Step 1: The Big Questions Paul
— Step 1: The Big Questions —
Congratulations, identifying that you want to go bicycle touring is the first big step.
The good news is that there are several more, but you will be OK, I know that you can do it. So, if you are standing there with your helmet on and one leg swung over the bike, perhaps you should put it to one side. There are a few questions you will need to ask yourself before you go rushing out the front gate.
You are going to have to know the answer to all of these for your own wellbeing, and also so that you can answer them time and time again over the next few years:
What do I ride? Will the old second hand bike be fine did I need a new, “proper” bike? Unfortunately, the answer to this one may be yes to both parts of the question. As my touring skills developed, I outgrew the old bike and my first bike purchase. Now I ride a specific touring bike.
How do I carry all my gear? As well as the bike, I have used panniers, trailer and backpack on cycle tours. The distance and duration will determine the combination of the three used for any particular tour.
Am I up to it? Not having ridden more for about forty years, I had to build up the stamina with a training regime so that I could stay in the saddle for would become a normal day’s touring.
Where am I going to ride? Australia is a land of endless cycling opportunity, so where do I ride and how should I plan the route? How far should I ride and when is it time to stop for the day?
Where was I going to sleep? I know that sleeping on a plastic sheet on the ground is not an option, so where do I camp and what gear do I need? What if I wanted something more than camping?
I am a happy with simple foods but what am I going to eat? Having to carry all your food (or at least a major part of it) reduces the options and you will be looking to add as much variety as possible. Just how do you break the gastronomic boredom?
The final big consideration is around safety. What can I do to reduce the risk of being run over and what are the risks that I face when sleeping rough?
Once you are comfortable with all of the above, you are ready to start touring. Initially you may wish to keep the training wheels on, but they will come off quickly and then you can ride the Long Paddock.
Also known as the Tanami Road and the McGuire Track, this is another of those extreme rides that seem to attract my attention. Follows a stock route northwest through the MacDonnell Ranges In Central Australia from Alice Springs in the Northern Terriroty to Halls Creek in the Kimberley, Western Australia, this is an epic challenge for only the fool-hardy.
With a distance of 22 kilometres over mostly quiet rural roads, you could start almost anywhere along the route but allow about ninety minutes for the ride which may be a little challenging in places for the average rider.
A mountain biking expert says Alice Springs has the potential to become Australia's top destination for this growing sport and this new shared use trail with some great switchbacks and both intermediate and steep slopes will certainly enhance that view.