The Difficulty In Finding A Bicycle Touring Partner

When planning my 4th long distance bicycle tour down the Mississippi River, I really wanted to find someone to come with me. I had been fortunate enough to have riding partners on my first bicycle tour down the California coastline, but I had been forced to travel alone on the subsequent two tours. That’s why, when I began planning my 4th long distance bicycle tour, I made an extra effort to find a riding partner.

It was 2004 at the time and I was in college. I had a few friends that were interested in joining me on my bike ride, but each of them seemed to have an excuse for as to why they could not join me out on the road.

One of the people I was pursuing as a potential riding partner was my good friend, Ryan Nakashima. Ryan had joined me for the final leg of my bicycle tour down the California coastline in 2001 and he had had a great time, but I had been unable to get him to join me on any of my subsequent tours.

When I approached Ryan about joining me for my ride down the Mississippi River, he said he’d love to come, but felt that he would be unable to make it happen because his parent wanted him to take summer school classes and get a job. I understood where he was coming from, because my parents wanted me to do the same thing, but I wasn’t going to give up on him that easily.

Instead, I decided to write his parents a letter, asking them to consider letting Ryan join my on my bicycle tour down the Mississippi. Here is what I wrote to his parents:

Mr. and Mrs. Nakashima:

The intent of this letter is to persuade you that Ryan should accompany me on part of the bicycle tour I have planned for this upcoming summer. Below are the main reasons that I want Ryan to accompany me on this once in a lifetime adventure.

First of all, I would like some company out there. It can be lonely sometimes and the miles sure go by quicker when you have someone to talk to. I don’t mind traveling alone, but having someone to talk to, to help you out when you are in need, or to push you up that next big hill is always a nice luxury.

Secondly, I want Ryan to come on this trip with me because I want him to experience some of the things that I have been experiencing for the last three years. I was incredibly happy that Ryan could accompany me for that short distance on my first tour down the California coastline, but I think he got cheated out of the real bicycle touring experience. He was riding the streets of Los Angeles for goodness sakes!

First of all, he has seen those streets a million times and the scenery in Southern California is almost non-existent. Secondly, the traffic in So-Cal is just horrendous. He biked in some of the worst conditions I have ever seen on my travels. I biked through some major cities on my last tour up the east coast and nothing was even close to some of the things Ryan and I biked through on that first trip through Southern California. If he can make it through the streets of LA, he can definitely make it down some lonely Mississippi farm roads.

I want Ryan to experience just a small piece of what I have been experiencing these last three years and I feel that the trip I have planned for this summer is a perfect opportunity for Ryan to get out there and experience an entirely new slice of America.

I have included some information about my planned bicycle adventure with this letter. I have included the itinerary, a summary map, a scan of the maps that we will be using to guide our way through the states, an article from Adventure Cycling magazine about why you shouldn’t worry about us making this tour, and also a highlight page of my own which documents just some of the adventures that I have been on in the last three years. I hope that this information will be of some assistance to you. My hope is that this info will make you at least think about possibly sending your son out there to ride with me for a couple days.

I feel that each and every one of the bicycle trips I have ventured on has been life-changing experiences and I would hate to see Ryan miss out on such an opportunity. Please think it over. If you have any questions or concerns, send me an e-mail or give me a call.

I have said it a number of times, to both my parents and to Ryan, but I will say it again. There is no way that in five, ten, twenty or even thirty years that we (Ryan and I) are going to look back and say, “Remember that summer we spent taking summer school classes and working? Wasn’t that great!”

No! In thirty years we will be saying, “Remember that time we rode our bicycles down the Mississippi River? That was one of the best experiences of our lives!”

That’s what I want to be saying! In fact, that’s what I will be saying! I hope that Ryan has the chance to say that as well.

Think it over,

Darren Alff

Despite my best efforts, Ryan was unable to join me on my tour down the Mississippi River. He went to summer school and got a job working for minimum wage. I’m sure that if I asked him today what he did in the summer of 2004 that he would be unable to tell me.

The reason I share this letter with you is because I want you to see just how difficult it can be to find a riding partner for your bicycle tour. You’ll talk to a lot of people who are interested in joining you, but when it comes right down to it, most people are unable or unwilling to make the leap. But you can’t let this stop you! Do what you can to find a riding partner for your tour, but if you are unsuccessful, don’t cancel the ride. Instead, go it alone! You won’t have someone to talk to each day, but the experience you will have once it is all over will be more than worth it.

What kind of experiences have you had in trying to find a riding partner for your bicycle tour(s)? If you were able to find someone to join you, how exactly did that work? If you were unsuccessful in finding a riding partner, did you go it alone? Or cancel the tour?


10 thoughts on “The Difficulty In Finding A Bicycle Touring Partner

  1. fred zahn says:

    I have toured a lot and I go solo. Im 67 so its hard to find riders my age and speed , an older slower rider cant keep up with a young rider how wants to do a 4 week tour in 7 days , it doesnt work.
    go slow enjoy the ride

  2. Lynnteer says:

    I want to do an independent bike tour to somewhere. I am a 47 yo black female in very good shape. I have done one 400 mile, 8 day tour, and 0ne 150 mile 2 day tour both with camping. I have a Connondale 08 t1, and all the needed equipment. I just can’t seem to find anyone will to accompany me. I’m told this is an unusal thing for a black woman. I love this stuff, and I want to go! If it comes to to it, I guess I will have to brave it alone, but how boring it will be. Any takers??????

  3. Soul Illest says:

    I am in training for the ALC and I have been doing some pretty decent rides, my furthest as of yet 120mi , I have been putting it out there to find someone to ride with me and have had a few people let me know they were interested but only one person that has actually joined me. The only problem is he made me realize I am an experienced rider and he was a begginer. I was glad to have him with me but it really slowed my pace. I pace at about 17-20mi on flat and have some trouble on hill climbs because of my equipment, I acutally ride a 21speed Marin Comuter bike but i don’t let that stop me. of course I plan on upgrading but for training purposes this bike is serving me well. I am in the LA area and frequently ride 50-100mi just about every weekend. If anyone is interested in venturing out here in LA and seeing some beauty in the City of Angels I would advise that you contact me and we can set that Up, I went on an awsome run from Sherman Oaks over to Malibu and down the coast to Palos Verdes and back to Sherman Oaks that I would love to take someone on, but I will not cancel any of my rides because no one wants to join unless I was in some extreme climate where you need someone there in case of emergency other then that I am a ridah!
    Soul Illest

  4. ali Kowalsky says:

    yes-im in for an independent bike tour somewhere. I am a teacher, with plenty of vacations. Im an avid NYC biker, and have experience cycling around the world. Im 33 SWF, and in very good shape. I have an upcoming vacation, and am looking to do a short trek over about a 7-9 day period. My vacation begins March 27 and ends April 5. I have equipment too, I just need a travel mate Hope this finds you Lynnteer!

    • Paul Marcus says:

      Hi my name is paul. Looking to do some touring are you still seeking a companion. I am based out of NUC area.

  5. Elijah Sears says:

    I had spent several years trying to get my friends together to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, but it seemed that something was always missing. My first bike tour I went solo because I was experiencing an inner transformation, and was contented with or without any ideal conditions (I rode a single speed from LA to Eugene, with a hiking backpack, best part was riding with no hands). Essentially all of my following trips (with an actual touring bike) had been commuting from farm to farm to work. I met several tourists along the way, but could never manage to keep up, I then realized from observing their bikes that my frame was severely too short, and my seat MUCH too low; at the bottom of my pedal strokes my knees were still bent quite a bit. Once I finally solved the problem, my riding improved exponentially. The only way to ward off the loneliness blues was to essentially ‘lurk’ around when stopped and smile at people hoping for an open hearted person to pick my brain, or I would simply extend my happiness outwards and that usually helped cure the lack of intimate relation ‘out there’. There is undoubtedly an exquisite bliss that can be had alone with nature, and I feel like I enjoy a companion more now that I have experienced it solo. I know that having another person with you when you are first learning something can be trying, and lead to a growing frustration if you are not altogether ‘with it’. but once you have proven yourself, to yourself, having company is an absolute joy! I have heard many people who give up the tour half way through their ‘first time’ and I believe it has to do with conflicting expectations. As they say in the thru-hiking community “hike your own hike”, and the meaning of that has it’s tried and true significance.

  6. Elijah Sears says:

    I like how Josh Foreman was hoping to go solo, and ended up attracting his buddy along, just through the sheer brilliance of his resolution. After all it was never about anyone else, it was always about finding yourself, who happens to BE everyONEelse all along. That reminds me of a John Muir quote, “In going out alone in nature, I found that I was really going in.” Being with another is a great way to share your burdens and joys, but when you can find your own joy alone, you don’t have any burden to share when you find a companion, only joy!

  7. Lynnteer says:

    Wow! I have forgotten all about this until receiving this message today. Well, here’s a little update…….I am not 52, and still in great shape. I have since take 2 solo tours after deciding that I am going to do everything that I desire and not be held back by fear. My first solo was a 200 mile, 4 day round trip with camping. My second solo tour consisted on the next to the leg portion of the ‘Underground Railroad” from Milford, OH to Erie, PA. Although I did not make it all the way to Erie because the weather turned really bad (rain, hail and sleet) which cause me to turn back south, and this was spring time. I posted my first journal about this trip on the cycle touring website “”. The title of my journal is “Oh Darn, Those Ohio Hill!” Please take a look. The tour was fun, but somewhat difficult. The hills were unbelievably ridiculous.

  8. Bike Tours Central Park says:

    It is very difficult, I agree. Most of the people are not on my level and prefer different speed. You should also discuss your schedules and plan everything together. Honestly most of the times I ride alone

  9. David Panton says:

    Still trying to find cyclists interested in going down Euro Velo 6 from Vienna to Constanta this summer. I cycled about 2000 miles from north Devon to Vienna last summer and joined others who shared the same route, but would welcome a like minded soul(s) for the remainder of the trip. I usually cover about 50/60 miles a day depending on the terrain, weather and distractions along the way. If you are interested drop me an email.

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