July 20, 2010
"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.
But, as my husband Andrew and I have learned, bike touring with friends also means making adjustments to your solo touring routine. Here are our tips for a successful bike tour with companions.
1. Discuss Expectations — It’s crucial to be sure you have similar ideas of what a good bike tour entails before you set out. If you want to start cycling at 7am and your friend loves to sleep late, you could be in for more stress than fun. Whenever we go bike touring with other people, we first trade questions (and answers) like "How far do you want to cycle each day?," "How much money do you want to spend?," and "What do you like to see on tour?" This helps prevent aggravating situations down the road.
2. Share Your Talents — Bike touring with friends isn't just about sharing experiences, it's also about sharing responsibility for daily tasks like setting up camp and navigating. Everyone has a talent in some department. For example, I'm great at planning meals, cooking, and writing our journal. Andrew excels at route planning and maintaining the bikes. By dividing up the jobs, no one person feels overwhelmed and everyone gets to contribute something to the tour.
3. Do Your Own Thing Occasionally — Just because you set out on tour together doesn't mean you have to spend every single moment in one another's company. If your cycling buddy wants to see a museum and you don't, that's okay. Simply set a place to meet later in the day. You can pedal on, taking extra time for rest breaks or different sightseeing, before reuniting for lunch or at the campsite that evening.
4. Be Prepared to Compromise — Touring with friends means making group decisions. As a result, you don't always get your way like you do on a solo tour. Understand that if one person is tired or starving, for example, you may have to stop earlier than you would prefer. Don't grumble. Just pull that book out of your panniers and enjoy the unexpected break.
Photo by Friedel Grant, TravellingTwo.com
FRIEDEL GRANT gave up life as a journalist for Reuters to ride a bicycle around the world with her husband. They pedaled 48,000km through 30 countries before settling down to ride bikes in The Netherlands. Friedel writes about bike touring on her website, Travelling Two and you can follow her on Twitter (@travellingtwo). She also contributes to Transitions Abroad and has written a chapter for the Adventure Cycle-Touring Handbook.