Credit Card Bike Touring is a bit different from ordinary bike touring, mainly because you’re biking with far less stuff attached to your bike. The major benefit is that you’ll be much faster, but you will also sleep in real beds and eat food cooked by professionals. The drawbacks are that it can be much more expensive, and it limits you somewhat to where you can go. If you bike off into too much wilderness, there’s a real risk that by the end of the day there aren’t any hotels nearby, and you might be very hungry. Therefore your planning needs a bit more care.
It is a good idea to wake up relatively early each day. I prefer to get up by around 7.30, and hit the road by 9. If you start too late in the morning, you might end up biking way into the evening when you are tired and hungry, plus stray dogs are also really scary in the dark.
Packing for the day starts with a look at the weather forecast. I try to put everything I need for the day in my front bag, so this is where I put my rain jacket if it might rain. If the morning is cold, then I need to leave room in the front bag for clothes I take off when it gets warmer. Also apply sun protection, if the sun will be intense. The most exposed areas are your lips, nose, ears, arms, neck and where the bike shorts ends and just barely hides your milk white thighs. There are tons of useful weather apps, for predicting how the wind will blow I often use Windy. Another amazing Android app for long term planning is Flowx which shows rain, cloud, temperature and wind forecasts a whole week in advance.
Before I set off in the morning I check the tire pressure. Pump it to close to the max printed on the tire, it will make your bike roll better, and avoid punctures. I also check that the wheels are properly attached to the bike. 35 years ago I lost a front wheel in mid ride, and such a crash can disable you for life. I was lucky, just got the biggest black eye in the city. Once a week I also put some oil on the chain, and check the brake pads. If you are on a longer trip, roll your bike into a proper bike shop once every two weeks or so, for a service checkup by professionals.
Finally, before I kick off, I put my phone in flight mode, to conserve battery.
The first few hours each day are often the best, you feel strong and alert. Around 11 or so I often stop for a coffee somewhere.
Around 2 in the afternoon, I stop for lunch. This is also the time when you have to start taking decisions for the end of the day. How far will you get by 5 or 6 in the afternoon, without pushing too hard? Are there any hotels there? I have mainly used the Hotels.com app for booking hotels, but I have also used the Booking.com app or searched for hotels in Google Maps. During high season many hotels are fully booked, so book in advance if possible. Once I had to search for room well after midnight, which is no fun at all. Florence, I am looking at you!
Unless you are in a hurry, stop for another coffee at 4 pm or so. Life isn’t just about biking, it is also about pastries.
Preferably you’ll arrive at your hotel before dark. If possible, carry your bike to your room. If that isn’t allowed or possible, lock it to something fixed that is under supervision by the hotel. If your bike is stolen, then your touring ends, so take this seriously. Well at your hotel room, charge your phone and do some stretching. Ignoring this will wear you down in the long run.
After a well deserved shower it is time for a stroll and dinner plus a drink/wine/beer somewhere cozy. This is also the time to plan for the next day. Turn on the topographical view in Google Maps and see if there are any interesting surprises ahead. Some bike apps like Strava can show which roads are most popular among local bikers – perhaps there’s an unknown gem ahead? Also try to figure out if the roads ahead are good enough for your bike. I have written a bit about this here. Navigation might be a bit tricky at times, so a great tip is to put markers on the map where you need to pay attention, or make decisions as to which road to take. You can also use GPS/Location Alarm apps such as Naplarm to remind you when you reach a specific place. Also do a search for hotels to make sure there are hotels where you plan to go. As always, you want to remain free, so you try to make decisions as late as possible. Don’t skip this phase of the day! Sloppy planning will definitely bring you to places and situations you won’t enjoy.
Also make a quick overview on the map for the day after tomorrow. The more time your pour over maps, the more likely it is that you’ll go somewhere exciting.
By 10 pm I am normally back at my hotel, where I pack my bags a bit for the next day, then go to sleep.