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Photo by Adam Coppola
Switzerland has been busy over the past few years making bike travel a big part of their tourism program.
When we released the Sierra Cascades Bicycle Route maps in the spring of 2010, it was with our usual excitement. As the summer passed, we received the normal amount of corrections and additions associated with a first edition. What we didn't expect to receive was the feedback about the riding conditions of California State Highway 89 (SR 89). Cyclists were concerned about their safety, sharing this often shoulder-less highway with large vehicles — logging trucks in particular.
In June 2010, we reported that Black Hawk, Colorado was banning bicycling on most roads in town, citing safety concerns. The ban includes the roads we use on the Great Parks South Section 1 route map State Highway 119 and County Road 279.
Timbuk2 — long a dominant force in the messenger-bag market — has finally entered the bicycle touring realm with their Shift Pannier Messenger bag.
ExperiencePlus! Bicycle Tours, a silver-level member, is one of our newer corporate members. Maria Elena Price, co-owner, took time to answer some of our questions and tell us more about her company.
Four years ago, I was asked to help create and lead a bicycle tour of the Ohio portion of the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route for a group of eight students and three adults from the Bronx Lab School, a public high school in New York.
There's a new mountain bike course here in Missoula and we're all having fun getting out on it! However, with the large number of scary bumps and crazy pitches, I've been adding something else to my usual carry-along stock of tubes, tire levers, etc. After a nasty little spill awhile ago, I've decided to carry a basic first-aid kit with me as well.
Summer is here. I was reminded of this in full force when I nearly passed out while mountain biking during a 92-degree afternoon at the beginning of the week. Yikes! We need to drink a lot! And, while water is of utmost importance, sometimes it's nice to drink things that aren't just plain water, too. Salt and electrolytes are important when we're sweating a lot, and besides ... who doesn't want to change up the flavor occasionally?
After a long winter up in Montana, we're pretty excited to have some summer weather. But while I love taking advantage of the warm weather, a long day in the saddle under the hot sun can really take its toll, and I often find myself looking forward to the temperature dropping back down. Fortunately, there are a lot of little things you can do to keep your cool and enjoy the summer sun at the same time. I actually wrote a post about this a few years back, but sometimes it's good to revisit an important topic such as this.
I've been thinking recently about all the friends I make on the road. Not friends I make while touring, although those are certainly special friends indeed, but the friends I make during my daily commute to and from work each day. The lady who somehow always ends up stopped at the same stoplight as me and says, "Do you really ride in ALL KINDS OF WEATHER?!" The little old man who gives me the thumbs up whenever I pass him walking on California Street.
Most touring bikes include a third set of eyelets for an extra water bottle cage, however, not everybody tours on a touring bike, especially on routes such as the Great Divide Route. While the third bottle cage might be excessive for a lot of tours, it can be nice to have that extra insurance for long stretches between water stops. While there is nothing wrong with tossing an extra bottle in a pannier or back pocket, it can be nice to keep your fluids quickly accessible and off the back.
Just because we're moving into summer doesn't mean that you're in the clear as far as rain is concerned. Getting soaked is one thing, but getting yourself and all of your gear drenched can really dampen your mood. Fortunately, staying dry doesn't require a ton of additional gear that will fill up your panniers/trailers when the sun is out. Here's a quick rundown on some solid rain gear for your body and equipment.
The truth of the matter is that I'm a shy person. I'm a friendly person, I'm just shy. I feel nervous around new people, and it takes me awhile to think of things to say. Sometimes I blurt out really awkward things at first, just to top it all off. Needless to say, doing the traditional things new friends do isn't that appealing to me: sitting around over a cup of coffee trying to think of conversation topics is basically a fate worse than death.
Any time I'm planning out a trip, regardless of location or distance, the very first thing I do is break into an Excel spreadsheet. Keeping things organized in my head has never been one of my stronger suits, so I need to get it all down on a list before something else grabs my attention. Lists also give me a little more confidence going into a tour as reassurance that the things I've planned for have been taken care of.
In recent weeks I have come across a couple of indications that the hidden gem of a route known as the Allegheny Mountains Loop is growing in popularity. The route covers terrain both paved and gravel with grades ranging from 1 percent to a steep 18 percent. It also provides lots of opportunities to enjoy a more primitive style of camping, with regular indoor lodging stops available, as well.
Piggybacking on our pannier discussion of last week, I want to introduce a newer bag that's a little more urban. The Arkel Switchback is designed to take you from the office/school to the grocery store to the gym, in one fell swoop.
When looking through different types of cycling apparel, short-fingered cycling gloves for the warm season are easy to miss. For starters, the idea of wearing gloves when it is 80 degrees and sunny out doesn't seem completely intuitive. With shorter rides, you may not feel any discomfort or need for cycling gloves, so packing them up for a longer trip may not even cross your mind. Also, some people just don't find them necessary, kind of like the guy who isn't too concerned about cycling shorts, and rides across the country in cut-off jeans. Everyone has a preference that works for them. But if you're new to cycling, or just haven't given much thought to cycling gloves, be aware that they do offer benefits you may appreciate.
Based on some of the phone calls and emails we get, it seems the "Riding Conditions" section on our route network maps is often overlooked. Probably not on purpose; I mean, you just bought a map, right? So you open it up and are looking at the maps, and you can get engrossed in seeing where you are heading. However, reading the "Riding Conditions" is worth your time, I promise.
We're only a couple of months into prime touring season — and the weather's been less than hospitable for bicycle touring, at least here in the Northwest.
Pretty much once a week someone calls and says, "So, just lay it out for me. Which are better? Ortlieb or Arkel panniers?" If only it were that easy! First off, I'll start out by saying that Arkel (Canada) and Ortlieb (Germany) are both fantastic companies that stand behind their products. If you ever have any problems with them, you'll have no problem getting them warrantied or replaced.
One of the easiest and most liberating ways to travel by bicycle is traveling without a bicycle — renting, that is. For many, renting a bike after arriving at a destination is the perfect solution. If you have ever considered traveling to a far-off land and renting a bicycle once you arrived there, the following is a short breakdown of some of the places you might find a bicycle for rent.
This marks my 100th post to the Touring Gear and Tips column, and after looking back through some previous posts, I thought I would take this opportunity to run down some of the touring gear that I have been most excited about. What follows are my personal favorites, and should not be taken as a definitive 'best of' list, since I don't necessarily believe that there is a true best of show in bicycle touring.
Osprey Packs, a gold-level member, is one of our newest corporate members, joining just after New Year's. Jeff Fox, marketing manager, took time to answer some of our questions and tell us more about their company.
The actions of Mother Nature have an effect on the circumstances that bicycle travelers encounter as they pedal their routes. Road systems are impacted by flooding, snow pack melt and seasonal weather events. There are ways to find out about these issues and share them with traveling cyclists.
In 1781, at the height of the American Revolution, allied French General Rochambeau marched his Army from Newport, Rhode Island, through Connecticut and into Phillipsburg, New York, where he met up with George Washington and the Continental Army.