You know where you’re headed, and you’ve been crushin’ it on the bike, on the trainer and in the gym, and now you have to think about all of those details of what is going to encompass your precious cargo. Here comes in to play the precious Goldilocks complex: not too much, not too little, but just right.
If you’re traveling in a group, it’s nice to be able to share some of the weight responsibilities like a tent, a stove, and any other community items. These folks fancy sharing the load and touring tandem style.
Traveling during the cold seasons means that you will be carting along extra clothes to stay warm. I like to keep my core warm as well as my hands and feet as a priority (one word – TOEWARMERS). This can be done while still keeping it light by bringing good, warm gloves that allow good dexterity, keeping extra wool socks, in the event your socks get wet, and having a nice warm vest. Don’t forget to bring an extra pair of shoes. You want to be able to hike around your campsite (or hotel room) comfortably and let your cycling shoes dry out if they got blasted from the weather.
For your extremities, usually good long underwear or cycling clothes under a windproof outer shell works well for keeping warm, while not carrying too much or overheating while riding. Check out Showers Pass for amazingly efficient and innovative cycling gear to accommodate most riding conditions. If you’re going to be riding in a lot of snow, or in climates below freezing during the day, there is no way around carrying heavy clothing to keep warm. Here are some more tips for traveling in winter weather.
Choosing your lodgings as well as tour length also is an important determinant for how heavy your load will be. With camping, you obviously carry more gear, but it’s easier on your wallet than hotel hopping. Couch surfing can also be an option, if you have willing and able friends and family. Sometimes a compilation of all these options is most convenient, especially if your tour covers many miles of roadway. With long tours, ‘always be prepared’ is a good motto, but you may end up ditching a lot of your gear or mailing it back to yourself if you over packed. Here are some links of people who have more ideas and experiences to share on the subject of touring.
All of these are great considerations and a great start, but there is no perfect formula. The best preparation is to meet your own standards and create your own experience. Enjoy your tour!