Bike Touring In The States 101

Aug 13 2014 0 Comments August 2014

The USA has so much to offer to the cycling adventurer – sea, mountains, forests, grasslands, swamps, lakes and deserts.  Look at the US Bicycle Route System which is being putting together to offer a network of cycling routes, and plans to be the largest in the world; already forty states have participated.Your first decision has to be what sort of terrain you want to cycle through.  Once you have made that choice, the next one will be to plan your route and decide how far you want to travel each day.  There are many companies out there who will do all the planning for you and offer different types of cycling tours, such as recreational, mountain or road bike.  That might be a good option, especially if you are not from the States and need a little guidance, as these companies also grade their tours from easy to extreme.
The next series of questions to ask yourself, is whether you want a guided tour, where you stay in hotels every night and your luggage is delivered to your room, or whether you want to camp and  carry your life with you, or you can choose any option in the middle.  There is such a selection of tours out there, absolutely everyone is catered for.   Your decision on which road to take, will depend on your motive for touring the States on a bike and also your bank balance. THE RIGHT GEAR Let us suppose that you have chosen the cheapest route which will be camping, cooking your own meals and carrying all your own equipment.  You need to plan carefully, as there may not be a puncture repair kit available in the middle of a National Park. Number one priority for all tours is high visibility in all conditions in daylight and at night.  A reflective vest, which can also be used for running and hiking, is an essential part of your luggage.  Comfort is the order of the day, so make sure you have comfortable shoes, a good fitting helmet and easy fitting clothes.  Wear clothing that is light and can be washed and dried quickly.  Remember to pack a lightweight waterproof jacket - you can buy some that double up as a safety vest.
If you are catering for yourself, then you need to have bicycle panniers for your tent, sleeping bag and cooking equipment.  Items such as first aid kits, bicycle repair kits, maps, GPS, toiletries and food items can be split up among the group.  If you are travelling on your own, then you need to keep your luggage down to absolute necessities. If you have chosen to take a tour which includes hotel accommodation and transported luggage, then all you will need to carry with you each day is water, possibly lunch (although a lot of guided tours include lunch at a restaurant), a bicycle repair kit, a first aid kit, a map or a GPS and a cell phone in case of an emergency. Whichever option you choose, the States has a lot to offer cyclists, young and old.


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