Year 2015 was a good one. From a cycling perspective, it might have been one of the very best. For the first time ever, I was able to participate in multiple cyclotouring excursions in the same year. Multiple tastes of touring on the bicycle left me hungry for more, and in some ways it felt like I learned more about my true identity. Maybe that is why I enjoy S24Os and riding to places for coffee brew-ups so much. So as 2015 fades, the local weather deteriorates, and as I fight a bronchitis bug, I look into possibilities for 2016.
Many make plans for cyclotouring in exotic or faraway places. This allows the tourist to see famous places or things they can’t see in their local geography. It often requires them to “travel”, and work out extra logistical challenges before they begin their tour. In 2015, I did the same thing myself, touring in Wisconsin and Maryland. I wouldn’t turn down an opportunity for cyclotouring farther from home, but in 2016 I’d like to plan some trips that start/end at home.
I am learning that planning these kinds of trips is more challenging than I expected. I’ve been spending a fair amount of time planning 50-ish mile ride segments north and west of my house to see what I might be able to put together. But there just aren’t much in the way of camping options within my desired mileage constraints. That makes piecing together 3- or 4-day touring loops difficult without hotel stays. Maybe this is why folks travel to other places to start their bicycle tours.
Challenges notwithstanding, I believe a couple of options (with variations) have been identified. One option is a 3 day, 2 night credit card tour on a loop route (with a possible option for camping on one of the nights). The other is a 4 day, 3 night out-n-back route that involves camping each night (with an option to make the first day long and eliminate one of the nights). For this second option, I think I prefer the longer variation as that allows for more time at the turnaround point. But who knows, if time is limited, maybe a long first day challenge would be a good thing.
Why all the details? I’m hoping to encourage friends to join me. If someone wishes to join, that would be fantastic and we can target dates that make sense. Otherwise, I’ll be watching my calendar and weather simultaneously for opportunities to explore the history and geography right outside my door. Got to be ready.
There’s a certain charm & purity to riding out your back door. Independent tours are quite satisfying from the “I did it myself” aspect & minimizing logistical hassles. However, as you observe, there are some limitations. One option my touring buds & I have used is one-way rental vehicles. It does tarnish the purity of cycle touring, but opens up vast areas without having a follow-along support vehicle (definitely a drag). A serious constraint to this is one-ways need to be between major airports to be reasonably cost effective. Plan it right & you can leave home with a few friends, drop the car some distance away & ride home.
Thanks, Doug. I like the “ride home” idea, and I believe it will open up some possibilities for me. However, I’ll still need to find places to stay along the way, and there just really aren’t many camping options between Abilene or Oklahoma City and home. Perhaps, I’ll be able to camp some to save some money, but will probably end up staying a hotels often.
I second your idea of bike touring from home. I’ve done this myself on many trips. Leaving the vehicle at home is less complicated. Also, you might try a one way excursion starting from further afield, then riding home. I’m fortunate to live in an area where there are numerous campgrounds. Have you heard of Warm Showers? You might try that organization for low cost overnight accommodation.
Yes, I’ll explore the “one way” approach more and see what opportunities it can provide. I’ve thought about Warm Showers, and maybe I’m a little pessimistic, but I’m guessing the options north Texas and southern Oklahoma are very limited. Maybe I can research this more before giving up. An ideal situation would be for ranchers to give me permission to hang my hammock between fence posts in the corner of a pasture. There are zillions of empty pastures with fence corners.
Sounds like a great plan Chris, I can’t wait to read about your further distance adventures. There is something neat about you getting inspired to do more local touring by your multi day trips in other areas. I know I really enjoyed the multi day credit card GAP trip my dad and I took two years ago.
Do you have any Amtrak access that would permit you to get a ‘remote start/finish’?
And of course I’ll be intrigued about your choice for touring bike… I know your Hilsen is well equipped but I’d also love to see the Rambler fully setup with low riders to match that Swift handlebar bag!
Interesting that you mention Amtrak. There is a station about 20 miles NE of my house. If (and this a big if) I could take my bike on board, I could ride up toward Oklahoma City and depart at a little town called Paul’s Valley. Riding back home from there would be about three days. The challenge is finding camping spots…or some other cheap lodging. Ah well, it’s a sort of puzzle I guess. If the solution is more oriented toward credit card touring, the Rambler would get the assignment. In fact, I’m planning to try a full camping load before too long with low rider front panniers and a light load on a rear rack.
So does the Amtrak just north of your house pass by Big Bend deep in the SW corner of the state? That’s an area I *really* want to explore.
I suspect or hope that 2016 has more touring, both on and off road, both local and far-flung. As much as I romanticize sleeping on the ground ensconced in the bushes, a shower and sorta firm bed also has its draw. Looking foward, either way.
The nearby Amtrak is a part of the Heartland Flyer route that runs between Fort Worth and Oklahoma City. There is a “southern tier” Amtrak route that runs between Louisiana and California. That route goes through Alpine, Texas which is about 70 miles north of the north boundary Big Bend National Park. It would be “out of the way” from where I am in that I’d need to ride the train south down to San Antonio before being able to head west.
Credit card touring is really fun. Traveling light is pleasant, and so is having a shower. It makes summers much more enjoyable for touring. I don’t sleep well if it doesn’t get below 80 degrees.
I am just becoming aware of AirBnB. After some initial looks, it appears that there are several options even in fairly out-of-the-way places, and some of them are very inexpensive. It looks like folks rent out bedrooms. I need to get more schooled on what this is all about.
My experience with AirBNB has been very positive. The “One Way AirBnB” tour idea is quite the ponder….
Hey Chris. I used to follow you on Instagram when I was on there myself, but I have tried to wean myself from phone absorption, so I got off. I just discovered your blog here though. I am not sure exactly where in the dfw area you are, but I am live near lake worth/Saginaw in nw Fort Worth and would love to ride sometime. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like!
Thanks, Adam, I’ll be in touch.