CYCLING PERFORMANCE TIPS
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I have had many experiences where, while taking a break or fixing a flat, someone would walk over and start up a conversation. I remember one time in a small Italian hill town where a couple of fellows walked over and started the conversation asking about my bike and then we moved on to what they were really interested in, their biking trips in the US. Or a time in France when I was taking a break and an elderly man walked over and we communicated only with gestures and a map as a way to discuss where I had come from/and was going. That never would happen on a bus tour or car trip.
Over the last 20 years I have had a chance to ride throughout the US as well as in Europe, South America, and Asia. To help me with my trip planning, and as a reminder for my gear, I have pulled together a number of helpful sites as well as put on line my own personal "lists" that help me remember all the things I need to do before I leave. Hopefully they will be of value to you as well. Many of my trip ideas come from people I have ridden with, or an interesting ride I find online while researching something else. When you meet new riders, you generally get to talking about bike gear or food (where to stop for a snack or on the bike snacks) but a third common discussion is about places they (or their friends) have ridden.
Multimodal rides allow you to increase the opportunities for a day ride. This post captures the spirit of multimodal rides: "...many road cyclists we know are doing more big one-way rides like this, with several using apps like Strava and RideWithGPS to help them find new routes and plan distant outings that normally might be out of reach...People like multimodal because it greatly increases the territory available to you in a single ride. Normally, a 100-mile ride that starts and ends at home would be confined to everything within a 50-mile radius."
What are multimodal options?
Once you have a general idea for a multi-day adventure, I have found Google a nice place to firm up a plan. You can look at areas/routes for trips offered by commercial companies (usually bike friendly/low traffic volume if they are using them for their tours) and at the same time get a sense of the time of year that is best for that area. If they run tours over several months, I will generally pick the middle of the season as statistically the best time. Too early and it can be wet/cold; too late and you have the issue of too hot if it is in the south.
Web surfing for ideas for your trip? Local color, adventure ideas in the area, support for the trip? There are a number of online web support options to help you out.
Map My Ride, and Ride with GPS are great sources for ride ideas. Now Veloguide lets you fine tune the process.I'll quote from the article in Bicycling.com: "VeloGuide is one of those ideas we wish we had thought of ourselves. It’s an app that takes the guesswork and planning out of finding a route by connecting you with a local cyclist who acts as a personal tour guide—from setting up a route based on your ability level and interests, to connecting you with a bike rental. Their "VeloGuides" are available in more than 650 cities in 74 countries."
The next time I am riding away from home I'm giving it a try. Not for a guide as a ride partner, but as a way to connect with a local contact who can provide suggestions on bike shops, local "not to be missed" venues, and most importantly, to get information on their most memorable local routes.
Expense is always a concern. Just as with lodging, there are many choices. The high end companies (Backroads is an example) stay at the best places, eat at better restaurants, and will run a trip with only 4 to 6 people signed up (BTW if you are going with a commercial company, be sure they will guarantee the trip is a "go" before you buy tickets).
Then there is the middle, companies that provide great tours, good food, and comfortable lodging at a reasonable price. Examples of companies I have personally traveled with are Experience Plus, Easy Rider, and Nichols Expeditions.
But in my book the real finds are the smaller companies just getting started and focused on a specific area. My son and his wife (a guide) decided to start a travel company focused on central Europe and The Czech Republic (Pathways Through Europe). I talked them into doing a bike tour and it was one of the best trips I have ever taken. Not only did they cover the small things (a beer after the ride was included while most companies charge separately for alcohol) but we stayed in local lodging, ate local foods, and got to experience first hand the culture of The Czech Republic. In addition, they gave it the real personal touch with a day filled with non biking opportunities. So keep an open mind as you look at the second (or third) page of a Google search.
Have a plan, but looking for support arranging accommodations, transportation, or equipment transfers at your destination?
Tour companies that I have used or have been recommended by readers. Even if you don't book a tour with them, the online sites are full of ideas. Areas they visit, routes, and as they generally are familiar with the areas, the prime times to visit as they generally book their tours when the weather is at its best. As I live in Seattle, there are more NW options than for other areas of the country.
Here are some options I often use for quick fare comparison:s