Nan's Advice for Women Bike Touring Solo

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With thousands of miles under her belt, Nan has some advice to share with anyone who's hesitant to embark on a self-supported bicycle tour. 

Nan lead backpacking trips for 8 years. After that, she knew she could work well with just about anyone. That's why, when she was ready to bicycle across the country, she looked for a traveling companion on Adventure Cycling's "Companions Wanted" page. She didn't want to go alone. But alone is what she was, on Day Two of her grand adventure after her cycling partner was grazed by a truck and went home to heal his injuries. 

Shaken but determined, Nan decided to continue the journey solo. And now, with thousands of miles under her belt, she has some advice to share with anyone who's hesitant to embark on a self-supported bicycle tour. 


Where do you live, Nan?

I live in Idaho’s Teton mountains! There are three seasons of riding here: Summer is dirt, spring/fall is gravel, and in the winter, fat biking. There’s a huge range, so if you’re bored riding here then I don’t think you’re doing it right.  

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"My favorite is fat biking for a silly amount of distance. In general, the longer the adventure, the better."

What kind of cycling do you enjoy?

I enjoy everything except road cycling. My favorite is fat biking for a silly amount of distance. In general, the longer the adventure, the better.  

How did you fall in love with bicycling?

As a student at Brevard College studying Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education, I could mountain bike between classes. Brevard College is very close to some of the best riding in the country, so my backyard was a great playground. I could challenge myself without needing a partner, which is harder to do in sports like kayaking or climbing. My last semester at Brevard, I started racing mountain bikes. It was epic for me, I would ride five to six days a week. Every ride I wanted more, and I could feel myself getting stronger and better. I was living for the next ride.

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"Every ride I wanted more, and I could feel myself getting stronger and better. I was living for the next ride."

What advice would you offer to a woman who wants to try bike touring, but is hesitant to do so?

Do it! Give it a try! Start small or big. I don’t have many mechanical skills - but, YOUTUBE! With cell coverage you can learn a lot from YouTube! Take care of your bike: lubing the chain and airing your ties will go a long way.

Think about what your goal is for the ride, focus on the feeling: feeling good/ comfortable, in a happy place, enjoying the ride. Don’t worry about distance per day- it is easy to rent a car to get where you need to go at the end. Focus on what is in your control, and don’t worry about what is out of your control.

Anticipate issues: 1000 miles into your tour, look at your bike’s tires and chain wear. Remember that big cities mean slow going and few places to camp, whereas deserts mean water sources are scarce and mountains mean severe weather, etc.

Make things easy. Easy systems will be used more than complex systems. If your camera is buried, then you won’t take as many pictures. Have snacks easy to grab.
Also, take care of yourself. And invest in a bike fitting. Having pain on your bike is unnecessary.

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"Focus on what is in your control, and don’t worry about what is out of your control... Make things easy."

What activity, besides cycling, helps you be a better cyclist?

I have started going to Pilates. I was weak in my core and hips/ butt. Strengthening my core and hips has helped me take care of nagging injuries.  

Me, too! My boyfriend is a personal trainer, and told me most cyclists have muscular imbalances: weak core & gluts, especially. I’ve been working on that too. What are some other things that help you feel more comfortable while riding?

Bike mirrors! Yes they’re dorky, but I can see what is coming and be proactive.   

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Bike mirrors! Yes they’re dorky, but I can see what is coming and be proactive.   


Love Nan as much as I do?

Check out her blog: Cheers From Nanland

 

Know any fabulous lady cyclists I should interview?

Contact Me!

 

Ready for another inspiring story? Click here for the tale of how Nan's cross-country bike tour turned into an accidental solo adventure.