So here it is! The first blog entry for my new site www.cyclingtouring.org
I have been meaning to start writing this blog for some time now. With all the work that has gone into starting this site, I guess the time has run away. Or maybe am I scared of your comments!?
What is there to tell about me? Late 30’s (ish!) IT professional (my day job) who loves cycling and his family. Having recently moved to Jersey (Channel Islands) for my work, I was really made to think about my cycling after I went from having all of the UK available to me, to an island just 9 by 5 miles! I had to re-invent my cycling life!
Some of my earliest memories are of learning to ride a bike and spending time with my friends, riding our bikes. In fact up until the age of about 15, I lived on my bike. It got me everywhere I needed to go. It was my way to explore the world. The world to me at that age didn't go much further than a few mile radius from my home, but that was all I needed and from then on, I have been hooked on cycling (maybe a small break during my late teens/early twenties!). The freedom of riding and getting away from the world appeals to me just as much today as it did when I was 10. I ride everywhere and have been known to get extremely grumpy if I go 24 hours without turning the wheels!
When I say I love all forms of cycling, I really do mean it. I'm glad I have experienced many different forms over the years in one way or another. From BMX's to mountain bikes, to road bikes and basically anything with two wheels. In one case Puch Maxi engine welded to a mountain bike, which had disastrous consequences! Whichever bike I ride, it is about the freedom of getting away from it all for a few minutes, hours or days. Come rain or shine, I will get out. It is what I do and is heavily engrained into my life. It makes me happy and makes me a happier person - just ask my family! :-)
I have taken part in amateur bike races and organised rides, travelling to many places across the UK to take part. I especially used to enjoy participating in MTB endurance events. The popularity (in the UK) of organised events is really growing and it is great to see many people taking up cycling again.
As I mentioned earlier, my family and I have moved to Jersey, Channel Islands. A beautiful island just off the coast of Northern France, if you aren't familiar with it. I went from having all the country lanes, roads and forests in the South East of England to explore, to a very small island. I was concerned about this before I left the UK and when I arrived, I soon realised that you can quickly run out of routes! I adapted to this and started to take advantage of the fast ferry crossing to France. For a £30 or less return, I could be in St Malo, France in an hour and take advantage of the quiet French roads and drivers who respect (kind of!) the cyclist. It was and still is perfect. These one day trips turned into two day trips and so on. I found myself converting my old mountain bike and looking at panniers, tents, and all the other equipment associated with cycling touring. I was becoming hooked on all the kit, the routes, the camp sites and anything relating to cycling touring. I had found my new cycling passion. Travelling through the sleepy hamlets across Northern France in the summer sun was perfect for me and was helping me to get away from the pressures of my new job in Jersey. It helped me unwind and made me appreciate my surroundings more when cycling. Something I don't think I really did as much before - I was more concerned with my pace and fitness. Before, I would have been averaging 18-20 mph on my road bike. I was now plodding along at 12-16 mph with all my kit on the back. It was and still is great - I'm so pleased I have adapted my cycling habits.
The idea of this web site came to me whilst riding along one morning in France. It was early in the morning and I was looking for a bakery to feed me some great French pastries. Then in a space of half an hour, I came across two separate people riding along on their touring bikes, fully laden with all the kit. They were clearly on an adventure like me and were also by themselves, like me. Leading up this tour of Brittany, I had wondered if a friend wanted to join me, but struggled. They didn't have the right bike, equipment, etc.. All valid reasons, but it still left me going alone. Now I'm pretty comfortable in my own company, but even I like to have someone around when away for a period of time, especially in the the evenings once my tent is up and I'm sitting down for dinner. I know there are some great cycling touring travel companies out there offering all kinds of adventures, however these are not always ideal for everyone. I wanted to create a FREE service that allows anyone to meet up and ride. So that is what I have done! A service that gives people the freedom to organise their own adventure, go where they want to go and make the most out of their OWN cycling tour. For me planning is just as much fun as riding it! And it helps keep the costs down by only paying essential expenses.
The main focus of the site is to provide people with the tools to create and promote their cycling tours with the whole community. You just create an account for FREE, log on and submit the details of the cycling tour you want to do and then the tour details are included within the event page, which shows them all on a world map. Nice and simple to use and just as simple for other members to join. Absolutely NO personal details shared and NO money. Just, name, email and where to meet up. The whole purpose for this site is to bring people together for FREE. So, if you are someone who likes to plan their own adventure, keep costs down and like meeting new people, or struggle to find friends to join you, then why not give it a go?
Along with the cycling tours side of the site, I am introducing the other areas over the coming weeks. Some of them are already there and are being updated with new content on a daily basis. I want people to have more than one reason to visit the site. There is a GPS routes area where we are building a repository of great cycling touring routes. All routes are supplied by our members. We are have a video and images section where people can upload their favorite memories from their cycling tours. An equipment review area where we encourage all members to write a review about an item of their own and share their views and experiences. We also have a forum for discussions about anything to do with cycling touring.
I hope you can see what I have set out to achieve with this site and you can see how it can help you with your cycling. If you have any questions or ideas for the site, please do comment below. I would love to read your opinions.
I’ll end this first blog post now, before I start to waffle on! I have so many other topics I want to cover, so please do subscribe or bookmark this page and pop back.
Thank you for reading.
Peter (Cycling Touring Community)
There are some great videos in our Help section that explain how to get started with creating a tour, managing a tour and joining member tours. Links to the videos below.
How to Create a Cycling Tour
How to Manage a Cycling Tour
How to Join a Cycling Tour