My thoughts on Cycle Touring - Unfinished Business - CycleBlaze

My thoughts on Cycle Touring

My four, short sentences of advice for a cyclist beginning touring

  • Get a bike and go.  Don’t agonise over the specifications because it will stop you going.
  • Devise a rough plan only. Plans are things that fail.
  • Have an article of celebratory clothing for those momentous occasions – mountain tops, border crossings and the like.
  • Have the attitude that the only bad outcome is life-changing stuff (like being chucked in a Chinese jail). Anything else, a fractured leg or broken bike is a mere inconvenience.
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I don’t train, as such. I have spent my adult years fit or injured. I ride a bike most days and when cycling alone I tend to push myself. So, make a bike part of your life. A touring bike is perfect for this because you can fit it with racks and panniers and drag an enormous load home from the shops. If it’s fitted with mudguards you won’t look like a tiger in the rain and you’ll have a steed that’s too uncool to nick. Mudguards provide the ultimate bicycle security!!

Cycling philosophy

There’s an industry that will disagree with this statement: “organised trips are not travel!” I’m pleased that many enjoy them but they are not for me. I relish the unknown. I have no qualms about flying to a foreign land, finding accommodation and proceeding from there. 

My trips (mostly with Cora) have followed the same philosophy. We typically do little planning and prefer to camp and to cook our own food (except in Asia where camping is difficult).  We don’t want any support and have never been on an organised ride. I can’t imagine repeating a long ride; returning to a place means missing out on visiting a new place. Just blow with the wind!  Let me express it another way. If someone invited me on a trip that was all laid out – where we stay each day, the roads we ride, then I wouldn’t go. It would steal my freedom. If someone offered to pay for luxury accommodation then I would take the money, give it to the indigo foundation and nick off into the bush and camp.

I met a fellow a few days ago, looking a little lost. John 808080 was on an electric bike and was trying to find a park in Canberra where he was meeting his daughter. He explained that the 808080 was his aim of 80 km per day, for 80 days before he turned 80 – just months away. I asked if he camps and he proceeded to tell me that it rejuvenates the body and the mind. We chatted for only a few minutes but clearly have much in common, bar the electric bike. But I am sure I will get there!

An amusing moment

Let me finish with an amusing moment that summarises my thoughts. I was approaching the border between Turkey and Iran in the late afternoon when I saw a sign to Noah’s Ark. How could I not take that rough dirt road? After all, I had been hearing of the Ark since I was a child. Well, it was easy to blow off the Ark because I was determined to cross into Iran and perhaps find a place to watch the Champions' League Final. That night I crammed into a hotel room with about 30 Iranians and watched Barcelona beat Manchester United 3-1. It was the start of a magnificent ride across Iran.

The dirt road to Noah's Ark
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