Ride a bike, share your experience and love. When I go biking, I repeat a mantra of the day's sensations: bright sun, blue sky, warm breeze, blue jay's call, ice melting and so on. This helps me transcend the traffic, ignore the clamorings of work, leave all the mind theaters behind and focus on nature instead. I still must abide by the rules of the road, of biking, of gravity. But I am mentally far away from civilization. The world is breaking someone else's heart. ~Diane Ackerman

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Five Bicycle Touring Questions for the Newcomer

Five Bicycle Touring Questions for the Newcomer
Yahoo Sports
By: Gerald Kennedy
Link: http://sports.yahoo.com/news/five-bicycle-touring-questions-newcomer-000200072--spt.html

This is going to be a real departure for me because I know absolutely nothing about bicycle touring. I've traveled much of the country by car, hiked long distances and regularly paddle very long distances in small boats. Every year I paddle in a 100 mile marathon race down the Colorado River in Texas. I love to travel routes that most people never see. Exploring lakes and rivers while high powered bass boats rocket by show me that speeding boaters fail to see and experience life between point to point. Sedate side trips by car reveal that many people miss great scenery and wildlife right under their nose because they speed by to get some where else. I love motorcycles and have had one most of my life, will again, but the motorcycle experience is basically the same as a two wheeled car. So, the question is: are bicycles legitimate and practical touring, travel and exploration vehicles? I have questions but no answers.

Is it safe to bicycle tour?

This is a big question. I've started back to riding bicycles several times over the years. Each time I was yelled at, thrown at, and had cars whiz rather close by. This does concern me. I'll research and see what happens. Bicycles ridden by adults along the highway or back roads are more accepted and common now, but there are a lot of crazies out there. A reverse situation is those riders who insist they have the same rights as a car on the road. Legal or not, a bicycle will never win a confrontation with a car.

What kind of equipment is available?

As a kid I modified and switch components on a variety of bicycles to build sleek fenderless hot rods. Schwinn forks were the hot item because they could stand up to the abuse of ramping. I guess you could call these old hybrid bicycles the fore runners of the modern day mountain bike. My friends and I stuck up our nose at the relatively new 3-speed skinny tired English Racer. I know so little about modern bicycles that this is going to be big learning experience. I think it will be enjoyable. An interesting side note is that I use bicycle brake cables for rudder control systems on kayaks.

What are the physical considerations?

I suppose this has to be decided by every individual. Most of us are not in really good shape. The riding regime would need to start slowly and build up to determine touring capabilities.

Can an older person tour?

I have a friend, an older guy, who regularly competes in mountain bike competitions and 100 mile bicycle races. I'm 10 years older than he is! Arthritis is a concern, but I'm in pretty good shape and regularly paddle very long distances. I'm not going to race and have no problem with resting when necessary. I guess the question will be answered in practice. Bicycle riding is a low impact sport much like kayak paddling. This should work great for older bodies.

Are there popular touring routes?

Well, son of a gun! A quick search reveals that more than 40 states are working on U.S. Bicycle Routes. The same search reveals many popular routes. I know of many roads and routes in central Texas and other states that should be good for bicycles. I think this may work out!

I haven't told my wife about this. There is absolutely no possibility she will join me in any type of touring--except to visit a quilt store. For the most part she calls me a crazy old fool for my numerous adventures. I don't disagree with her, but I'm not going through the pearly gates without exploring the route along the way. Maybe a bicycle will help--maybe not. Experienced bicycle riders and tourers are very welcome to give advice and express their opinions in the comment section below. I need to know! Join me in this journey.

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