A Few Thoughts on Bicycle Touring
A number of folks have said how much they wish they could have ridden the Eurovelo 15 bicycle route that JP and I rode during the summer of 2016 – see URL: https://cyclingtherhine2016.blogspot.com/p/day-one-wednesday-27-july-2016.html
My answer has always been "So, why don't you?" or "Just do it".
This has always been followed by a list of excuses for not doing the ride, such as:
"I don't have time".
"I don't have a good enough bicycle", or even "I don't have a bicycle".
"I can't afford it".
"I'm not fit enough".
"I'd get lost".
In themselves most of these might initially be considered to be valid reasons. However, when used as an excuse they don't hold up very well at all.
A few even said that they wished they could have come with us, to which I always replied "You're welcome to come with us – even for just part of the route". No one did.
This is the reality – and an answer to those excuses:
1) Nearly everyone has a few weeks holiday they can take from work each year. Even if you can only take two weeks off at a time you can still cover a lot of distance and see plenty of wonderful places during that time. If you really want to go, you'll make the time.
2) Bicycle routes like the Eurovelo 15 (http://en.eurovelo.com/ev15) are not demanding on a bicycle or the rider. The bicycles that JP and I used on our tour cost £150 each plus a little extra for panniers, drinking bottles and some camping gear (very cheap tent etc.). This is about as cheap as possible for any bicycle and certainly not out of reach for most people. I could have made the excuse about not having a bicycle, but I didn't. I bought one.
3) Whatever holiday you decide to have is going to cost money. Not everyone can afford to take a holiday of any sort, but those who can shouldn't find that a bicycle tour will cost more than any other holiday – and maybe less. If you can't afford a trip to Europe, there are plenty of canals in the UK where you can ride along the towing paths – easy riding, lots to see, beautiful scenery. An alternative route would be the part of Eurovelo 12 that is in the UK (https://en.eurovelo.com/ev12). This would be an amazing route to ride as it includes almost all of the east coast of England and Scotland.
4) You don't need to be fit to go touring on a bicycle. This is one of the most common excuses that people make. It's rubbish! Before we decided to ride this route, I hadn't ridden a bicycle for about 16 years. In preparation, mainly to check our bicycles worked, JP and I rode about 21 miles along a cycle path near our home. That was it. If you can ride a bicycle for about 5 miles in a day (and who can't?) you can go touring. The fitness will come as you ride. Start with short daily rides and gradually increase the distance as you become fitter. Even at the age of 67, with JP age 11, we had no fitness problems of any sort. Just take each day as it comes, travel as far as you feel is comfortable and enjoy some rest days along the route.
5) Getting lost is all part of the adventure. We didn't even take a map with us, just a pocket guide book which was a great help but wasn't always as accurate as we'd have liked. We also asked for directions when needed and (rarely) rode with someone who was using a satnav on his bicycle. There is always a way to get to where you want to go, and if you get lost you might discover even more interesting places that you would have otherwise missed.
As far as preparation goes, you can read this at URL: https://cyclingtherhine2016.blogspot.com/2016/07/preparation.html
The REALLY hard part about our trip was committing us to go – booking those flights to Switzerland was the hardest part of all. Once committed there was no turning back. The flights were paid for so that was IT! We had to GO!
The easy part of the trip started once we got to Switzerland and started riding our bicycles and continued for the next five weeks. Easy. Of course, we encountered a few difficulties along the way but nothing we couldn't overcome. They were all part of the adventure. An adventure we shared which made the trip so special for both of us.
If you really do want to go on a bicycle tour there can be no excuses – just GO!
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