I think I may have found a way to get into bike touring. The concept is called “credit card touring.” This is a lazy and lightweight way to do some miles on your bicycle. You don’t carry much more than a “credit card” when you tour.
Traditional Bike Tours
Four years ago, B. did a five-month bike tour from Cartagena, Columbia to La Paz, Bolivia. Since I couldn’t even ride a bicycle for a mile without feeling pain in, well, everywhere, I stayed behind and handled everything on the home front. I don’t want to sound like a martyr–I flew down to meet him every few weeks, and those were some of the best vacations I’ve every had! It was quite an accomplishment for B. and I was proud of him! The first place we met up was in Ecuador. Here he is in Latacunga getting ready for the next leg of his trip. Look at the load he was carrying (and look out thin he is!)
I don’t know if I’ll ever have the endurance to bike tour like this. Just last summer I was wondering if I was going to be an invalid forever. I could hardly walk due to pain and swelling in my knee, even with Cortisone shots and pain killers. We had been wanting to do a big trip all summer but just couldn’t get away due to various health issues–including my knee problems. In desperation, we planned a driving trip to eastern Quebec. We figured that I could sit in the car while B. and grandson did some hikes and I could enjoy the scenery while we drove. Sounds lame, but it was better than staying home!
We carried three bikes with us. B. and grandson rode them around the campgrounds. I was scared to even get on the bike because it hurt so bad to walk. One night I took a turn around the campground on my bike and was shocked that I felt almost no pain while I was on the bike! I resolved to get back on the bike again when we got home and see if I could work my way up to riding a few miles.
I started out slow–riding a quarter of a mile, then half, then a whole mile! I got a new saddle and some padded bike shorts and resolved the pain in my hips. I took days off when my knees bothered me. But now I’ve worked my way up to 11 miles with 800 feet of elevation gain. And I’m wondering, could I ever do a bike tour?
Credit Card Touring
Just a few days ago I found a forum called bikeforums.net and starting reading the “Touring” forum. I found a thread called “Credit Card Touring” which intrigued me. While I have no touring experience I certainly know a thing or two about credit cards! I learned that this term refers to cyclists doing tours without carrying any kind of gear. They just bring rain gear, water, snacks, and……a credit card. They eat in restaurants and stay in hotels when needed. If I could work my way up to 20 miles in my workouts, I could certainly do a “credit card tour!”
Here are a couple of places that I think would lend themselves very well to this kind of touring. Both places have small towns that are not too far apart so you would never be far from services.
The Canal du Midi–150 miles along this beautiful canal in southern France:
or how about:
The Lake District–A UNESCO World Heritage site in northwest England
I pulled both of these photos off of TravelBloggerBuzz.com. He always has some great ideas about new destinations, and I love his travel blog critiques!
Will I ever do a “credit card” tour, or any bike tour, for that matter. I don’t know, but it gives me hope to know that I may soon have the physical capability to do one!