After yet another windy and raw day in Massachusetts, it still seems early to think about summertime bicycle touring. However, the length of day and more promising weather in the forecast suggest touring is not far off. For those who may be planning a long bicycle tour this summer, some pre-trip planning now will pay dividends later. When cycling begins, you’ll have enough on your mind without having to chase loose ends that you can address now. Here are some things to consider at this stage:
1. Equipment. If you haven’t checked your equipment out yet, why not do it now? You may need to send your bicycle into the shop for a tune-up or other repairs. A used touring bicycle may need an overhaul before embarking on a long trip. Shops often have a backlog of work this time of year, so get it into the shop early so you’ll have it back in time for additional training. You should also inventory your gear to make sure you have what you need. If you need to purchase through mail order, or if an item is on backorder, that will take additional time as well. If you’ve never toured before, you’ll find plenty of useful lists of suggested gear online. Check it out now because you’ll likely be dealing with lead times on the acquisition of new gear.
2. Routing. Whatever route you choose, you’ll need maps to help navigate your way. Adventure Cycling Association publishes some world class maps for bicycle touring. Order early to ensure timely delivery. You’ll also benefit from studying them in advance. Heeding the wealth of information of these maps will make your trip more manageable and more enjoyable.
3. Reservations. No, not the kind of reservations that suggest you might be having second thoughts about embarking on your adventure! I’m talking about reserving space in a bike shop, on a plane, or at a campsite or motel. If you are relying upon others to transport your bicycle and equipment to your launch site, you’ll want timely placement on their work schedule. For example, shipping across the country could take two weeks. And if you are relying upon bike shops to pack and reassemble your bicycle, you’ll want to schedule their work as well. You’ll want these schedules to mesh with your plane flight, and booking early can save on airfare. Depending upon which route you are planning to tour, you may also need to check reservations at campgrounds or motels in and around summer hot spots such as Yellowstone National Park.
4. Training. Hopefully you’ve already begun to increase your riding, but if not, better late than never. One of the more important aspects of training will be to toughen up your underside. Once on your tour, you’ll be cycling many miles on consecutive days, and your rear end is likely not used to that much wear and tear. You’ll also want to strengthen your legs and acclimate your body to the increased physical activity.
5. Technology. Many cyclists today have discovered that computer technology can really enhance their touring experience. You’ll want lightweight equipment that still offers the features and horsepower that you’ll need. You may need to purchase new gear, set it up, and learn its features. You may also want to learn blogging software if you’re not already familiar with it. Blogging is an excellent way to share your experience with family and friends. It also records memories that you’ll enjoy for the rest of your life.
Remember, your tour should be a time to get away and enjoy the ride. If you don’t take care of some important pre-trip planning details now, they’ll spill over into your adventure. You can learn more about bicycle touring in our soon-to-be-released ebook entitled Bicycle Touring How-To: What We Learned. Debbie and I wish you a fantastic tour.