Saturday, November 6, 2010

Traveling at the speed of light (weight)

I have great respect for the cyclist who packs with him/her, all that is needed to be near fully self sufficient. I'm sure it must be such a sense of freedom to ride into the evening and chose a field or crop of trees to pitch a tent in for the night. That freedom comes at a high price though. Weight. And so much extra weight just to carry the extra weight. trailers, heavy waterproof panniers, fatter tires that have lower tire pressure. Weight equals resistance which costs time and energy. True freedom comes (for me at least) in traveling with as little as possible. Less is more. Less to unpack and repack=less wasted time and less weight=less resistance= less expended energy=more speed=more distance. A bike handles better unencumbered and has less mechanical failures. This type of cycling comes at a high price too but you dont have to worry about it until you are back home going over your visa statements. I've even heard it termed visa touring. I like to call it "Riding with the assurance of a shower and a good meal every day" but visa touring sums it up. Whatever you call it, it's the way i like to tour. (just for the record...one day, with my girlfriend, i'd love to travel that way. Biking and camping. A little aimless unravelling. That sounds wonderful) I'd even pack all the gear if only she'd go with me.... errr.....never mind

Its tough to travel light unsupported. The clothes alone account for much of the weight. i try to pack clothes that can be washed in the motel sink at the end of the day, hung to dry overnight and able to be worn the next day. It's nice to have a change of clothes to wear to dinner while the others are drying but one change is really all you need. rain gear, wind breaker, gloves, long sleeve micro fleese, full length lycras. all important stuff. Spare tubes, tires, pump and tools. more important stuff.
Ive always had an interest in what people bring on extended bike trips. weight is such an important factor, but not the only factor. Its interesting to see what makes the list. I will post such a list when nearer to the departure date. Ive been touring 2-3 times a year for nearly a decade now and have had plenty of time to refine it. still, always room for improvement and never have i put so much thought into it.
Weight isnt the only factor that plays into traveling at the speed of light. Aerodynamics and comfort are just as important considerations. Thats where type, style, and choice of bike come in. I think, if youre getting into touring by bike, or if its time to get yourself a new touring bike, you should consider a recumbent.
I'm a fairly avid cyclist. xc and road.  It took me a few years of touring before i gave one a try. Trust me... its the way to go.

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