I fancied mountain biking about 10 years ago. I had always loved hiking in the Dolomites though the descent part of the excursions were not that fun. I was somehow caught by the idea of explore the same footpaths and discover many more on a bicycle.
As I pedaled every weekend for a few hours, faithfully along the off roads suggested by my book guide, I soon realized what the difference of level meant on mountain biking. Chances are, I took a severe steady training at the nearby gym during the winter or wouldn’t enjoy it at all. Next thing I was able to pedal my ascents far, maybe not at an amazing speed but with good preparation and resistance.
I felt increasingly great and mostly grateful for discovering, exploration and adrenaline. The Alps of the Trentino and South Tyrol regions offer some 1000km of trails to cross on two wheels, from paved cycling paths, pleasant forestry tracks, challenging steep slopes. All of that has been surrounded by astonishing views.
I eventually ended up buying a new bike in favor of efficiency in weight, suspensions and breaks. I have also upgraded my wardrobe on a regular basis and my shoes cost almost as much as my first bike.
Over the last year, during some relaxing flat ride along the river Adige, I started noticing the rising number of cyclists travelling from Germany to Italy. They all got bags attached to both the rear sides of the bike and the front wheels. They piled on tons of stuff. Most of them are just on normal looking shirts and shorts with regular shoes. Certainly, they all look like they are carrying everything with them like homeless’.
I marveled that some of them do travel for months over distances that seem far by car. At the same time, I was impressed by the opportunity of starting a different way of cycling whilst discovering new parts of the world.
In spite I am not a proven bike tourist, I have realized some topics that make bike touring a different approach compared to mountain biking:
– everyone’s allocated time on a holiday is limited, however bike touring is not a competition. Speed or altitude reach is unimportant. The only important goal is that you make it at your destination by sunset every day of your tour;
– the weight of your bicycle is not an issue. Forget spending money on lightweight innertubes and, most of all, forget about carbon: frame, seat post, forks. No carbon for all of them, it is an inferior material in the touring world. Get yourself a good steel bike, that will be much easier to find somebody who can repair it;
– if you would like to travel without being marked as a cyclist, stop wearing your classic jersey and shorts. There are various clothing options like lightweight hiking shirts and shorts that still keep away sweat and moisture as well as quick to dry after a wash. Make sure you will look like a guy passing through town!
– spending money on expensive bike components and parts is not the priority in bike touring. It is rather more important to opt for what is easily available in most parts of the world or can be easily fixed. You may perhaps spend on good gear such as light tents, light sleeping bags or anything that is light and resistant.
Saying that, my next thing is STILL going to be an offroad bike adventure riding my double suspended mountain bike with a Sentier bike trailer!
“Ride your bike to enjoy a travel without hesitation.”