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Photo by Adam Coppola
As the summer warms up, many touring cyclists escape to the high, often shady elevations of our Great Divide Mountain Bike Route to beat the heat. This off-road route offers riders plenty of unique challenges in regards to terrain, weather, and unexpected obstacles like downed trees. Other features include isolated camping sites and plenty of wildlife, including bears, especially along the northern half of the route.
A joy shared is a joy doubled" the saying goes, and it's true that bike touring with a partner can indeed be double the fun of a solo tour. A cycling buddy means there's always someone to celebrate milestones with, lend a hand when you get a flat tire, and chat with around the campsite in the evenings.
Panniers seem to be the most common option chosen by self-contained bicycle tourists for carrying their gear. I don't have a real strong preference for one pannier brand over another — but one rule I do follow is to always keep pannier rain covers on hand. And so should you (unless, of course, you have waterproof panniers, such as the Ortlieb Bike Packer or Axiom Typhoon).
Finding the right footwear for touring is like most things associated with bicycle travel: Your selection will change depending on the style of tour you have ahead of you, and over time you will settle into preferences that work best for you. To get started, here are some options that have worked well for me in the past.
When packing up for a tour, I tend to put a big focus on the essentials (tools, tent, sleeping bag, cookware, clothes, etc). Here are three items that may or may not be necessities, so they can be easy to neglect. But all of them are beneficial to have along.
Building a bike from the frame up can be exciting. It gives you the opportunity to fine tune the bike to your specific needs, and can give your bike some additional character to set it apart from others. The problem I often run into with building bikes from scratch is that the price can quickly get out of hand. To help maintain a reasonable budget for a custom build, it's important to spend money on key components, and hold back on more trivial parts. Here are some examples I have put into my own builds.
Locating a creak coming from your bike can be a tricky thing to do. While the noise almost always seems to be emanating from the bottom bracket, there are also a handful of additional suspects that are (fortunately) easier to fix.
Recently, the use of compression wear among athletes has been increasing rapidly. What was once a product focused towards providing support and improved blood flow for people with poor blood circulation, has now taken on a performance oriented design. 2XU, based out of Australia, is one the industry leaders in compression gear, and their compression socks, leggings, and tights are now permanently inked under the 'staples' section of my touring pack-list.
Kicking off this Friday will be the Tour Divide, a 2,745-mile self-supported mountain bike race from Banff, Canada, to Antelope Well, New Mexico, on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. While this event isn't what most people would consider touring, the requirement that all riders must transport their own supplies from Canada to the U.S.-Mexico border brings out some nice gear that can used by us mere mortals. The most visible of which is the frame bags that are used by many of the riders.
Traveling by bike is a blast! But sometimes you need a break from the long days in the saddle and want to do something away from your bicycle that is both fun and free.
Every so often, I get an email asking whether or not a person should move from a 700c road wheel to a 26" wheel for touring. My touring experience has predominantly been aboard 700c wheels, but there are some good reasons to give a 26" wheel some thought.
One of the first things I do before setting out on my bike, whether it's for a day ride or a full blown tour, I always check my tire pressure. Over time, your tubes naturally leak air, so it's always a good idea to have them topped off to help prevent pinch flats, and improve the tire's rolling efficiency. One piece of equipment that can take that process out of your routine is the Pump-Hub.
The New World Tourist is Bike Friday's loaded touring specific bike, which can handle racks and panniers or a trailer, depending on your preference. The small folding frame geometry lends itself well to touring in the sense that it provides a super low step over height, and can be adjusted to fit a wide variety of rider types.
While the most rewarding feature of bicycle computer is tracking the accumulation of miles over a long span of time, there are plenty of other good reasons to mount one to your bike. For extended tours on unfamiliar roads, they can help you orient yourself on your map, and give you some confidence that you didn't miss your last turn, and that it's only a few more miles up the road. Just about any bicycle computer will have average miles per hour, giving you a chance to calculate your estimated time of arrival.
It's easy to be lured into spending a lot of money on a shiny new touring bicycle but you don't need a big bank balance to start enjoying bike touring. In fact, I've done my last 1,000km on a $100 bike from the local second-hand shop.
Over the years, coffee has become somewhat of a theme in all of my tours, no matter where in the world they take place. While there are thousands of brands available, I thought it would be fun to bring out some bicycling oriented coffee companies, and accessories.
Handlebar tape is a very simple addition to any road or touring bike that can both increase the comfort of your ride, and add some personalized style to your bike. Any new bike will come stock with bar tape, so it's certainly not necessary to replace it right away, but when the time comes, here are some styles to consider.
There are plenty of reasons why people don't like to wear while on the bike. Some riders like to feel the wind through their hair, others worry about aesthetics, and comfort can also play a role. For me personally, I have two reasons to continue wearing a helmet on every ride: the two broken helmets hanging in my garage.
Chain lubricant seems as though it is a straight forward decision, however, selecting the proper lubricant for your environment and style of riding can add quite a bit of life to your chain and cassette. The goal of any lube is to create a barrier between your chain and natural elements you encounter on your ride, as well as reduce the amount of corrosion and friction placed on your overall drivetrain. When looking for a lubricant, you will often hear the terms 'dry lube' and 'wet lube' tossed around. Here's a quick run down on what these refer to, as well as where they can best be applied.
Purchasing a new touring bike is as exciting as it is intimidating, and one of the most intimidating factors can often be the price tag of the bike. To help ease the process, today I would like to quickly go through some touring bikes that are under $1500, and ready to hit the road when you are.
Spring can be a tricky season to prepare for as far as clothing is concerned. It can fluctuate quite a bit, and mentally, I always find myself thinking that I can get away with less than I should. To help make sure that you're more prepared than I am, here are some articles of clothing that are ideal for spring, and will also come in handy for early morning summer rides, and fall conditions.
It seems as though most aspects of bike touring really haven't changed a great deal over the years. For the most part, bikes are still made of steel, although the type and geometries have changed a bit. Racks and panniers have the same general look that they did 20 years ago, and we still use low profile rims with high spoke counts. Another tried and true part of the touring bike that is hanging on quite well would be bar-end shifters.
Packing for a bicycle tour is one thing. Preparing your body and mind for life on the road is another. In this article I address how you can 1) get in shape and 2) mentally prepare for a long-distance bike tour.
There are a lot of questions a person can ask about bike touring equipment, but if I were to pick the one question that I get more than any other, it would easily be in regards to bike racks. On the surface, it would seem as though finding a front and/or rear rack for your bike would be a simple task, but as soon as you begin your search, the list of options can quickly become overwhelming.