The sun has finally come out to stay and with the sun have come the people.
Families are showing up at ice cream shops. People are walking their dogs. And there are touring cyclists!
That's right! We're not the only ones anymore!
In the past week, we've run into numerous people: young, old, fit, or just getting back into shape, and all on bikes. And not just riding them, but touring!
We've known for a while how awesome bicycle touring is, but it's nice to see more people out there doing it! Meeting all of these different people on the road gave me an idea for my Patch article. I would like to introduce you to a different type of summer vacation. I know for the students in school, summer can't come fast enough but it's really right around the corner.
I'm sure some of you are planning a vacation to the Cape, or maybe a visit to family or possibly to some National Parks. Have you given any thought to bicycle touring as a vacation?
It can be an enlightening way to visit a place, old or new. We've heard all the excuses, but Adam and I have witnessed a couple in their 70's riding cross country and a couple celebrating their 25th anniversary riding the Erie Canal.
We've also heard of a family with two kids, ages two and four, riding from Florida to Washington state on bikes.
There's no excuse good enough to keep you from a bicycle touring vacation! Some of you may be envisioning a bike trip filled with hauling all of your gear hundreds of miles uphill, but it doesn't have to be this way. There are so many options for all different types of bicycle vacations and I wanted to give you a few ideas
Supported Bicycle Touring: Picture this! You spend a sunny summer day riding the Rhode Island shoreline and end up at a beautiful inn where dinner and your luggage is waiting for you. A supported tour is one that is set up for you and there are numerous companies that do this around the New England area. These generally cost a bit more money, but you have the luxury of someone carrying all of your gear and sometimes cooking for you, too!
Adventure Cycling Organization ( http://www.adventurecycling.org/) is our go-to organization for information, maps, and discussions on bike touring. You can do a tour with them or get your own maps and do your own tour. They have routes all around the U.S. but there are a bunch of local organizations as well.
While in Vermont, we met Wally, a bicycle tour leader. He introduced us to an organization called Bike VT ( http://www.bikevt.com/). They do bike tours all around New England and internationally as well! I did a quick google search of "New England Cycling" and found a company called Cycle New England that can help you set up a trip for the summer! They even do a trip around Mystic!
Another company called Coastal Biking Adventures does a few trips through NY, CT, and RI. I'd be a little jealous of you if you got to do any of these tours. They look much more luxurious than what we're doing.
The point is, though, the choices are endless.
Self-Supported: A self-supported tour basically means you carry everything yourself. This may sound daunting, but this doesn't have to be a lot of gear. What you carry is totally up to you.
You can do a Credit Card tour where you stay at inns or B&B's along the way, or you can carry a bit more gear and do some camping. This is by far the cheapest way to get around!
One easy route would be the Erie Canal Trail from Buffalo to Albany. While we were on this trail last week, we met a couple doing their first bicycle touring vacation as a way to celebrate their 25 anniversary. They were only on day two, but they were loving the vacation.
The trail is mostly hard packed, meaning the best bike would be a hybrid. Road bikes are fine, but a little thicker tire is usually wanted. The nice part about this trail is you can get a pretty thorough guide letting you know exactly where campgrounds or hotels are located and explaining about different attractions along the way. And because it's a bike trail, you're really off the road most of the time.
You can check it out here: http://www.ptny.org/canaltour/
If you want to try a self-supported tour in CT, you can get a CT state bicycle map from our very own CT Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator ( firstname.lastname@example.org).
It highlights roads in CT that are better for bicycle travel.
And of course, you're always more than welcome to come find us this summer and join us for a day, or two, or three... We just love visitors!
You might have to do a little dance with us if you happen to ride with us to a new state. Of course, if you're going to do a self-supported tour, you're probably going to at least need a rear rack and panniers.
You can visit Mark at The Broken Spoke and he can help set you up or e-mail us and we'd love to give you advice.
Some things to plan for: A Sore Butt. Our advice? Spend the money on a great pair of bike shorts and if you can, a saddle. Mileage: If you're new to biking, take it easy. Bike touring should not be a race. We've done 100 mile days but our favorites are always the shorter days where we really get to experience the places we're visiting. 30-40 miles is a good day for a beginner.
We'd love to hear from you if you've done a bike tour before or end up doing one this summer! Let us know your thoughts!