My tour planning experiences a paradigm shift - Can I Join You? - CycleBlaze

My tour planning experiences a paradigm shift

Usually, when I go on tour, it's by myself. I go where I want, see what I want, eat what I want, and sleep when (and sometimes where) I want. But traveling with another means planning differently. I'll need to take her input on the tour. So, I'm catering to 3 people, and not just myself. This requires a bit more coordination.

The Conditions

In order to go on the trip, there were certain conditions (requirements) my wife had. It was going to be a challenge for her mileage-wise, and she wanted to enjoy the trip so she wanted to make it enjoyable.

  1. There will be no camping! Kath has gone on several backpacking trips and survived in the backwoods with me, so I know she can camp. She doesn't have anything to prove. 
  2. No "all-day-long" riding sessions! Primarily, this meant less miles. It's not everyone who wants to be in the saddle all day long. Truth be told, on a 80+ mile day, even I AM ready to get off of a Brooks saddle.
  3. We will have breaks! So while I may not need to take as many frequent breaks on a tour, this tour is not 100% for me. It's for others. Taking this into account, I'm quite happy with taking more frequent breaks so everyone can enjoy the ride.
  4. No carrying beaucoup-pounds of gear! Carrying something is fine, and keeping it light keeps the riding fun - sort of like riding the bike on an extended trip, but you start in one place and end up in another. Wait -I just described a bike tour.

I figure I can live with this. It means changing up the trip a little. Truth be told, this would make the trip a little more comfy for me as no camping means staying in B&Bs or motels during the trip. For me, it's more like a road trip, only on bikes. And gives us time to see the sights, enjoy the company, and complete a goal together.

I'm quite comfortable camping in a pavilion in a town park but that's not going to happen on this trip
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The bikes

Kath's bike is really two bikes in one. A few years ago I bought her a nice lightweight Carema road bike from REI (love those 20% off coupons) at end of season, but she never really got into the drop bars. So, I cannibalized an old mountain bike and removed the rise flatbar, the shifters, and rear cassette and derailleur, and voila, the bike was born. I then upgraded it with Ergon grips, larger brake pads, and a Brooks saddle.

The "Frankenbike" is born - road geometry, mountain gearing, wife-approved
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All this in just a few hours of work for an afternoon. The Brooks saddle is interesting - I suggested she try it since she had discomfort from sitting on the saddle for so many hours. But she was hesitant that the saddle would be more comfortable than the memory-foam pillow-style saddle she had on the bike. Finally, she was convinced to give it a try so I mounted it on her bike and let her ride it up and down the street in front of our house. She takes off heading north, and then circles back from about three houses away. As she passes, she stares me in the eye and says, "Oh...my...God..." and then continues on three more houses down to come back and stops at our driveway. "You are never getting this saddle back" she says. So now I have to break in a new Brooks saddle prior to the trip. But she's joining me on a bike tour so the price is worth it.

I'm riding my Novara Randonee on this trip, and it will become the swan song for this bike. There are so many advantages to this bike that I don't know why I never really liked it. It carries the load like a Chevy Suburban; the gearing bottoms out at a low 18". There is room for fenders - multiple braze-ons for bottle cages, and I even had a dynamo wheel built for the front. It's steel, it has bar-end shifters, a more upright riding position - everything a cycle tourist should want but somehow it never really worked for me. It always felt the front end was squirrelly, unloaded, or fully loaded (and correct weight distribution, too). It took me this trip to finally figure out I really don't want to tour on this bike any longer. Which is a shame because it's a great bike and it's everything a touring bike should be. But I've found it's just not the bike I want to tour with. 

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My bags are packed, I'm ready to go

Two weeks prior to the trip, I pack the bikes into shipping boxes and send them ahead to the hotel in Pittsburgh. I make two separate trips to the FedEx office because a VW Golf TDI only fits one bike box at a time in the hatch. All of the clothing and gear we need for the trip are in the boxes with the bikes, so all we have left to do is board the airplane with ourselves and meet our equipment in Pittsburgh.

We are ready for this trip to begin.

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Mike AylingCredit card touring - nothing beats a soft bed and a warm wife to cuddle up to!
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3 years ago
Paul MulveyTo Mike AylingCorrect - this was definitely a comfy tour for me and I had the added benefit of sharing it with someone. Seeing a bike tour through a first-timer's eyes was refreshing because she saw things I just took for granted. We also slowed down and enjoyed the ride. If I were by myself I may have just pedaled on instead of stopping for that mid-morning coffee and pastry.
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3 years ago