There is a variety of cyclists out there with a steadily growing number, but no two are alike. True, they have all caught the cycling bug at one time or another, but the different approaches to it can be stunning. There are those who only commute on bikes for economic, environmental or convenience reasons. There are others who are obsessed with the athletic aspect of it (always in search of the half a pound lighter tire to give them the tiny boost in speed). Some take it up because they want to work out and running is too stressful on the joints, others because everyone else is doing it and plus size bicycle, some because the traffic is hell where they live (tens of thousands of Chinese bike to work for this reason alone!) and others because they can’t afford a car. Whatever the reason, I suspect most of them can’t help falling in love with it (I’m sure there are exceptions to this but hey, why talk about those guys?). I know I did because my impulsive purchase of a bike is the beginning of the road that eventually led me to starting a long distance cycling company.
So yes, I belong to the tribe for whom a bicycle is more than a tool to get to the supermarket. I like to explore on my bike – the farther, the better!
There are dozens of websites and forums about plus size bicycle
Today where you can easily find information about what a long distance bike rider needs – the number of bike tourers is larger than ever! But I do admit that it can be daunting and a little overwhelming from time to time. So I decided to write something for the newcomer who wants to set sail (or wheel, if you prefer) to the far off hills and doesn’t quite know what this takes. Keep in mind that these are humble opinions of a biker who doesn’t match up to those who traveled the world on a bicycle and came home to write a book about it. In fact, as you will learn further below, as much as I like biking I have never really engaged in the more robust form of it that includes a whole lot of camping in some pretty wild places. For me, maybe because I did most of my trips alone as a woman, the options were a little more limited and became clear preferences over the years.
Long Distance Touring – The Literature
I think when you are reading through the material out there (and there is a lot of it these days!) the first thing you have to understand is that whether its books or blogs, almost all current ‘long distance biking’ literature is based on the assumption that you are traveling with your own tent and cooking pot, ready to play Survivorman in the wild. This was surprising to me because although I enjoy the occasional sleeping under the stars, I never was and still am not a huge fan of camping. I know this raises eyebrows in the hardcore biker community where the hardship and pain is worn almost like a badge but to be perfectly honest, because I like my hot shower after a long ride and my soft bed without critter problems in the night and I do like good coffee (or tea – depends what country you are riding through) in the morning just as much as I like riding and sweating long hours. As someone who passionately loves biking I can understand the appeal of being a true nomad and completely self-sufficient to go where no man has gone before on two wheels, but since I rode alone for most of my adventures, I do appreciate not only the comfort but also the security of adding hotels and pensions to my long distance rides. Since this is where my experience lies, this style of long-distance riding is the one I will focus on in this article. There is tons of literature for the bikers who want more from their adventure, but not so much for those who like to go the distance in a more convenient manner.
Both kinds of tours extend far beyond the home-to-work commute though, so there are requirements you should always take into consideration.
What kind of Bike?
While wading through the long list of must-haves in forums and books for long distance riders, you should always keep in mind that by choosing not to camp, you practically eliminate a huge number of those items. The way I see it, instead of putting the money into a ton of gear I will have to maintain, repair and re-buy (and probably trip over in the non-touring winter months), I’m putting the money into nice hotels with open buffets and AC. For one thing, you don’t have to invest in a super-sturdy-best-of-its-kind-the-ultimate-and-only touring bike (which most surely comes with an outrageous price tag) when you are not planning to carry all your camping gear for the next week(s) around with you. Although it’s always a plus to have a good bike for obvious reasons, it is not a MUST if you are not planning to carry heavy loads.