It’s almost time for that tour! But what should you bring? House plants? An electric generator? 6 copies of your favorite children’s book, Ernie’s Little Lie?
If any of the things I just listed sounded like a good idea, then you really need some help. But that’s why we’re here: to make sure you get the essentials before leaving for a long trip. So, without further ado, here are the 10 things that you absolutely need for your long-distance tour:
1. A Bike.
This really goes without saying, but you really need a bike if you want to do a bike tour. Steel, aluminum, carbon fiber, titanium, or even bamboo are just a few of the types of frames out there. Choose whatever suits you and make friends with it, because you’re going to be looking at it every day.
Some people like panniers, and some people like trailers. Depending on your preference, you need something to carry your clothes, your food, and various other items. You can even just wear a backpack, if you’re one of those minimalist people who hates bike-centric storage.
3. Bicycle Maintenance/Repair Tools.
5. Front and Back Bike Lights.
Bike lights are great multi-taskers. They light your route, let cars know you’re on the road, help you read at night, and aid in easing your fears when you hear noises outside the tent and get out, shine the flashlight and see that it’s only a family of foxes rustling around outside the tent, and not that big scary bear that you swore it was.
6. Toilet Paper.
Toilet paper is great for a multitude of reasons. You can use it as it’s intended, as facial tissue, as a napkin while eating, to clean up your silverware, or you can use it to TP your own bike if you’re bored! Just don’t overdo it.
7. First Aid Kit/Duct Tape/Sun Block.
You’re going to be out in the elements all day, every day. Boo-boos, owies, and whoopsy-daisies are common occurrences. Bring a small first aid kit and some sunblock to help keep you healthy. Just remember the difference between SPF 15 and SPF 50 is microscopic, so limiting the chemical intake on your body’s biggest organ is always a good idea. (Coconut oil is a natural SPF 15!)
8. Rain Gear and Bike Shorts.
The only reason you should have some sort of waterproof gear is because you don’t want to be caught riding your bike in a storm WITHOUT waterproof gear. The only reason you should bring bike shorts is because you don’t want to be caught riding your bike WITHOUT bike shorts.
9. Eating Utensils.
Unless you’re accustomed to eating with your hands, then you will undoubtedly have a need for some utensils.
10. Mental Fortitude.
The MOST IMPORTANT thing you can bring with you on tour is BY FAR mental toughness. Breakdowns will happen. Storms will happen. Headwinds will happen. Your physical toughness will sustain all of these. If you can’t tell yourself to keep going and keep pushing forward, then you will not make it. Stay focused and eventually you’ll make it to your destination and celebrate!
Black and White Portrait by Adventure Cycling Association’s Greg Siple. All other photos by America ByCycle.