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Is loaded touring essentially a solo endeavor?

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Is loaded touring essentially a solo endeavor?

Old 07-29-13, 08:44 AM
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tarwheel 
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Is loaded touring essentially a solo endeavor?

I love the "idea" of loaded touring, the sense of freedom it entails. My big problem is that I can't find anyone else to tour with. I live in an area with active cycling community, but rarely ever see anyone doing loaded tours. I've tried to recruit some of my friends on a loaded trip, but have received absolutely no interest from anyone. The closest anyone I know will come to touring is participating on supported tours such as Cycle NC and Bike Virginia.

There's nothing wrong with solo cycling and I do plenty of it commuting to work almost every day. However, it would be more fun to share the experience of a loaded tour with other cyclists. Do others encounter similar situations?

It seems that quite a few couples tour together, but my wife is not at all interested in that.
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Old 07-29-13, 08:53 AM
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It's not "essentially" a solo endeavor, but for a lot of people it has to be, since lots of us don't know someone else who wants to do the kind of trip we want to.
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Old 07-29-13, 08:54 AM
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I've always toured with a buddy. I think it makes for a better (and safer) experience. I'd check out adventure cyclist. You may be able to find someone to ride with via that website. Also the tours they put on are pretty decent if pricier than doing it on your own.
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Old 07-29-13, 08:55 AM
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Tandem pretty well fixes that problem. Compromise on time in saddle and amenities. We love it.
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Old 07-29-13, 09:26 AM
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tarwheel 
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Adventure Cyclist is a good idea. Crazy Guy site also has ads for riding partners.
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Old 07-29-13, 09:54 AM
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Gotta ditto the earlier response.
Over the past 25 years, lots of friends have talked about going -
But it requires planning, saving, and commitment.
Plus a measure of good fortune - no illness, job loss, alien abduction, etc.
The companion boards are O.K., but sometimes don't work out.
Be prepared to cycle solo - and if you have a companion, so much the better.
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Old 07-29-13, 10:00 AM
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It's hard to find somebody with the same riding style as yourself.....some people are fast up hill,some fast on flats,some fast on downhills.....so you end up setting up meeting spots throughout the day.....riding alone during some of the day anyways.

At least that how it always ends up for me.

Or maybe everybodys' just trying to tell me something....
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Old 07-29-13, 10:00 AM
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Maybe start a touring club in your area, loosely organized, such as the Knickerbikers in the San Diego Area.

https://www.knickerbikers.com/

Put together your tour and get it into the bulletin. Don't sugar-coat the description, you don't want people expecting a catered luxury tour. See if you can get it into any other bike publications in your area, too.
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Old 07-29-13, 10:08 AM
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I see Couples and small groups heading down the coast all Summer.

though I settled in here after taking a long solo bike tour .. years ago.

Last edited by fietsbob; 07-29-13 at 10:12 AM.
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Old 07-29-13, 11:32 AM
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My first tour was an ACA unsupported group tour across the country. Three months. Unless you are compatible with your partners, there can be problems, especially if you don't have a high tolerance for people who you cannot stand. After that, I did two solo tours of nearly two months each and have done a few other solo trips alogn with several with my partner. I happen to like solo touring better than touring with strangers. One thing I noticed is that I tended to interact more with "outsiders" when I was on my own. Another thing that helps is being comfortable with your own company.

If you do end up touring with someone you do not know well, I would be prepared to be independent, which includes not having shared gear, such as a tent, unless you can acquire your own if you go your separate way.
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Old 07-29-13, 11:37 AM
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Non-solo tourers I have met or know of generally fall into just a few categories (in no particular order):
1. Couples
2. Long-time friends (generally male)
3. Charity/school groups
4. Partners of circumstance or convenience who met on the road after starting out solo
5. Families
6. Matched up via the Internet(here/BROL) or ACA
7. Commercial group rides

The largest majority of non-solos I have actually met have been couples (more often his idea to tour than hers), athletic male friends looking for a challenge/life-changing experience, and commercial group rides.

I've definitely met more solo tourers than people in the other categories combined.

YMMV - especially depending on when, where and how often you ride.

Added: A lot of it probably has to do with coordination issues - getting time off at the same time, financial considerations, whether one wants to camp or do the B&B/hotel thing, whether one wants to cook or eat in a restaurant every day - and even whether one requires a shower daily while someone else needs one only once a month, if that. And of course as said above, riding style, fitness and a need or desire to actually ride together/solo on a daily basis.

Last edited by 20_700c; 07-29-13 at 11:40 AM.
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Old 07-29-13, 12:14 PM
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Speaking for myself, touring is a solitary endeavour because that's how I want it. One of its most profound attractions is that it is just me and the bike. Nobody else to consult, no plans to coordinate, nobody else's priorities or preferences or cruising speeds to accommodate.

Actually, most of my cycling is like that whether I'm touring or not. I don't mind the occasional social ride, but in the main cycling, for me, is the antithesis of a social activity. It is essentially meditative.
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Old 07-29-13, 03:20 PM
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MichaelW
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I usually tour solo but find that I am never short of company. I don't need a lot of company and I really enjoy those solo nights in the wilderness but at campsites and along the way, I meet people all the time.
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Old 07-29-13, 04:18 PM
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BohicaX
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Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
Speaking for myself, touring is a solitary endeavour because that's how I want it.
I'm the same adding someone too that mix complicates things when touring.
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Old 07-29-13, 04:44 PM
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Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
Speaking for myself, touring is a solitary endeavour because that's how I want it. One of its most profound attractions is that it is just me and the bike. Nobody else to consult, no plans to coordinate, nobody else's priorities or preferences or cruising speeds to accommodate. Actually, most of my cycling is like that whether I'm touring or not. I don't mind the occasional social ride, but in the main cycling, for me, is the antithesis of a social activity. It is essentially meditative.
+1

Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Unless you are compatible with your partners, there can be problems, especially if you don't have a high tolerance for people who you cannot stand.
I've got a tour coming up in September, and this is the reason I haven't tried finding touring partners. It would be pretty awkward to start a tour with someone, then "break-up" part way through the tour.
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Old 07-29-13, 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
Is loaded touring essentially a solo endeavor?
Not at all. We enjoy weekend family bike camping tours like this one. Generally they are short just to fit into our normal life.
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Old 07-29-13, 06:14 PM
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My experience has been that bike touring isn't all that different from down hill skiing, exploring National Parks or camping trios - lots of people talk about it but few people actually find the time, money or interest to do much more than buy the equipment. If I had waited for any of my friends or family for company - I NEVER would have ever done any of the trips I took on my own.

On the other hand - you're most likely to meet people that like downhill skiing at a ski hill, people who like National Parks at .... National Parks, and people that like bicycle touring .... on the road. Which still doesn't mean they'll have the same onterests and priorities as you. But it can still be good company for a couple days.

The only times I've started off traveling in a group has been with the GF and ocassionally with the kids when they were younger. The trips were always fun anyway.

Last edited by Burton; 07-29-13 at 06:18 PM.
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Old 07-29-13, 06:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Tandem pretty well fixes that problem. Compromise on time in saddle and amenities. We love it.
I admit we haven't toured on the tandem as we have the single touring bikes, but we like tandeming a lot, and done quite a few centuries and randonnees on them. But then both riders have to have a large amount of compatibility, flexibility and forgiveness.

We do get by fine on singles, though. We have our moments of conflict, but on the whole, we've done a lot of stuff all around the world, and we've been able to get to know each other's foibles.

I've ridden with others in groups of varying sizes, and the same principles apply. The larger the group, the easier it is to filter and to gravitate towards those with like interests and mindsets.

And I've ridden quite a few tours solo...

It's all good.
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Old 07-29-13, 08:54 PM
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Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
I love the "idea" of loaded touring, the sense of freedom it entails. My big problem is that I can't find anyone else to tour with. I live in an area with active cycling community, but rarely ever see anyone doing loaded tours. I've tried to recruit some of my friends on a loaded trip, but have received absolutely no interest from anyone. The closest anyone I know will come to touring is participating on supported tours such as Cycle NC and Bike Virginia.

There's nothing wrong with solo cycling and I do plenty of it commuting to work almost every day. However, it would be more fun to share the experience of a loaded tour with other cyclists. Do others encounter similar situations?

It seems that quite a few couples tour together, but my wife is not at all interested in that.

None of my "loaded tours" have been solo ... or at least, not entirely solo. There have been solo bits during some.

I went with friends who were into touring the first few times, and then, of course, I met Rowan and we travel together.


However, I met my cycletouring friends through Randonneuring. You might try joining a Randonneuring club and see if there are any who also like touring. Many of us Randonneurs travel to events, and while there, we do some touring. After all if you've travelled from Canada to France or Canada to Australia, you might as well spend a bit of time seeing the sights as well as doing your Randonneuring event.

Another option might be to join your local cycletouring club. I have been a member of 4 cycletouring clubs, and while I didn't do any "loaded touring" rides with them, I did do semi-supported day trips and long-weekend trips. And I observed that in addition to the rides on the club calendar, various members got together and organised longer unsupported loaded tours themselves. Riding together on day trips and long weekends gave them a good idea who rode at their pace and who they got along with.
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Old 07-29-13, 09:15 PM
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No, but for me it is, and for the reasons originally mentioned, schedule, and most are not interested in multi day, self supported tours while sleeping in a tent.
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Old 07-29-13, 09:55 PM
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Another factor that can make touring with others a little more attractive is that one person's interests might help another get more enjoyment. In other words, a person stopping to take pictures might broaden the horizons of another who can only see the white line on the road.

A tactic to overcome some of the insurmountable dynamics between riders is to arrange for stops at significant way-points along the way. The fast riders then don't feel so impeded, the slow riders don't feel so intimidated, and everyone knows that the meet-up point will help ensure no-one gets too lost.

It's a system that has worked well on the organised and semi-organised club tours I have done. And sitting around camp or the dining table can bring up all sorts of interesting sidelights arising from the same route that day.
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Old 07-30-13, 06:21 AM
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Don't let not having a partner stop you.

I've done both. Both have their pros and cons.

Touring alone is better than touring with a stranger/someone you don't like. If you don't have friends who are genuinely interested, just go by yourself.
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Old 07-30-13, 07:12 AM
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There was a poll here a few months ago that, IIRC, showed the overwhelming majority of respondents were solo tourists. I'm one of them. That supports the thesis that touring is essentially a solo endeavor.

The best partnerships I've seen and had were made on the road.

Those who start out sharing gear and trying to adapt to each others' styles often have a tough time. Though, as in marriage, nothing worthwhile is ever easy, is it? Those teams can grow emotionally and get very close and that's something to strive for. I met Rowan and Machka last year and they're a great example.
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Old 07-30-13, 08:56 AM
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For almost all of my tours over the past 40 years I've gone alone, but I've often met people along the way who became partners. If you tour on one of the ACA routes you will meet other tourers. The more popular the route, the more people you'll meet. Usually we run into each other in campgrounds or at restaurants along the way, fall into conversation, and continue the interactions as we continue to run into each other. Often we lose track of each other as one person's (or group's) itinerary is different. Sometimes we enjoy each other's company enough to start planning our itineraries to coincide. Twice on the west coast I've fallen in with groups who toured together for a week or more. Sometimes that meant cycling together, but usually just deciding on a destination for the night and arriving there individually.

If you don't want to tour alone my suggestion would be to choose an ACA route. I met the most people on the west coast route - some of the hiker/biker sites can have 20 or 30 people! I met less on the Northern Tier and Lewis and Clark routes, but I still made friends with some tourers.
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Old 07-30-13, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by BigBlueToe View Post
If you don't want to tour alone my suggestion would be to choose an ACA route. I met the most people on the west coast route - some of the hiker/biker sites can have 20 or 30 people! I met less on the Northern Tier and Lewis and Clark routes, but I still made friends with some tourers.
+1. When I rode the section of the TransAm between Missoula and Fairplay. CO, I met numerous people, including a Menonite Couple on a Bike Friday tandem that I camped with on and off for close to a week. Two years ago we ran into at least a dozen people on the TransAm in three days of riding east from Missoula. All but one were headed in the other direction because of the time of year it was. It was a bit early to encounter people heading west to east but the perfect time for people those who had started in the east in early May. The other person was returning to MN on the Lewis & Clark route.

The Northern Tier was totally different. Rode the entire thing in '99 and the western portion to Glacier National Park the folliowing year. In '99 we enountered maybe a total of 15 people during the 3 months we were on the road. The following year I encountered five people not including he chance meeting with ACA's Northstar group tour heading to Alaksa.
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