3 Important Lessons From My Bike Tour in Northern California

terrible really bad poison oak on knee

Bicycle Touring Pro in Northern California

If you’ve been following me on Instagram or Facebook recently, you know that I just recently completed a short 5-day bike tour in the mountains of Northern California.

This was a short, but beautiful and challenging bicycle tour with lots of climbing, snow-covered passes, and run-ins with lots of friendly people along the way.

I’ll be sharing more photos and videos from my bike tour in Northern California very soon, but for the moment I thought I would share three of the important lessons I learned from this particular cycling adventure with you.

1. It Takes Some Time To Get Into The Groove

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The first few days of a bicycle tour are the most difficult. Even if you’re an experienced cyclist, it can take as many as three or more days to really get into the groove on a long-distance bike tour.

Many people quit their bike tours during the first three days, when things are at their most difficult. But this is a huge mistake!

Don’t quit when things are at their most difficult. Push through the first three days of your bike tour and I think you’ll find that your experience on the road will become easier and easier on days four, five and six.

I talk about this in great length inside “The Bicycle Touring Blueprint.” You need to go into your bike tour knowing that the first three days are going to likely be some of the most difficult days of the tour… and if you can just push past those first few days, you’ll likely get into the groove and the act of riding your bicycle for days, weeks or months on end will ultimately become a whole lot easier.

2. Bike Touring Is A Mental Game

Most people think that riding a bicycle for days on end requires an incredible stamina and a toned body. But the truth is, bicycle touring is much more mentally challenging than most people anticipate.

There are going to be moments on your bike tour when you are tired, thirsty, hungry, uncomfortable, in pain or simply want to go home and cry. That’s normal!

But you don’t want to quit just because you’re a little inconvenienced. The joy that comes with bicycle touring comes from accomplishing something difficult.

There will be difficult moments on your bike tour, but you’ll be happy after it’s all over that you continued on and completed your bike tour as intended.

Bike touring is not 100% physical. It’s more like 20% physical and 80% mental. Be prepared for that!

3. Do What You Can To Keep Yourself Safe

If you saw my video on Facebook this week, you already know that when I was on my bike tour in Northern California I kneeled down on the ground and put my knee directly into a poison oak plant, which resulted in a horrible case of poison oak all across my body. This was stupid of me and I should have been paying more attention.

terrible really bad poison oak on knee

Which is why I want to remind you that when you are bicycle touring, you should do what you can to ensure your personal safety.

There are numerous ways to remain safe on the road. Wear bright colors, ride with a bike mirror, know how to properly ride a bicycle in traffic, educate yourself on dangerous animals and/or areas you might be cycling through, etc.

But you should also do what you can to ensure that you arrive home at the end of your bike tour in one piece.

This might mean going super slow on a really steep downhill. This might mean getting off your bike and walking it over a fallen log instead of trying to hop over the log while riding your bike. And this might mean paying to sleep in a hotel for the night instead of trying to endure a cold and windy night in your tent in ill weather.

There are tons of different ways to ensure your safety on a bicycle tour… but I want to remind you that when you are doing a bike tour and you are far from home, you should take the extra precautions necessary to get you home in one piece.

Be careful out there… and don’t make the mistake I made this past week by kneeling down on top of a poisonous plant.

Stay aware of your situation and take the steps necessary to enjoy your bike tour while remaining safe and healthy at the same time.

7 thoughts on “3 Important Lessons From My Bike Tour in Northern California

  1. Will says:

    Oh man. That’s nasty. You are one tough hombre. First was that crazy bug bite and now this. Thanks for all you do (except this). Stay safe.

  2. EM Williams says:

    I recently discovered you on YouTube, and have been binge watching. You are very motivational, your vlogging is exceptional. What type of camera gear do you use…I.e. camera, gimble etc.

  3. David Sweet says:

    Darren, your VLOGs are great. My wife and I really enjoy them. I think I registered for your 2020 “BIKES and Burritos” overnighter…not sure. please confirm if all is well.

    • Darren Alff says:

      Hi David, Yes, I got your registration for the “Bikes & Burritos” overnight bike tour on the weekend of February 29 – March 1, 2020. I’ll send more details on the tour to you around the beginning of February.

      There are 5 more spots currently available for the “Bikes & Burritos” tour, so if you have a friend, family member, co-worker or loved one who might be interested in joining the tour… feel free to invite them to sign up for the tour as well.

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