The Adventure Cycling blog covers bicycle-travel news, touring tips and gear, bicycle routes, organizational news, membership highlights, guided tours, and more. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter for daily updates.
Photo by Adam Coppola
There I times that I feel as though the biggest obstacle to packing up and heading out on a bike tour is deciding on a route. The list of places to go, and cool things to see, is so long. How do you pick one route over another? The overwhelming choices can easily cause a person to drag his feet, and even spend years thinking about a tour, instead of going on one.
It isn't easy to look ahead to next year's touring season, especially when we're still in the middle of the current season, but I'm going to do it anyway. The motivation behind this is that a lot of bike companies are starting to slowly release their 2012 offerings as the industry trade-show season opens up. Since bicycle touring doesn't always chase trends and receive a ton of hype, it can be a little hard to dig out the new offerings for next season. But there are a few bikes worth mentioning as a sneak preview for things to come.
Timbuk2 — long a dominant force in the messenger-bag market — has finally entered the bicycle touring realm with their Shift Pannier Messenger bag.
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.
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.
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.
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.
While most touring specific shoes have tennis shoe-like soles with plenty of traction and grip, we still see a lot of touring cyclists who prefer road shoes for various reasons. Road specific shoes often have an exposed cleat, in addition to a hard molded plastic or composite sole. This can make walking on hard floors a little difficult and noisy as well.
Your pack list is dialed in, the route is carefully plotted out on the map, and your bike is tuned up and ready to roll. This all sounds pretty good, and if you see a lot of photos that people post from their own tours, you might think that experience and a solid plan leads to pure enjoyment from start to finish.
Being a bookworm is not the most convenient of bike touring habits.
Why $1500? It seemed like a good round number that included a lot of cool bikes with great builds at a reasonable price. Today's post is sort of an addendum to that list; it includes some bikes that I missed last year, plus some new bikes for the 2011 season.
It's that time of year at Adventure Cycling when we're starting to get a lot of phone calls from cyclists wondering how many miles they should ride per day on their upcoming tour. If I were asked this by someone I knew well, and had ridden with on many occasions, I would feel pretty comfortable throwing out a ballpark figure. Talking to someone I have not even met, on the other hand, makes guessing a number not just incredibly difficult, but irresponsible on my part.
I know that the current trend is toward low-sodium diets, but I tend to have pretty low sodium to start with, and as it warms up and I spend even more time in the sun I really have to work hard to maintain my salt intake. Folks who spend a lot of time sweating need a lot more sodium (and a lot more fluid!) than sedentary individuals, and there are lots of ways to get it.
Keeping the mud and dirt off your bike isn't mandatory, but it's not a bad idea, for a variety of reasons. For one, it can make it easier to identify frame defects and damaged components, in addition to making it easier to work on your bike in general. It can also help extend the life of some parts, such as your chain, cassette, cables, and housing.
When planning out a bike trip, it is really easy to focus solely on the route from point A to point B. However, once you hit the road, you may find a town that you are crazy about and want to hang out in for a few days, or perhaps you will hear from locals about some incredible sights that are 10 miles perpendicular to your direction of travel.
It is really hard to beat a solid set of fenders that are bolted to your frame and fork, I won't argue that. However, there are a few clip-on fenders that offer great coverage, durability, and versatility. Clip-on fenders are a good option (maybe your only option) if you don't have fender eyelets, or perhaps you have multiple bikes and want to swap a set of fenders from one to the other quickly.
Recipe for Mother's No Bake Energy Bars.
With spring right around the corner, and the daylight hours increasing, it's an exciting time for cyclists looking forward to putting in some miles. However, the early spring season can be a challenging time to ride as far as flat tires are concerned, especially in the northern climes. There's a lot of gravel, glass, and miscellaneous debris on the road that gets covered up by snow through the winter, only to rear its ugly head as the snow melts. On top of this, the conditions are often damp, and road debris tends to stick to bicycle tires better when the tires are wet. So, making sure you have a good barrier between the surface of your tire and the air inside your tube can be very important.
I get emails all the time from people who ask: “I'm planning to go on a bicycle tour sometime soon. What kind of touring bicycle should I get?”
Looking back (and a little bit forward) on a season of winter riding, the Canari Static Jammer gloves were a big surprise for me. Just looking at them, they don't appear to be padded up enough to handle the cold winter bite, but the windproof/waterproof fabric does a great job of keeping your hands protected, while allowing some breathing room to keep too much moisture from building up inside.
About a month ago, I wrote up some tips for purchasing a used bike. What I neglected to include in that post was where you could go to find a used bike. In the past, I have found places such as Ebay, Craigslist, and local listservs for bicycle clubs useful. These are all good places to find a used bike; however, in some cases, your local bike shop can also be a good starting point.
Even when you're out on tour, you may find yourself riding around town in the dark. Maybe you're heading to the store to stock up on food, or checking out the nightlife away from camp. In such cases, it's a good idea to make sure you are visible to traffic. While headlights and tail lights are great for this, you also want to be seen from the side, especially at intersections. Spoke reflectors are certainly helpful, but they aren't a lot of fun. If you really want to make your presence known, the Bike Glow is worth taking a look at.
The derailleurs on a bike may seem pretty complex, but once you start fiddling around with them you'll find them surprisingly easy to troubleshoot. When you're on the road, and away from a bike shop, knowing how to tweak your derailleur can save you a lot of skipping gears and frustration.