Tag Archives: multi day bike ride

For any cycle touring vacation we are blessed to live in one of the most beautiful and diverse countries in the world. So take some time to explore and make the most of your next bike adventure!

Tips for Planning Your First Cycle Touring Vacation

by Helen Young 

Cycle Touring Vacation

For any cycle touring vacation planned we are blessed to live in one of the most beautiful and diverse countries in the world. The sheer scale of the USA means that the landscapes and terrains vary dramatically from state to state making it a bicyclist’s dream. Whether you’re looking for rocky terrains, dusty dessert tracks, or bumpy forest trails, you’ll find all of this and more without ever having to leave the country. Preparing to set off on your first cycle tour is exciting, but with a wealth of information available to you, both on and offline, it can also be massively overwhelming. With that in mind, here are some top tips for planning your first cycle touring vacation:

 Take it Easy on a Cycle Touring Vacation

For cycle touring vacations we are blessed to live in one of the most beautiful and diverse countries in the world. So take some time to explore and make the most of your next bike adventure!

For any cycle touring vacation we are blessed to live in one of the most beautiful and diverse countries in the world. So take some time to explore and make the most of your next bike adventure!

Bicycle cycle touring is much more labor intensive than simply heading out for an afternoon bike ride. It’s both physically and mentally exhausting. Because cycling is the focus of your vacation, it can be tempting to push yourself a little harder – cycling 100km each day until you are completely burnt out. Too much cycling each day could ruin your vacation and leave you feeling saddle-sore and unhappy. Instead, set realistic daily targets and take it easy. Remember that the destination isn’t necessarily what’s important. Take the time to enjoy your surroundings and the ride as you get there.

Maintain Your Bike

Taking care of your bike is vital: a good bike is key to having a great vacation. Simple maintenance such as cleaning and oiling the chain when needed can go a long way to ensuring your bike is ready to go the distance. Keep your bike clean and pack basic tools and a repair kit to keep you on the road. You may also wish to carry basic tools and a puncture repair kit. If you carry panniers on your bike, a repair kit for those may well be useful too. For a longer journey, you may wish to consider cycle insurance. This insurance can be helpful in case your bike sustains an injury that you are unable to repair by yourself on the road.

Consider Credit Card Touring

If you want minimalist low key touring then credit card touring could be the right option: just you, your credit card, and the open road. With this type of touring all you have to carry with you is your basic cycling gear and clothing (which should fit in your panniers or inside a small backpack). Then, you simply carry a bank card or your allocated travel money to pay for food, accommodation, and other supplies as you go along. This is the most low hassle and unencumbered way to travel, although it does take a certain degree of bravery to travel so lightly and without a formulated plan.

Protect Yourself from the Sun

Skin cancer is a very real threat. There are over 5.4 million cases of melanoma skin cancer being diagnosed in the USA each year. Therefore, no matter how light you’re packing, it’s important to protect your skin as you travel. Pack a high SPF factor sun lotion and ensure you wear a lightweight long sleeve shirt to protect your arms as you cycle. Nothing hampers a great cycling tour like the discomfort of sun burn.

Stay Hydrated

Carry enough water bottles and refill them often. Dehydration can come on quickly and leave you feeling sore, sluggish, and with a terrible headache. Running out of water in the middle of nowhere whilst enjoying a difficult trail can leave you feeling panicked. It can ruin an otherwise great day. Keep hydrated and drink plenty of water whenever you have the opportunity. Your water bottle is one of the most important things you will carry with you on your ride.

A Cycle Touring Vacation is a Time to Explore!

Finally, don’t be afraid to explore and make the most of your adventure! Get off the beaten track, leave the main road, and head onwards into the middle of nowhere. Don’t worry about what other people think about your decision to take a cycle touring vacation. What should you do instead? Just enjoy it. With your bike for company, this could well be the best and most exciting vacation you’ll ever have. So take time to explore and make the most of your next bike adventure!

A multi-day bike tour showcase – Tour da UP

In its 26th year, the Tour da UP bike tour in the upper peninsula of Michigan caught our attention. Hosted by Teaching Family Homes (TFH), a non-profit organization that helps fund programs to benefit victims of violence and trauma, we thought we would share a review of this tour for you to check out.

Riders of the 2015 Tour da UP gather for a group photo.

Riders of the 2015 Tour da UP gather for a group photo.

First we looked at their website

Looking over their website we read that this 5-day tour allows you to set your own pace with the assurance that SAG support would be there if you ever needed assistance. Followed by what you will see and experience on this ride:

  • The scenery of Michigan’s Eastern Upper Peninsula
  • Opportunities to walk the beaches along three of the Great Lakes
  • Visit numerous historical sites and Mackinac Island
  • See the largest waterfall east of the Mississippi, Tahquamenon Falls
  • Plus, the camping, food and support while on the ride.

So we asked to contact a past rider for their viewpoint of the Tour

Here is Cheryl Sima on her bike enjoying the flora and fauna of the U.P.

Here is Cheryl Sina on her bike enjoying the flora and fauna of the U.P.

Given the contact of a past rider, we interviewed Cheryl Sina, from Oshkosh, WI. who is returning for her 5th Tour da UP. So we asked her what makes this ride so special?

Cheryl shared how she got involved in the Tour

It started with my first tour in 2012. With my car loaded with bike and camping gear, I headed off alone, I would not know anyone on this ride. As riders filtered in for registration, I could tell that many of them had been on the ride before. There was a constant chatter of familiar greetings and getting reacquainted – who had arrived already, who was still coming, and have you heard from him/her.  Little did I know that as I waited my turn, I was about to be embraced by the TFH Family.

Another rider asked if I’d been on the ride before, if I had anyone riding with me. I explained that I hadn’t and just set off on my own for this little adventure. He said, I was going to have a good time and began introducing me to other riders. He was right – I made a lot of great friends, starting that very moment. I’ve rode every year since and I’m signed up for the 2016 ride which will be my 5th year.”

Some of the new friends Cheryl has met on the Tour da UP.

Some of the new friends Cheryl has enjoyed meeting on the Tour da UP.

Then we asked her why she keeps returning each year to the tour?

“Over the last four years participating in these tours I’ve kayaked on Lake Superior, paddle-boarded for the first time, and have seen some of the most amazing sights that nature has to offer. I’ve made lifetime friendships as a result of Tour da UP. It’s not a large group of anonymous people shuffling from stop to stop. You get to know your fellow rider. You are spending time around a campfire, enjoying a beautiful sunset, and sharing experiences with new friends.

But… let’s not forget that ride participants registration fee helps to support the work that Teaching Family Homes does for kids and families. Meeting the kids that TFH is helping is always special moment for me. To hear even one child tell how TFH has changed their life, taught them the skills they need to make better choices and showed them their self worth – can there be any better reason?”

For more information on riding check out their website: Tour da UP

Riders stop for a photo op in front of a historic artillery structure along the U.P. Coast.

Riders stop for a photo op in front of a historic artillery structure along the U.P. Coast. (Cheryl is on the lower left)

The Tour da UP is an annual event hosted by Teaching Family Homes (TFH) that helps fund programs to benefit victims of violence and trauma. TFH is a 501c3 non-profit that provides intensive in-home services, juvenile justice diversion and reintegration services, and residential group homes.  Our goal is to facilitate self-sufficiency through the enhancement of self-esteem, skill development and inter-personal relationships. www.teachingfamilyhomes.org

Bike tour intersects scenic bluff roads with the Root River Trail

Want to explore the bike friendly bluff roads that crisscross the Root River trail system, while enjoying the local foods & history of Southeast Minnesota’s ‘Driftless’ area?

Starting in Whalan, Friday, July 8th through Sunday, the 10th the eight towns of the Root River Trail will host the Bluff & Valley Bicycle Tour, a 3-day bike ride that showcases many of the hidden gems that you won’t see from the trail. With a scenic route that traverses the country side on quite roadways and byways, intertwining with the popular trail system, discover the magic of Bluff Country. Limited to the first 150 cyclist who registered, here is an overview of the three day bike adventure of a life time.

Two riders cruising the Root River bluffs, in Southeast Minnesota, training for RAGBRAI, in Iowa.

Two bike riders cruising the Root River bluffs, in Southeast Minnesota, training for RAGBRAI, in Iowa.

After a hearty Bluff Country breakfast the tour leaves out of Whalan, on the root River Trail visiting Lanesboro, then out into the bluffs. Now up, out of the valley the tour circles through some of the areas contoured farmlands making a stop in Fountain (the Sinkhole Capitol of the World) for some refreshments. Then it’s on to Preston for lunch. After visiting the National Trout Center here the tour heads south to Harmony, your overnight hosts for Friday evening. Arriving before the evening fun begins cool off with an afternoon tour of the Niagara Caves and enjoy the Amish culture in and around town.

Here cyclists are enjoying the many delicious delicacies available near many of the Root River trail towns.

Here on bike, many enjoy the delicious home-town delicacies available near many of the Root River trail towns.

Saturday morning, after breakfast, the tour heads east on the Amish Buggy Byway. On this stretch of the Bluff & Valley Tour riders will pass though farmlands still cultivated by horses and roadside signs, near farmsteads, offering honey and other whole-food Amish delicacies. At the halfway point, for lunch the tour will enter Minnesota’s first Norwegian settlement where many Selfie opportunities exist. Back on the road again the tour rolls through another scenic valley before arriving in Houston your host town for Saturday evening. After checking out the National Owl Center and bike art there, tour riders will take part in a dinner party and evening of fun and music.

A group riding the scenic roads out of Houston, one of the Root River Trail Towns in Minnesota.

A group riding bike on the scenic roads out of Houston, one of the Root River Trail Towns in Minnesota.

Sunday morning, after enjoying a little bit more of Houston’s hospitality the meandering Bluff & Valley Bicycle Tour visits a town of the past, named because a settler lost his money in a creek there. The tour now turns west, up Vinegar Hill, making its way back along the Root River’s north-face bluffs. When you see a clearing in the hills with the name Rushford etched in white, you will be coasting into town for lunch and more Selfie opportunities around the historic depot while there. Then, it’s one more (gradual) climb and you are coasting back down to the Root River Trail, in Peterson. Here, explore their Norwegian Museum and taste some of the best desserts on the Root River Trail before returning back to Whalan.

The Root River Bluff & Valley Bicycle Tour is best suited for cyclists of intermediate ability and above. Daily mileage will range from 50 – 68 miles (century options are available upon request) on paved roads, with some riding on the famous Root River Trail. The terrain in this area very rolling with a few long, 8+ grade climbs. For more information and registration forms click here.