How to plan the route for your bike tour - in 1887

Cycling Article Index

Advice on how to plan a cycletour - on your penny-farthing

I have in my posession an 1887 copy of the Badminton Library's 'Cycling' book. This is a substancial volume covering all aspects of cycling at that time and is utterly fascinating - both to see the changes that have taken place and the things that have stayed the same. Here are a few short pieces lifted from this age where the Penny Farthing Bicycle was king, where there were no cars and when 'Gentlemen' rode bikes:-)


The next thing necessary is to plan out the tour and select the route to be followed. This can best be done with the aid of the various maps, road- books and guides, a number of which have been placed before the public. In general, some objective point is selected ; the tourist, perhaps, has friends in a distant town towards which he makes his way, or else he takes a circular route, which will eventually bring him home over new and unridden roads. Maps are of course of great service, especially for the purpose of learning the general direction of a place or a district, and shaping the course of the proposed tour accordingly. The ' Cyclist's Pocket Road Guides,' published by R. E. Phillips of Seihurst Road, S.E., are very useful, whilst the ' Cyclists' and Wheel-World Annual,' and the earlier ' Bicycle Annuals,' those especially for 1870 and 1880, together with as modern a copy of ' Paterson's Roads ' as may be obtainable, will, with the aid of a decent map, enable the tourist to work out his route with ilifficient completeness.

This task having been accomplished, it becomes necessary to decide as to the average day's journey, and on this point it is necessary to utter a very emphatic warning against the error into which so many tourists fall, of fixing a ridiculously high standard which they find it practically impossible to accomplish. A large number of beginners fancy that they can ride with ease from sixty to a hundred miles daily for n week at a stretch, and on this basis they arrange their tours with the result that they either break down utterly and are compelled to take the train home, or else they spend a miserable ' holiday,' riding hard against time during the whole of the trip, thus converting what should have been a pleasant outing into a period of hard labour and discomfort. The experienced tourist, on the other hand, does not attempt to fix arbitrarily the distance to be covered each day or the places where halts shall be made. He rather shortens the day's journey, being quite satisfied with forty or fifty miles at the outside, and generally has a spare day in the middle of the week as well, thus letting himself off as lightly as possible with a view to the more complete enjoyment of the tour as a whole. For the beginner even shorter distances are advisable. From twenty to forty miles, more or less, as occasion serves, will be found quite enough to count upon, at any rate until the rider has gauged his powers for road work day after day. This is a serious point, for a man who can ride sixty or seventy miles right off will find forty miles a day for a week rather a task, until by lengthened experience he has learnt how to economise and save his physical powers.

The next necessary point, if the tour is to be a long one, is to fix upon one or two inns (headquarters of the C. T. C„ as set forth in the Guide, to be preferred of course if the traveller desires, as it were, to identify himself with the interests and followers of the sport), where changes of underclothing should be forwarded, with a request that they may be aired and laid by ready for the tourist on his arrival

A Small Favour

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