Touring by Race Bike – Lightweight Touring on Your Skinny-Tire Bicycle
By Doug & Kathy Kirk
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Bicycle touring is modern day exploring while riding your favorite form of transportation. It allows you to see the world at the perfect pace. And no other variety of riding allows the synergy of man and machine working together—and looking after one another—to develop so deeply. Truly, touring by bicycle is the finest way to “Ride to live, and live to ride.”
But maybe you think bike tourists don’t look like they’re having all that much fun. Their legs churn at 40 or 50 RPMs and there’s not a stitch of Lycra in sight. Their tires are big, fat, and heavy. With bulging panniers front and rear and tent and sleeping bag piled atop a luggage rack, their bikes bring to mind modern day packhorses festooned with lights, flags and reflectors.
Add clothes, food, utensils, lights, fenders, rain gear, etc. and we’re talking about a lot of weight—and a big reduction in the fun factor. Their loaded bikes weigh 80 or 100 pounds — five times what your racing bike weighs. Maybe bike touring is taking them for a ride instead of vice versa.
Bicycle touring — even touring on your own without support — doesn’t have to be like that! Touring by bicycle can be nearly as sublime as riding your lightweight race bike with nothing but water bottles and a seat pack because that’s the bike we propose you tour with.
You can tour with no support on almost any good quality bike—even racing, cyclocross or triathlon bikes—and you can do it on skinny tires. We know because we’ve done it and so have our friends. Your gear can weigh less than your 16 pound race bike, lots less. You can still go fast. Your bike will handle almost the same as ever. You don’t need a special (and heavy) bike or hundreds of dollars of special gear. Likely as not, you don’t even need panniers.
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