Bicycle Touring 101
Alright, so you want to go on a bicycle tour, but you’re unsure of what you need. Well, this is Bicycle Touring 101, much like the sections of Train Hopping 101 and Hitchhiking 101, the gear is pretty much the same, however you’ll need a bicycle of your liking with a rear rack and rear panniers, along with about 4 to 5 extra tubes, tire levers, a portable bike pump, extra chain, extra brake pads, and extra tires. You can check out the list of Bicycle Touring Gear to see the similarities of gear compared to train hopping and hitchhiking. It’s the same with the addition of gear. The pitfall of bicycle touring is it is much harder to hop a train if you’re trying to get somewhere that is not a stopped open boxcar or a stopped gondola. So really you can only travel by bike or hitchhiking. I have not tried a folding bicycle yet, but that might eliminate this problem by allowing me to travel more freely on a wider selection of freight cars, but regardless, it’s looking like the lightest one is still about 20 to 23 pounds.
So firstly, if you are looking to do long scenic tours across America on your bicycle then I recommend checking out the Adventure Cycling Association ACA Routes KML files and using GPS Visualizer to convert them to GPS files so you can import them into Backcountry Navigator on your Android Smartphone or another similar GPS application of your liking. If this is too much work you can pay them the $40 fee to access the website and access the download sections which offer the files in GPX.
Now that you have some routes, import them on your phone, and you’ll notice the routes have Waypoints with food, campground locations, hotels, motels, etc. I really only utilized the food and campground locations and even still, I primarily used the campgrounds to shower, fill my water, charge my electronics and I slept elsewhere for free. You can do the same if you so choose. Other places I refueled at were some of the local churches that had extra food or random people I met on the road who offered me it. Talk about your journey, not many people ever do this in their lifetime, they want to help you get to where you’re going, just tell them a story or two.