It's the time of year when I start thinking about where to go next, and there is an article in today's Sunday Times about bike touring. I thought it might help. What a fool I am.
It turns out that I've been doing this all wrong.
Firstly, I'm told that nobody with an ounce of style would be seen dead on a pushbike with canvas panniers. Well I wasn't seen dead on the last two trips, and hopefully won't be this year either. But I was certainly seen on a pushbike with canvas panniers. I'm well aware that I don't have an ounce of style, and as far as I know, I never did have. Sometimes I accidentally find myself in a situation where that matters, but I try to avoid them as far as possible. But it had never occurred to me that it might matter on a cycle touring holiday. However, I now know that bike touring is being reinvented for new generation. It's all about extreme off-road adventure riding, which requires special equipment such ultra-light handmade panniers that are designed for the most demanding harcore riders.
|What I did wrong||The Sunday Times alternative universe|
|Visit parts of the country that I think I will like, and which I can't easily reach from home on a shorter ride. Choose a route and a pace that I can happily cope with, and enjoy.||Undertake a challenge ride, where the rules are fairly relaxed. (Rules?!?)|
|Enjoy travelling at a speed where I could stop and look at things, leave time to take advantage of the unexpected, and have conversations with people I meet on the way||Ride 100 miles a day, and aim to set new records for distance and time.|
|Wear clothing that means I can happily cope with unpredictable weather, and even if I get a bit bedraggled, its no worse than when I set off.||Style is all important. At all costs avoid looking like a retired geography teacher.|
|Carry everything I need in ordinary, practical, canvas panniers, available from any local bike shop, or widely on t'interweb||Must have ultra-light hand-made panniers, that are almost impossible to obtain|
|Stay in cheap and comfortable B&B or convenient inns. Eat whatever local produce is available for lunch. Pack some nice chocolate to cheer myself up when things go awry.||Overnight in super-technical bivouacs.|
Don't eat cheese sandwiches. (Its not clear why this has become important, other than the fear of a journalist mocking).
Perhaps my best bet this year is to find the remote places where there will be nobody to laugh at my obvious lack of cool, or places that appeal to retired geography teachers where it seems I could fit in nicely. Any suggestions?