May 31, 2013
It never fails, I always manage to learn a few lessons after every tour. Truth be told, they're probably lessons I've learned before, but it's always good to have a refresher ahead of a new season. Here are five words of wisdom for those of you hitting the road this summer:
1. Don't camp next to train tracks: I know, they look so rustic, they're easy to access, you're out of sight from the highway, they offer a clear and flat space to pitch a tent, and you haven't seen a train pass all day. Let me tell you, there is nothing more terrifying than waking up disoriented in the middle of the night to the sound of a train that seems to be coming directly at your tent. Once the train passes, your heart rate will likely be through the roof, and by the time you calm down enough to go back to sleep, another train will be on it's way by.
2. Wildlife is not your friend: While bear, moose, and bison are exciting to view, keep in mind that they can also be dangerous. Never feed them, and if you're passing a grizzly bear along a remote stretch of road in the Yukon, don't stop and take its picture, even if it is striking a stunning pose. (Photo of grizzly bear striking a stunning pose along a remote stretch of road in the Yukon taken by Josh Tack.)
3. Beware of Mystery Water: Nothing can ruin a tour faster than drinking some bad water. A good ol' case of the runs will not only be unpleasant, but will dehydrate you as well. If you're unsure of the source, be sure to filter before drinking.
4. Don't look down on gas station food: We all have our eating preferences when we're at home. When you're on the road, food standards can and will decline. Gas station coffee and donuts never tasted so good.
5. Don't believe the hype: Just because people refer to certain routes as 'epic,' or throw around huge numbers for elevation gain, doesn't mean those routes are relegated to an extreme crowd. If you ride within your means, plan carefully, and have some patience, you can make just about any route happen.
Photos by Josh Tack
TOURING GEAR & TIPS is written by Joshua Tack of Adventure Cycling's member services department. It appears weekly, highlighting technical aspects of bicycle touring and advice to help better prepare you for the journey ahead. Look for Josh's "Fine Tuned" column in Adventure Cyclist magazine as well.