Depending on what your goal is, there is a type of bicycle touring that will fit your needs. In short, there are actually five different types of bicycle tourists.

1) "DAY-TRIPPERS" - These are regular tourist who want to get a taste of touring. They either use their own bicycle or rent one for possibly a few hours of bicycling. Sometimes, you can possibly pick out this type of cyclist because they tend to use their bicycles as hood or bumper ornaments instead of actually riding them. Bike paths, especially paved ones near metropolitan areas, are jammed with these riders during the weekends. This type of cycling is good fun and is a welcome break from any routine.

2) "WEEK-ENDERS" / "SHORT-TIMERS" - These two titles are somewhat essentially interchangeable for this type of bicycle tourist. Most generally, the "week-ender" would go to one place on a Saturday to maybe camp out and ride back to their starting point on Sunday. With regards to "short-timers", the time span for their trip might be one to four weeks out. Many bicycle shops are geared for this type of touring and they rent bicycles and gears needed for it.

3) "TOUR GROUP RIDERS" - These riders pay a company a sum of money and the company will do all of the necessary arrangements. They usually provide food, lodging, "sag support" (a vehicle provided for the carrying of gear and will probably pick you up if you lag behind), and tour guides. The length of these trips vary vary from one week to several months going across the country. You can even take a trip to a foreign country through one of these companies. Trips could also have a theme whether it is architecture, birding, good dining, or music appreciation to mention a few.

The distance traveled each day might be as low as twenty miles per day or as high as one hundred miles per day. Most often you show up, cycle with as many as twenty others rider of various ages and gender, and have a good time. Some of these touring companies, even provide bicycles and gear at an extra cost. It is hassle-free touring.

There are some positives and negatives to tour group riding. In the positive, organized tours allow a person to enjoy the many rewards of bicycle touring such as the great views, exercise, and the experience without many of the general hassles such as carrying gear, organizing trip logistics, and the dealing with route planning. Organized tours also are very convenient, as long as the cyclist doesn't mind leaving the details of their tour with another person. Also, these organized rides provide a chance for the novice bicycle tourists to get a feel for the sport, learn the basics from experienced leaders, meet new people, and to travel in relative safety as they learn.

One of the "negatives" is that these tours can be constraining for riders who like to go and create their own adventures. These tours involve riding, eating, and spending the night in close proximity to strangers, as well as following set itineraries day after day. Also, these tours are generally more expensive than self-run tours.

Some of the better tour groups can be found below. They are either Christian or non-Christian.

 Adventure Cycling
(formally BikeCentenniel) - Missoula, Montana

 America By Bicycle
Atkinson, New Hampsphire

 Biking X
(formally "The Biking Expedition") - Asheville, North Carolina (Teens, 12-16)

 Bloomington Bicycle Club
Bloomington, Indiana

 Christian Adventures
Holland, Michigan

 Crossroads Cycling
Newington, Connecticut

 Cycle America
Cannon Falls, Minnesota

 Wandering Wheels
Upland, Indiana

Lynchburg, Virginia

4) "CREDIT CARD RIDERS" - These bicycle tourists are quite self-sufficient except when it comes to lodging and meals. They will prefer to eat at restaurants instead of cooking and spend their nights in bed and breafasts, hostels, hotels, or motels.

These tourists go for extremely low amounts of gear to carry like usually two changes of cycling clothes. Most often the gear weight might be under ten pounds and could fit into a day-pack. This type of touring allows a more flexible trip over a what a commercially organized tour can provide.

A plus for this type of touring allows you to enjoy the freedom and excitement of bicycle touring without a lot of the hassles. There is no packing and unpacking of the bike bags, riding fully-loaded bicycles, setting up and taking down camps, and cooking meals. Also, this kind of touring allows to travel long distances while enjoying the comforts of home at the end of the day.

One of the disadvantages of this type touring is the expense especially on longer rides. It also can be limited to areas where facilities like restaurants, grocery stores, indoor accomodations are easily available. Planning ahead can also be difficult especially on long tours. When you carry just the basics, you are not as easily prepared to handle touring problems such as injuries, mechanical breakdowns, or sudden storms.

5) "SELF-SUFFICIENT TOURERS" - This type of bicycle tourist can possibly be considered as being the most masochistic or budget conscious (I fit into the latter category) of the lot. The two major pre-requisites are to have strong legs and lungs. Everything that you would need while on tour is carried on the bicycle which includes camping gear, food, and water. With all of the gear being carried, the bicycle could weigh in excess of one hundred pounds or more.

Usually, this type of bicycle tourists cooks their own meals and sleep at campgrounds. Expenses are kept low. These riders are committed to travel long distances or to exotic destinations. Most of these tourers are usually "soloists" (traveling by themselves) even though there are several tour comapnies that do self-sufficient touring. They are pretty well ready to handle everything from foul weather to sleeping outdoors. Because of the increased weight loads, pedaling can be harder to do and the weight carried can decrease the distance they can travel comfortably per day.


Bicyclist in Sunset


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