Biking is very efficient and effective for touring
Bicycle touring, also known as cyclotourism, involves touring and exploration or sightseeing by bicycle for leisure. A brevet or randonnée is an organized long-distance ride. Bicycles provide numerous benefits compared to motor vehicles, including exercise, an alternative to the use of fossil fuels, no air or noise pollution, much reduced traffic congestion, easier parking, greater maneuverability, and access to both roads and paths. The advantages are at less financial cost to the user as well as society (negligible damage to roads, and less pavement required).
Distances vary considerably. Depending on fitness, speed and the number of stops, the rider usually covers between 50–150 kilometres (120 mi) and a long tour may go right across a country or around the world.
Types of Touring
Bicycle touring is cycling over long distances – prioritizing pleasure and endurance over utility or speed. Touring can range from single day rides to multi-day trips. Tours may be planned and organized by the participant/s for themselves or organized for a group by a professional holiday business, a club or, as a fund-raising venture, a charity.
Voyages – 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.
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 sack 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 – 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.
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 (from solo cyclists, group rides, to large organized rides with hundreds to thousands of riders), in their length (from a few miles to Century rides of 100 miles — or longer), in their purpose (from riding for pleasure to raising money for a charitable organization) and in their methods of support (from self-supported day rides, to organized rides where cyclists pay for support or accommodations provided by event organizers — including rest and refreshment stops, marshalling to aid safety, and SAG service.
Sub-24hour-Overnight (S24O) – The Sub-24hour-Overnight is 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. The beauty of this is that it requires 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 principals.
Mixed Terrain Cycle-Touring, nicknamed “rough riding” in North America and “rough stuff” in Europe, involves cycling over a variety of surfaces and topography on a single route, with a single bicycle. The recent popularity of mixed terrain touring is in part a reaction against the increasing specialization of the bike industry. Focusing on freedom of travel and efficiency over varied surfaces, mixed terrain bicycle travel has a storied past, one closely linked with warfare. By comparison, today’s mixed terrain riders are generally adventure oriented, although many police departments rely on the bicycle’s versatility. In many remote (and not so remote) parts of the world with unreliable pavement, the utility bicycle has become a dominant form of mixed terrain transportation. A new style of travel called adventure cycle-touring or expedition touring involves exploring these remote regions of the world on sturdy bicycles designed for the purpose.
Specialized versus all-round transportation – Mountain biking has become increasingly more specialized for travel over technical dirt (hiking width) trails called single track, while road cycling focuses increasingly on maximizing travel over pavement. Traditional bicycle touring is typically considered road biking with travel primarily on paved roads, often carrying heavy loads of camping gear. Rough riding, in contrast, incorporates travel on both dirt and pavement; it stresses efficient travel on any surface or topography, a greater freedom of travel, and self reliance.
Types of Mixed Terrain Bicycle Travel
Adventure Cycle-Touring or expedition touring involves bicyclists attempting extended travel in remote regions of the world. Some “use bikes to go even further off the beaten track: they want to go where buses don’t go at all and perhaps where other vehicles cannot get to either.” Adventure tourists expect poor road conditions, unpaved roads and other mixed terrain.
Alpine Cycle-Touring is rough riding in the mountains. Different than pure mountain biking, in alpine touring paved mountain roads are combined with dirt roads and single track for an efficient route through tough mountain terrain. Mountain features are not always avoided and are sometimes incorporated into the route, which may require alternative bicycle hauling techniques. This type of bicycle travel has a more efficiency and speedier travel.
Mixed Terrain Bicycle Racing includes Cyclo-cross, a style begun in Europe in the early 1900s, racers compete on mixed terrain courses on relatively flat courses. Mountain-cross, another form of mixed terrain racing staged on mountain courses is a recent invention.
Mixed Terrain Commuting may have contributed to the reaction against bicycle specialization. As bikes become more specialized, they become less suited for general commuting. Often commuters must travel on mixed surfaces or rough pavement even in urban environments. Often safer routes can be found away from heavy traffic, encouraging alternative and varied route selection.
Snow Biking, also called biking which replaces wheels for skis.
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