OK, I confess... as a semi-professional cyclist I'm not exactly a cycling novice BUT between me and my sidekick sister (whose sum total previous experience was one week pedalling in the fairly flat Norwich), we're definitely novices at cycle touring.
I could give you an inch by inch account of our various shambolic attempts to look like we knew what we were doing - you can find that in our blog - rather, I thought I'd share with you the things we learnt along the way.
1: Anyone can do it!
And I really mean this. Cycle touring is all about taking your time and travelling your own path at your own pace. We met all sorts of people from a 70 year old aussie couple ("see you later you Pommes”), to people on Walmart bikes. There really doesn't seem to be a 'typical tourer'.
Don’t be put off by the various cries of "you’re doing what?!" or "are you crazy?!". Well yes, probably… My colleagues in the VeloVixen warehouse were particularly troubled when I informed them that all l is was planning on taking was flip-flops and my Ray-Bans. I was sort of joking.
2: Preparation is overrated
However, there are some things your really NEED:
My As Bold As Roadster jacket was my last minute purchase. Little did i know that it wouldn’t be leaving my body until a few weeks into the trip. In my mind America was going to be sunny and I was going to be living in flip flops and hot pants! In reality it rained almost everyday solid for 3/4 weeks. It wasn't until we got past San Francisco that things brightened up.
I was extraordinarily attached to my bright yellow jacket. It didn’t let a drop through despite most of my comrades suffering from the 'waterproof/actually not so waterproof' syndrome most jackets seem to suffer from. I also think the yellow looked fab!
The second item that I was rarely seen without was my merino base layer. Don’t leave without one. They keep you warm but you don’t overheat and they won't smell, even after a few days riding…. I think I stretched mine out to a week... don’t judge.
Item number three was my sister's saviour and she used it religiously everyday. Her tube of Hoo Ha Ride Glide chamois cream lived in her handlebar bag so it could be reapplied at any moment. And it worked, 1800 miles and no saddle sores.
The things we carried that we really DIDN’T need:
- An extension lead with a 5 plug socket (what were we thinking?!).
- Bikinis (again, what!?).
- A wooden spoon.
- Tupperware boxes instead of a bowl (not space saving).
The things we also took that could go in either section depending on opinion:
- Portable speaker, a pillow cut in half and sewn back up to save weight (I thought this was a stroke of genius, other people thought me mad).
- Two small union jack flags attached to the back of my bike.
- Perfume (handy for covering up the smell.. .of yourself).
- Lots of pairs of brightly coloured socks which always improved my mood when donning them in the rain.
3: Embrace the weirdness
I think the only other tip I could give is just to embrace the weirdness. You will find yourself in some very strange places and situations, but embrace them all. We slept in various people's homes, gardens, a park and met all manner of colourful people. It's those things that make the journey a memorable one.
Leave a comment to share your weird and wonderful cycling touring experiences with the VeloVixen community.
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