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Audax Australia
This is the umbrella organisation running long distance cycling events in Australia Their website includes a calendar of events.

Bikejournal
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Cycling Adventurer
The Cycling Adventurer has tossed in the structured life of an urbanite to explore the world by bicycle. A well-written site detailing how he came to cycling, and what he learned along the way.

Crazy Guy on a Bike

Bicycle touring journals from all over the world, including a couple of my own.

Johns Cycles

This is my LBS on the Gold Coast. While they cater more to the racing market, their service, advice and workmanship is the best on the coast.

St Kilda Cycles

Importers of all manner of things hard to find in Australia, including the legendary Schmidt hub dynamo & E6 lights.

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Bicycle-eye
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Lance Notstrong
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Iron Gambit
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Aussie Writer and Cycletourist
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Up in Alaska
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The Kin Chronicles
Taking mediocrity to a new level of ordinary.

Allez
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London Cycling Diary
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CouchPilot-2-BikePilot (Zin's cycling blog)
Living an adventurous life with Type-2-Diabetes.

The adventures of Crazy Biker Chick
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Redneck Espanol
The two wheeled Spanish redneck.

Treadly and me
"Work is something I do between riding my bicycle".

Crowlie
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Adrian Fitch's random rambling.
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Geo's big adventure
The life and times of Geo.

It's about the bike
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Spinopsys
Various cycling tidbits.

Industry Outsider
A blog about bikes and stuff.

Tweed Coast Treadly
An old man's bicycle riding diary.

A cyclist's life in Tenerife
(Canary Islands).

Bike to work to live to bike
It's never too late to get back on the bike

Stupid Hurts
Just the random scribblings of a guy with a bicycle

I'm not drunk enough for this
Really, I'm not.

BikeHacks
What can I say? Just read it.

Mozam's cycling adventures
A random collection of the things I like to do most, and mostly that is to ride my bikes, bicycles that is... My musings from competitive riding, long distance endurance to puttering around the neighborhood..

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Why Solo?



A recent discussion at bikeforums.net poses the question of what touring is really like. When replying to the thread, one of the things that really dawned on me was the fact that all of my tours to date have been solo and self-supported. I've always had a preference for the freedom of self-supported touring.

For me, touring is quite simply the best way to see and experience a place that you might otherwise never visit. It lets me travel at a pace that allows me to see just about everything, it lets me experience the weather, the people and all the other things that make a place what it is. However, there's more to it than that. It's also an escape from the rat race, a chance to be alone with my thoughts, a chance to make my own decisions, and a chance to really listen to myself. It's freedom, the freedom to think for myself, and to act upon it, knowing that I live with the consequences of my own actions and nobody else's. That's not to say that every minute is wonderful, but at least I have control over my destiny, and can deal with the bad in whatever way I see fit.

Let's face it, most of us spend the majority of our lives doing what other people tell us to do. We have to follow instructions at work for 8-9 hours a day (sometimes more). We come home and slip into the same rhythm, doing largely the same chores, hearing the same messages in Internet/TV/radio/newspaper advertising, telling us all how we "should" live our lives. They try to tell us what to buy, what to believe, and what to think of anyone who dares to be different. I see touring as a means of escaping all of this. It's a rare opportunity to listen to myself. Life changing? Perhaps not in a really obvious way, but it is an opportunity to think about things that we probably wouldn't find the time to think about otherwise.

For me, an organised tour pretty much eliminates the majority of what I said above. All of my tours have been solo and self-supported for this reason. Sure, it might be nice to have someone else to share the experience with, but on an organised tour there is a lot of baggage that goes with it. I've heard similar complaints about food, accommodation and queues for showers from people who have done organised rides with Bicycle Queensland and Bicycle Victoria in the past, so that doesn't surprise me. There might be other issues here, too.

Always in big groups there are people who don't really get along, there are people who overestimated their fitness before the tour and want to blame everyone else for the fact (or the fact that it rains or whatever). While it's easy to blame the organiser of a supported tour when things go wrong, there are a lot of issues that go with group touring that the organiser can't be held solely responsible for. When an organiser has to feed these people at the end of the day after dealing with these issues, I guess it's possible that the food will be a little unimaginative, and people might feel that they aren't getting the attention they deserve.

In fact, about the only real benefit I see in an organised tour is having a SAG wagon to pick you up at the end of the day if you don't make it. However, the person who has prepared properly for the tour, has a good understanding of their own capabilities and how to ride within them is unlikely to need this -- and even if the solo tourer did need to call out for assistance, the money they've saved on not paying thousands for an organised tour can be used to travel a long way in a taxi if necessary (it never has been for me).

I've always advised people considering touring to start with some short, self-supported tours in your own part of the world just to get a feel for it. A weekend is usually enough. Find a local pleasant campground and ride to it. Then ride back by a different route (if possible) the next day. Personally I think that gives a greater feel for what touring is all about than having it all planned beforehand and being guided along like cattle.

1 Comments:

Anonymous courtland bibb said...

I prefer solo touring to, it allows me to flow which ever way i choose. I think this was a great post. keep up the good work

3:23 am  

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