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The Joys of Cyclo Tourism

Aug 17, 2007
Cyclo tourism is a hobby that combines tourism and cyclism and is practiced by the cyclo-tourist. The activity consists of discovering new sites, landscapes and places or to visit lands and countries using the bicycle as a means of transportation. Cyclo tourism is not to be confused with long distance sporting racing events such as the Tour de France, it is first and above all a leisure activity, the extra exercise is an added bonus but not the main and only objective of cyclo-tourism. It is however a form of eco tourism.

Forms of cyclo tourism

Cyclo tourism can be characterized by the distance traveled, the length of the trip and the nature of the equipment used.

The short excursion consists of a single or a half day ride. It doesn't require any specialized equipment apart from the standard tire repair kit, water bottle and maybe a light snack.

The long excursion can be as long as a few hundred kilometers ride with camping equipment, a more extensive bicycle repair kit and special clothing and garments to face the eventuality of changing meteorological conditions. This way a cyclo tourist can circumvent entire countries, cross borders or travel between distant cities. Some cycle tourists even go as far as traveling the world and crossing multiple continents by planning ahead with great precision for any possible eventualities and scenarios.

In France and continental Europe a network of roads dedicated to cyclist tourist called "veloroute" is under construction to facilitate the movement of cyclists across Europe. These roads are specially designed to be far away from super highways and high traffic road ways while using common touristic itineraries giving cyclo tourists access to conventional touristic attractions such as camping grounds, museums, restaurants and accommodations. The economical advantages to local economies help to finance and develop the "veloroute".
History

Cyclo tourism was pioneered by Paul Vivie in France in the late 1890's, the first excursions were Lyon-Nice and were executed in less than 24 hours. He is the founder of the 7 commandments of Velocio (cyclo tourism):

- Take rare and short breaks
- Have numerous light and frequent meals, eat before being hungry and drink before being thirsty
- Never push until abnormal fatigue that leads to lack of sleep and appetite
- Cover yourself before being too cold and uncover yourself before being too hot
- During excursion, limit or eliminate tobacco and alcohol consumption

Equipment

The bike is the most important element of the cyclist tourist. It must be comfortable and sturdy to accommodate the extra weight required on long excursions. The seat is particularly important because if not suited to long trips it will cause blisters, bruising and pain on long journeys. The frame is usually made of high quality steel from reputable companies such as Reynolds, Vitus or Colombus. Mud flaps must wide and sturdy, ball bearings must be of high quality, saddle bags must be roomy and are often made of high quality leather. Most long excursion bicycles are actually usually custom made to withstand the special and extenuating conditions and circumstances that cyclo tourism can bring. Lighting should be complete with head lamp and break lights, tires must be of high quality and made for both street and moderate off road conditions.
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