19.A Beginners Guide to Bicycle Touring – Tips for making the ride a bit Easier


1. Down shift when coming off road for any reason into an easy to pedal gear so that when you re-enter the speed of life, you can do so easily and gradually without strain on you or your bike.

2.  Have rear derailleur in highest gear [littlest cog in the rear gear set] when changing flat.  Makes it easy to get the wheel back on and not have weird shifting issues later down the line.

3.  Always try to shift so that your chain is as parallel to your bike as possible.  There are many overlaps in gearing for most bikes, so shift freely and often!

4.  Shift so that pedaling is relatively easy.  This comes more into play going up a hill, when you will find yourself pumping your legs and straining to get ahead, don’t do it, resist the urge to stand up.  Shift so that your legs spin freely.  When your legs spin freely, your knees are happy as is your machine.  Strain on you is strain on the bike.  Get used to shifting so that you can always be in the seated position, once you learn to be comfortable with this, your power will increase exponentially.

Pushing, hey, it happens…

1.  When pushing your bike, not that you ever would, cough cough, hills, cough, three good holds for you – seat and handlebars, when utilizing the seat handlebar push, know that your handlebars direct the bike and you only have one hand on them take this one slow and steady and learn to control it.  I almost got my bike in front of a truck using this!

– Handle bars, easy, hands on either side of the bars and push!

– Handle bar/elbow aero push, this is a good one for steep hills once lackadaisia has taken hold and you feel like you just cant go on, yet you have no choice.   You will be pushing with your hand on the handlebar closest to your body and leaning over resting your elbow on the “far” aero bar pad, using that as your push, not good for long distances, but for short ones can bring a welcome sigh of relief.

2.  When pushing it is safer to have your bike on the road side, i.e. have your bike in between you and where the traffic passes.

3.  Never feel bad about pushing, you get to the top of the hill just the same, and, vis a vis, you get to have the same amount of fun coming down…


1.  When stopping on the side of the road, actually get OFF the road.

2.  When stopped above, if it is for a bit and you are doing something that requires concentration, or leaving your bike but not locking it, put a little bungy over your handlebar and your front brake to keep your front wheel from wandering.  It will still swivel, but thats ok as it wont go anywhere!

3.  If conditions are wet, give your self 2 to 3 maybe even 5 times more distance until you really get a handle on you, your bike and how the two of you tango.

4.  Check your brake pads daily, tighten and adjust if necessary.  Every week do a light sanding of your rims and brake surface, very light with a very fine paper.


1.  Do your daily stretching and strengthening!  Everyday, this will prevent unnecessary injuries which, the longer you pedal, the more likely you are to have.  Due to the singular motion that you will be undergoing, daily, you will need to strengthen the body for non riding life, shocker!

2.  The low impact of cycling may lead to bone density problems so do feel free to do some jogging every couple days, at the very least.  Better is Yoga or some kind of series workout using your own body.


1.  When you fill your bags, you are looking for them to be similar in weight.  The easiest weigh, get it, way/weigh….hurmmm, ahem, the easiest way to do this is to gradually fill your bags and as you are going, pick them both up at the same time occasionally.  Now, as we will cover in a following chapter, or maybe a preceding one, many of you have one hand/arm stronger than the other.  Don’t OVER THINK THIS, just pick up both bags, then switch hands until they feel even, you will get the hang of it, trust me.

2.  Go for actual waterproof bags.  Panniers that have the covers are great, until you come into some serious rain.  We have found that when rain is serious and long enough, the little baggies that make your panniers waterproof, begin to actually have the opposite effect!

3.  Keep them clean inside and out.

4.  If you see any weak patches forming, cover the area with duct tape to inhibit the weakening.  I have duct tape on my right front bag and have had it there for 1 year.  The bag is still waterproof.

5.  Less is more, in the beginning you will most likely over prepare, thats fine, just be willing to let go of things on the way.  When you let go of things, give them to those who could best use them and watch what starts to happen in your ride.

6.  Goes without saying ergo it must be said, be very attentive to sharp objects that could cut your bags from the inside out.

7.  If you carry electronics, try and protect them with the clothing in your bags.  Think of vibrations and falls…


1.  Always do your best to keep it straight, as mentioned in shifting, this is an easy way to extend the life of your chain!

2.  Lube it daily after giving it a good cleaning by rotating your pedals backwards and gently enfolding the lower portion of the chain between your fingers while gently pulling down.  This will get off most of the gunk and allow for a decent surface to re apply lube.  We like the wax based as it helps to self clean the chain while riding.  At least once a month do a deep clean on your chain, this can be done with petro-chemical solvents, or simply anti-grease dish detergent, much easier on your hands and the planet to some degree…

3.  every so often, measure your chain.  24 links should fit into 12 inches.  Line them up from the middle of one link to the middle of the last.  Once you are more than 1/8 of an inch off, you will want to consider changing chains as now you are starting to wear your gears which are far more costly.

4.  Carry 4 or 5 links with you in case of chain break, no need for a whole chain unless you are leaving humanity for a long time.

Rain, it Happens…

1.  Find some good rain gear and keep it clean, especially if it is made with technical materials like GoreTex.  When these materials get dirty, they dont work as well.

2.  Know your rain and your body.  If you are riding in a warm rain, go with something more like a surf rash guard.  You will get wet, while still maintaining your body heat and not overheating.  if the rain is cold, then use your rain jacket.  The rain jacket will most likely cause you to sweat… a lot.  This is O.K. when the rain is cold as it is easier for the body to sweat than to build heat, so it is uncomfortable, BUT, you are maintaining better energy efficiency.

3.  Get to know your brakes when wet and leave your self up to three times the stopping distance, especially if on a downhill.  I almost went over a guardrail two days ago, not a joke, as I did not pay attention to the advice i was thinking about writing right here as it was happening!  Doh!

4.  Wipe down your bike once you are somewhere dry.  Avoid drip drying at all costs.  Take care of your machine.  That being said, ride it for all its worth.

5.  Always have a set of dry clothes!  If you cannot afford waterproof panniers and do not want to make some from Kitty Litter or food service plastic containers, then wrap them in free plastic bags until they are safe.  Being able to slip into dry clothing will save you, huge amounts of discomfort and health problems, including ulcers, sores, blisters, easily bruised skin and potential infection and fungal growth.  Every 12 hours, you must allow your feet to dry as this will be the most closed area of your body, the wettest as it is at the bottom of your body so all water will go to that point and then stay in your shoes if you ware wearing them.  The last thing you need is foot problems.  Its O.K. to get wet, just don’t forget to dry.


1.  Get some cable lube and actually use it once every other week.

2.  Check for stretching of cables and adjust brakes and shifting accordingly.