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What set you off and started you touring?

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What set you off and started you touring?

Old 10-09-19, 08:05 PM
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What set you off and started you touring?

I was in a local bookshop on a rainy day in '74 and found this. I'd been planning a trip to Europe and after reading this at one sitting decided to do it by bike.
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Old 10-09-19, 09:26 PM
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Bicycle touring was not on my radar when, while hitchhiking near Big Sur (California) around 1978, I met a British Columbian couple at a campground. They were bicycle touring south along the coast of California. I was intrigued.

Six months later, in 1979, while visiting San Diego, a friend took off on a transcontinental bicycle tour. Three months later, we rendezvoused in Toronto, and I was impressed he had made it all that way. I wanted to do the same. So I bought my first touring bike, a Motobenane.

Although I did uncounted day trips with my Motobecane (and after it was stolen, with a Miyata 1000), it took 19 years -- it was 1998 -- before I did my first multi-day bike tour in Alsace and Burgundy.

I've been hooked since.
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Old 10-09-19, 10:41 PM
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Getting away from my three older sisters and wanting to be self reliant. Andy
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Old 10-10-19, 12:47 AM
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I had gradually worked my way up to cycle commuting after not really cycling much from my teenage years into my late twenties. A guy at work knew that I was biking a bit and asked me if I wanted to tag along on his yearly weekend cycling trip he did with some friends. I don't think any of them considered themselves to be cycle tourists, they were all mountain bikers and did the trip with backpacks on their dual suspension rigs, but for all our lack of the 'right' gear, we had an awesome time. Since that trip I've been the guy who gets friends and coworkers into cycling and cycle touring.
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Old 10-10-19, 12:55 AM
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Was a natural step for me. If you like cycling, you just want to cycle more. Also I like to go out and see the world.
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Old 10-10-19, 01:34 AM
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I've been cycling with my family since I was 6 years old, and we've been doing hub-and-spoke cycling tours on most of our holidays since then.

And then, when I was 17, my father did a 3-day cycling tour of the Icefield Parkway. I rode the last day with him.

I've just continued to do things like that as an adult.
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Old 10-10-19, 01:48 AM
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I started bike touring/camping at 13, and did it because, I had 2 other mates, we lived in the bush in NSW, that had some fantastic places within 50 miles for us to visit, so we started going on weekends and our school holidays. After that I did it on an off during my career, for about 10 years, then came back to it in the late 90's. Stopped until 2016, and was looking for something I could do, that was not expensive and would incorporate my love of camping, and to be able to bring my dog along. Now I try to get out once a month, for a few days, and once or twice a year for a big trip. What I have noticed as I am 60 now, that it is getting harder to ride long distances - a lot more aches and pains.
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Old 10-10-19, 04:46 AM
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I was in to camping and outdoor stuff, came from a bicycling family, and was enamored with the notion of bikecentennial in 1976. Alas, I wasn't able to go that year and the dream rattled around in my head until 2007 before I rode the route (called the Trans America by then). It took all that time, but I was hooked.
Check out my profile, articles, and trip journals at:
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Old 10-10-19, 04:54 AM
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It is very easy to get hooked on to it, I just wish, I stayed at it from 13 till now, I think it would have been a much more enjoyable life.
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Old 10-10-19, 05:05 AM
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I'm a multi-day tourer, not a long distance, multi-week tourer, but what got me started:

I grew up in Long Island NY (Freeport), where we all rode our bikes for everything: delivering newspapers, getting to junior high school and to high school until you could drive. One day when we were in 9th grade (13 or 14 years old) one of my friends had come back from a family vacation at Montauk at the eastern end of Long Island and he said "My dad said we drove 100 miles - we should bike that."

So, we did - by strapping sleeping bags to our bikes and heading off on Sunrise Highway aiming east - not a water bottle or map to be found on our 5 speed Schwinn and 3 speed Raleigh bikes.

Much hilarity ensued, but I found I just really liked the part about being on a bike and pedaling for many hours at a time. My friends wanted to stop at every attraction (which we did, and spent all our food money at an outdoor Go-Kart track...) but I just wanted to keep pedaling.
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Old 10-10-19, 06:58 AM
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Always wanted to ride across the country. Got the opportunity to be voluntarily downsized in '99. Looked at supported tours. They were expensive and had mostly high mileage days. I wanted more time to immerse myself in my surroundings. Decided to do ACA's unsupported Northern Tier tour, having never camped or done any loaded touring. (The first day of the trip was only my second time riding a fully loaded bike and the first time sleeping in a tent.) I knew I would enjoy it so much that I planned to ride home from Bar Harbor, ME, at the conclusion of the trip, which I did. Continued on to the ocean in NJ as party of a charity event.

I was definitely hooked. Because I had the time and resources (No. I did not get unemployment or other government benefits.) I decided to stay unemployed at take two more extended trips the following year--one in Andalucia and one from Seattle to Mesa Verde, CO.

When it was time to return to normal life I hung up my touring shoes for seven years and went back to my roadie roots. Finally eased back into the activity in 2008 and picked it up in earnest again in 2009.
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Old 10-10-19, 07:16 AM
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During the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973, I vowed never to sit in line in an automobile at a gas station. So I parked my old Dodge pickup and started cycling everywhere, including weekend vacations to neighboring Midwest towns, visiting friends in college, etc. In 1975, I took off on a 1000-mile trip around Lake Michigan from my home in Chicago. That's what hooked me on longer self-supported trips and confirmed the lifestyle for me.

I couldn't figure out why I seemed to be the only one doing that. Fun, cheap, healthy...why was this a secret? Then in 1976 I heard about the BikeCentennial and learned others were doing it. A few years later I met the cycling woman I'm still married to and still cycling with.

So I guess it mainly came down to an economic trigger. And it was a good decision. My wife and I attribute our early retirement, and good health during it, directly to a cycling lifestyle. All those years without driving, and being able to stay away from the "health care" system, rapidly compounded our savings.
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Old 10-10-19, 07:29 AM
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I'm a lifelong backpacker, wanderer and camper ... a bike is just one of the self powered vehicles that I use . (sea kayak, bike, feet, skis, nordic ice skates... bring it on :-) )
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Old 10-10-19, 07:55 AM
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Just did

Started riding "seriously" around 12 years old. I tried it all, racing, tons of day rides, and went on an overnighters with the bike club. All was great but nothing hooked me. Then when I was 15 I did a 1000 mile 24-day tour with a teacher in the bike club doing a combo of riding RAGBRAI riding via Minneapolis to ride SAAGBRAW (the original newspaper sponsored one) via Minneapolis. Got hooked.

During my high school junior summer (before senior), I did the TransAm by myself. Been touring for almost 40 years now. Tailwinds, John
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Old 10-10-19, 08:21 AM
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I always rode a bike around Southern California where I grew up. I lived close enough to Disneyland to bike there. Same for the beach.

When a friend of mine graduated from UC Berkeley, he rode home down the coast. That intrigued me and I always wanted to do it. After I stopped working, I bought a touring bike and the first ride I did was from SF to LA.

I've been touring ever since.
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Old 10-10-19, 09:01 AM
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Several things contributed, actually. For starters, I'm a Saggitarius, and we're known to be wanderers, just can't sit still for long. 😉
I started hitch hiking around the country, when I was 17, and it was just barely still reasonably safe to do so (1979).
Most of my jobs involved traveling, which is probably why they were even considered.
And finally, I started messing with bicycles, for physical therapy. I had major surgery done on my left knee, and got an infection in the O.R. that nearly killed me. I was always thin, but after that, I wasted away to nothing. I finally said screw this, I'm not going out without a fight, lol, so started riding more seriously.
Touring put me in a situation where I had to ride to survive, otherwise, I'd probably get lazy & quit riding. 🙄🤔
Now that I'm a bit healthier/stronger, it's pretty easy to just use the normal reasons, like sight-seeing & girl-watching. 😁😉
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Old 10-10-19, 12:23 PM
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Grew up in Colorado so did a lot of camping, backpacking and hiking as a kid. Went to college in (urban) Boston without owning a car. A bicycle was an ideal vehicle for a college student to get out of town to less urban spaces- and New England isn't particularly large. So found myself doing a lot of short duration bike trips to Cape Cod, New Hampshire, Vermont, etc.
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Old 10-10-19, 12:32 PM
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Iíve always enjoyed pain and suffering. Bike touring was a way to have a vacation while enjoying pain and suffering.
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Old 10-10-19, 01:33 PM
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My first wife, back in 87 or 88 bought me a weeks tour with Vermont Country Cyclists staying at a B&B, in early October-prime foliage season. Had an absolute with blast with a friend that came along with me. 25 years later, I was looking for something special to do for my 50th birthday. Stumbled upon cyclecanda.com and have since been on 2 tours with them-the first in 2015 from Victoria, BC to St. Johns Newfoundland, so west to east, coast to coast, 72 days. And in 2018 form Vancouver to Tuktoyuktuk, NWT-the Arctic Ocean and the north coast of Canada, 30 days. With my current wife of 20 years, both tours in Canada we have been able to meet up along the way, and our now 19 year old daughter has had the opportunities of being to all 3 coasts as well.
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Old 10-10-19, 03:58 PM
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When I was in college (around 2006-2008 time frame) I was wanting to get in to backpacking. I had been camping when I was growing up and always wanted to get deeper in to the wilderness. When I got to the university I graduated from I got in to their "mountaineers" club. It was a group that had their mainstay as rock climbing and mountaineering, but there was a smaller pocket of people that backpacking was their thing. At first I didn't know if the club would be a decent fit, but once I got to talking to some of the guys about backpacking it all worked out. I ended up on my first real backpacking trip (3 days) in October of 2008 in the Monongahela National Forest (Appalachian mountains). I didn't have the right gear for the trip and it went down well below freezing so, needless to say, I froze my arse and came out of that trip more sore than I'd ever been before. I was hooked on the backpacking thing, though, and that continues to be a very large interest of mine.

I was on a backpacking trip in the Smoky Mountains of TN/NC (we were right along the border) several years ago now. The way it was in the park is you have to reserve camp sites. The only way we could make a route work with camp sites that were available for the time period we had was to start at Clingmans Dome - the highest elevation in the Smoky Mountains (that equates to everything else being down hill - catch my drift?). The first day we went 13 miles and dropped 3,000ft in elevation. I held up OK until the last 1.5 to 2 miles. My legs basically said "we're done dude" and spent the last bit of the hike leaning on my trekking poles to drag myself to camp. My buddy and I tried to figure out how to dig ourselves out of the predicament. Without being able to hike, and our vehicle was 3000ft up and 13 miles of hiking now, our only recourse was to hitchhike. My legs and hips took months to come back out of that. It made me realize a couple things:
1. How important it was to be able to go backpacking
2. How critical it was to be in better shape to be able to hold up on a trip

To tie this back to bike touring - With as few opportunities to backpack now as I have in my life (life goes in other directions and a lot of stars have to line up right to do it - scheduling and other people's schedules) I needed to do something to get, and stay in, shape so I have the stamina to handle backpacking when it comes around.

A family member had been in to bike touring for decades. He did local trips around travel destinations. So the riding wasn't to get to the destination, it was the transportation method for exploring the destination. He wanted to do some longer trips and eventually worked up to 700 miles or so to get down south to visit family by bicycle. Since a lot of the camping gear crosses over between biking and backpacking he got in to backpacking with me to work on gear checks and get some exercise in as he worked through his ramp-up to a big bike trip.

My brother and I went over to his starting point for his big ride to wish him well and seem him off. I followed along with his trip updates and had a map set that he gave me for the route details. It was really neat to watch his updates.

So since we did some backpacking trips together I got to thinking about bike riding also. It was a natural transition. Again, with a lot of the gear crossing over, I already had a leg up on everything camping related and the self-sufficiency aspect.

I got my first "real" bike in 2014. I maintained my goal of staying in shape, but due to a busy (well, very demanding, and that is still an understatement) job I was having a hard time balancing riding with my schedule. A lot of my riding ended up at night after work. However, I did work in some day trips on the weekends when I could. The first year I did 1000 miles. From a staying in shape standpoint, I did pretty good except I rode with platform pedals and ended up with major knee problems because I built up my leg strength only pushing. That winter, and starting off the next riding year, I spent a long time (6+ weeks) in physical therapy to fix the knee problems. I switched to SPD clip shoes/pedals and did 1500 miles that year. I've never had knee problems since.

Between a demanding job and some other challenges the past several years I haven't been on the bike much, admittedly. However, things started opening back up for me this past year. I'm back to where I can do some day trips again. Earlier this Spring I got to do a day tour in the hilly farm country of central Pennsylvania. That was really neat, only I wish I had my fishing rod along for some of the rivers and streams. I've done some other trips through the network of trails around Xenia, OH (a lot of them are rail-trail conversions, but Xenia is a giant hub in Ohio for bicycling activity). We'll see what the future brings.

I prefer relatively unorganized trips where I look at a map and pick where I want to ride as I go. Sometimes I'll have a destination in mind then figure out a route to get there, other times I just get on the bike and start riding. In any case, I prefer more secluded/less populated routes like 2 lane country roads and some long-distance trails (like the rail-trails in Ohio and tow-path trails along the canals in IL, although they can be quite congested near towns with dog-walkers and strollers). I always enjoy stopping to talk to locals - other cyclists or not - during my stops on my rides. Sometimes the attention of a lot of gear on a bike can be a pain, but most of the time it turns in to a good conversation starter.
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Old 10-10-19, 06:20 PM
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University isn't easy. It affects my sleep a lot.
What would bring me peace is imagining myself on an adventure and being self reliant. I would close my eyes and imagine myself biking on a road for many many kilometers looking at mountains amd beautiful scenary.
Eventually I thought, "why don't I just do it? "
And so, in July of 2019, I planned a tour from Calgary to Vancouver and had the best time of my life so far

A dream came true.

Last edited by BikeWonder; 10-10-19 at 06:23 PM.
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Old 10-10-19, 06:58 PM
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1971 it was. Bought a Sierra Brown Schwinn Varsity with my paper route money. Cost exactly 104 dollars with the tax. The freedom I felt on that bike hooked me into it and 4 years later I bought a Schwinn Super Sport for exactly 148.40. Toured all over the Midwest and down to the Gulf Coast on it. Since then I have ridden the west coast and the Philippines on a bike. Bucket list item is a cross country self supported ride. Super bucket list is to ride to Alaska, but not sure I want to deal with the bears.
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Old 10-10-19, 07:14 PM
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Old 10-11-19, 10:37 AM
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Due to relocation issues, I couldn't camp and backpack as often as I needed, the touring bicycle offered greater opportunity for exploration and basic camping I needed for soul rejuvenation.
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Old 10-11-19, 11:07 AM
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Wanted something faster than walking and slower than driving. Cycling is the perfect way to enjoy the outdoors, get off the roads, camp and get away from things.
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