Along with the majority of “touring” cyclists in the US, we have reached the age where we prefer a private shower and clean, quiet bed to the hard ground and “natural” facilities offered in campgrounds or at “Tent City.”  In a previous post, I discussed BIG bicycle tours, guided tours and independent travel, many of which offer hotel options. As long as there is a bed and bathroom, we’re excited to go on any type of tour because each offers benefits and advantages that other categories of tours may not offer.  But at BYT, we gravitate to another kind of tour.  We call it – Credit Card Camping. 

Well it isn’t really camping…because we use our credit card to acquire clean, reasonably priced (sometimes more extravagant) lodging.  And the moniker neglects to describe another key facet of our kind of tour.

Picture

Our condo view in Avon, Colorado

PictureA lovely room in France

We also like to find a ‘home base’ instead of travelling point-to-point every day.  Also known as ‘fixed base’ or ‘fixed center’, our home base is a place we believe we’d really like to explore for several days not just cycle through in one day.  The vicinity of the base usually includes some world-renowned climbs or local classic cycling routes; has great eats nearby (in Colorado and the western U.S. we gravitate to microbreweries since they usually serve our style of comfort food); and other things to do such as beaches, spas, golf courses or tourist attractions. We’ll spend a weekend to a week or more truly getting to know the territory as we develop a few favorite hang-outs, rides, routes, shops and attractions in the vicinity. We explore regions in-depth, as a tourist and as a cyclist! 

Some Great “Home Bases”
Tucson, Arizona
Avon / Vail, Colorado
Breckenridge, Colorado
Grand Junction, Colorado
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Waikoloa, Hawaii
La Grange, Texas
Mesquite, Nevada
Argeles-Gazost, France
La Grave, France
Les Eyzies, France
Bormio, Italy
Bellagio, Italy
Lake Garda, Italy
Accommodations must rate well on sites such as tripadvisor.com, hotels.com or booking.com and be centrally located within our home base region.  The hotel or condo cost must suit our budget and calendar.  Helpful staff at a friendly, warm, welcoming inn always increase your enjoyment on your tour and provide countless memories after you arrive home.

Extra kudos to any lodge providing cyclist specific services. Afternoon or evening snacks such as a pasta pick-me-up or a chocolate chip cookies to help refuel hungry cyclists; a pool or hot tub to soothe any achy bits; old, used shower curtains or sheets to put your bike on; old rags to dry your bike when caught in the rain; bicycle room, shop or facilities to store, repair or clean your bike and equipment; a laundry room or service to wash your cycling kit; a stack of local cycling material including shop information and maps and free wifi to access your online logging data and stay in touch with friends and family.

Finding a Cyclist Heaven Hotel
Today the internet remains preeminent for finding a hotel or condo to meet your requirements.  For condo units we visit vrbo.com first and for hotels, booking.com.  We visit the hotel’s own website and tripadvisor.com for additional information and to compare prices.  We also Google “name of town lodging” to gain insights as to what else is available in the area.  In addition to heeding reviews on consolidator sites, we check their service with a quick inquiry.  If they’re not interested in our business before we reserve, how helpful will they be later? 

Unfortunately there may not be a hotel or inn with extra special cyclist services in the town or location you’ve selected for your home away from home.  Perhaps it’s because the area is more known for other reasons (e.g. alpine skiing) or maybe the cyclist heaven is 3 miles down the road and you need to broaden your search.  Again helpful lodge staff may be able to help you find your nirvana even if it is not their establishment.  Using other resources like Build Your Tour may help too.

Even when we don’t find the perfect cyclist heaven,  we enjoy the home base model for:

  • Limited packing & unpacking
  • Easier access to laundromat facilities or massage arrangements
  • Washed cycling items drying completely
  • Developing in-depth familiarity with a destination
  • Knowing our room and shower are ready as soon as we return from our ride
  • Having post-ride snacks waiting and dinners reservations set (or a kitchen available)
  • Breakfast availability at any hour with a handy microwave and refrigerator
  • A variety of shorter and longer cycling routes
  • An assortment of extra activities

This is the first post in our series “Our Kind of Tour.”  When the home base is finalized,  a variety of “out & back” or loop ride routes are completed on one of the numerous mapping sites, bicycle shops are located and equipment selection (tandem, single, mountain; bring own or rent) is confirmed.  We’ll consider routes, shops, bicycles and the assorted alternative activities in our next blog in the series.

For more on touring, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_touring
Tail winds and thanks for reading!

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