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Photo by Adam Coppola
While most often seen on mountain bikes, the Crank Brothers Candy pedals are an excellent option for touring. Building on their popular Egg Beater pedal, the company's Candy series has a small platform, measuring 3" wide by 2.5" long, to give you some additional pedal support while touring. They also make it easier to do short commutes in everyday shoes.
Wild camping is usually as easy as pulling off the road and finding a flat, secluded spot.
Not so in Laos. In a country with the distinction of having the worst unexploded ordinance problem in the world, you don't casually wander off the road and pitch a tent.
The following items are some of my favorite stuff from the show (please note that some of these products will not be available until 2011):
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.
I spotted a beautiful tree and what looked to be a flat patch of earth surrounding it. I hiked up the steep grade, and discovered that the view was stunning. I hiked back down and announced to Kat that the site was indeed camp worthy.
Now we just had to get our bikes and gear up there. It took six trips and almost an hour to haul our bikes and panniers up to our Andes perch.
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).
I didn't realize until later that I had roommates — hundreds of mosquitoes, lurking behind tattered curtains and dusty bed covers. Normally, I'd shut the doors and windows and then go on a mosquito killing spree. But the room was insanely hot and there was no glass in the window openings ... only bars.
I received an email from Wayne Garvey, the current pastor at Marion United Methodist Church in Marion, Kentucky, located on the TransAmerica Trail." Even though they had been informally serving as a Cyclist Only host, he wanted to be added to the map.
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.
My next several posts will be about bicycle camping ... the good, the bad and the ugly.
I'll begin with one of the best. A campsite I'd go back to tonight, if it wasn't 6,300 miles away (as the crow flies).
If you like people and enjoy riding mountain bikes (or like the idea of trying it), but have never signed up for a mountain-bike festival, you're missing out on some great fun. I've attended fat-tire festivals in Colorado, Wisconsin, and Utah, and found that they all shared a certain spirit of camaraderie that's tough to beat. I'd be willing to bet that the ones I've haven't attended share it, too.
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.
If you ever have the pleasure of pedaling up to the top of the highest pass in Venezuela (13,146 ft), I hope that you take your time and relish the over sixty-five kilometer downhill (descending 8,000 vertical feet) to the city of Mérida.
Kat and I entertained every opportunity to pause on the way down to draw out the effortless downward journey. That included a stop in the town of Mucuchies. We were told it translates to "a cold place."