Bicycle touring

From Academic Kids

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Modern touring bicycle

Bicycle touring is a recreational activity, which involves touring and exploration or sightseeing with the use of a bicycle. Although some sporting events like the Tour de France are called "tours," true bicycle touring is non-competitive, and done for leisure rather than sport. Bicycle touring is a little bit like backpacking with the use of a bicycle.

A bicycle tour can be anything from a day ride, to a ride which takes many days, weeks or months. Some people have ridden across continents, and some people have ridden all around the world. An average person of reasonable fitness and at moderate speed, is able to comfortably ride (depending on terrain and weather) 30–80 miles (50–130 km) in a day.

There are many different styles of bicycle touring. Some tourists prefer to take all their equipment with them on their bikes including food, cooking equipment, and a tent to go camping during nights. This type of touring is known as "loaded touring." Others prefer to take less equipment with them, and stay in hotels and hostels, and eat in restaurants, etc. This is known as "credit card touring". There are many companies who organize tours and transport the cyclists' luggage in a van to the cyclists' destination each day.

To go cycle touring you will need to have a bike which can carry luggage, and is equipped with a carrier rack and panniers. Many cycle tourists prefer to use special touring bikes which are specially built to carry large amounts of luggage, and can be ridden comfortably over long distances, although many different types of bicycle can be used. A typical characteristic of a touring bicycle is a longer wheelbase, which increases stability at the cost of quick response (a characteristic more suited for mentally taxing bicycle racing rather than for relaxed long distance touring). Other characteristics include tires with larger widths and a tread pattern for greater durability and control over a wider variety of terrain.

Many long-distance self-supported cycle tourists have published (either formally or in magazines and on the web) accounts of their tours that are both entertaining and informative. Some notable examples are Thomas Stevens, Ken Kifer, Dervla Murphy, Josie Dew, Heinz Stücke and Ian Hibell.

Many associations for cyclists, such as CTC in the UK, began as cycle touring clubs, organizing tours and accommodation. These clubs gradually evolved into advocacy bodies campaigning on behalf of cyclists.

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