Bike Touring

Quite a few people have asked me about bike touring so although I do not consider it part of my art practice it is related and does inform my work. Below are some tips based on my preferences and experiences; every tour and rider is different but I hope this helps all those interested in touring. Enjoy!

  1. Pack Light. I put my tent and sleeping mat on top of my rack, 2 larger rear panniers and a small handle bar bag. Most people over pack on their first tour, and every pound matters. Clothes can be washed in rivers and sinks and dried on the back of your bike while riding. Your gonna get dirty. Food and water can usually be easily acquired, at least on the trips I have done, so know your area and you probably won’t need to carry much.
  2. Directions. Sometimes it is easier not to ask for directions. People that don’t bike generally give terrible bike directions. I use maps, compass, smartphone, and talk to people that bike.
  3. Food. There is a lot of free food if you know how to find it in our abundant and wasteful country.
  4. Lodging. You can camp lots of places for free. Behind churches, fire stations, city parks on the D.L. and the woods. If you are freedom camping just be sure to have enough water for the night.  Campgrounds are too expensive unless you are biking the west coast.  Often you can roll in late and leave early for a free stay if you like campgrounds. http://www.warmshowers.com is cool too.
  5. Sounds. Listening to music and Podcasts is nice but so is listening to your thoughts and the world around you.
  6. Partner? Touring with a friend can be fun, touring solo is too. Solo tours allow you to be in complete control and have incredible independence. You can go anywhere, sleep anywhere, meet new people and get free.
  7. Dogs. When being chased by dogs snarl at them furiously like a mountain lion; if done correctly they will turn in fear. Out running them, spraying them with a water bottle or biking at them works well too. I had a lot of experience with this on my last tour to North Carolina.
  8. Fix it. You need to know some basic bike repair. Fixing flats, adjusting brakes and other stuff is a must, bike shops can do the rest.
  9. Rout. Bike touring is not about getting somewhere, it is about the ride and entire experience. Take the most scenic and enjoyable rout possible. It is fun to get a lot of miles in sometimes but you have to enjoy the ride.
  10. Riding Position.  Get a good saddle and have someone that knows what they are doing help with proper riding position.  a lot of riders including myself have trouble with blood flow to hands and knee pain.  Use your core while riding, change hand position while riding and making seat or handlebar adjustments as you go can help.
  11. Talk to people! Lots of people are going to want to talk to you. If this gets boring or if they are boring keep the conversation short or make up a new story every time to keep it interesting. It is fun to stop at bike shops and ask for recommendations for routs and things to do. People generally enjoy helping others, it makes them feel good so be open to it.  I have been offered lots of things from people.
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