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Win A Guide To Cycling Tours Around The World

July 19th, 2011 66 comments


Update: The contest is now closed, and you can find out who won.

If you’re looking for a bit of inspiration for your next bike tour, enter our contest to win a PDF copy of the Biciklo Guide To Cycling Tours Around The World.

We had a chance earlier this month to check out the 2011 edition, and we really enjoyed the stories about cycling in Mongolia and Italy.

There are also helpful tips on getting started with bike touring, taking your kids along for the ride and packing your bike for a flight.

We’ve got 2 copies of the guide to give away (worth $25 U.S. if you buy it online).

Want to win? It’s easy!

Just leave a comment and share a bike touring tip that you think would help others out. It could be a piece of gear that you really like to take along, a story about how you’ve dealt with a challenge or a tip on the routines of touring.

You can enter anytime between now and Thursday evening (European time). We’ll announce the winners on Friday. Good luck!

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65 Responses to “Win A Guide To Cycling Tours Around The World”

  1. CL Ransford says:

    I am new to touring, I am still gathering gear and thanks to your site and touring guide I am gathering knowledge as well. I have taken on board your reviews and tips from your site and have two tours in the planning. The trial tour will be a six day one to test out my new equipment and my friend who is new to biking and touring.

    Cheers,

    Cindi

  2. Jeff Gardner says:

    Baking soda! Brush your teeth with it. Make it a paste to apply on bug bites. In crawly-prone camping sites, insects won’t cross a line of the stuff. On tour, where weight and space are at a premium, baking soda is a terrific general purpose do-it-all.

    • Luis says:

      Hi, Jeff!

      As far as I know baking soda is terribly bad for your teeth if you use it often. Apparently it is very agressive and destroys the external layer of the teeth.

      • Jeff Gardner says:

        Hi Luis! I’ve heard that, and I’ve heard its the best. In fact, it was the family dentist many, many years ago who recommended it. Now, one person does not a definitive anser make, but I’ve used bc for 40 years, on and off tour., with no problem. THX Luis.

  3. Chuck says:

    When I was finishing a modified TransAm in 96 I was down to my last dollar and had to cross Washington state against some major headwinds. It was there that I learned that peanutbutter can be used for chapstick and that foodtrucks drop a lot of food on the side of the road that can be used. On this same trip, but somewhat earlier, I found out about general delivery. Family and friends can deliver packages to post offices along your route.

    • Jeff Gardner says:

      Trans-Washington…don’t forget, on the side of so many roads, the nearly infinite summer supply of the largest, juiciest blackberries you’ve ever seen. :)

  4. kevin lee says:

    Tyre patches can be used not just to patch inner tubes. Use it to patch other types of tears eg in tyre wall, waterproof bag, shoe :) If you have run out of patches and new ones aren’t available, cut up an old inner tube or peel of old patches from beyond-repair tubes! Old inner tubes can also be used to slip or wrap around bar-ends / handlebars.

    • Bob Schilling says:

      Kevin, tube patches might work for very small tears in a tire, but more often they end up ballooning out the side of the tire. I’ve used a dollar bill (euro bill on your side of the pond ;>) folded four times with great success.

  5. I’ve just completed my 1st cycling tour, a solo trip across Sweden. I got caught short one morning and had to duck into the woods to do what bears do. Now i’m not a neanderthal, nor a Frenchman, so this lost art did not come naturally to me. Suffice to say, that sourcing a short but sturdy tree sapling could help you out. Simply hold on, lean back. Hey Presto! S*#t in the woods, not in the cycling shorts. Happy touring!

  6. Lia says:

    Ladies: Freshette! Seriously, a female urinary device will save you from many awkward moments with shorts down on the side of the road! Plus they are lovely when restrooms are a bit unsavory. I use mine backpacking too. To clean simply squirt a little water on it with your camelbak hose. They wont help you with number 2, obviously, for tips about that ask Mark Phelan.

    http://www.freshette.com/about_us.html

  7. Neo says:

    The next time you take a tour in winter, remember to take a pair of soccer socks. They can really provide the extra warmth for your feet.

  8. Michael Wong says:

    I always take a bunch of plastic grocery bags. They can be used for so many things.
    1. Trash bag
    2. Cover for a leather saddle when raining.
    3. Keep dirty clothes in them.
    4. Put wet items in them.
    5. Carry soap, shampoo, clean clothes, etc to the shower.
    6. Rain cap.
    7. Foot/shoe covers when raining.
    8. Food bag when hanging your food.
    They take up little space and weigh next to nothing.

  9. Mike says:

    For winter touring, about an hour before going to bed, heat water to the boil and let it cool for a minute then pour into a metal drinks bottle (Sigg are the best). Place this bottle into the sleeping bag that you “Fluffed-up” hours earlier when you made camp. The hot bottle will heat the sleeping bag for you, you can aslo put it into a pair of socks if it is too warm and use it as a hot-water bottle. In the morning you will have water instead of a block of ice…. perfect for making the all important morning brew…

    PS. I have compiled a list of things to do to keep warm whilst on winter camps, these tips have been used by many “new” outdoors people on hikes in Sweden, Norway & Denmark…

  10. Eva says:

    I´v done several tours around Europe on my bike. All of them has been fantastic. Traveling by bike is the absolute best way to discover the world and the best way to meet people. The trip I can recommand is the “The route of Grandes Alpes” – from Geneve to Nice over the French alpes. Wow, what a trip – great views and great cycling, heavy of course but it was worth it!!!

    Read more on our blog http://ulcykelblogg.blogspot.com/

  11. When touring alone, I always carry my bike handlebar bag with me when out and about in towns and villages. Other cyclists (friendly ones) will spot it and usually start chatting…so before you know it…you have at least one cycling buddy in an alien land :)

  12. Mark Darby says:

    Duct Tape is invaluable on a tour.
    Can repair rips in a tent, a leaky shoe, tears in panniers. At a push, you can wrap it around your tyre if it gets a puncture and you have no spare

    • No need to take the whole (heavy roll) either – just wrap a meter or so around your handlebar stem

    • Mike says:

      Rather than wrapping around your bike…. you can wrap it around a drinks bottle or thermos flask, this helps to protect the thermos, insulate it further, make it easier to get hold of and ads protection… this trick is common in sea/kayaking..

  13. Luis says:

    Keep it light!

    Really, think twice what you need to bring with you. Don´t try to pack things into your panniers without thinking about it or you´ll regreat that moment when climbing up your first kilometers of mountain road.

  14. Carsten says:

    Just back from our first cycle tour – two week tour in the old East Germany with my girlfriend and we had wondered whether just taking Exustar 502 SPD sandals would work. They were a great – so much so I’m using them on my wet London commute now. Wish I’d started using them years ago!

  15. People should pay more attention to gear ratios – easily the more important thing about making your tour enjoyable, especially in more hilly areas. It’s not so much the number of gears, as the highest and lowest gear ratios. The difference between twiddling up a hill or getting of and pushing, which is not what cycle touring ought to be about!

  16. Paul Fish says:

    My short tour, was all loaded up to go. Everything seemed to be a process, the little stuff, counted a lot, the bike fell over. Picked it back up wanted fall over again. I droped the water bottle and had to take a drink, to use some to get some more and it fell. Then something caught the back wheel and it would not move. The stuff in the Pannier had to be repacked. I rode over some big stones, lots of them to get some nice cold water. When I got started, to ride the sky did not look right to me. My bones we acheing some and I kept on looking at the sky. Well I forgot one thing, my poncho was left behind in the pickup truck. The rain and thunder and lightening came and it poured and poured and poured. Was out in the country, the corn was going to and fro and the rain beating down on it. Well I kept peddling in a white out condition, hardly any visibility and finally I got back to my pickup. Completely soaking wet. Shoes and socks, shirt and pants and evan my cell phone and wallet, all got a good soken. While my nice and dry Poncho laid folded up in a bag and the trucks seat. I did enjoy the rain, it was very hot and this storm came after all of the heat. There we cars in the parking lot where my truck was waiting for the heavey rains to stop. Driving home water was all over the place. I evan saw one black pickup that had gotten hit, and all bashed up, people in my area refuse to slow down, during bad weather.
    My take I got a free shower. Just try to remember to bring the poncho it may help out. Thanks Paul

  17. Patrick Carr says:

    Follow Al Humphries advice and go sub 24 hour touring. It works great for me and means I get my solitude fix without impacting on family time. A midweek tour would be:

    Ride to work fully loaded.
    5pm Head for the hills. That gives 4 hours riding and an hour to camp in daylight at this time of year at my latitude.
    Sleep in the woods.
    5-6am break camp and ride back to the office.

    I’ve got a shower at work which makes this easier. It’s doable for almost anyone with a few modifications. I get to enjoy a tiny bit of what Freidel and Andrew experienced without leaving my job (in cycling development, which I love) or abandoning my family (whom I love even more dearly) And I get to stop planning and start doing, which is great for me.

  18. Mike says:

    As a follow-up to the winter tip, a summer tip is to wear a cotton shirt and soak it in water during the warmest periods of the day. The evaporation effect will cool you down quicker than you can say “ice-cold shower”….
    Cotton is normally known as the clothing of corpses in the mountains…. but in extreme heat it can be put to good effect..

  19. Patrick Racine says:

    The only thing that you really need on any kind of travel is your smile. A smile can bring you shelter, food, new friends. It will provide great talks, more smiles and it will keep your mood up.

    What more do we need. :)

    Cheers and stay safe.

    • I know the contributors are not suppose to vote, but this advise from Patrick is the best! Talking from experiance, smile can also get you: Fly swat, 1kg jar of honey, 1.5l of slivovice and more ….

  20. Colleen Welch says:

    I just finished (yesterday) a 48 day tour on the ACA Sierra Cascades route. The one new piece of gear I took was a folding bucket (Sea to Summit 10 liter). I used it for all kinds of things. I used it to get water from the river when my campsite had no piped water. I did dishes, laundry and even bathing. I know this isn’t rocket science, but I had never carried one before. Now I won’t tour without it.

    • Michael Wong says:

      Colleen,
      Did you consider getting a Sea to Summit kitchen sink? If so, why did you buy the bucket instead of the sink?
      Michael

  21. Keith Bright says:

    Hi all
    One suggestion is to try a trailer to carry your things, I have used a Y Frame from Carryfreedom for a number of years and find it a lot easier than panniers.
    the second suggestion is to try the Tilley Coolmax underwear, it is comfortable and best of all easy to wash and dry’s quickly, very quickly. It saves a lot of space and worth the while buying.
    Byee
    Keith Bright

  22. Keith Bright says:

    sorry DRIES

  23. Robbie Finkel says:

    Cycling camping tip. When you arrive by bike at your camping site; you may be tired and hungry. You may be out of traffic but don’t forget about your safety while preparing a fire. The wood you have just collected may be damp and hard to ignite but you have your MSR camping fuel to help out.
    CAUTION: White fuel is very explosive. Stand back from your fire pit and ignite a piece of paper attached to a branch. It will save you from sizzled eyebrows and fried hair.

  24. RobW says:

    Groundsheet:

    I have two suggestions for cheap, multi prurpose groundsheets to protect your tent floor:

    1)some airlines (i.e AA) Have thick plastic “bicycle bags” for ptotecting bicyccle during transport. I used this for over ten years while on a multi-continent tour

    2)Cut a piece of Tyvek into the tent floor shape (assuming tent is not so big) Tyvek is waterproof and very resistant to tears and penetration as well as very light and compact. Now trying this…so far so good…

  25. Holm says:

    Strapping two bottle holders on the side of your fork with a simple cable tie, gives you additional storage places…if plenty of water is needed. Just put an old piece of tube inbetween to guard the material

  26. two for the price of one!

    1. Shower caps – free from hotels etc – make great shoe liners when wet and to put over your helmet when its chucking down – you’ll have a dry, warm bonce!

    2. Instead of carrying a pillow, I use my sleeping bag stuff sack (the smooth one, not the compression one!), fill it with clothes or anything soft, wrap it in a buff (nicer on the skin than nylon).

  27. John Plant says:

    One of the worst sensations when camping is having to put your warm dry socked feet into soaking wet shoes, warm toes suddenly experience damp and cold. A simple solution (one learnt and tested on Mountain Marathons) is to put your feet into two large plastic bags before putting on your wet shoes – socks stay dry and feet warm.

  28. John Plant says:

    On tour I always carry a length of thin kernmantle rope (3mm and about 3m in length). It has many uses; securing the bike on ferries, lashing extra kit to the bike, and thrown over a low branch and tied to the bar stem and saddle it can make a “work stand” to make maintaining the bike easier (adjusting derailers without it as a big problem)

  29. Dominic says:

    Walmart have wet ones/moist towelettes available at the entrance to sanitise shopping carts. We use them to clean our bikes and chains. No need to try to keep a rag clean, there are Walmarts everywhere in the US. Can also be used for a ‘shower’ prior to or after camping.

  30. sarah scala says:

    Always pack a few pairs of first aid gloves. Great for medical accidents. Even better for putting a chain back in or doing simple greesy repairs to keep your hands clean.

  31. RobW says:

    On tours away from civilization, I take medium and large size zipties of several lengths and widths. They could be used to fix some bracing piece to a broken rack or perhaps to a broken tent pole.

  32. RobW says:

    For cycle-working gloves, I like to take the ones with rubberized but thin fabric palms and thin nonruberized fabric in the back and sides. Available in hardware stores in towns all over the world.

  33. RobW says:

    When camping and leaving the bicycle outside I run a discrete cable or long bunjy to one of the tent poles to alert me if anyone tries to move the bicycle

  34. RobW says:

    Having tried most cycle stands (and broken) in the market, I would say that the best one to handle a fully (front and back) laden touring bicycle and not fall over is the Pletcher/Esge Twin Legged stand

  35. Hana Black says:

    While touring through SE Asia almost all of the guesthouses and hotels we have stayed in (mostly less than $10US per night) have free toiletries which we have found very useful for various things: shower caps for helmet covers in the monsoon rain and for keeping your socks dry in wet shoes the next day; shampoo for washing your clothes in the shower after a hot sweaty day; and best of all toothbrushes for keeping your drivetrain and other bits and pieces on your bike clean! It also means we don’t have to carry soap, shampoo, or toothpaste saving weight in the panniers (:

  36. Colin Mac says:

    I’m very new to cycle touring and i’m still missing a few bits so I can go on a mini tour for a week or 2 this summer. I’ve taken a massive amount of advice from your site and threads like this really help people like me a lot (thank you)
    All I can realy add is a saying from work ‘buy nice or you’ll buy it twice’ 9/10 if you do a bit of reserch and buy the best you can afford then you wont need to replace it for a long time.

  37. David says:

    Here’s a tip from my recent warmshowers guest Jerome. For a bike theft alarm at night, you can attach a special lightweight jingle bell designed to let fisherfolk know when their line moves – it’s small, very sensitive and clamps on to your bike.

  38. David says:

    I would like to put in a word for the humble facecloth, rarely seen on touring equipment lists. It’s easily the best way to give yourself a full body wash when you only have a little water. Microfibre facecloths are light, dry quickly and need less soap.

  39. Chuck says:

    Carry paper clips, they are light cheap and won’t tear your gear, but you can unfold them and use them to fix broken zippers, temporarily replace bolts, clean gunk out of your shoes gears etc, make hooks, etc. if you don’t believe me, ask McGyver.

  40. Liz Wilton says:

    1) Allow yourself a few luxury items, don’t worry so much about the little bit of extra weight, you’ll appreciate it more than you can imagine after a long day in the saddle, whether it’s a soft little pillow, face cream or proper coffee! Oh and, cook and eat nice food as you go too. Cycling touring isn’t about suffering, it’s a kinda lifestyle so make sure you enjoy it.

    2) Carry a little more water than you think you need, you never know when you might get caught out and need it. Water bladders are great for this as you can tuck them away when not in use.

  41. I would never leave home without, or in fact be at home without, my Petzl (Tikka 2) headtorch. I’ve had one since we started touring a year ago and have found it invaluable for: so many aspects of camping it is impossible to list them all, reading at night while sharing either tent space or a bed with our toddler, cycling at night (we lengthen the bands around ours so that they fit around our handlebar bags when necessary) and for use at night time on remote islands in South East Asia where there is no electricity after 6pm. It came in handy for walks down to the pub along the unlit country roads when we visited my sister in her beautiful but remote home in Oxforshire before heading off on our most recent tour. I asked Petzl to donate some to the orphanage we recently volunteered for in Saigon as there are frequent power cuts and the children were afraid of the dark. To no avail….. yet. But I’ll continue to sing their praises regardless. I love my head torch. It’s my touring and non-touring flexible friend. I honestly couldn’t be without it now.

  42. Dan says:

    – A great place to store a bagel (or pop-tart or whatever) for a midmorning snack is under the map case on your handlebar bag. Just flip the map up, chow down and keep pedaling on towards lunch.
    – Incorporate loaded riding into your weekly routine as a good way to build up base mileage, get a return on your investments (gear can be expensive!), and practice loading panniers or racks in different ways. Easy ways to do this would be running errands, trips to the beach or a hiking trail head, bicycle to a picnic, or ditch the briefcase and use a pannier!

  43. Do you know the sock trick yet?
    In a hot, hot heat, put your water bottle into a soaking wet sock. As you ride along, the wind will keep your water nice and cool.

  44. Observation: We often meet other cyclists, most of them rocking one or the other version of Ortlieb bags. Don’t get me wrong, they are good bags, but quite a few people we met encountered technical problems after short while of use.

    Personal experiance: There is an alternative!!!!
    We found bags which are cheaper and totally indistructable! MSX Mainstream – same method of closing as Ortlieb, in fact the design is a total Ortlieb rip off. Those have been 100% reliable for almost 3000km now. And going strong, not a single scatch on them!

    • RobW says:

      I’ve had my Ortlieb bags since 1999 and have lived out of them for over a decade and done tens of thousands of miles on them and have had very few problems, mostly my own fault. When it was not my fault, Ortlieb has supplied me with new replacements in several locations

  45. John S says:

    For a light weight yet warm blanket check out a military poncho liner. In a pinch an airline blanket is good also.

  46. Bob Schilling says:

    Wheel spokes vary by wheel manufacturer. They come in many different sizes based on the wheel (front or rear) and in the rear, depending on which side of the wheel (right or left). It’s a good idea to by two of each size (6 total) for your particular wheels. Tape them together in sets of three and you can pop your handle bar ends and stow them inside the handles where they’re out of the way and available. This will assure that you have the right spokes for your wheels even if you take your bike to a bike shop for repair.

  47. Tim Woods says:

    Go to the local pub for a beer at the end of the day. Sit next to your bike on the patio and in no time you will have new friends…. and more often then not a place to pitch a tent or in a best case scenario a couch and a warm shower. Plus you’ll have a much deserved cold beer!!!

  48. shazzer says:

    I have done loads of touring with a couple of girl-friends and lots by myself also. My favourite tip is: roast 16 heads of garlic, cut off a bit of the pointy end, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper, bake in a covered casserole for 1 hour and when they have cooled down, squeeze all the garlic into a container and stick in your panniers in the cooking section. I use it like mayonnaise and it goes great with apples and cheese for the happy hour snack in camp, or anytime!!

  49. Gemma says:

    Dental floss. Light, strong, takes up very little room- perfect sewing thread for repairs. We used it to rebuild our tent after it was destroyed by a donkey in Argentina!

  50. ben says:

    A few things learned from cycling in Asia:

    A few snaps of family and your home town is always appreciated and makes a great talking point.

    A digital camera, that shows the pic on the back after you take it, is a great way to make taking photos a little less intimidating to anyone you meet not used to cameras. Show them the results and watch them in wonder and excitement.

    A test ride, using all kit, is indispensable at highlighting possible problems before you head off and can easily do something about it.

    A portable water filter will save buying hundreds of non-biodegradable plastic bottles in areas without an infrastructure to get rid of them.

  51. RobW says:

    Besides carrying the photo/video camera with LCD panel to show people the pictures I’ve taken, I also cary a miniature atlas to show them my travel route and where I come from, etc

  52. Hana Black says:

    Thanks for the awesome book, I will enjoy reading it as we continue our way south through Asia.
    One more use for toiletries I discovered yesterday:
    Use the toothbrush and toothpaste to clean the inside of yucky water bottles. Tape two brushes together with duct tape for tall bottles, and bend the head back to get into the corners!
    cheers.

  53. scales11 says:

    Always pack a few pairs of medical gloves. These are obviously helpful for first aid, but are also great to greesy bike repairs, includin putting your chain back on if it falls off. Keeps the hands clean, so you can get right back to riding.

  54. Jordy says:

    Just finished my first decent trip through Hungary, Slovakia, Austria and the Czech Republic. And since I’m obviously still a bit wet behind the ears, I’m at an obvious risk of sounding like Captain Obvious. But still….

    On this 939 km tour through eastern Europe, the majority of our minor repairs for the bikes was done with a relatively small selection of largely light-weight goods:
    - Duct tape
    - Tie Wraps (lots and lots of them)
    - A small pair of cutting pliers
    - Victorinox Mountaineer pocket knife
    - Small 4,5 and 6 mm imbus (Allen Head) screwdrivers

    Add a toothbrush and some Finish Line wet lubricant for the chain/gears and a standard issue tyre repair kit and you’re set.

    I packed a lot more with me. Spare spokes, Powerlinks for the chain, spare brake and gear cables, and all the tools that come with those odd jobs. But I just lugged that weight, rarely if ever used it. And I felt it with every hill I climbed.

    Oh and on a side note, I’ve simply got to recommend LMF (Light My Fire) sporks. Even the hard plastic ones work remarkably well and they weigh next to nothing. I’m never leaving the house without one again.

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