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Grip, Release, Shuffle, Grip, Release, Drop....

Grip, Release, Shuffle, Grip, Release, Drop....
  Hello and welcome to another guest blog post. This time out author is Kent MacWilliam. I have been in contact with Kent after he sent me an email about his handlebar tape product, Fatwrap Handlebar Tape .  Kent wanted to share his great article about the types of handlebars you can use for bicycle touring. So lets get started. Hope you enjoy!   Grip, release, shuffle, grip, release, drop.... Bike touring can be an endurance test as much as an adventure. Our butts, knees and hands support us as we focus on the glorious scenery.  For comfort, we dial in our clipped pedals, set the seat post height and upgrade our saddle. But what about our hands? So many riders commit to a handlebar set-ups without knowing all the options, and many more never look at the alternatives. This article looks at common and sometimes underused handlebar options, and explains how...
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Cycle Tourism along Milan’s Canal Navigli Network

Cycle Tourism along Milan’s Canal Navigli Network
I would like to welcome a guest blog post from Alexandre Rotenberg. Alexandre is based in Italy and is a photographer and cycle touring enthusiast. He enjoys exploring the beautiful areas of Italy by bicycle and contacted me about sharing his writing and photography work with the Cycling Touring Community. This is the first of four great posts from Alexandre.  Hope you enjoy!   Cycle Tourism along Milan’s Canal (Navigli) Network Despite Milan being strategically located at the gateway to the Italian peninsula, the city does not have a direct river or sea connection, which was traditionally seen as fundamental for commerce. To mitigate this problem, rulers of Milan from the early Middle Ages created a series of canals fed by the rivers Lambro, Adda and Ticino, the latter which flows to the mighty Po and eastwards to the Adriatic Sea.  These waterways have since been closely connected to the...
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Best Laid Cycling Touring Plans can go Wrong!

Best Laid Cycling Touring Plans can go Wrong!
It was all planned out. As much as it needed to be anyway. I was riding from St Malo to Le Mans and my cycling friend I was meeting with, was riding from Caen to Le Mans. You guessed it. Le Mans was the meeting point. Did we make it and meet up? Nope! This is what happened. If you read my post a couple of weeks ago, you would know that I have been planning to meet up with another Cycling Touring Community member. Simon was cycling from London to the Sahara. All the way through France and Spain, before heading to the Sahara (if time allowed anyway). It was to be a challenge ride for him, with long days in the saddle planned. Living very close to France, I thought it would be great to meet up and ride along with him for a few days before heading...
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Cycle Touring Advice | What do I need for my first Bicycle Tour?

Cycle Touring Advice
So, you have possibly made the best decision of your life. You have decided to go on a bicycle tour! But what next? You have a destination in mind. Maybe have some ideas of what to do along the way and thoughts about where you can sleep. The start date is approaching and your brain starts to take over with all these questions. Do I need special gear? Do I need a dedicated touring bicycle? Do I need to spend lots of money? Start by chilling out! The simple answer to these questions is no. Of course you need a few basic items to get started; bicycle being the most obvious starting point. But aside from a bicycle, I bet many of the items you need or think you need, you already own. If not, I also bet many of your friends & family could help you out. Check out a blog post I...
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Get out of bed and go Cycling!

Get out of bed and go Cycling!
It is fair to say that in terms of cycling, 2016 has been a bit of a struggle so far for me! The most amount of miles I have got on the bike has been my 15 mile daily commute to work, and the occasional Saturday or Sunday quick (1 hour) morning ride. Maybe the effects of the Christmas holidays are lingering. Whatever the reason, it is time for change. So, today I kick started my cycling for 2016 back into life. It may have been blowing a gale, driving rain and generally unpleasant when I woke up, but after a hearty breakfast, I got dressed in my cycling gear and braved the elements! And I'm so glad I did. I survived and came away with a renewed energy and focus. My body is back to life after a month of chilling out a little too much! The ride today...
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Cycle Touring Festival. Here I come!

Cycle Touring Festival. Here I come!
I'm very excited! I have ordered my ticket to the Cycle Touring Festival . After missing out last year through my own forgetfulness, this year I was prepared. I signed up to the newsletter and as soon as the tickets went on sale, I got one :-) For those of you who don't know, the Cycle Touring Festival is held in Clitheroe, Lancashire (UK). And this year it runs between Friday 27th - Sunday 30th May 2016, with an option to stay another night for a few extra pounds. As you can guess by the name, the festival is aimed at anyone interested in cycle touring. Doesn't matter if you are experienced, novice or just interested in having a weekend away, there will be something for everyone. The 2016 lineup is yet to be 100% confirmed, although the organisers have told me to expect Tom Allen  and Neil & Harriet...
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Eating and Cooking on a Bicycle Tour | Part 2

Eating and Cooking on a Bicycle Tour
Welcome back to Part 2 of this post about my take on eating and cooking whilst on a bicycle tour. In Part One  I talked about how I cook, where I eat and what works for me. In this part I'll run through a few of the things I like eat and how I cook them. Lets get started There is no better place to start than my favorite meal of the day. A great breakfast will get in you the mood for crunching away the miles, hour after hour. It kicks starts your body and is the foundation for feeling happy all day. As I touched on in Part One , try not to skip breakfast or eat something that isn't matching the energy needed for you day of cycling. You are on a cycle tour, not a dieting boot camp! Getting this wrong could mess up your day and leave you...
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Eating and Cooking on a Bicycle Tour | Part 1

Eating and Cooking on a Bicycle Tour
In my list of things I love in this world, both cycling and food are high up there. Obsession is probably a better way to describe my commitment level for both :-) My poor suffering family, friends and work colleagues generally have to listen to me talking obsessively about one of them constantly. And more often than not, I'm dreaming of my next meal shortly after finishing the last! I have always eaten well to feed my cycling over the years, but nothing prepared me for the hunger I would feel after progressing into the world of cycle touring! With many long days in the saddle and having all my kit on the back of the bicycle, three meals a day soon turns into many more! This makes bicycle touring and food a perfect match me :-) I have read many posts from people asking what, when and how to eat...
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2016 | A Year of Cycling Adventures

2016
Happy New Year! With Christmas and New Year well and truly over, it is time to get moving with cyclingtouring.org  in 2016! The Christmas holidays were a welcomed break. My family and I headed off to the Brecon Beacons for a short break, visiting family, eating good food and generally chilling out. Staying on a farm, located on top of a Welsh mountain in high winds and rain may sound crazy to many people (my wife included!), but I find it really invigorates you. The beautiful views and peace & quiet really help get away from busy day to day life :-) 2015 was such a busy year in so many ways. The launch of cyclingtouring.org  in June/July was an obvious highlight for me and seeing the community grow at a steady pace has been a pleasure. The support and positive feedback from everyone has been fantastic. Please keep it...
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Local Bike Rides and Recurring Cycle Tours & Rides

Local Bike Rides and Recurring Cycle Tours & Rides
  Over the past few months many of you have kindly taken the time to send in suggestions for new features and changes. Two topics that have come up a few times, is to have the ability to find people people to go on local bike rides (not necessarily touring) with and to setup regular/recurring tours & cycle rides . Two great ideas that I think will benefit many people. So, today I have made a few changes. A new category called ' Local Bike Ride ' has been created. This is great for people who don't always get chance to go off touring on a regular basis, but are still looking for people to go out cycling with. Maybe you have moved to a new area or you want to find new people to go cycling with in your local area. For people looking to setup regular/recurring cycle tours...
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Mini Cycle Tour in November

Mini Cycle Tour in November
As you may have seen in my previous post, I have headed off France this week for a few days cycling. With the weather being unusually pleasant for this time of year, it was a perfect opportunity to clear away the cobwebs and chill out. Arriving in the Port of St Malo late Sunday evening, I headed off to my hotel. I do normally like to camp (even in colder months), but some of the deals at this time of year, make hotels a good choice. At the end of a hard days riding, who doesn't like hot showers and comfy beds?! Once checked in, I got my kit for the ride ready to go in the morning. Some final route planning before bed and I was ready. Although only one hour difference in time, it still amazes me how tired you can feel in the morning! Pitch black at...
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Get Up & Go Cycling!

Get Up & Go Cycling!
I wrote a little blog post last Sunday evening after popping out for a night time cycle ride, to encourage other people to be motivated during the dark and cold months. Here it is...   It was a Sunday night. Dark and getting cold. I was little tired from the previous night's Halloween party. I guess, hungover is a better way of putting it! My mind was feeling a little guilty for not going out riding during the day when it was glorious sunshine and I was also very aware I had a big ride coming up the following weekend when I head off to Northern France for 3 days of undisturbed cycling. I'm pleased to say my motivational side won and I talked myself into popping out for a quick hour in the darkness.  On the back of a beautiful day of sunshine, the sunset was simply amazing! I...
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Bicycle Lights | Ay Up Lights Review

Bicycle Lights
With dark mornings and nights closing in fast, this makes it a perfect time for me to write few paragraphs about my bicycle lights of choice.  Bicycle lights are subjective. It is all about your needs, surroundings and ultimately your budget. Ask yourself some questions before making a choice and spending your hard earned cash. How long do they need to stay on for ? Are my cycling routes in well lit/dark areas ? How will I charge the battery ?   Let me start with my riding habits and where I ride to give you an insight into why I made my choice. I live on the small island of Jersey. An island that is made up of miles of country lanes, with the majority not having any form of street lighting. It is fair to say it gets pretty dark! I do like riding at night in the pitch...
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Think Today, Ride Tomorrow

Think Today, Ride Tomorrow
If you are living in the Northern hemisphere right now, then the nights are closing in, the mornings are dark and your bed is making you want to hide under the covers. Well, it is for me anyway! If you read my last blog post , then you will know it doesn't always stop me riding, but it can be a struggle to get motivated sometimes. For me, it is the time of year when I start to think about, what next for my cycling? Did I go where I wanted to during the warmer months? Should have gone for a ride instead of popping to the pub beer garden!? We cannot beat ourselves up about missed opportunities, but we can have ideas for the future and start to make plans. We all need something to look forward to :-)  The one thing I'm a little frustrated about this year...
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Keep Cycling during Autumn & Winter

Keep Cycling during Autumn & Winter
As autumn and winter approaches in the northern hemisphere, like many people I'm starting to find it a little chilly and darker, especially when it comes to riding my bicycle. To be honest, I have not always been the greatest fan of the colder months. But in recent years I have decided to embrace it and get out there. What I have found is that it is really enjoyable to be out on my bicycle when everyone else is tucked up indoors. It feels like I have the roads to myself at times and I get to see areas near and afar from a different perspective.  This year will be no different. I have already dug out my warmer cycling gear and given it the smell test, serviced all my bicycles (especially the single speed commuting bicycle I ride to work every day) and made sure my lights are working....
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Sleeping Bags for Cycle Touring | Terra Nova Voyager 800

Sleeping Bags for Cycle Touring
Are you like me? And have owned a few cheap sleeping bags over the years. Purchasing them for occasional usage; crashing at someone's house, back garden camping, festivals, etc.. You stand in your local camping shop with a couple of thoughts in mind. It has to be cheap (preferably in a sale) and the right colour. Little thought goes into the quality and if it will keep you warm and comfortable. I don’t think anyone can be criticised for this approach. Lets face it, many vendors market us with these cheap, quite often low quality items for those very same reasons. People quite often don't care. If it is only for a night or two, why did I need spend a fortune? This methodology is okay at the time, but maybe not so great when trying to stuff your bulky sleeping bag into your panniers for your first cycle tours!...
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Getting Started with Tents for Cycle Touring

Getting Started with Tents for Cycle Touring
Your first cycle tour is all planned. You know roughly where you want to go and how long you will go for. You have thought about camping, but your last experience was at a Scouts/Girl Guides weekend away when you were 12 years old! Looking through your local camping shop and on-line you become even more confused about what you need? And the price tags on some kit can be eye watering! Has any of the above been in your mind?  If yes is the answer, then don't worry. My next few posts are going to tell you about the kit I took on some of my first cycle tours. And how not breaking the bank doesn't mean you have to suffer too! I'm certainly not a rich man and when this cycle touring lark started for me, I didn't want to buy the greatest gear until I knew I...
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Micro/Mini Cycle Tours - Maximise Cycling Opportunities

Micro/Mini Cycle Tours - Maximise Cycling Opportunities
Do you ever dream about long and elaborate cycle tours?  For many of us these don't fit in with everyday life all year round.  They need to be planned, time booked off work and much more.  Sometimes you need to think smaller and take opportunities when and wherever possible.  You don't always need to slope off for months, it could be an afternoon off work or a long weekend away.  Use your imagination and you will see many opportunities. I'm never one to miss an opportunity to ride my bicycle, so I decided to turn a trip to see friends in the UK into a mini cycle tour.  Normally I catch a 45 minute flight from Jersey to the UK, but with flight costs being high (school holidays) and the weather being good (kind of), I booked myself on the ferry crossing to Poole, Dorset.  With my bike of course! On paper...
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Cycle Touring Navigation: Paper Map or GPS Device? | Part 2

Cycle Touring Navigation: Paper Map or GPS Device?
Welcome to part 2 of this blog post about the world of cycle touring navigation.  Read part 1 here. As touched on in part 1, I love paper maps and still use them for my touring planning and navigation.  I also love GPS devices.  Having it all available to me is how I like to go touring. GPS devices do bring many benefits to the cycle tourist.  For me, one of the key benefits is the ability to get you back on track when lost.  If you have never been lost, then you are very lucky!  For those of us who do get lost and on occasion need to get to a destination a little quicker than usual (maybe darkness approaching or meeting up with someone), then whipping out some form of GPS device is a great backup to have.  The simplicity of clicking some form of ' Locate Me...
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Cycle Touring Navigation: Paper Map or GPS Device? | Part 1

Cycle Touring Navigation: Paper Map or GPS Device?
So what is it to be when you go on a cycle tour? The good old paper map or a modern day GPS device (Garmin, smart phone, Bryton, etc..)?   Some people get a little hot under the collar about this subject.  They think you have to chose a path and stick with it. What if your battery runs out? What if your map isn't detailed enough or doesn't cover the whole area?  The usual ping pong points of view.  Who cares.  I don't.  I always use both paper maps and GPS. They both have their merits and downfalls,  but together they are a formidable force that get you where you want to go with little trouble.  Why struggle when you can have it all :-)  But I guess life would be so boring if we all agreed, and this is one topic that will never be put to bed....
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