Many people go on bicycle tours on their own. It’s an added accolade that you rode your bike in challenging conditions, faced obstacles after obstacles, and on top of all that – you did it alone! Impressive indeed.
For many, including myself, I enjoy traveling with people. I traveled solo once last Christmas but I normally travel with one other person (usually my brother-in-law, Sang Hyun) but had the pleasure to travel with 7 others, too.
I actually enjoy traveling in big packs. There’s safety in numbers, different people to talk to during the trip. We can share resources and expenses amongst the group, such as food and camping fees.
1. Social Network (Facebook, Twitter, Blog)
This is probably the easiest way to get people to join you on your adventures. Especially if your inner circle of people already enjoy it. I’m talking mostly about Facebook. I know half of my friends are bike people, so I know I’ll get the interest of one or two whenever I put up an event.
Twitter is much more difficult to garner interest as people in my Twittersphere consists of some friends, but mainly acquaintances at best. Perhaps you may have better luck with your own Twitter feed.
Blogs are also a good place to find travel companions. You’ll find dozens of blogs from seasoned travelers who may have rides planned. Just reach out to the authors and see if he/she would be open for travel. This actually may work best if you are geographically close in proximity. I would recommend meeting the person a few times before joining him/her on the trip. If you have a blog, I would recommend you post up your trip plans. You may get some interested tourists with you.
Good: Easily get in touch with like-minded people on your trip.
Not So Good: Depends on the quality of your network
2. Adventure Cycling Association
For me, the easiest way is to take advantage of what Adventure Cycling has to offer. I first saw these types of requests in their Adventure Cyclists magazine. Only constraint with that is you need a membership to Adventure Cycling Associations (which you really should get).
Can’t wait for the newest issue to come out? They have a “Companions Wanted” section on their website for you to search for a companion or create your own listing. Don’t forget that they have an online forum where you can interact with other like-minded individuals.
Where: http://adventurecycling.org & Adventure Cyclists magazine
Good: Separate section on their site to help find companions
Not So Good: Need to be a member to get the Adventure Cyclist magazine
Another easy way to find people who bicycle tour is using the MeetUp website. Search for bicycle touring near where you live. Even if they don’t have bicycle touring specific MeetUp groups, look for bike rides, hiking or adventure groups. Maybe you can convert some people in these MeetUps. Better yet, create your own MeetUp like I did. There are fees associated with this method, but I’m sure it’s all worth the effort when you find solid individuals to join you on your adventures.
Good: If you live in the city, your chances of finding a bike touring group are good
Not So Good: If you’re outside of the city, you may not find groups for bicycle touring
4. Discussion Forums
Discussion forums were mentioned a few times earlier, but there are other forums you can post to ask for traveling companions. If you’re looking to join someone’s trip, look for sub forums in your area. This way, you may find someone who is planning a trip starting near your geographic location.
If you already have everything planned, be sure to communicate your trip, how long you expect to be on the road, how old you are, and your average miles per day. People like to know if your riding style meshes with theirs before committing to anything.
One last tip is to make sure the forum is somewhat active. If the last updated date is last year, for example, chances are, the forum is DOA (dead on arrival).
Good: Many people are posting about their trips and asking for companions on forums
Not So Good: Depending on location, you may or may not have people in your area. Be sure that the forum you are looking at is frequently visited.
5. Warm Showers Hosts
Warm Showers host usually are bicycle tourists themselves. Why not solicit some people near your area and see if they have any plans to travel? They also have a discussion forum for you to post up and ask for touring companions. I’ve never done this before, but I don’t see any downfall in doing this. If anybody has ever tried doing this, let me know how it all turned out.
Good: Know that hosts are most likely bicycle tourists
Craigslist? Why not? You can post a travel classified to ask for companions on your trip. It’s worth a try especially if you live anywhere near a city. Just make sure you take extra precautions and meet the person first before the trip starts.
Like Warm Showers, I have not tried to use Craigslist in this way, but would love to hear back from people who have.
Good: Plenty of people will see your listing.
Not So Good: You don’t know these strangers and you’ll need to live somewhere near the city
Cycling in Melbourne – Repairing wheel at Commuter Cycles by Takver, on Flickr
7. Local Bike Shop & 8. Bike Co-Op
Let’s do this the analog way and get yourself in your local bike shop or co-op. Some shops like Topanga Creek Bicycles take Wednesdays off to go on their Unpredict Your Journey ride where they take mini overnight adventures.
If your bicycle shop doesn’t participate in anything like that, you may find other customers who might be interested. There may also be pamphlets or flyers of fundraising rides at the shop, so check for those. Just be warned, they’re usually for fully supported touring.
Where: Your favorite local bike shop or co-op.
Good: One-on-one interaction so you get to know a person before the trip
Not So Good: Hopefully, your local bike shop and co-op is popular, otherwise you may not have opportunities to connect
9. Bike Clubs
There are bike clubs in every town that you go through. You see them flying through in packs on streets or on bike paths every weekend. Go out there and see where they end up stopping (it’s usually a bakery or good coffee place) and talk to a few of them. You may have to get invited to ride with them first before you can work your pitch in about bike touring, but at least they’ll be ready to go.
Where: Bike paths and popular bicycle riding routes
Good: You’re half-way there as they’re already riding
Not So Good: It’s a tad more difficult to be included in their social circle before you can make your pitch
10. Chamber of Commerce
Your local Chamber of Commerce may know of places like bike shops or organizations that ride through town. A good example of this are the towns in Iowa where RAGBRAI has gone through. I bet you they have that highlighted in the Chamber of Commerce calendar. Look for those rides and when it’s happening so you may join them. Again, this is will be a fully supported event where you’ll need to raise money or pay to ride.
Where: Your local Chamber of Commerce
Good: If you’re new to your location, this is a great way to see scheduled bike rides and events.
There you have it! 10 ways to find bicycle tourists either online or in person. I hope you can use the tips above and find your companion on your next bicycle tour. If you’re lucky, you may have an entire caravan coming with you like I did.
What do you think about my ideas? Have you tried it? Is there another idea you can offer? I would love to hear about it in the comments below.