This is a shameless attempt to save the the most advanced civilization in
history from imminent self destruction by eliminating carbon emission,
dependence on foreign sources of fuel,obesity, hypertension and diabetes.
Cycling accomplishes all those things at once and helps us develop a better
understanding of ourselves, each other and our relationship to the cosmos.

Oh, horse puckey!
I like to ride bikes, have been doing it all my life.
The rest of that crap is just a fringe benefit,
and the blogosphere gives me a chance to share my interior
monologue with virtual rather than imaginary friends.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

This touring obsession of mine

      I think that ever since I was young and loved bikes I wanted to use them for traveling.   I don't know what attracted me to the idea, but I can remember looking at a Sears catalog(yes, I am that um...ah... experienced, yeah that's the word!) which listed a touring bike(probably a Puch) for some forgotten but totally out-of-reach price.  For some reason, the idea of being able to move freely for miles a day, outside, enjoying the elements and meeting exotic people as far as, hell 50 miles away, fascinated me.  I never really got over it.   As an adult, before the overwhelming of parenthood took control of my life, I have taken several week long and overnight loaded tours.  Each was an adventure in it's own right and now that I have time again I intend to do a lot of it.
        What amazes me the most is that even the cycling community know little or nothing about it.  Most recreational cyclists will try one of several supported group tours and rave about how much fun it was.

  That's great and it's always more fun to have company around, but that seems to be a rolling party wagon on somebody else's itinerary .  It's funny, I know those people are out there, but I've never met anybody who has taken one of those twice,and they don't have appeal to me like a fully loaded tour.  In talking to people on the bike forums, the general consensus seems to be that tourists are considered a niche within a fringe group.  The real community is comprised of recreational cyclists, those I refer to as spandex hamsters,

who race around on carbon fiber/unobtainium crotch rockets with no particular destination, worrying about the grams of weight per kilowatt output of the light bulbs they use at home.  That seems to be the reason the bike stores have no clue what touring bikes are.
        When I decided last year to buy a bike specifically for touring I looked at several brands, Surly, Soma and Rivendell were the best choices I found.  When I went to a local TREK dealer and told the owner that my next purchase would be a touring bike, he immediately started selling me an custom made titanium bike

explaining that "nobody makes touring frames anymore, and after all, a touring bike is liable to get scratched, you don't want to take the risk of rust you know!"  Since he was obviously ignoring his own product line (TREK  520 for instance) in order to get the high dollar sale, I went elsewhere.  I knew I could afford a Surly Long Haul Trucker and that was the most popular model I had found.  I decided to get a couple prices from local shops to see how they compared to the internet low ballers.  One local shop I like, gave me a good price, and said he didn't keep them in stock because "the budget only allows me to order one or two weird things a year."  I stood there amidst his regular selection of razor tired racers,

 balloon tired, flared fendered cruisers

and pink wheeled fixies

 feeling I had come from a different time portal.
Fortunately, another shop offered it at a better price, didn't lie to me or suggest it was weird,

I spent my money there.


  1. Dang!
    You so often seem to echo what's going on in my mind. The touring bug is inside me too, and while I'd LOVE an LHT, I'm not sure I'm ready to afford it. I've read much (on about the options with converting a late 80's or early 90's chromoly MTB, and I'm thinking about it seriously. Also, I've never been a fan of low bars or aggressive riding positions as drop bars present an issue to my neck and shoulder wellbeing. Still, the LHT gets so much love, and looks simply awesome.
    I'm about 6 years from the empty nest, and already resigning myself to getting into this solo. Still, maybe one day a buddy and I will meet.

  2. If drop bars are a problem for you it's probably because they are too low to begin with. The bars on my Surly are set about two inches above the seat which makes for a very comfortable semi-upright position on the top part of the bars and a much more comfortable "aero"position in the drops. They are also a whole lot wider than the bars on my old road bike. It's not like a road bike at all, the day I got it , I rode 25 miles, got off and felt like I hadn't even been on a bike.