bike touring blunders.

So you want to set off on a bike tour around the world.  Don't let these common biking blunders stand in the way of living the ultimate travel adventure.

 1It's not a race, really!.  Go after the maillot jaune. 
It's not a race, really!  Pretty girls showering you with a bottle of champagne won't be waiting to worship you for slogging away for ten torturous hours in the saddle, conquering three mountain passes in a single day.

Touring is all about experiencing the world at a slower pace.  Don't let yourself get caught up in a meaningless cycling competition to bike harder, longer and faster than other bike tourers.
Cycle at the rhythm that's right for you, don't try to impress others with your physical prowess. 
2.   Get caught in the credit card touring trap.
You like comfort.  Your idea of roughing it is a night at the Holiday Inn.  Camping is alright as long as it entails an RV with more living space than the average Tokyo apartment.  The idea of turning up on the front porch of a complete stranger's home is about as enticing as the thought of sunbathing in Antarctica. 

After a long day's ride you whip out the credit card and check yourself into an evening of solitude and sameness. No weird conversations with wacky individuals that might lead you to question your existing lifestyle. Just the status quo with CNN spewing out tragedy for company. 

Touring is all about exploring.  Not just places, but the people that make those places.  Take a chance.  Ask to camp in somebody's backyard.  Hook up with folks from Warm Showers and Couchsurfing.  You'll make new friends and learn a lot about yourself.  Taking a break from comfort and credit cards will open up a beautiful new world. 

3.   Survive on a bare-bones budget.
Touring isn't about surviving, it's about thriving.  Do you really want to whittle your expenses down to $5 a day and spend nights in the tent obsessing about the 5 pesos you 'wasted' on a bottle of coke?  I'm married to the world's most frugal Frenchman and even he splurges once in a while.  Living cheap and extending life on the road as long as possible can quickly take the fun and freedom out of touring.  Set a reasonable budget and allow for a few treats when you're feeling down.

4.  Bike to Blog.
I'm amazed that some social media-obsessed cyclists even find the time to pedal.  Hourly Twitter updates from their I-phone.  Daily picture postings on Facebook.  A constant stream of stories on their web site.  I like to blog.  I like reading other people's travel blogs.   But being in constant contact with the folks back home disconnects you from your tour.  Focus on where you are at the moment and your travels will be richer.

5.  Ride without a Route. 
I'm all for the freedom of the road (even if it is mostly a myth).  But aimless wandering is seldom satisfying. There's a lot of pleasure in planning.  Poring over routes.  Dreaming about far-away places.  Calculating kilometers and ticking off distances.  Ride with a goal in mind and keep yourself focused.  There will be days when you're ready to throw in the towel, that's a certainty.  Knowing where you're going is one of the simplest and most effective ways of maintaining motivation.

6.  Economize on Equipment.
Don't scrimp when it comes to choosing a bike and gear for your cycling tour.  You'll regret it and that's a promise.  We've cycled more than 40,000 miles through some of the toughest terrain on earth using the same bikes.  We've never busted a wheel, or a fork, or a frame.  Apart from regular maintenance, our bikes have been hassle-free.  There are plenty of accounts of stranded cyclists waiting for replacement parts to be shipped to exotic places like Siberia and Sudan.  Sure it makes a compelling story for a blog update, but there are better ways to find adventure.

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What other bike touring blunders can ruin a tour?  Have you learned something the hard way while on tour?  
Please share your ideas and experiences in the comments section below.

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