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Self Contained Touring

Old 02-07-17, 08:47 PM
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Self Contained Touring

Yes, I know there is a touring forum, but I wonder if many 50+ riders go on self contained tour rides. I have not tried a cross country tour, but I really enjoy 3 day to a week long tour ride. Camping, cooking, sleeping in a tent and riding days in a row. I have a Surly Long Haul Trucker for these events and it serves well. Any other 50+ riders enjoying this type of cycling? (I do have a trike set up for tour riding, but have not taken it on a tour, yet).
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Old 02-07-17, 10:58 PM
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My wife an I did a solo tandem tour of the Czech Republic a few years ago. I was 67 and my wife was 63. It was wonderful. We camped about 2/3 of the time. The year before we did a tour of the Redwoods. We've also done supported tours, but the solo unsupported ones are by far the most memorable.
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Old 02-07-17, 11:07 PM
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I'm a self-guided bike tour guy. On my own for the day, nice shower and comfy bed at night. The Mani Peninsula in Greece, Czech Republic, and CA coast from Santa Cruz back to my home in So Cal are the ones I've done so far. Contemplating a Reno back to home bike tour later this year.
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Old 02-07-17, 11:13 PM
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I've always been a self-supported tour guy, going all the way back 50 years. Solo tours of more than a few days were rare for me, but longer (up to 30 days+) with a friend or two were the norm.

These days, I tour almost entirely solo, and don't plan to stop until mother nature stops me.
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Old 02-07-17, 11:48 PM
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I like touring a lot. I started in the early 80s and I've toured on and off since. I've toured large parts of Europe but at this point I want to explore more of the US. Plane flights just aren't any fun anymore.

I did the Northern Tier in '97 and I'd like to do the Trans America route one of these days. I can't believe how much lighter gear has become. Touring bikes haven't gotten light years better than when I started but the gear has really improved. I probably own too many tents, cooksets, and sleeping bags.

I ride mainly C&V stuff but I picked up a lightly used 2016 fuji touring recently. It rides well and it's very nicely spec'd. I've also been thinking of picking up a touring bike to do more adventurous stuff on gravel roads like a salsa fargo or a velo orange piolet or a surly troll.

I also like doing the week long trips. They're not self contained obviously but they're fun. I may combine the two next summer by riding to the start of one of the week long tours and then riding back home. They're are at least 5 or so of those rides I can do here in the midwest that are right around 300 miles from where I live.

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Old 02-08-17, 05:21 AM
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I have done a few, the longest being a week. I love the concept of the bike overnight, load up, ride a few hours or more, camp, come back home the next day. Looking forward to retirement when I hope to do a cross country tour. I go solo or with a small group of friends.
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Old 02-08-17, 06:02 AM
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Good to see there are other tour riders in this group, and from all over the nation. One quick observation. When I am with a touring group, normally less than 10, and we stop in a state, federal, city, or whatever campsite the other campers say hello and go on. When I am solo and put up my tent I have people coming over inviting me to dine at their camp (usually a motor home or large trailer) and want to discuss my trip. I eat well, but take most of my camp food home with me.
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Old 02-08-17, 06:23 AM
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Sorry, self supported for more than 1 night is too slow for me; but maybe, if the landscape were flat. I appreciate van support so as not to carry the 'nice-ities' to make the journey more enjoyable. Primarily, better food and sleeping. [I do enjoy multi-night wilderness backpacking]

As a younger man, hotel and credit card touring with 2 other friends was good in California.

At 60, I did cross Washington - Neah Bay (western Olympic Peninsula) to Spokane with the family van for support, and a generous daughter.
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Old 02-08-17, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by BikeArkansas
Yes, I know there is a touring forum, but I wonder if many 50+ riders go on self contained tour rides. I have not tried a cross country tour, but I really enjoy 3 day to a week long tour ride.Camping, cooking, sleeping in a tent and riding days in a row. I have a Surly Long Haul Trucker for these events and it serves well. Any other 50+ riders enjoying this type of cycling?...
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston
…In Ann Arbor MI in the 70’s I really realized the utility of bicycles for commuting, and began touring on a five-speed Schwinn Suburban, but soon bought a Mercier as did my girlfriend, later my wife. We toured in Michigan and Ontario.

In 1977 we moved to Boston on our bikes, as a bicycling honeymoon from Los Angeles to Washington, DC and then took the train up to Boston. We have toured in New England and the Maritime Provinces, and one trip to the Delmarva peninsula.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston
… So while this [time now] is my pinnacle of bike ownership, I started out in 1972 as a poor college student on a $90 Schwinn five-speed Suburban with wire baskets that on my very first weekend tour imbued me with alove of cycling that has been my lifestyle since….
Unfortunately my last tour, a three-day solo with motel/friend stayovers, was in 1986. Family circumstances currently prevent tours, and my wife has not ridden distances in years, though perhaps the situation is now less encumbering.

FYA, there was a thread on the Fifty-Plus Forum in 2013, “What do you find hardest about cycle touring now we aint spring chickens any more”? I posted,
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston
My earliest cycling activities back in the 70s and 80s, were cycle-touring with my girlfriend-then-wife, including a honeymoon cross-country tour. Since then, I've been strictly a cycle-commuter, and sport road cyclist,mainly due to work and family lifestyle. Last year, I avidly read the posts on BF about a perimeter tour of Lake Ontario, and I experienced some surprising mental discomfort that struck me as a sign of getting older.

While I would still enjoy riding about 50 miles a day for an extended trip, the thought of the uncertainty of finding a place to stay for the night was unsettling. (Our previous tours were all self-supported and self-guided. If I/we were to resume touring, it would at least be a credit card style, if not an organized tour.) On that honeymoon though, finding a place to stay was a memorable part of the adventure…I guess 30 years of a stable, predictable cycle-commuting lifestyle erodes that exhilaration of the uncertainty.
Some other frequent complaints on that thread were finding the time, getting in shape, sleeping on the ground, and…
What killed it for me, besides the normal hassles of camping, was having to get up, get semi-dressed, and stumble out of the tent at 2AM trying to find the porta-john because I had to pee….[]

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Old 02-08-17, 09:50 AM
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After a ~25yr hiatus, I restarted short bicycle touring again... although in what appears to be a rather unique niche. I'm pairing UL backpacking gear with a Brompton bicycle for an ultra-compact bicycle touring rig about the equivalent of a standard 2-item wheeled-carry-on traveler.

I'm into the spontaneous versatility of it - with my own transportation/room & board, few plans, and no reservations, I can wait for nice weather and just go, often riding out my door (near an Amtrak hub). The ability to utilize any form of public transport and take everything inside with me (hotels, restaurants, stores, museums, etc) has resolved most of the reasons I quit touring decades ago - primarily equipment theft/damage and having to ride through dangerous traffic/boring sections/nasty weather.

UL camping gear is so good (& comfortable) these days, it's hardly a bother to bring an extra 5lbs/10L of camping gear along to turn a planned day trip into an overnighter or two. I'm also really enjoying the mix of civilized sights and flavors by day, and seclusion of nature and wild camping by night - sort of as an ideal mix of backpacking and vehicular road touring.

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Old 02-08-17, 10:10 AM
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Regrettably, no. I've always liked the idea of self-contained touring. But about the closest I get to that is credit card/Kwik-E-Mart touring. Gotta try it for real one of these days.
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Old 02-08-17, 10:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Biker395
Regrettably, no. I've always liked the idea of self-contained touring. But about the closest I get to that is credit card/Kwik-E-Mart touring. Gotta try it for real one of these days.
but you kick butt on the double centuries, Biker395!

I would like to do some touring after I retire
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Old 02-08-17, 07:26 PM
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I rode 500+ self contained miles in Alaska last summer (about 120 on gravel roads). It was great, except for my riding companions. The mosquitoes were more pleasant. Riding the Natchez Trace (450 miles) two years ago was great, and my companions were the best imaginable. I want to do more, longer tours, but I lost my pet sitter.

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Old 02-08-17, 08:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Wildwood
Sorry, self supported for more than 1 night is too slow for me; but maybe, if the landscape were flat. I appreciate van support so as not to carry the 'nice-ities' to make the journey more enjoyable. Primarily, better food and sleeping. [I do enjoy multi-night wilderness backpacking]

As a younger man, hotel and credit card touring with 2 other friends was good in California.

At 60, I did cross Washington - Neah Bay (western Olympic Peninsula) to Spokane with the family van for support, and a generous daughter.
Another backpacking couple here. It's now not hard to get everything on the bike down to 25 lbs. So total bike + gear of 45 lbs. That's not bad, really. Bigger cassette. My wife and I tour with a total of 44 lbs. over the bare tandem weight, so 80 lbs. between the two of us. We can toddle right along, and have relatively luxurious accommodations compared to what was available years ago.
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Old 02-08-17, 11:52 PM
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Yes, and we don't know of a more enjoyable way to travel!

My wife and I have toured self contained for a total of 16 months , covering 18,000 miles, in the last 10 years. We have toured through 11 countries, on tours ranging from 6 weeks to 3 months long. Combining bike touring with photography is what we love to do. However, what we really love doing is the annual "Girls Tour" with our 2 daughters. For the last 5 years we have been fortunate enough to also do a week to 10 day tour with our daughters. They both ride LHTs


Our rides include riding across the U.S. from Newport, OR to Boston, MA on highway 20, and riding north to south from Lund, BC to Mexico. While most of our long rides were done after retiring, we rode across the U.S. when we were still working. I was 64 and my wife was in her mid-fifties at the time.

We just finished our ride from Vancouver, BC to Winnipeg, MB last summer. We hope we can finish our ride across Canada from Winnipeg to Halifax next summer.




We did 2 European tours, one 3 months, and the other 2 months. We rode through Denmark, Germany(twice), The Netherlands (twice), Belgium (twice), Poland, Czech Republic, Switzerland, France, Spain, and Portugal.

Sure, there is an element of bragging in this post, but my main points are: age should not be an excuse for not going on extended tours, and not to believe you are too old to do extended tours. Heck, How many times does someone ask, "Any other 50+ riders enjoying this type of cycling?"

A word of caution— bike touring is addictive!!!

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Old 02-09-17, 07:17 AM
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You know how you go back after many decades to things you visited in your youth and they're a lot smaller than your memories?

Yeah. That doesn't work with climbs.
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Old 02-09-17, 08:11 AM
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I'm envious. I have dreamed of touring since 1974.
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Old 02-09-17, 09:34 AM
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Done some self supported road touring. This year I have signed up to ride with a group doing an unsupported tour over 3 days in a national forests riding gravel and dirt roads. Bought an ECR to do some trail trips. Planning a two day kayak/bike trip for June. Making it easy by kayaking several miles, pull out and have my wife take the kayak while I continue by bike to a distant town to camp. In the morning bike to a kayak rental shop and get shuttled to the start point and kayak 6 hours back to the shop where I'll hop back on the bike and ride home.
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Old 02-09-17, 11:59 AM
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I try to get out on a 7-10 day self-contained tour every 2-3 years and enjoy them immensely. I generally do them with 1 or 2 friends and haven't tried anything beyond simple overnight trips as a solo rider.

I've fueled my life long dream of doing a major cross country tour by constantly tweaking my C&V touring bikes and upgrading my gear in preparation. I'm about 3 years from retirement and hope to make use of them in the window I'll have left between that and infirmity :-)

My wife doesn't ride so my big limiting factor is convincing her that me going solo on a trip is a good idea :-) Maybe she will get sick of me after retirement and be glad to see me go once in a while. @bikemig - there is overlap in the radius we travel for mid-western rides so it would be nice to meet up with you on one at some point.

In terms of vacations in my mind it is tough to beat bike touring.
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Old 02-09-17, 12:36 PM
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Originally Posted by badger_biker
I try to get out on a 7-10 day self-contained tour every 2-3 years and enjoy them immensely. I generally do them with 1 or 2 friends and haven't tried anything beyond simple overnight trips as a solo rider.

I've fueled my life long dream of doing a major cross country tour by constantly tweaking my C&V touring bikes and upgrading my gear in preparation. I'm about 3 years from retirement and hope to make use of them in the window I'll have left between that and infirmity :-)

My wife doesn't ride so my big limiting factor is convincing her that me going solo on a trip is a good idea :-) Maybe she will get sick of me after retirement and be glad to see me go once in a while. @bikemig - there is overlap in the radius we travel for mid-western rides so it would be nice to meet up with you on one at some point.

In terms of vacations in my mind it is tough to beat bike touring.
I'll send you a PM. There's great touring in both WI and MN.
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Old 02-09-17, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by DeadGrandpa
I rode 500+ self contained miles in Alaska last summer (about 120 on gravel roads). It was great, except for my riding companions. The mosquitoes were more pleasant. Riding the Natchez Trace (450 miles) two years ago was great, and my companions were the best imaginable. I want to do more, longer tours, but I lost my pet sitter.


This is a great post.
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Old 02-10-17, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by tcs
You know how you go back after many decades to things you visited in your youth and they're a lot smaller than your memories?

Yeah. That doesn't work with climbs.


I really enjoyed self-contained touring -- both the camping and motel variety -- back in my motorcycling days from about 1970 - 2000. Crisscrossed the country solo or with friends many times. On bicycles I never got back into real touring, but did miss the feeling of the open road, riding in the wind (could do without the wind part these days!) on new-to-me roads for more than a single day, so have been doing paid-type group tours for a number of years now. These are all trips where the tour operator carries your gear, makes the hotel/B&B reservations, etc. Last year I did the GAP-C&O ride from New Boston, PA to Washington D.C. on my trail bike and this year it will be Cleveland to Cincinnati on my new road bike.

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Old 02-10-17, 02:54 PM
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Yes. I usually take one ~10-11 day tour, one week long tour and a couple of three or four day tours every year. Most recently, I have toured in Montana three times and the Black Hills once. I have also taken two trips across PA to my home in Philly. Last September I took Amtrak up to Brattleboro, VT and rode home.


Planning to go back to Montana in June to ride there and in Idaho:


https://ridewithgps.com/routes/18316675

During my mid 30s I took nearly two years off from the working world and took three extended trips, including a nearly four month cross country+ tour and a seven week tour of Andalucía, Spain. Total mileage was about 10,000.

From my Montana tour last year:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/105349...57667672266654

I truly love sleeping in a tent, and I am darn good camp chef. Penne with house-made chorizo, zucchini, shallots and fresh garlic at the Westhampton, MA KOA.
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Old 02-10-17, 06:55 PM
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Hello guys. I turned 70 last month. To celebrate, I'm going on a 4 day, self supported trip. All in 2 local counties, staying at private and KOA camp grounds. Total mileage for the trip will be about 75 mi. I plan on carrying breakfast and lunch food. My wife will visit me at each stop, and take me to dinner, probably a diner. I will have backup dinner food, if she can't make it.

The food I will carry will be freeze dried. All of the camp grounds will have electricity, but one. So charging my electronic toys, not a problem. I may use a solar panel, not sure yet.

I did a lot of bike touring back in my younger days. But I did keep all my panniers and even the bike, which I just restored. As far as gear goes, only need to get a sleeping bag and tent.

So I'm really getting excited to hit the road. Big difference between my old touring days and current, all the electronic gadgets. KB
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Old 02-10-17, 07:12 PM
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Originally Posted by DeadGrandpa
...except for my riding companions. The mosquitoes were more pleasant.
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