Tag Archives: touring

Proof That Cyclocross Bikes Would Make Great Touring Bikes

In this video Chris Akrigg shows why cyclocross bikes make excellent touring bikes. As he bounces and slides over rocks and branches and into the occasional mud pit, he proves that cyclocross bikes are lightweight, capable machines that can take a great deal of abuse. Coupled with an ultralight, sub 6kg, bundle of touring gear there would scarcely be any terrain out-of-bounds. Cyclocross bikes also have the added benefits of being fast on roads, unlike mountain bikes, low maintenance and have a huge potential to take cycle touring adventures to new places.

If you’re wondering how you might equip a bike like the one Chris is riding for cycle touring, then you may like to take a look at my Ultralight Cycle Touring Guide book.

Bikepacking or Ultralight Cycle Touring?

Ultralight Touring-Bicycle
Ultralight Touring-Bicycle Prototype – with heavy ‘normal’ cycle bottles.

Which do you call it – bikepacking or ultralight cycle-touring? Correct me if I’m wrong but bikepacking seems to be more orientated towards mountain bikes and ultralight touring towards road bikes.

They both use a bike to carry the minimal amount of kit to get the job done with a philosophy that values freedom, motion and adventure over comforts and luxury. I suspect that the only real difference is that bikepacking evolved from mountain bikers doing ambitious overnighters and ultralight cycle-touring was the logical answer to road tourers wanting to go further and faster whilst taking in a few high alpine cols. It looks to me like a case of convergent evolution where both camps have found similar solutions to the same problems, such as ditching panniers and racks in favour of dry bags, to save weight but also because mountain bikes and road bikes are less well designed to have racks mounted to them.

What I’d really like to know is, which do you call it and what type of bike do you use?

Building an Ultralight Touring Bike [Video]

Earlier today I made a video showing how I piece together my ultralight touring bike. In the video I’m using the standard 7.6kg setup as described in detail in my book along with my 10.5kg road bike. The 7.6kg is not all on the bike as it also includes what I am wearing; cycle shorts, cycle jersey, socks, SPD MTB shoes, helmet and sunglasses.

Please let me know what you think in the comments below. Cheers!

Light Weight Cycle Touring Tent Alternatives

Tarp for cycle touring
Ultra lightweight tarp for cycle touring

One of the heaviest items when you are cycle-touring is your tent. Good tents will have a double lining and adequate leg room to keep you dry and allow you to stretch out. Of course you can manage with a single skin tent and leg room might not affect everyone but there’s a few alternatives worth mentioning. This is one of them.

This is my tarp. It’s a hugely versatile piece of kit and very light. It weighs 545 grams and comfortably covers an area big enough to sleep three people. Another one can be used on the ground if you wish, but a bivy works well to keep your sleeping bag dry if you’re on damp ground. I use the MSR AC Bivy or a second tarp just to protect the sleeping bag from the damp and any rocks and sticks, etc, from ripping it. Continue reading Light Weight Cycle Touring Tent Alternatives

Are energy gels useful for long distance cycling?

Grossglockner High Alpine Road
Beautiful agony on the Grossglockner High Alpine Road

When I’m on my road bike I often enjoy an energy gel, well perhaps I don’t enjoy an energy gel, but I certainly benefit from a little caffeine and carbs. But what about for touring? I think some insight into this question can be gleaned from a little light philosophy; when you’re out on a road bike you don’t need to ride in a sustainable way, you can ride vigorously all day before returning home to a warm shower and rest until you feel you have recovered again. Some gels can enhance your performance for a short time but at the cost of extending your recovery time. On a Sunday road ride this doesn’t matter. Chances are that you will be at work on Monday and able to rest and recover for the next cycling opportunity, probably a mid-week ride or the next weekend. On a tour there isn’t necessarily a day of rest coming up and so you must pace yourself – pacing yourself means that high concentration energy supplements shouldn’t really be necessary. Continue reading Are energy gels useful for long distance cycling?

Amazing Cycle Touring in Turkey

Gökçeahmet, Turkey
Our generous hosts for the evening – Gökçeahmet, Turkey

The ferry from Kos to Bodrum on the south west coast of Turkey was a brief affair. One passenger, a resident Turk, warned us that we should be very careful on the roads because Turks don’t think about or expect cyclists on their roads and their driving is dangerous and aggressive. It wasn’t the most warming forecast of what we could expect in Asia! We duly noted concerned gentlemen’s warning but kept in mind that many people had said the same about Greece, Bosnia and Croatia already and we coped just fine in those countries.

By the time we had reached Bodrum it was getting quite late; there was perhaps an hour of twilight left before we’d be forced to search for a camp by torchlight. I didn’t relish the prospect of digging about trying to find an unoccupied patch of land to pitch the tent on my first night in a new country. Especially using a new map and surrounded by people I didn’t know or understand so the race was on. Continue reading Amazing Cycle Touring in Turkey