24/7 with the same person for months, possibly years, on end?   Sounds like a recipe for a short-lived romance, a costly divorce or a nasty end to a friendship.

Add to that the stress of biking through unknown lands under sometimes harsh climatic conditions and you start wondering if two on tour is such a good idea after all.

It is.  Biking the world with a partner means you’ll always have someone with whom to share the joys, triumphs and tough times of your bike tour.  Cresting the top of a mountain and taking in the spectacular valley vista below just wouldn’t be the same without someone to ooh and aahh with.

Happy times touring as two.

Slogging 500 kilometers on a sandy track and no one to cheer with once the tarmac re-appears?  No thanks.

And who wants to grumble alone about all the kamikaze drivers trying to run you off the road.  A partner with whom you can commiserate goes a long way in keeping up morale.

Here are 5 things we’ve learned about getting along together on the road:

1)      Discuss tour expectations BEFORE you set off.  Just four days into our epic Africa tour I shocked Eric by suggesting we take a day off.  He’d thought finishing off the Sahara without a rest would be no problem.  Read conflict and quarrels.

2)      Accept physical limitations.  If you’re a stronger cyclist and your partner’s always lagging five kilometers behind, divvy up the weight so you’re both equally challenged.  This will relieve a huge amount of frustration and ensure everybody’s getting a good work-out without the weaker cyclist risking a coronary.

3)      Don’t shy away from talking money.  Alright, we’d been married for almost 10 years, so we were used to talking finances.  But still there were arguments.  As I recall it, Eric asked in an off-handed manner how much he thought we’d spend per day.  Around $10 per person, per day, I reckoned.

Turns out for him, that figure was set in stone.

$10 per person, per day meant $7,300 per year, not a penny more.  A new computer, airline tickets for an unanticipated flight back to Europe, replacement gear– all that was supposed to come out of the daily budget.  Before you know it he was trying to cut me off from hotels with hot showers and trips to the bakery.

My advice?  Agree to a detailed budget and put it in writing.

Stock Photos

4)      Take a little time for yourself.  When you’re out bike touring it can be surprisingly difficult to find time for yourself.  Sure, when you’re out pedaling you can get lost in your own private thoughts, but once you’re off the bike two on tour can become stifling.  For me yoga is the great escape.  Other cyclists I’ve met regularly schedule time apart.

5)      Divvy up the tasks.  I set up the tent, Eric gets dinner going, then it’s my turn for clean-up.  He keeps the bikes running , I manage the website.  We find life on the road a lot easier this way.

Any other ideas for making sure two on tour goes smoothly?  Please share your tips in the comments section below.

Two on Tour: a survival guide to cycling with a partner
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11 thoughts on “Two on Tour: a survival guide to cycling with a partner

  • arby
    November 8, 2010 at 7:51 PM
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    Sound advice, whether you are on bicycles or not. Sometimes life throws Patagonian roads and heavy loads your way wherever you are. But then, there are those beautiful sunrises too…
    Best wishes guys, rb

    Reply
  • Ash
    November 9, 2010 at 4:56 PM
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    You are almost at the end of your trip. Right? Hang in there, Amaya. The same feeling exists even in normal situations. Try to have a “me” time when possible. Easy to say go watch a movie alone, but in the part of the world your are in you certainly are better off with a partner than solo. keep us updated. I, personally enjoyed following you.

    Reply
  • arby
    November 9, 2010 at 5:05 PM
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    I’m glad to see that this site supports RSS feeds, it will be a pleasure to see you pop up in my Google Reader. rb

    Reply
  • Aaron
    November 23, 2010 at 2:01 AM
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    Make sure your partner is not an introvert….I found out the hard way and it made touring a struggle…..luckily it ended and i am alone again, but i love cycling with others sharing the experience is so great.

    Reply
  • Pat & Cat, WorldRiders2
    November 23, 2010 at 3:10 AM
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    Hey, we were on the road 4 years and we know what you mean. HOwever, we had been partners in our business and spent almost every day in the office together for 10 years before we hit the road. Alas, no details but you must have heard about Tim & Cindie by now.
    I (Pat) went through that with former wife after crossing USSR in 1989. Difficult and devastating.
    Enjoy Ushuaia. We did then cycled up Ruta Quarenta. Cold, windy, primative and muy interesante!
    Pat & Cat

    Reply
  • Anton Graham
    January 31, 2011 at 7:26 PM
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    I am leaving Cape Town , solo, in the next few weeks to cycle to London(UK) through East Africa, Middle East, Turkey and Europe.

    I have done one long journey,1800km in 16 days two years ago.

    Both of you are an inspiration. I am !!!!!

    Would like some encouragement, people around me say i am ……

    Thank you

    Anton

    Reply
  • Sarah Erck Welle
    June 3, 2011 at 2:21 PM
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    We wrote a post about our biggest surprises and arguments after 6 months on the road. It all held through to the end of our one year tour.

    Our biggest things were money (I famously said I’d rather eat a package of cookies each day and go home early rather than stick strictly to our budget & deprive myself of treats), and comparing our mileage to other people. He wanted to hit some milestones that I thought were ridiculous (like 100 km in a day, cycling for 8 hours straight, etc…)

    Oh and we really had to come to terms with the fact that James was stronger than me, even after a full year on the road. I never caught up with him in terms of speed or strength, so we decided to have him carry more of the heavy gear. this was really hard for me to admit, for some reason.

    Here’s our detailed post on it all:
    http://blog.erck.org/?p=471

    Reply
    • World Biking
      June 8, 2011 at 12:34 PM
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      You bring up some important considerations about travelling together. Men are just generally stronger than women, there’s no changing nature.

      Reply
  • Norman Coutts
    October 11, 2011 at 6:10 AM
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    Very useful to see this out in the open and based on real experience. All makes good sense. Especially the pointers to things that a facts of life – e.g. different physical strength or stamina. One of the great things about bikes is that they even out physical differences to a degree, but they cannot take them away. Jacqui and I over a week will usually be pretty evenly matched: with me with a bit more weight on board. However, its for sure I will have bad moments on some points on some days, just as she will. Our rule (unspoken, but applied over many rides) is that if we go out together we come home together, at whatever pace we can both manage. We try to take turns in the lead and we try not to drop the other when the going gets tough. Works for us.

    Reply
    • World Biking
      October 17, 2011 at 11:47 PM
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      Sounds like you two have got a good thing going! Eric and I struggle at times, but ultimately know we’ve got to pull each other through when the going gets rough.

      Reply

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