Saturday, July 23, 2011

More bike tour info

In two weeks, I will be departing on a week-long bike tour, and you're invited to join. The tour will start in LaCrosse, Wisconsin on August 7 and conclude in the same city on August 13. I have talked to a number of potentially interested touring companions, but I have little idea who is actually willing/able to go through with it. If you are planning to attend and haven't recently told me you're planning to attend, please send me an email, preferably with a mobile phone number. This will help in the event of cat-herding. I don't need a firm commitment at this point, but it will be nice to know if you're coming on August 7.

Where and getting to and from
I am planning to use Amtrak to get to LaCrosse on August 7 and return on August 13. Amtrak is a fun and useful service for bike touring, despite some minor cost/inconvenience with using Amtrak's bike boxes, being aware of luggage services at each station, etc. If you are going to make use of Amtrak service also and you'd like a little coaching, feel free to contact me. Of course, the tour starts and ends in LaCrosse, and there are other options for getting to/from LaCrosse. If on schedule (not by any means guaranteed), Amtrak gets to LaCrosse mid-morning on August 7. Whatever mode of transport to LaCrosse you choose, please try to be ready to roll by mid-day, possibly later if Amtrak is running late. If you are going to take Amtrak, please let me know. Also, buy yourself a ticket.

Where will we sleep?
The general plan is for camping in campgrounds every night on the tour, and I have planned a loose schedule that puts us near campgrounds at the end of each day. If the nightly stopping point is near a motel/hotel, that may be a nice break from camping. In any case, it should not be assumed that hotels will be available every night, so come prepared to camp. I am not making any reservations in advance. I find reservations to be too constraining for a group of freewheeling mofos like us. I will probably do a little research ahead of time, just to know the lay of the land, but camping/motel flexibility will be an important virtue.

What will we eat?
I enjoy eating at small-town diners. When I'm tired of diner fare and/or when diners aren't available, I stop at grocery stores. This is not a back-country tour where you'll need elaborate cooking equipment and a week's worth of astronaut food on the bike. I expect diner stops and/or a grocery store stop pretty much every day. I will probably bring a compact stove for boiling water for morning coffee. If you have 1-2 days of food/snacks on the bike, that will probably be more than ample to get you from one refueling stop to the next.

What if something unforeseen happens?
I never plan for unforeseen events. Those who do plan for every possibility have 150 pounds of stuff they never use in their panniers. I'd suggest being prepared to fix a flat tire or five. That means: bring a few tubes, a patch kit, and a pump. A patch kit and a CO2 inflater is probably too optimistic. Also, bring some basic tools that will work on your bike. If your hubs have nutted or bolted axles, bring a wrench that fits the nut/bolt. Most likely, among the participants on the tour, extra tubes and tools will be available, but it's still a good idea to have your own basic kit. And make sure your bike is in good working order. I can help you assess that now, if you're not sure. Aside from bike stuff, I'd suggest packing clothes that will be appropriate for cycling in varied weather conditions. It could be hot, and it could rain and you might get a chill. It probably won't snow. Perhaps be prepared to swim/fish/hike/read, if the opportunity presents itself. In general, if you find yourself wondering if you NEED some piece of heavy/large equipment, leave it out.

There is a certain amount of self-reliance on this ride. I don't really want to babysit anybody. On the other hand, it is a friendly group ride, so I'll probably be happy to help you with a mechanical issue or give you some water/food if you run out and may otherwise die. Don't worry if you're not fast - it's not a race...the bigger concern is that you'll be too fast! Also, bring cash! Your AmEx card may be worthless in some small towns, but almost everybody takes cash.

Any questions, email me.

1 comment:

Doug said...

Jim,

Will you be supplying the dried plums to ward off bonking?

I would like to join this ride, but was unable to secure that week off of work. The August vacation calendar fills up fast and they only let a limited number of people off at once.