You can beat the summer heat!

IT'S BEEN 90+ DEGREES IN MY TOWN of Jacksonville, FL a few times already and it’s only the third week of May! So, it’s safe to say that it’s summer in most places in the US. Given the hotter-than-should-be temps that are expected this year, I’ve put together a few brief tips for surviving the summer heat while riding your bike.


I’m no expert, but…
There are dozens of articles by experts that offer deep science about body heat, fluids, and other stuff. And if all those numbers and matrices make you feel more confident, then, by all means, read the articles. As for me, I’m not an expert in physiology, but I’ve survived some pretty stupid stunts while in the saddle, and I'd like to share some wisdom from practical experience. I’ve ridden my bike in the 115+ degree heat of the parched Sonoran Desert of Arizona, as well as the 98 degrees, 96 percent humidity of the Gulf Coast states. And while everyone tolerates heat differently, the following pointers will give you some measure of safety when riding in the summer heat.

Listen to your body
The first and most important rule is: Use common sense. You can’t ride in the summer heat at the same intensity you ride in the 60 and 70-degree temps of spring and expect to stay well. Your body is highly adaptive, but you need to gradually build-up your heat coping mechanism. Spend the first couple of weeks cycling in the summer heat by “working into it.” Listen when your body talks to you. If you’re feeling weak, dizzy, or chilled, when you should be feeling hot, your body is stressed, and you should stop and reevaluate your physical and mental condition.

Schedule your rides better
Avoid the heat of the day. Schedule your rides in the early morning, or the early evening when the sun less intense. Or, scout out some new routes that provide more shade and places to stop that provide shelter from the sun. 

Discover your best hydration practice
Learn how to drink. In other words, don’t ride hard for 45 minutes and then slam 20 ounces of water to catch up. Sip your fluids a couple of gulps every few minutes. When I’m out on a hot day, I drink approximately every 4-miles: a gulp of Gatorade with two gulps of water after it. But everyone is different. You’ll have to discover your own rate of hydration, but it should have consistency.

Learn what to drink
Water is a given, but you need more than water. You need a mineral and electrolyte replacement drink. Blood doesn’t work well if it gets too watered down, it’s a condition called hyponatremia. It can occur on a hot, sweaty day when you drink only water for an extended period. The main ingredients that help keep you stabilized are sodium, potassium, chloride, and magnesium. These are available in many sports drinks and water additives. I often drink Gatorade, but not all cyclists can tolerate Gatorade. Some of the other products available are NUUN, Clif Shots, and Accelerade, to name just a few. If you get too dehydrated or too “watered down” your endurance wanes, recovery takes longer, or worse, you could put your body in a dangerous condition. Experiment with hydration to see what works best for you, and what your stomach can tolerate.  

Another way to maintain sodium in your blood on a hot, sweaty day, is to try munching on salty foods along your ride. Salted peanuts, beef jerky or similar prepared foods help you maintain your sodium levels. I know a few long-distance cyclists who buy one of those jumbo dill pickles at every convenience store stop.

Your drink bottles get warm on a hot day. Stop at a convenience store and put some ice in your drinks or buy a cold drink. Putting cool fluids into your system will help keep your core temperature down. Experimentation is in order here as well. Super cold water on a hot ride gives some riders stomach cramps, so go easy at first.

And finally, water is not just for drinking. If you have an ample supply and need a cooldown, consider pouring water over your head, down your neck or over your shoulders. It can provide some welcome relief in the heat of the day. The same is true for an ice sock. I’ve never used one, but I’m told it works well.

Reflect and dissipate heat
I love cotton fabric. But not for cycling on hot days. Cotton gets wet and stays wet. It can’t effectively wick the sweat from your body, and when it’s stuck to your skin with sweat, it won’t allow you to dissipate heat. There are many performance fabrics available that are better for summer cycling. Check out Boure’, or PEARL iZUMi. Read what they have to say about their clothing, and you’ll see the benefits.

Also, give some thought to light colors to reflect the sun, and long sleeves to keep the sun off your arms. There’s a good reason desert dwellers cover-up, no matter how high the temperature. I wear a long sleeve summer jersey and it works very well to keep my skin surface for overheating.

Use a helmet with adequate ventilation. Here’s a look at the styles of helmets available, you’ll notice some are well vented and some are not. On a hot summer day, you’re going to want some air circulating over the top of your head.  

Have Fun!
Common sense, acclimatization, and proper hydration will help you steer clear of over-heating while riding in high temps and humidity. The bottom line on all of this is to understand the messages your body sends and know its limitations. Everyone is unique, so experiment to see what works best for you, and enjoy riding this summer. You might also consider joining the National Bike Challenge. It’s FREE, FUN, and you might even win a prize.

*Lloyd Lemons is not a health care expert, and he is not recommending products in this post. The ideas above represent practices that have worked for other cyclists. 

One day I just took off

I USED TO BE A RUNNER. But in my early 20s, after a bad motorcycle accident, I developed acute back problems. Many years later, after my second lumbar surgery, my "running career" had to be halted. It was just too painful (and dangerous). I sat on my butt for a few years wondering what I should do to stay fit. In middle-age, you don't have that luxury. I quickly gained an extra 30 pounds of flab.

I considered mountain biking
I was disgusted with myself, and started looking for a less jarring way to burn calories and get some exercise. I came upon a road cyclist one day as he was making a left turn, in front of me, on a four lane highway. I sat in my car thinking he was crazy for riding in the road and competing with 4000-pound vehicles.


But it got me thinking. I still had my old Haro mountain bike in storage, maybe I should dust it off and see how painful it would be to ride it. The next day, I did just that. I rode down the shoulder of the same highway where I saw the road cyclist. I pedaled hard and was delighted by the speed I was going. I was mesmerized by the wind in my face, the comfort of a pleasant summer day, and the beautiful scenery near the river.

Then, a car pulled out in front of me
I skidded--my knobby tires making a hollow groan. The bike fishtailed. I swerved. I managed a sideways slide in behind the car. I was shook up inside. My heart raced. I turned the bike around and rode home, much more slowly. When I got home I felt physically and emotionally drained and realized I had only gone a total of six miles.

I started to question my sanity
Was this sport too dangerous for an older guy? Should I keep looking for a better way to exercise? That road cyclist, dressed in the funny clothes, that I witnessed making a left turn in the traffic lane seemed so relaxed and confident. Why was I feeling so vulnerable?


My fear didn’t last long
The next day I had the uncontrollable urge to go do it again! But, first I went out and bought myself a helmet. Maybe this would help my insecurity, I reasoned. Day two was much better. I mounted my old mountain bike and rode down the same shoulder, but at a slower pace. I kept my eyes and ears on high alert, carefully watching for errant drivers. It was a hot day, and I sweated so much my cotton clothes were saturated, sweat running down my face from under my helmet, but I completed about eight miles without incident.

I was hooked
I had just rekindled my love for bike riding that I had abandoned more than 30-years before. And the activity was virtually stress-free on my back. I rode that mountain bike around town for a couple of months, rapidly gaining strength, stamina, distance and confidence. Then, I made a big jump in faith. I traveled to Moab, Utah to ride a mountain bike in the red rock country with my son and a friend. It was a glorious experience that I wrote about earlier in this blog.

After Moab, I was pumped!
I came home and decided to buy a new bike. This time I wanted one that could transition from mountain bike to something more suitable on the road. I bought a Bad Boy, with an extra set of mountain bike rims and tires. Funny, but I rode it with the skinny tires nearly all the time. Then, a funny thing happened. 


I fell in love with road cycling
Within three years I purchased two more bikes, both road bikes, and discovered a passion for road cycling that I never would have dreamed of before. I bought the silly riding clothes, which turned out to be technically remarkable and wonderfully comfortable. I took safety classes from the League of American Bicyclists and Cycling Savvy, and I advocate for safe riding and proficient bike handling. I’ve since ridden tens of thousands of miles, in 13 states--so far.


I’m committed to safe road cycling, and bringing other latent athletes of a certain age, into the fold. It’s a great, low impact, fitness sport, and a whole lot of fun! I don’t plan to stop, ever. And to think it all started one day, when I just took off.

I wanna new drug

I want a new drug
One that won't make me sick
One that won't make me crash my car

Or make me feel three feet thick

Those lyrics are from a Huey Lewis and the News song from a few decades ago. I think we’d all like to find a new drug that would make us feel great without all the side effects. For the past 13-years I’ve been pitching a drug called cycling. Bicycle-type cycling. Butt in the saddle type cycling.

Get on your two wheeler (or three wheeler) and ride. Then ride again. Keep doing that and I am convinced you will feel better, much better, in a reasonably short time. I
believe that cycling can heal the body and awaken the mind, because that’s what it has done for me and others like me.

It’s very likely that the good effects of cycling are derived from the aerobic benefit that it imparts, that, and the non-impact circular movements involved in pedaling. There’s been a lot research done on this subject. Here’s an article that touches on just how beneficial aerobic exercise (and thus cycling) can be for a body. Particularly, an older body. It's a quick read. Check it out, then jump on your bike and start your own cycling regimen. It's additive!

Eight suggestions for confident cycling

LATE ONE AFTERNOON, ABOUT 10-YEARS AGO, when I was just getting started in serious road cycling, I was riding toward home when I noticed a group gathering at the local bike shop. I pulled in and quickly discovered that I was amid preparations for the Thursday evening shop ride. I watched as people were making final adjustments to their bikes and locking up their vehicles. At the last minute, I decided to join them. 


I already had about 15-miles in my legs, so I felt warmed up enough to ride with this younger-than-me group of about 20 cyclists. Plus, I had a brand new carbon fiber bike that I wanted to put through its paces. We all took off down the divided highway at rush hour. The lineup was a little messy at first, with everyone jockeying for position, so I felt most comfortable being one of the last in line. As we headed south down the busy road, things got more organized and the speed picked up rapidly. About six miles into the ride, we made a sharp right onto a less busy road -- one that was unfamiliar to me.

The group cranked up the pace

Within minutes the friendly banter had stopped, and all I could hear was the wind and the whirr of many tires rolling on smooth blacktop--these guys were serious. We wound through treed lanes, over creeks and at times into the low setting sun. I was getting tired. A space opened up between me and the rider in front of me. The few riders behind me began to pass and fill up the void. I continued to spin as hard as I could, but I was losing ground. Within a few minutes I was dropped. Not only was I alone, but I was in strange territory, and in my supreme effort to keep up, I hadn’t been paying much attention to how I got there.


My confidence level evaporated

It was too late, of course, but I realized I had hooked up with a group that exceeded my abilities. Whoops! Lesson learned the hard way. It also bruised my confidence. Now, as twilight was setting in, I had to find my way back home, weary from a couple of hours of hard riding.

Preparedness will help you feel confident and comfortable on your next ride. Here are eight tips that I recommend:

1. Know your bike

Know how it feels, reacts, handles. Does it fit you properly? Do some of the components need adjusting? Is it making a weird noise? Get it fixed. You don’t need distractions when you’re 20 miles from home and you're exhausted.

2. Know how to fix basic things

Little things can go wrong and ruin a ride. Learn how to quickly repair a flat tire, or make a minor derailleur or brake adjustment.

3. Know the rules of the road

This is very important. You ARE traffic. You should ride your bike safely, and so other users of the road can anticipate your next move. Go to Cycling Savvy to learn more.

4. Know the terrain

Will you be riding where steep climbing is required, or where super fast, curvy descents will test your bike handling skills? Will you be riding on gravel, or paved roads with lots of potholes, or narrow roads with no bike lanes? Knowing in advance what you’re getting into will increase your confidence level.


5. Know your endurance limits

Can you ride 20-miles, 30-miles, or more? Can you ride at 24 mph for extended periods? If you’re a casual rider think twice before you agree to ride with someone who rides 300 miles a week. Bonking can be miserable and embarrassing.

6. Know your group rides

First, do you know the etiquette and techniques associated with group rides? If not, group rides can be dangerous for everyone involved. Second, match the group ride level with your own abilities. Groups are often graded as A, B, C rides, etc. A-rides are normally fast rides, where C-rides are often casual or social rides.

7. Know the best time to ride

Do you really want to ride during rush hour--do you have the skills to do so? Mid-summer afternoons in Florida are very hot and humid, so I often ride in the morning, right after rush hour. But I don’t like to ride east first thing in the morning because the rising sun is blinding--for me and for motorists. What’s the best time for your ride?


8. Know what you need to carry

Do you have tools and supplies to get you out of a minor mechanical jam? Do you have your hydration and nutritional needs covered based on how far you’re riding? Do you have some cash (some rural retailers don’t take plastic) and a cell phone? Do you have lights in case you don’t make it home before dark?

By following these guidelines you're more likely to ride free of major problems that could ruin your ride or make you wonder why you didn't stick with golf. Preparedness and knowing what you’re getting into will go a long way toward riding with confidence.

If you’d like to add your own tips, please comment below, and feel free to share this post with others.

A ride for Jessica

RIDING A BIKE MEANS SOMETHING DIFFERENT for anyone whose ever put their butt on a saddle. For some it’s a fresh look at the neighborhood. For others, it’s a race through the mud. For me, it’s often a way to clear my mind, reflect on the day’s offerings, relieve stress and improve my attitude.

Last weekend was a difficult one. I traveled to Tampa for a memorial. There, I met with many other family members and friends to honor my 30-year old niece who had recently died from breast cancer. Saturday was a gut wrenching day of sadness for everyone. Jessica had little opportunity to enjoy her life or her husband. I left the memorial with a mixed bag of emotions: anger, sadness and a plethora of frustrations.

Clwtr bridge1 1.4K

Then, I went to my church

I was staying on Clearwater Beach and had the forethought to bring my bike along. I took two rides during my 4-day stay on the beach. They were both similar in distance and direction, but so different in experiences.


On the first ride I cranked the pedals until my legs ached and my heart reached its limits. I felt only sorrow, the Florida heat and sweat. Visually, all I remember is the blur of cars, the shade of trees and the glare of water.


Wherever you go, there you are

On my second ride I slowed down and took in my surroundings -- the smell of neighborhoods, birds that I couldn’t identify, and fish swimming near the surface in an inlet. I meandered around a bit, had a bite to eat, and climbed the same three bridges that I climbed on my previous ride, but this time I took in the views of the many waterways along the Gulf.


I’ve discovered in recent years that, for me, cycling is an effective coping mechanism. I’m sure that those 70-miles of saddle time made my 5-hour drive back to Jacksonville a little more tolerable.


We love you Jessica. Rest in peace.

Things more important than cycling

ANYONE WHO KNOWS ME knows that cycling is a big part of my life. When friends think of me, they think of bikes. In fact, I take full responsibility for hurting the Nielson Ratings on many TV shows, because I’ve motivated numerous couch potatoes to turn off the tube and spend time riding a bicycle.


But I must admit, there are times when I don’t ride

In the interest of self-preservation, I try not to ride in severe weather. Living in Florida means that cycling is a year-round activity, however, we are the lightning capital of the world. Also, we do have the occasional hurricane, and we do have torrential rain storms that I’ve seen dump 9-inches in 45 minutes. During those times I let my bike rest, although I have been caught several times in rain so heavy that I’ve had to get off the road.

I also rest from the ride when I have certain physical issues. For example, over the years I’ve had a few back surgeries and several surgeries on my eyes. During these recovery periods I stay off the bike until I’m properly healed--although cycling, done right, often speeds the healing process.

One other thing that keeps me from riding, and even writing about cycling, is a family emergency. When my son was injured in Iraq, a few years ago, I was so preoccupied with getting him home that nearly all routine activities halted.

Likewise, for the past month, my 91-year old mother, who has lived with me and my wife for 11-years, took ill. We’ve all been consumed by emergency care, a hospital stay, a long stay in a rehab facility, and battling with health care professionals over something I’ve never experienced before, namely: Age-Based Health Care Rationing. (Something we will likely all come to know.)

My greatest cycling supporter

The good news is, my Mom is back home and is getting stronger day by day. She is getting in-home nursing help and is, amazingly, doing physical therapy on her own. (She says she’s not ready to leave this earth yet, because she’s not done harassing me!) In truth, she is my greatest supporter when it comes to cycling, and wants to know the details of my ride nearly every day. She’s a big fan of the Tour de France, watches it every year, and was supremely disappointed when Lance Armstrong failed us. It has bothered her too, that I haven’t been riding my bike this past month--she feels responsible. All this, from a woman who has never experienced the joy of riding a bike herself.


So, there are certain things that will keep me off the bike. I’m never unmotivated, but I am sometimes preoccupied with life’s challenges. Today, I’m officially back to writing and back to riding. I’m looking forward to finishing up the final month of the National Bike Challenge with some decent mileage. And I’m looking forward to cycling during the cooler days of winter which are right around the corner.

And, of course, I’ll report my mileage to Mom every day!

(The above photo is me and my Mom at a century ride in 2006. Yes, I was a little heavier then.)

Crash avoidance: 9 poor choices when cycling

EVERYONE MAKES POOR CHOICES IN LIFE from time-to-time. If we’re smart, when we see the err of our ways, we make corrections. For most things, the world is forgiving. We try not to worry too much about the past, and we move forward with little regret.

Cycling, or bike riding in any form is often less forgiving of poor choices. You can’t make poor choices on a bike for long before something life-changing happens, and you may never be able to recover from it or live-on without regret.

Here are just a few poor choices (that I’ve witnessed repeatedly) that you don’t want to make on a bike.

Stupid rider 1

Salmoning. Salmoning is when a cyclist rides against the flow of traffic. That’s dangerous, because motorists, semi-truck drivers, speeding ambulances and six-ton construction vehicles with large trailers loaded with a bunch of loose equipment… are not looking or expecting you to magically appear from the wrong direction.

Riding at night with no lights or reflective equipment. Visibility is your most important asset on a bike. If motorists can’t see you, you probably don’t exist.

Multi-tasking while riding. Riding with no hands or attempting to eat or drink on the bike while challenging rush hour traffic is just plain stupid. Put both hands on the handlebars and pay attention to your surroundings. Focus!


Trying to navigate urban traffic using aero bars. If you’re on a busy road, you’re not racing, and you’re not testing your endurance capability. Sit up straight, master your maneuverability, ride tall and be seen.

Riding in the gutter. There’s no U.S. law that says you have to ride in the gutter. There’s trash, and glass, and rocks, and curbs, and grates, and uneven pavement in there. Ride in the bike lane, or if there is no bike lane, ride on the right-hand third of the traffic lane. You are traffic.

Riding on sidewalks. Sidewalks are made for walking and walking speeds. The only time sidewalk riding is acceptable is if you are accompanying a small child on a bike or a trike.

Riding too close to parked cars. Imagine cruising along at 16-mph, when the door on that Suburban parked just ahead flings open right into your path. You’ve just been doored! It hurts, or worse. It could push you into adjacent traffic. Don’t get doored.

Texting or yapping on the phone while you’re riding. Leave the smartphone in your pocket. Trying to fiddle with a phone while riding is just as dangerous as it is in a car.

Ignoring red lights and other rules of the road. As a cyclist on U.S. roadways you must “drive” your bicycle in much the same way as you drive your car--legally. Use signaling. Use courtesy. Drive defensively. If you drive your bicycle according to the rules of the road, motorists will be better able to anticipate your next move.

These are certainly not all of the poor choices that cyclists make, but they're common ones. Avoiding these nine will make it safer for everyone on the road. 

Bike Touring in Washington State

Book Review:
Cycling Sojourner
A Guide to the Best Multi-Day Tours in Washington

IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR ADVENTURE. If you’d like to plan a fantastic get-away. Or if you want to get back to basics and experience the countryside and a renewed sense of freedom, I can think of no better way than on a bicycle. And one of the best, most pristine locations in the US to do just that is Washington State.


I’ve ridden my bike in 13 states, and have 37 to go to reach item #1 on my Bucket List. I’ve not ridden in Washington yet, but I know many cyclists who have, and who have shared their stories and photography with me. So, how serendipitous is it that bike tour leader and guidebook author Ellee Thalheimer has created Cycling Sojourner, the perfect guide book for me, and for anyone who wants to explore Washington from a whole new vantage point.

Get ready to hop on your bike and experience Washington state more intimately than anyone can in a motor vehicle. Never toured before? Don’t worry. If you can handle a bicycle, you can tour--no matter your age or level of experience.


Thalheimer offers a variety of tours to fit nearly everyone’s budget, and all levels of cycle touring experience. She lays out the basics of getting ready, and does the legwork and research to make a Washington bike tour an experience of a lifetime. This book will guide you through untouched landscapes, snow capped mountains and river valleys laced with vineyards, and it provides advice on road conditions and terrain along the way. Thalheimer also shows you opportunities for lodging and campsites, eateries, wineries, brew houses, museums, parks, resorts, festivals, hiking and fishing venues, enjoyable side trips and much more.

Cycling Sojourner is a travel and guidebook written in a friendly “let me show you” style. It’s full of insider knowledge from cyclists who’ve done it, and the kind of nuts and bolts, how-to information that is so useful to newbies and experienced cyclists alike.

Jim Sayer, executive director of Adventure Cycling Association, says this about Thalheimer: ...she acts as a convivial, detail oriented bike concierge who gives you insight into the best multi-day loop tours in the state, local culture, and the most delicious places to eat, drink, and see the sights. A “bike concierge”, that’s an appropriate description.

It’s a given among the cycling community at-large that Washington has some of the best cycling culture and infrastructure in the country. So if you’ve considered parking the car, locking up the house, and taking on a new adventure, a bicycle tour in Washington is a world-class way to do it. I recommend Cycling Sojourner for the valuable guidance it offers any cyclist planning a tour in Washington.

For more information on Thalheimer, Cycling Sojourner, or her other publications click here:

SPECIAL NOTE: Please check out the important comment below from Washington Bikes.

Berlin girl

SOMETIMES A RIDE IS NOT JUST A RIDE, IT’S BETTER. I started to ride into the One Spark festival this past Sunday morning, but it was so dense with pedestrians that I decided not to enter the zone. (It consumed 20 square blocks right behind that tallest building in the photo, and had 260,000 visitors by its end. More on One Spark.


So, my ride turned random. I rode around town, from the South Bank to the North Bank, trying to avoid all the construction zones in this city, which is no easy task. As I was going through one rather ominous and shabby neighborhood, I came across a pretty, young, blonde woman who stood on the side of the street amid heavy construction vehicles. She looked entirely out-of-place--like a fashion model standing in a war zone. She was well dressed, and had a pink beach cruiser leaning against her hip. She was focused on a sheet of paper in her hands. I stopped and asked if I couild help her in any way. She looked up at me, smiled, and blurted out, in a strong foreign accent, Oh, yes! Thank you, for stopping. I can’t figure out where I am. She handed me the paper, which was one of those cartoonish maps the Chamber of Commerce often hands out. It had markings on it that I couldn’t make out.

She told me she was looking for a certain record store to buy some American rock albums for her boyfriend back in Germany. The person who gave her the map told her the store was in Five Points. The trouble was she had gotten off course and was about two miles away from Five Points--bewildered and a little nervous about her surroundings.  

Me: You’re from Germany?

She: Yes, Berlin.

Me: That’s interesting. I just came from a festival downtown called One Spark. They’re going to have their next festival in Berlin in September.

She: Yes I know! That’s why I’m here. I’m doing research for my company back home, so that we can get the most from One Spark before it comes to Berlin. I’ve been at the festival for three days, but today I was doing a little exploring. I’ve been to the Riverside Arts Market and San Marco, but this map is confusing. Right now I need breakfast, I’m starved! And I’d like to find the record store.   


I pointed down the road, and tried to explain how she could get to Five Points, but the look on her face wasn’t too reassuring. I didn’t want to leave her alone in that neighborhood, so I rode with her to Five Points. She seemed relieved. We chatted as we rode.

She: This is so wonderful! I feel like I’m getting a bicycle escort. Thank you so much!

Me: Oh, you're welcome! I’m happy to do it. I was just out doing a little exploring myself.

We talked about the festival and her travel adventure. She remarked how wide open and big Jacksonville was--how it seemed everyone had a car and there were few bikes. She told me that in her neighborhood the streets were cramped and few people owned cars. I told her to be very careful riding in the city, because Jacksonville wasn’t exactly bike-friendly. We stopped for a few red lights--me all sweaty in my standard cycling gear, riding my road bike, and she in her very feminine pink and yellow tourist clothing, riding a pink beach cruiser.

Yes, we got a few looks.

We talked some more, exchanged pleasantries, and I introduced her to Five Points. I pointed out some restaurants, places she could ask the whereabouts of the record store, she thanked me again, and then we said goodbye.

It was truly the most enjoyable part of my two hour ride. It always make me feel good when helping out another bike rider. Berlin girl made a great ride even better.

My ride: Join me on Garmin

A little remedy for the expensive bike trip

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU THOUGHT about that big road trip? I've been wanting to ride the Southern Tier for some time now, but I've been denied either for health reasons or finances. Big trips are expensive, and there's a lot of leg work (no pun intended) to be done before the rubber ever meets the road. And considering it's a 30-day tour--well, that's a big deal in more ways than one.

The solution for many is the over-nighter ride. They're cheaper, less planning is required, and by staying reasonably close to home, you can't get into too much trouble. 


As soon as the weather gets a little more predictable, I'm planning an over-nighter from Jax to Clearwater Beach, FL--about 260 miles one way. I'll spend one night in Mt. Dora, and complete the ride the following day. I'll spend a day or two with friends, and if I'm feeling up to it, I'll ride home using a different route. If I'm not feeling up to the ride home, I'll throw my bike on Amtrak, it's a cheap and relaxing way home. My choice will be to ride home, but it's nice to know I have that option, without a lot of painstaking planning and budgeting. 


So, even if that dreamed about long tour is out of the question right now, because of finances, job demands or family obligations, consider riding an over-nighter to a small town, or a park in your region. It's fun! You can meet some great people on the road and in towns along the way, and you'll still get in some serious cycling and adventure.