Bicycle Touring and Bicycle Touring

Presumably you have stumbled across this web site because you are interested in bicycle touring.

If so you will have realised that there are a number of sorts of bicycle touring.

Most of the information available deals with self-supported touring.  The photos of bikes will show them laden with both front and rear panniers, as well as gear on top of the rear pannier.

People who travel like this are very concerned about their independence and usually about containing their costs.  They camp.  They often travel in fairly remote places where there is little backup, and they like it like that.  They are proud of their self-reliance.

Perhaps this is you.

You can also sign up for a group tour.

Usually the organisers will have an accompanying vehicle that will carry your gear to the next stop, and they will organise your accommodation and meals, as well as provide backup if your bike has a problem.  We have friends who have done this and love it, but it is not for us.  This may be a way to get the feel of bicycle touring before going it alone.

Our bicycle touring is perhaps best described as “first world” bicycle touring.  It differs from the more adventurous form described above, and the more supported form, in the following ways.

  • We travel light.
  • We do not camp.
  • We are rarely more than 20km from a nice town.
  • We do not travel in a group.
  • We have a very loose itinerary.
  • The ride is as much a means to an end, as an end in itself.
  • Most of our touring is in Europe, which allows us to tick all of these boxes.

Of course, you can tour Europe camping in very comfortable camping areas, but they tend to be some distance from town centres.  In some areas of Europe, particularly Scandinavia, there are rules that allow you to “free camp” in forests and state parks, of which there are many.

However you travel in western Europe, it cannot be classified as adventure touring, and perhaps all the better for that.

For many people the choice as to whether you camp or use hotels or B&Bs is a matter of cost.  If you free camp and live off supermarket food you can bicycle tour at very low cost, while also living very comfortably, until it rains.  Of course, your option then is to book into somewhere more comfortable until the weather clears, and it would be nice to have this option, rather than carting around wet camping gear.

When planning your trip, cost out the difference between camping in a camping ground and staying in a B&B, you might be surprised at how little different the costs are.

Even though we do not camp, it has been our practice to simply get on a train and go somewhere else if we find that there is a widespread and appalling weather pattern settling in.