Off on tour

Independent Fabrication’s Club Racer makes a fine light tourer

Have bike, will tour? I guess it depends what is meant by touring, or cycle touring if you prefer. My preferred definition makes it a strictly non-competitive ride involving at least one overnight stay and, critically, the carriage of luggage.

Where you go, when and with whom are, of course, the other vital parameters. Touring solo is enjoyable, especially if you are the self-reliant sort, but it is even more so with a few chosen companions. Choosing the time of year to go may depend to a large extent on when everyone is available, but a spring or autumn tour makes a great ‘bookend’ to the season. 

The route and destination, of course,  are what make a tour something more than an extended bike ride with mates. Many touring cyclists like to stay slightly off the beaten track, preferring quite lanes and sleepy villages to the noise and pollution of cities and major roads.

A tour can be an opportunity to explore in depth new parts of the country, perhaps glimpsed briefly during a recent sportive, or it can be, as in the picture gallery, a return journey to see an event. In this case it was the 2008 Paris-Roubaix, proving that a Channel crossing and 140 mile ride across featureless plains and the Flemish Monts need be no barrier to a relaxed touring ride.

The Roubaix tour was a cracker for many reasons, not the least of them being a relentless headwind on the last day that put young DA off  ‘performance touring’ for more than a year. It was also memorable for beer…

Anyway, I’m off on tour; the annual autumn tour, in fact, around the Cotswolds, Worcestershire, Shropshire, Herefordshire and more. This year I will be riding RCUK’s test Independent Fabrication Club Racer, kitted out for touring with mudguards, Tubus rack and Ortlieb panniers. Seems my riding companions think it will give me a bit of an advantage, although why that should worry them I can’t imagine; touring is, after all, strictly non-competitive.


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