Bicycle touring

Bicycle touring means self-contained cycling trips for pleasure, adventure, and autonomy rather than sport, commuting, or exercise. Touring can range from single-to multi-day trips, even years. Tours may be planned by the participant or organised by a holiday business, a club, or a charity as a fund-raising venture.

The first cyclists, often aristocratic or rich, flirted with the bicycle and then abandoned it for the new motor car. It was the lower middle class which profited from cycling and the liberation that it brought. The Cyclist of 13 August 1892 said: “The two sections of the community which form the majority of ‘wheelmen’ are the great clerk class and the great shop assistant class.” H. G. Wells described this aspirant class liberated through cycling. Three of his heroes – in The History of Mr Polly, Kipps and The Wheels of Chance – buy bicycles. The first two work in drapery shops. The third, Hoopdriver, goes on a cycling holiday. The authors Roderick Watson and Martin Gray say:

Hoopdriver is certainly liberated by his machine. It affords him not only a country holiday, in itself a remarkable event which he enjoys immensely, however ignorant of the countryside he may be, but also a brush with a society girl, riding on pneumatics and wearing some kind of Rational Dress.

The book suggests the new social mobility created by the bike, which breaks the boundaries of Hoopdriver’s world literally and figuratively. Hoopdriver sets off in a spirit of freedom, finally away from his job:

Only those who toil six long days out of the seven, and all the year round, save for one brief glorious fortnight or ten days in the summer time, know the exquisite sensations of the First Holiday Morning. All the dreary, uninteresting routine drops from you suddenly, your chains fall about your feet…There were thrushes in the Richmond Road, and a lark on Putney Heath. The freshness of dew was in the air; dew or the relics of an overnight shower glittered on the leaves and grass…He wheeled his machine up Putney Hill, and his heart sang within him.

Wells puts Hoopdriver in a new brown cycling suit to show the importance of the venture and the freedom on which he is embarking. Hoopdriver finds the bicycle raises his social standing, at least in his imagination, and he calls to himself as he rides that he’s “a bloomin’ dook ” The New Woman that he pursues wears Rational Dress of a sort that scandalised society but made cycling much easier. The Rational Dress Society was founded in 1881 in London. It said:

The Rational Dress Society protests… against crinolines or crinolettes of any kind as ugly and deforming… requires all to be dressed healthily, comfortably, and beautifully, to seek what conduces to birth, comfort and beauty in our dress as a duty to ourselves and each other.

Both Hoopdriver and the Young Lady in Grey, as he refers to her, are escaping social restraints through bicycle touring. Hoopdriver falls in love and rescues her from a lover who says marrying him is the only way that she, having left alone for a cycling holiday, can save her reputation. She lowers her social status; he raises his. McGurn says: “The shift in social perspectives, as exemplified by Wells’ cyclists, led Galsworthy to claim, at a later date, that the bicycle had “been responsible for more movement in manners and morals than anything since Charles the Second.”

The bicycle gained from the outdoor movement of the 1930s. The Cyclists’ Touring Club advertised a week’s all-in tour, staying at hotels recommended by cyclists, for £3 10s. The youth hostel movement started in Germany and spread abroad, and a cycling holiday staying at hostels in the 1930s could be had for £2. Roderick Watson and Martin Gray estimate there were ten million bicycles in Britain to one million cars.

A decline set in across Europe, particularly in Britain, when millions of servicemen returned from World War II having learned to drive. Trips away were now, for the increasing number who had one, by car. The decline in the United States came even sooner. McGurn says:

The story of inter-war cycling was characterised by lack of interest and a steady decline… Cycling had lost out to the automobile, and to some extent to the new electric transport systems. In the 1930s cumbersome, fat-tyred ‘balloon bombers’, bulbously streamlined in imitation of motorcycles or aeroplanes, appealed to American children: the only mass market still open to cycle manufacturers. Wartime austerity gave cycling a short reprieve in the industrial world. The post-war peace was to lay the bicycle low.

However, between 1965 and 1975 the USA experienced a bike boom. In 1976, to celebrate the bicentennial of the founding of the United States, Greg Siple, his wife, June, and Dan Lys Burden organized a mass bike ride, Bikecentennial, from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Siple said:

My original thought was to send out ads and flyers saying, ‘Show up at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco at 9 o’clock on June 1 with your bicycle.’ And then we were going to bicycle across the country. I pictured thousands of people, a sea of people with their bikes and packs all ready to go, and there would be old men and people with balloon-tire bikes and Frenchmen who flew over just for this. Nobody would shoot a gun off or anything. At 9 o’clock everybody would just start moving. It would be like this crowd of locusts crossing America

The ride eventually ran from Astoria, Oregon, to Yorktown, Virginia, site of the first British settlements; 4,100 rode, with 2,000 completing the entire route. It defined a new start for cycle-touring in the United States and led to the creation of Adventure Cycling Association. Adventure Cycling has mapped routes across America and into Canada, many of the rides taking up to three months to complete on a loaded bicycle.

In Britain, the Cyclists Touring Club grew to 70,000 members by 2011 and is now the biggest body campaigning for cycling and cyclists’ rights in the UK. It continues to organise group touring events including day rides through its local groups and CTC holidays in many countries led by experienced CTC members. Since 1983, Sustrans has created a National Cycle Network of long-distance cycle routes including back roads and traffic-free tracks built, signed, and mapped in partnership with local organisations.

Since 1980, there has been a growth of organised cycling holidays provided by commercial organisations in many countries. Some companies provide accommodation and route information to cyclists travelling independently; others focus on a group experience, including guides and support for a large number of riders cycling together. A variation on this is holidays, often in exotic locations, organised in partnership with a charity, in which participants are expected to raise donation as well as cover their costs.

The scale of bicycle touring and its economic effects are difficult to estimate, given the activity’s informal nature. Market research indicates that in 2006 British cyclists spent £120m on 450,000 organised cycling holidays, and a further 2.5 million people included some cycling activity in their annual holiday that year. The total economic benefit to communities visited during the nine-day long Great Victorian Bike Ride was estimated at about AU$2 million in 2011, which does not include costs paid directly to ride organisers and ongoing benefits to towns. Sustrans estimate that the total value of cycle tourism in the UK in 1997 was £635m and they forecast £14bn for the whole EU by 2020. Among examples of current activity given by Sustrans are 1.5m cyclists using the 250 kilometres (160 mi) Danube Cycle Route each year and 25% of holiday visitors in Germany using bicycles during their visit.

Bicycle touring can be of any distance and time. The French tourist Jacques Sirat speaks in lectures of how he felt proud riding round the world for five years – until he met an Australian who had been on the road for 27 years. The German rider, Walter Stolle, lost his home and living in the Sudetenland in the aftermath of World War II, settled in Britain and set off from Essex on 25 January 1959, to cycle round the world. He rode through 159 countries in 18 years, denied only those with sealed borders. He paid his way by giving slide shows in seven languages. He gave 2,500 at US$100 each. In 1974, he rode through Nigeria, Dahomey, Upper Volta, Ghana, Leone, Ivory Coast, Liberia and Guinea. He was robbed 231 times, wore out six bicycles and had five more stolen.

Another German set off three years after Stolle and is still riding. Heinz Stücke left his job as a die-maker in North Rhine-Westphalia in 1962 when he was 22. He has never been home since. By 2006 he had cycled more than 539,000 km (335,000 mi) and visited 192 countries. He pays his way by selling photographs to magazines. From Asia, Gua Dahao left China in May 1999 to ride across Siberia, the Middle East, Turkey, western Europe, Scandinavia, then another 100,000 km across Africa, Latin America and Australia.

But there are many who attempt long voyages in exceptionally short amounts of time. The current circumnavigation record by bicycle is just 91 days, 18 hours, by Mike Hall.

Some distinguished writers have combined cycling with travel writing, such as Dervla Murphy, who made her first documented journey in 1963, from London to India, on a single speed bicycle with little more than a revolver and a change of underwear. In 2006, she described how, aged 74, she was held up at gunpoint and robbed while cycling in Russia. Eric Newby, Bettina Selby, and Anne Mustoe have all used cycling as a means to a literary end, valuing the way that cycling brings the traveller closer to people and places. Selby said,

(the bicycle) makes me independent in a way no other form of transport can – it needs no fuel, no documents and very little maintenance. Most importantly it goes along at the right speed for seeing everything, and as it doesn’t cut me off from my surroundings, it also makes me a lot of friends.

In more recent years, British adventurers Alastair Humphreys (Moods of Future Joys), Mark Beaumont (The Man who Cycled the World), and Rob Lilwall (Cycling Home From Siberia) have all been on epic bicycle expeditions and written popular books about their exploits. But most bicycle tourists are ordinary people out of the spotlight.

One of the profound economic implications of bicycle use is that it liberates the user from oil consumption. The bicycle is an inexpensive, fast, healthy and environmentally friendly mode of transport. Ivan Illich stated that bicycle use extended the usable physical environment for people, while alternatives such as cars and motorways degraded and confined people’s environment and mobility.

Distances vary considerably. Depending on fitness, speed and the number of stops, the rider usually covers between 50–150 kilometres (30–90 mi) per day. A short tour over a few days may cover as little as 200 kilometres (120 mi) and a long tour may go right across a country or around the world. There are many different types of bicycle touring:

Lightweight touring
Informally called credit-card touring, a rider carries a minimum of equipment and a lot of money. Overnight accommodation is in youth hostels, hotels, pensions or B&Bs. Food is bought at cafes, restaurants or markets.

Ultralight touring
Differs from credit card touring in that the rider is self-sufficient but carries only the bare essentials and no frills.

Fully loaded touring
Also known as self-supported touring, cyclists carry everything they need, including food, cooking equipment, and a tent for camping. Some cyclists minimize their load, carrying only basic supplies, food, and a Bivouac shelter or lightweight tent.

Expedition touring
Cyclists travel extensively, often through developing nations or remote areas. The bicycle is loaded with food, spares, tools, and camping equipment so that the traveller is largely self-supporting.

Mixed Terrain Cycle-Touring / Bikepacking
Also called rough riding, cyclists travel over a variety of surfaces and topography on a single route, with a single bicycle. Focusing on freedom of travel and efficiency over varied surfaces, cyclists often adopt an ultralight camping approach and carry their own minimal gear (bikepacking).

Supported touring
Cyclists are supported by a motor vehicle, which carries most equipment. This can be organized independently by groups of cyclists or commercial holiday companies. These companies sell places on guided tours, including booked lodging, luggage transfers, route planning and often meals and rental bikes.

Day touring
These rides vary highly in their size of the group, length, purpose, and methods of support. They may involve solo cyclists, group rides, or large organized rides with hundreds to thousands of riders. Their length can range from a few miles to century rides of 100 miles (160 km) or longer. Their purpose can range from riding for pleasure or fitness, to raising money for a charitable organization. Methods of support can include self-supported day rides, rides supported by friends or small groups, and organized rides where cyclists pay for support and accommodation provided by event organizers, including rest and refreshment stops, marshalling to aid safety, and sag services.

S24O – Sub-24hour-Overnight
The Sub-24hour-Overnight is focussed less on the cycling and more on the camping. Typically, one would depart on their bicycle in the late afternoon or evening, ride to a campsite in a few hours, camp, sleep, and ride home the next morning. This type can require very little planning or time commitment. If one lives in a large urban metropolis, this sort of trip might also be extended, taking a train or coach to get to a more convenient starting point, and may in fact take a lot longer than 24 hours, making it a weekend tour, but it otherwise still works on the same planning principles.

Touring bike
Cycle touring beyond the range of a day trip may need a bike capable of carrying heavy loads. Although many different bicycles can be used, specialist touring bikes are built to carry appropriate loads and to be ridden more comfortably over long distances. A typical bicycle would have a longer wheelbase for stability and heel clearance, frame fittings for front and rear pannier racks, additional water bottle mounts, frame fittings for front and rear mudguards/fenders, a broader range of gearing to cope with the increased weight, and touring tires which are wider to provide more comfort on backroads.

Basic conditions of a bicycle tour or a cycling holiday

Cycling routes and networks
Signposted and developed routes and networks are not mandatory for cycling, but the best way to promote cycle tourism. Thus, with the appropriate effort, attractive routes can be created even in narrow valleys with a main street heavily laden with motor vehicles. Cycling networks are today also a means of previously little known holiday regions to make themselves known, or already known countries and regions, to get away from a previously one-sided image. Thus, Switzerland (Veloland Switzerland) and Austria demonstrate that they not only have high mountains – but also that these mountains are navigable by bike, and the island of Usedom, that she is not only bathing.

In many European countries, it was early on begun to plan nationwide networks. At the European level (ECF), English, French and Scandinavian people conceived a Europe-wide network back in the 1990s. In Germany, the first cycling routes were established in the early 1980s as a regional initiative. Networking within the federal states came early in Baden-Württemberg, but only later in other countries. The nationwide cycling network Germany came last and is based on existing routes. Meanwhile, Germany is also involved in the EuroVelo network.

Already in the 1980s, long before official network concepts were in the Netherlands detailed route descriptions for long-distance travel on the market, z. From the Netherlands to Scandinavia or Rome.

Information resources
Bicycle tour guides and cycling maps are now available throughout the whole of Western and Central European countries. This is part of the market tendency to print tickets for specific audiences instead of one ticket for all. Existing directions can be much better evaluated and used, if they can be understood on the basis of a map. In part, however, the cartographic information behind advertising tourist logos back. In addition, spiral notebooks were developed in landscape format, which fit into the window of a handlebar bag.

Also on the Internet there are numerous information for cyclists, free as paid. Some of this is just an advertisement for a print product, but much also includes detailed route information. There are map servers, route planner like the maps of North Rhine-Westphalia, elaborated maps and GPS tracks.

Route selection and route planning
Bike tours are popular because of their small inclines along the large river valleys (eg Danube cycle path) or historical routes, eg. Along the ancient Roman road Via Claudia Augusta. In the lowlands, river routes can be well marketed because of the well-known river names, but are often less varied than river-independent routes. Especially in the lowlands, cyclists can struggle with day-long headwinds. It may be more grueling than a mountain passwho costs strength first, but then rewards beyond the top of the pass with a long descent. But even hilly terrain with constant ups and downs leads to challenging routes. For mountain passes, routes without heavy motor vehicle traffic are an advantage for the driveway in order to reduce the exhalation of hazardous exhaust gases during the exertion. On the other hand, travelers should avoid gravel and steep slopes for the descent, and motor traffic is a particular safety risk for the cyclist.

For the tour preparation topographic and similar maps with contour lines are an advantage, especially suitable are special cycle maps. On weather experienced cyclist consider still other, for all the possible wind directions. As cold spells in the mountains, generally lower temperatures on higher mountains, cooling during long downhill, heat in valleys and on southern slopes. Especially exposed to the wind are paths on dikes, Good wind and sun protection provide forests. After heavy rains, riverside paths can be flooded and ferries stop their operation due to flooding. The car and thus exhaust pollution of some roads and the pedestrian density on promenades are on Sundays and public holidays very different than during the week, on busy routes that also applies to the bike itself. For mountain bike tours off the roads is in the route planning on the presence of Because of respect, which is passable and on which cycling is allowed – most alpine clubs maintain lists of mountain routes suitable for cycling.

Technical Equipment
Since the 1980s, a lot of special equipment for cycling has been developed. Much of this, however, is general recreational and outdoor equipment, whose market has increased significantly in recent decades. Hardwearing weatherproof panniers have been developed especially for cycle tourism, which are now used by many cyclists for shopping and the way to work.

Some particularly powerful and durable parts, however, have disappeared from the market again, as the number of small bike trips has increased more than the extreme tours. Although the proportion of luxuriously equipped bicycles has grown significantly in terms of supply, ergonomic quality and durability are more geared to driving under 1000 km per year. So parts have traded mostly still and other changes are made to a standard bicycle tailored to the respective cyclists touring bike to make. For use off the public roads are trekking bikes, which are combinations of touring bike and mountain bike.

Luggage and weight
In addition to clothing and food, sleeping bag, tent, mattress and cookware, when not staying in tourist accommodation, as well as maps / GPS equipment and camera equipment are often included. The use of waterproof panniers is convenient, but also increases the weight. Complete luggage also includes tools and spare parts, as well as a first aid kit for accidents. Depending on the area of the trip and the individual preference, the provisions cover the needs for drinks and food for one to two hours to several days.

Depending on the bike, equipment and travel duration, the total weight of a normally loaded touring bike is between 15 and 30 kilograms, with heavy luggage a maximum of 50 to 70 kg, in some cases even more. The driving behavior is dependent on the total weight of bike and luggage. A skilled driver can easily control up to 40 kg of payload if the luggage is distributed sensibly.

Up to 60 kg requires great practice, especially at very slow or very fast driving. 80 kg are just manageable with a ‘real’ (heavy) touring bike. The bike can start flapping. With heavy luggage, tire punctures are more frequent and dangerous while driving, too light construction and bad material can lead to increased spoke breaks or even fork or frame breakage. Some cyclists prefer a bicycle trailer for a lot of luggage.

Single driver or group driving
The individual driver is more flexible in designing the stages. Breaks and short stops, z. B. for taking photos, can be inserted spontaneously, if the traffic situation allows it. Likewise, the route can be changed spontaneously. The landscape experience can be more intense as no attention needs to be paid to riders and the view is not restricted by riders, especially forward. For this, the individual driver must also carry the pieces of luggage, which are only needed once in a group. This applies in particular to maps / GPS equipment, first-aid kits and tools, as well as tent and cookware, if not staying in accommodation facilities. In the event of accidents or breakdowns, the individual driver must help himself or, if this is not possible, wait for help.

Driving in the group gives a group experience. Only once needed equipment can be distributed to the group, which reduces the luggage load of each bike. In the event of an accident or breakdown, help is available immediately, unless the entire group is affected. For this, breaks, short stops and route selection must be coordinated. Problematic are groups that are composed of drivers with very different performance levels, as some drivers are over- or under-challenged. Rail transfers with larger groups can cause difficulties, as often in busy trains often not enough parking space for all bikes is available.

Driving in the closed group is usually not in racing style, as the group is exposed to road traffic load and cycle paths usually offer little space in the width. Wind shadow driving is common, but requires increased attention from all drivers on the passengers as the safety distance is undercut. Regular changes at the top should be self-evident, but are not always possible due to traffic and traffic conditions. When driving uphill, the group can fall apart. Then it is usual that at the end of the uphill stretch all drivers are waited. Downhill runs are usually not in the closed group, so that each driver has a sufficient safety distance to the vehicle in front and enough space to control.

Organized cycling trips
A cycling trip means reaching your own muscle power goal. At first glance, it seems contradictory when tour operators sell cycle tours. But since not a few cycle tourists do not want to adventure, or want to take the trouble of a meticulous organization, there is quite a market for it.

If it comes to guided tours, they offer the participants even more benefits.

They convey a group experience.
They open up holiday regions with little developed infrastructure, in which many people do not dare to travel as individuals, for example the Romanian Carpathians.
They enable large sporting events in the sense of a bicycle race as a fun run, for example Munich – Cesenatico.

Bicycle as luggage
Many cyclists want to cycle in regions that are too far away for them to travel by bicycle. This makes the bike part of the journey to your luggage.

Rail: Environmentally friendly as a car and plane, regularly running, despite network thinning reasonably widespread, the train is actually predestined for motorized travel for a bike ride. There are currently difficulties with the restrictions on bicycle transport in long-distance trains. (eg Germany: In ICE bicycles are excluded, reservation obligation for IC). Obstacles can exist in cross-border long-distance traffic. Problems with the platform stairs are increasingly being solved throughout Europe by customer lifts and special cyclists’ ramps.
Bus: Due to the difficulties of cycling, especially in international rail transport, several bus companies have specialized in bicycle transport. Buses with bicycle trailers travel from popular Dutch and German cities to popular holiday destinations. In line buses off the main cycle routes, the bike usually has to be stowed away in the limited luggage compartment.
Car: Many tourists transport their bicycle on the car roof or on the rear bike rack of their own car. They do not have any handling issues, but they can only do tours where they return to the location of their car. The transport on the car roof increases the air resistance and thus the fuel consumption. To avoid accidents, the wheel must be well secured. If the bicycles are hanging from the rear of the car, the air resistance is lower, the transport safer and the wheel more sheltered. It is expedient to have a rear bicycle carrier in which the rear or trunk lid can still be opened in the mounted and loaded state.
By plane: In international air traffic, taking bicycles is usually less bureaucratic than by train. Frequently, however, the use of a bicycle case or other packaging is prescribed. The prices for bike transport vary greatly depending on the airline.

Data on cycling tourism

Economic significance
While cycling tours used to be considered as poor people’s tourism, gastronomy and accommodation have meanwhile recognized that cycle tourists on average leave more money in a holiday region than car tourists, because they are much smaller due to the limited range of action and the need to transport everything through muscle power supply. Cycle tourists visit the monuments and museums due to the slower movement in the just traveled region rather than car tourists. By signposting bike trails, it is possible to distribute the tourists in the area.

Of particular economic importance is the cycle tourism in scenic areas without outstanding attractions, such as large parts of the Danube Valley from Germany to the mouth or the plains of Europe.

Age distribution of cycling tourists
In the past, almost only teenagers and young adults cycled. Meanwhile, not a small part of the cycle tourists 50 to over 70 years old. Not a few have grazed the sights of the world long ago. Others have more time to live a life full of responsibilities and are still much fitter than their peers thirty years before. In the classic pre- and post-season, in which people without school-age children prefer to vacation, the weather is better for cycling than for beach holidays or high mountain tours. Particularly large is the proportion of vigorous retirees among American cycling tourists in Europe, who erradeln the homeland of their ancestors and often travel considerable distances.

Even parents with small children are represented by cyclists numerous. However, a cycling trip with children requires good preparation and pedagogical sense. Meanwhile, there is a wide range of children’s trailers for the youngest and semi-trailers to pedal for the not so small. But much can not be solved technically: It can take less toys than z. B. on a road trip. Some children are interested in playing on the side of the road more than one waypoint. Many breaks have to be taken into account. More capable children can either be ill-mannered or overwhelmed by excessive ambition. Young people often prefer to go their own way, rather than vacationing with parents and small siblings.

Routes with support car. Driven by friends / family or organized by companies that usually carry a support van in which luggage travels, in addition to tools and spare parts to solve any breakdown, or to act as a “broom” picking up those who can not stand the pace or get injured

« Credit card », that is, staying in hotels and eating in restaurants.
In self-sufficiency: carrying everything necessary to camp (tent, sleeping bag, kitchen utensils, etc.) or bivouac.
Bikepacking or mountain biking: Combination of mountain biking with traditional saddlebag cycling. Popular routes in this sense are the Trans-Pyrenees in Spain or the Great Divide in the United States.

Popular routes
Some countries enjoy networks of long-distance bicycle lanes useful for cyclists, such as Holland, Germany or England, but in general it is the cyclist himself who is designing his itinerary trying to connect little-traveled roads and / or dirt tracks in good condition. Some of the most popular routes are:

International routes:
Europe: EuroVelo Routes, 12 long-distance international routes that cross the entire continent
America: Pan-American Highway, National Route 40 (Argentina)
Asia: Silk Road

Combination of bicycle and other means of transport
Cycling is usually a type of intermodal trip, which combines the bicycle with other means of transport, to reach the starting point of the route. Traveling with the bike and the necessary equipment can be cumbersome and it is advisable to inform yourself beforehand of the regulations of each company.

In fiction
Examples of fictional works featuring bicycle tours include:

The Bike Tour Mystery (2002) by Carolyn Keene, Nancy Drew Mystery Stories #168
The Wheels of Chance (1896) by H.G. Wells

Source from Wikipedia