to or feel you need to, then you are touring correctly. One might tour ultra light. Another might tour ultra heavy. But if they are enjoying themselves is all that really matters.
    The bike I'm bringing is a 40 year old Schwinn Continental with a rear rack and handlebar bag, and my buddy has a modern classic touring rig. One of my photos show me touring the C&O towpath on a MTB, another crossing the Ohio river bridge on a recumbent. He did couch surfing in Oregon and I've done supported tours. We've got a pretty wide range covered.
    What is bicycle touring?
    "So I kept looking and eventually found that a spark plug had same threads. So I cycled next two days until I got to Jackson, MS with a spark plug instead of right pedal." - mev

  14. #14
    mev
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    One thing I would add to some of the descriptions above is more of a takeaway of "how do I start" and a little less on the advanced how alternatives.

    Personal testimonial of what you did first can be helpful. Relaying some potential other examples such as going overnight to nearby start park/attraction or doing a semi-supported to nearby friend or even paying someone $ for supported tour or perhaps pointer to state ride, etc. If you have a few concrete examples local to your area and upcoming calendar - that might just plant the idea that someone can take from there... They will figure some of the additional how tradeoffs from there...

  15. #15
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    And one place to start is the "day tour" ... hop on the bicycle one nice Saturday morning with some rain gear and tools in a bag ... cycle to a tourist attraction, nice cafe, or in a pleasant scenic area, preferably somewhere you don't usually go ... stop for lunch somewhere ... and cycle home.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
    Seem like a reasonable plan?
    Sure does. Don't forget the sparkplug fix. Come back with how it went.
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

  17. #17
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ciufalon View Post
    Glad you're not giving the presentation BBT. With a $2,000 price tag on the cost of entry you would probably dissuade a lot of potential tourers. As has been mention many times on this forum, a touring bike is one you tour on. It can be any bike and absolutely does not have to be a $1200 bike. A person can make a pair of kitty litter bucket panniers for about $10 and tour with those. My point is that all options are on the table and one of the beautiful things about touring is that each can do it their own way. No one is judging anyone on style, coolness of gear, etc. If you are having a good time and getting from it what you want to or feel you need to, then you are touring correctly. One might tour ultra light. Another might tour ultra heavy. But if they are enjoying themselves is all that really matters.
    I agree completely. Earlier in my post I wrote "you can tour on almost any bike." My $2000 was trying to show that, even if you went for good-quality, durable stuff, it still wouldn't be that expensive compared to other modes of recreational travel. My first tours were on a 1971 Raleigh Gran Prix 10-speed. I sewed a set of panniers myself using pack cloth, and needle, and thread. I slung my sleeping bag between the curves of my handlebars with nylon string. My rack was a Pletscher from Fred Meyer. I carried an antique floor pump from a thrift store. The bike had rims that were always getting dented, and I broke spokes fairly regularly. I had some great tours on that old bike, but I'm sure glad I've moved beyond it. Now I have an LHT that's properly geared, Ortlieb panniers, Road Morph pump, etc. I have what I consider to be excellent stuff. And it's still inexpensive compared to other modes of recreational travel, especially if prorated over its expected service life.

  18. #18
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    I would also add that my personal preference is to tour with equipment that works well and doesn't break down. I have wonderful memories of my old Raleigh, but I wouldn't want to tour on it now. I know there are people who enjoy vintage equipment, and embrace the challenge of dealing any problems that might arise. I understand the pride of "yankee ingenuity" one can feel when making something like kitty litter boxes into panniers and taking them on a successful tour. I have no problem with any of that for other people. If that's what I had to do to go bike touring, I'd do it readily. But I've toured on rigs that had issues - poor handling, shimmy, lots of broken spokes, heel strike problems, insufficiently-low gearing to make it up a mountain pass. I prefer to try and find stuff that works well and doesn't break down. I can afford it, so why not. And I'm not wealthy, by any means, but $2000 is inexpensive, comparatively.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by raybo View Post
    While photos are good, I'd suggest bringing in a loaded touring bike and talk about things as you pull them off the bike/out of a pannier. That way, people get to see what you carry and why, which is most likely the thing they wonder about anyway.
    Another +1. I have always thought that's how I would do it if I ever did it. Maybe like I had just got done for the day and was setting up camp and preparing to cook. With two people, that could work well. One person could do the setting up while the other does most/more of the talking.

  20. #20
    mev
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigBlueToe View Post
    I would also add that my personal preference is to tour with equipment that works well and doesn't break down. I have wonderful memories of my old Raleigh, but I wouldn't want to tour on it now...
    I have similar preference. However, like many I started touring based first on what I had available (in my case a ten speed bicycle I had bought for $42.50 in a garage sale) and then adjust and upgrade as I went along. If when I started as a college student, the barrier to entry was an initial $2000 investment, I might not have gotten started. In the same way, depending on the intro class attendees I would customize the conversation depending on what folks already have. For example an initial step might be a conversation of why having a rack on the bicycle instead of backpack might be better - or the pro/con of bike shorts or gloves...

    So I'd think more in terms of what key essentials are useful to get started, what might be next on the equipment list and eventually what is particularly nice to have...along with perhaps answering the "why" question on those things. However, I would emphasize that I had accumulated these things over many years of touring and point out that you can add to your equipment as you gain experience.

  21. #21
    Senior Member downtube42's Avatar
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    Here's a link to our presentation, it should be visible to anyone with a link. Be kind.

    Tomorrow's the day. Should be fun.

    https://docs.google.com/presentation...QhlcbGZjo/edit
    What is bicycle touring?
    "So I kept looking and eventually found that a spark plug had same threads. So I cycled next two days until I got to Jackson, MS with a spark plug instead of right pedal." - mev

  22. #22
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    Wow. Pro presentation no less. Hope you get a bunch of interest.

    Don't forget to mention the sparkplug fix. One never knows.
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

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    One thing I always do is ask some questions of the class before I start. Sometimes the people who show up only want to hear, say, travel stories, or maybe they are really into the gear. In most cases you will probably find there is enough diversity that you are back to your lesson plan, but at least everyone knows why you are covering some topics they may not have an interest in.

    The other thing people want is hands on. With cycling this creates difficulties because of liability and fit etc... You may not be able to have people ride a bike. But anything you can think of where they get to try something, like setting up a tent, etc... goes a long way.

    Most "normal" people have a lot of resistance to various aspects of touring. "danger" of cycling, scruffiness, sleeping goodness knows where, bad weather, and general uncertainty. So anything you can do to relax them, will really help.

  24. #24
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    A few comments on the presentation ...

    1. Some tours can be multi-modal. In other words, a cycletourist might fly to one spot (like the UK for example), then cycle a bit, then catch a ferry across to mainland Europe, then cycle for a while, then catch a train to another part of Europe, then cycle some more, etc.

    2. Regarding food ... one of the best parts of a cycling tour is trying out local foods. For example, the patisseries in France have a wonderful selection of delicious pastries and cakes etc. French grocery stores also often have a huge selection of cheese. In Germany, I couldn't pass up the ice creams. Mmmmm!!!!

    3. Regarding places to sleep ... (and you may be covering this when you go into detail on each point) ... there's camping and hotels, as you've mentioned, but there are also B&Bs (you'll find lots of lovely ones in places like Scotland), inns over pubs in places like England & Scotland, friends and relatives places (for example, a nice first tour might be to cycle to your favourite aunt's place, stay overnight, and cycle home), and hostels. Look up Hostelling International. Some countries are a bit light on the hostels, others are thick with them ... but most aren't just for youth anymore.

    This sort of information might answer the concerns MassiveD mentions about scruffiness, sleeping goodness knows where, etc. If the first tour is cycling to your favourite aunt's place and back, chances are your aunt will have a shower you can use, and will provide you with a place to sleep.


    (You might be planning to go into this sort of detail anyway.)

  25. #25
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    You might also read over the thread about how we got into cycletouring (How did you start touring) to get some ideas about how various ones of us have gotten into the cycletouring thing. That sort of information may help during the question and answer time.


    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...-start-touring

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