With cycling you find a nice compromise between ecology, speed and slow travel, meeting people and loosing weight (which is the most important of all). From a short trip to a continent spanning journey, a bicycle is a great human powered tool!
There are several options depending on the maximum weight you want to carry, how fit you are, the amount of kilometers per day you want to achieve, and so on.
If you decide to travel pretty lightweight (between 5 and 17 to 20kg), it is awesome to have baggage racks in the front and/or in the back to keep your back free. Two advantages here, first it is less tiring and secondly you sweat less so you can more easily go to disco disco party party after a good day of cycling! Try to put as much weight as you can as close to the ground because it gives more adhesion and you have less chances to slip in XXXtrem curves.
Some people chose to have a trailer to carry more stuff. The friction created by the added wheels makes it much harder, especially going up. A combination with an electric bike (and a solar pannel?) can be a good choice.
Always have a good lock for your bike (U-locks are the best), especially if it is a good bicycle. The best would be to put inside a house anytime you can. As well, think of a system to take all your stuff easily with you, otherwise you will have to leave them on your bike if you are too lazy to spend 15min freeing your baggages every time you stop.
Of course it depends on a lot of things, but an average speed on flat is between 15km and 20km/h. To plan on something between 60 to 80km a day is already a good distance if you want to enjoy the landscapes, take some breaks under the trees and have a beer in each village you cross. More means waking up earlier and be more in a 'sporty' trip, and less means really enjoying beer under the trees (or just enjoying slow travel)!
Keep in mind that 'national roads' (like the ones we have in Europe) are enjoyable compared to highways if you have a car, but are often horrible by bike... It is really stressful to have big trucks overtaking all the time, the noise of the cars, you cannot talk with your buddy. Plan your trip so that you avoid them as much as you can. It can be really worth making a 10km detour but enjoying the view and the peacefulness of a less frequented secondary road.
Before you leave for a long trip, it is good to know your bike, to know its limits, to know which tool sizes you need to fix it, and so on. Start to make some small trip, repair it yourself, have fun before the real adventure and troubles begins!
Anyway, do not forget to leave with a reparation set and to have good breaks, the rest is only decoration ;). On the way you can find plenty of people ready to help you!
- Patches and special vulcanisation glue are the basic to repair a flat tyre. You can add some other things to make it easier.
- Some basic tools and wrenches that fit your bike.
- A bit of metal wire for the emergency fixings if a piece breaks.
- Why not a spare brake cable?
In 1886, Thomas Stevens became the first man to cycle round the world. His two-year jaunt on a penny-farthing saw him tackle roads more suited for ox-drawn carts than bicycles.
Types of bike
You have to first define what type of travel you like! It is nice to make some small trips trying all sort of different combinations to know what is best for you. Once you know what you like, how many kilograms you can carry, your budget, the amount of kilometers per day, sleeping in a tent or hostels, etc. then you can see what fits you best.
With a race bike you will be very fast (>15-20km/h) and can cover a lot of distance each day but you cannot carry a lot of weight because the wheels are too weak. You will need a trailer to have more stuff and cycling outside roads in good/average state is often annoying (flat tyres, wheel breaks, and so on). A mountain bike will allow you to do some crazy stuff on the dirt roads, but is much more tiring in the long run. Electric bikes are really cool as long as you find electricity to keep them charged :). Recumbent bikes are awesome energy-wise, as the go really fast using less energy, but they are more dangerous and not really done to cycle uphill. Tandems are a lot of fun, but require a bit of practice. If you take a tandem, make sure you take the second seat so that you don't have to pedal when the first one is not looking.
For a nomad with little bit cash. Electric bike seems like a good option especially if they travel with an RV. Important factor it has to be a small size one so that will be easier to carry.
Find your route
- globalbiker.org have biking routes, only in France for now (feb 2015).
- opencyclemap.org is good map for finding your route.
Find a bike when travelling
When you are travelling without a bike, sometimes you miss so much to ride on a bike, to feel the air flowing through your hair, to smell the breeze! Here are some ideas on how to find a cheap or free bike when travelling :
- Check those websites: BikeSharing bikesurf.org borrowmybike.org spinlister.
- Find local discussion/forum page on hospitality network for example, and ask if somebody can borrow a bike.
- Find a local bike workshop, often you can buy, or build yourself a bike cheaply.
- Make a sign on the street saying "I am looking for a free/cheap bike" while busking (or not).
- Go in some small villages and ask the grand pa's or grand ma's if they have old bike rusting in the basement. Sometimes you'll find really awesome bikes!