This week I had the opportunity to reflect on my very first tandem bike tour with Felkerino, an eight-day, 775-mile excursion from Rockville, Maryland, to Niagara Falls.
Our Niagara Falls bike tour continues to inform the touring we do today.
Here are just a few of the lessons I learned. Most of these are taken directly from the notes I jotted down immediately after the tour:
- You do not need four panniers to credit card tour in the middle of summer.
- Guest laundry at hotels is exciting, and so much better than hand-washing the day’s clothes in the bathroom sink and squeeze-drying it in a hotel towel.
- When riding loaded, consider shorter days than 100 miles. During our 2005 Niagara Falls tour, we averaged 97 miles per day. In general, when Ed and I now tour we ride a few days that are close to a century, and mix it up with shorter days. I wrote in my notes from 2005, consider two days hard, and one day lighter to recover. Now I would revise that to ride a century one day, and ride the next couple of days at, say, 60-80 miles. It helps keep touring a treat.
- If you ride long days (100 or more per day) with bags, you will not get to stop very much. (Insert sad face here.)
- Sleep is bliss on a bike tour.
- The fourth or fifth day on a tour are emotionally tough as tour legs start to set in. (I wrote that in 2005, but have found that if we keep our mileage less than a century per day, this does not happen to me as intensely.)
- Plan out lunch and other food stops before leaving on tour.
- Take photos and notes of the places you’ve been. They are fun to revisit later. In 2005, I took terrible notes and took no photos. While I have no regrets about that, I take notes and photos of our trips. I like seeing where we toured each day and having some photos I took that help capture each day.
So that’s my short list of lessons learned about bike touring. Feel free to add anything I left out or that you’ve learned from your own experiences on the road.
Despite our follies, Felkerino and I had an unforgettable adventure in 2005 that made us want to take time every year to bike tour. Bike touring… it’s the best!