Posted on 19 July 2009.
A tour is a tour, whether you are riding within 10 miles of your house or going on a 100 mile bike ride. However, beginners need to follow some easy rules, and not get too ambitious!
Take a class or two. You may think that bicycling is as easy as falling off a log, and in many cases it is. Nevertheless, there are courses in safe cycling, bicycle repair, and bicycle touring offered by many local community colleges and bike clubs, as well as online. A course on safe cycling is important for children – who hasn’t seen a child or even an adult riding the wrong way down a street? And bicycle repair is of course an important skill.
Practice makes perfect. The main complaint for beginning cyclists is that their rear ends feel sore after a while, but these are like any other muscle — once you get used to it, the soreness goes away and won’t return. Padded seats help immeasurably. On a flat terrain, even beginners will be surprised at how far they can go…however if they have to fight the wind on the return journey, that initial euphoria may quickly evaporate. Plan short bike rides to begin with and to increase fitness before trying longer journeys.
See what’s in your own back yard. To begin with, start and end your bike route from your home. Look on a map to see what’s adjacent to you, and go visiting.
Select or plan a bike route. The U.S. has more than 38,000 miles of designated bicycle routes that connect two or more states, and of course there are many times that amount of local bike-friendly routes, hiking/biking trails, and other roads well-suited for cycling. Check with your state’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator.
Don’t overspend. When you’re first starting out, there’s no need to spend hundreds of dollars on a bike. It should be like a car…buy one to get started with and to gain skills, then advance to more expensive designs later. If you are commuting, think about buying a “beater” from a garage sale… if it gets stolen, you won’t mind so much. On the other hand, the lighter the bike the better. A kid who puffs to pedal a 30 pound bike might give up the sport, but will love a 15 pound-and slightly more expensive, bike.
Safety first, last and always. Helmets and reflective clothing/gear are a must. Learn the rules of the road. Riding safely with saddlebags (also called “panniers”) and other gear on your bike takes practice; take some training rides and specifically practice the skill of riding in a straight line and controlling your bike with the added weight.
Stay cheap. Cycle touring lends itself to camping, couch surfing, staying at youth hostels, or using the Warm Showers network — a nationwide community of fellow cyclists who will put you up for the night.
www.hiusa.com : Youth hostels