Preparing for a bicycle tour is a lot of work. There are many factors to take into consideration from planning the destination to the delicate balance of bringing everything you need while not overloading yourself with gear. I have been doing research and compiling information in preparation for my upcoming tour up the Pacific Coast Highway in December. Because of the wide array of information on the subject of touring, and the specialized needs for each individual tour, I thought a one-stop-tour-shop information guide would be helpful.
PICKING YOUR DESTINATION
What better place to go on a tour than next to the ocean, where the folk are friendly, the weather is nice, and the elevation changes are gradual. Because I am taking the tour over Winter Holiday, weather conditions were the main deciding factor on the whereabouts of the tour. Southern California’s moderate 50 degree Fahrenheit weather will be a nice change from the freezing Flagstaff days.
Where to begin? Figuring out your mode of travel to your starting point can be a big deciding factor. For my tour, I have decided to take a train from Flagstaff, AZ to Los Angeles, CA and begin my tour there. With the cost of air fare sky high, as well as the additional costs of boxing up your bike as a carry-on, flying to or from a part of your tour is do-able, but not very desirable. Traveling by train is nice and scenic, but usually does take three times as long as vehicular transportation for arrival. There is always the option of starting your tour from your doorstep, but depending on time constraints, this can limit your options. Check out the extreme plan from a couple of cyclists who decided to tour around the world.
Mapping out the tour and familiarizing yourself with the landscape is very important. Knowing where your resources are is helpful when packing your gear. The Pacific Coast Highway is a road more traveled and offers many amenities within a very small radius. More remote areas necessitate additional food and water as well as extra bike wear items which may not be so easy to get in the middle of nowhere. The Adventure Cycling Association has a great deal of information on popular bicycle routes and is a good place to start for picking biker-friendly U.S. Routes with killer scenery. For Routes outside of the U.S., mapping can be a little bit more tricky. Usually finding cyclists who have done your intended tour is helpful to get an idea of possible obstacles. Tom Swenson wrote about his excursion down the Pacific Coast which was a nice model for looking at elemental complications.
My next posts will discuss training for your tour (Part 2) and packing strategy (Part 3). Stay tuned!