|The FLCC tour from Washington, DC, to Pittsburgh, 2008|
“Touring” is a bit ambiguous among cyclists. On one hand, we use it in opposition to “racing.” Rides that are not competitive, that don’t hurry past pleasant views, that surrender to opportunities for coffee and conversation are usually referred to as tours. This is what we’ll call “rides,” the club’s Sunday rides being the best example.
A second sense of “touring” is the extended trip, usually for several days. Such trips may involve carrying all supplies for camping overnight (“self-supported touring”); carrying only daily necessities and having a support team transport one’s camping gear and other belongings to each day’s destination (“supported touring”); or they may involve carrying only the credit card that can be used to acquire all the other necessities. We also have two annual “getaways,” on the long weekends of Memorial and Columbus days. These take place somewhere within driving distance of Ithaca where we can spend the weekend cycling with lodgings in a central location.
News of club tours are always announced on the FLCC email list (subscribe). Discussion and planning of tours takes place on a smaller email list, free for all interested to become part of (subscribe).
The Touring Group
Beginning in 2008, the FLCC established a “touring group,” members whose primary interest is in this second kind of touring — taking bike trips of at least several days duration. We seek out opportunities for self-supported touring as an ideal form of travel. However, we also appreciate supported tours — people’s needs, abilities, and goals vary, after all. We encourage everyone interested in bicycle touring to undertake it at whatever level they find comfortable. Our short, weekend tours are especially suited for those who want a taste of this kind of travel — most of the usual participants carry their own gear, but, since the routes are generally close to home, we are usually able to get support-vehicle help if it’s needed. We are all volunteers and we organize bike tours just for fun. If you like to travel by bike, with frequent stops to “smell the roses” and eat ice cream, then we invite you to
join us on any our tours. The details will be shaped to fit the participants.
Hostel in Harpers Ferry after heavy rain, DC to Pittsburgh tour, 2008
For our weekend tours with daily loop rides, all that is needed is a road bike with a waterbottle, and perhaps a small handlebar bag or seat pack with room for basic tools, a spare tube, and a snack or sandwich.
For our self-contained tours, almost any bike with a rack and rear packs (panniers) will work, although some people prefer to tow their gear in a small trailer behind their bikes. A mountain bike with smooth tires is a good option for most types of bike touring.
You will also need personal camping gear including a sleeping bag, a ground pad, mess kit, and a small tent.
Equipment can get elaborate and expensive, but used equipment, inexpensive alternatives, and help from friends can make bike touring accessible to anyone. Contact any member of the touring group for advice; among us, we have lots of extra equipment and can probably help you get on the road to the touring addiction. The club even has some very inexpensive panniers available to try out. Don’t let a lack of equipment keep you from joining us!
Trip Group Size
The size of our tour groups varies greatly, with the most common size being approximately 12 people. We have had as few as 3, and as many as 26 on our trips. For practical purposes we may have to place a size limit on a given trip.
As an all-volunteer, non-profit group, we strive to keep the cost of each trip as low as possible. Typical cost of our trips are approximately $25 per person per day which includes camping fees and shared group meals for breakfast and dinner. Lunch and snack expenses can vary from person to person. When our trips utilize indoor accommodations (hostels, dorm rooms, B&Bs, etc) we try to find something in the range of $20-$30 per person per night, which usually means shared rooms.
For efficiency, we try to form carpools to the tour starts. Note that several of our tours start in Ithaca, which allows many people to bike right from home, and totally eliminates automobile use for those tours.
Trip Sign Up
Sign-up for any of our trips with an email to firstname.lastname@example.org Some of our trips may require a small deposit. We will let you know in a reply email.
The Finger Lakes Cycling Club is the foundation of our Touring Group and it provides many things to help make our bike tours a success (website, listserv, publicity, insurance, and a supportive community). The club also helps subsidize some bike tour expenses. Therefore, we require all bike tour participants to join our club. Membership is open to everyone, at the rate of $10/year individual, or $12/year family. Join online on the Membership Application page.