What Is Bicycle touring and why has it now become so popular?
For many years, the great outdoor enthusiasts who were interested in travelling long distances through woods and forests, chose backpacking as their favourite mode of transport. They would carry their gear in large rucksacks and hiked for several miles, intending to get away from it all and leave society and the amenities of everyday life behind for a while, and essentially live in a self-contained style.
This idea also happened to appeal to cyclists, and bicycle touring came to be born and has now become an extremely popular alternative to conventional holidays. Bicycle touring is the process of travelling sometimes very long distances during multi-day or even week trips with all equipment, wearing specialist clothing such as men’s cycling jerseys, and other belongings all self-contained on the bicycle.
Bicycle touring has been around for many years and was always a niche market, as cyclists began riding roads long distances with loads firmly secured to the front, rear and sides of their bicycles. But touring nowadays has not limited itself to on-road travelling, and since the advent of the mountain bike some almost 30 odd years ago, off-road bicycling has gained recognition and cyclists then began to design different methods for securing loads to their bicycles.
There has even been modifications made to the bikes themselves to help to accommodate touring. For instance, an off-road touring bicycle will frequently feature stronger frames, which are intended to carry extra weight, and specific gear ratios to assist in pedalling that extra weight.
Bags and Positioning
The classic pannier bags – or, bags that attach to the sides of a bicycle – are still a trusted and common method for distributing the weight of equipment evenly all over the bicycle. Due to adding any extra weight to the front end of the bicycle, the steering and control can be affected, so pannier bags fixed to the front end are commonly, but not exclusively, somewhat smaller than the bags on the rear end of a bicycle. With the addition of a gear rack to the rear of a bicycle, the rider can hang panniers on either side of the rear wheel that he or she chooses and feels more comfortable with, and also stow an extra bag on top of the rack for even more capacity.
Backpacks are yet another method of carrying gear whilst bike touring, and now, which are becoming more increasingly than ever, trailers! A number of companies have designed and developed sturdy, metal, single-wheel trailers meant to haul a cyclist’s gear behind the bicycle, which then causes much less of a hindrance on steering and control. Some of these trailers, even sport suspension as well, to help with controlling balance while off-road bicycle touring. The ways and methods for hauling gear while bicycle touring is an all changing affair, so be sure to check out your local bicycle shop for any new methods and recommendations.
Cycle touring is definitely here to stay!