Adventure Cycling: One Book, One City

Biologist, outdoor educator, and author of Bicycling with Butterflies: My 10,201-Mile Journey Following the Monarch Migration, Sara Dykman, rode an impressive distance on her bicycle to follow the monarch butterfly migration. My first thought when hearing about this immense feat was- how in the world did she bike that far?! As someone who only bikes around my neighborhood, and occasionally a bike trail in the Cleveland Metroparks, I couldn’t fathom riding thousands of miles across the country on a bike. Naturally, being a librarian and all, I was inspired to take a look at how one might go about such a trip and tips for embarking on your own adventure cycling trip!

Image from https://www.adventurecycling.org/blog/from-the-magazine-following-the-monarchs/

Dykman was not new to bike touring, as she shares in this article from Treehugger. She says, “I was actually on a year-long bike tour, traveling from Bolivia to the United States when I first had the idea to follow the monarch butterflies.” She also shares a bit about her bike in the article, describing it as, “… an old, rusty steel mountain bike frame from the ‘80s, the components were newish, cleanish, and ready to get me down the road. Most people were shocked at how unfancy my bike was, especially when it was saddled with my homemade kitty-litter-bucket panniers. It might not have been light or pretty, but my no-frills bike is a reliable machine.” 

Dykman took extensive photos on her trip and you can check them out on her website here and see all the places she’s biked!

If you are feeling inspired to do your own adventure biking trip but aren’t sure where to start, you’ll want to work your way up to long distances. Whether you have an old mountain bike or a fancy new all-terrain bike, you’ll want to get your bike in tip-top shape before you venture out. Here is a list of tips from Adventurecycling.org on items to contemplate prior to setting out on your trip.

  • Make final purchases of clothing and equipment.
  • Make certain that all repairs and maintenance, including lubrication, are made on your bike.
  • Buy an extra pair of glasses, or contacts, and get a copy of your prescription.
  • Continue your training rides, working up to 50- to 70-mile day rides on weekends. (You might try for a century — 100 miles in a day — if you’re taking a trip of more than three weeks.) Seek out hills and varied terrain, attempting to simulate the type of riding you’ll encounter on your tour, and do some rides with fully loaded packs to test for proper weight distribution.
  • Make arrangements for paying any monthly bills coming due during your absence.
  • Make sure you have used all your equipment and know how it works. Make all final adjustments to your bike.
  • Continue training rides; try to do at least one overnight “shakedown” trip with a fully loaded bike. It’s better to discover and take care of problems before your tour begins.
  • Pack your bike in a reinforced box and ship it, if it’s not traveling with you.
  • Pick up your travel tickets.
  • Buy traveler’s checks for emergency and spending money.
  • Fill medical prescriptions to last longer than your trip.
  • Cancel your newspaper delivery.
  • Change mail delivery or have mail held at the post office.
Image from Adventurecycling.org

You can find travel tips for your first bike tour here from The Adventure Junkies. There are plenty of great blogs out there that you can check out with information on bikepacking, adventure cycling, and bike touring such as Cycling About and Bikepacking.

For more resources, we have plenty of great materials at the library, including a variety of digital cycling magazines you can access from the comfort of home.

Finally, we recently had Deltrece Daniels from Bike Cleveland offer a virtual program all about Adventure Cycling. Keep your eyes peeled on this blog for that recording in the coming weeks.

Have you ever taken a long distance biking trip? Are you planning one? We’d love to hear about your adventure cycling, so please share with us in the comments!

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