“Bicycle touring is heightened awareness. It’s the difference between microwaving and cooking a meal from scratch. It’s the difference between standing awe-struck in front of a painting and clicking past it on the internet. Now imagine this feeling every day, all day. Something as simple as THE GROUND becomes very important. Is it level? Soft? Wet? You really begin to SEE the ground. You see people. And landscapes. And food. You might even see yourself. “ –Rebecca Jensen
Firstly, I am no great touring purist. I am quite happy to admit I do sometimes take a train or bus. Come to think of it, I rarely do a tour without jumping on some form of mechanical transport. Whizzing past long, straight, boring bits or having a coffee at 100 mph while the rain drops race down the carriage window brings a well-earned guilt-free smile. I have found this particularly applies to trying to get out big city’s. It seems a lot easier to cycle into one than to leave it.
This freedom from ideology is what for me, makes cycle touring a enjoyable experience. It’s not just getting an understanding the lay of the land, all the sights and smells are there to enjoy at your own pace. The freedom to stop and stare when you want. People will readily speak to you when you pull up. How many times have you passed a view in a car and wished you could stop and take a photograph? Fancy a detour? And what about guilt-free eating? 5000 calories a day is a lot of ice-cream!
I do recommend you join the Cycling UK (was formally CTC, Cyclist Touring Club)their forum’s are particularly knowledgeable. The magazine is ‘alright’ but still beats the other cycle mags. I am a firm believer in good cycle gear, you have enough to contend with on the road (finding the right way, is one) without addition problems with your panniers, clothing and mechanical failure.
Get an understanding of how your bike works. When at home fix as many things as you can yourself!
I have a a page here about my Dawes Galaxy Tourer and some comments about kit to carry.
How far can you go in one day?......... Your average is 40% less than you dreamed 20% less than you want and 10% less than you realisticaly hoped for.