Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Motorcycle touring - ways and means

Just spent some pleasant hours on the web reading advice about touring by motorbike. There's certainly lots of it. However, what emerges immediately is that different authors understand 'touring' to be different things. For certain writers, touring is about covering high mileages over short periods; for others it's about going off with your mates for a meet or holiday of some kind; for yet others it's an adventure. Only a very few envisage a solo tour of the kind I have in mind. My idea of touring was more 'meandering, than anything else. I love to wander down lanes and minor roads admiring the countryside and stopping off at cafes and pubs in small villages.

My backpacking experience (limited as it is) has persuaded me of the importance of carrying as little stuff a possible. A light backpack enables one to move swiftly and allows for comfortable stops and strolls around interesting places along the way. I wanted to adopt a similar minimalist approach to my tour of Italy, yet I could find few examples of this touring style on the web. Many of the tour set-ups I saw were bikes heavily laden with camping, cooking and clothing to face all weathers.
A not-untypical tour set-up.

It seemed to me that much of the loads bikers were carrying on tour related to camping and cooking needs. I could therefore dispense with this if I stayed at hotels (expensive if I intended to be away for a month). An alternative choice might be youth hostels - in the UK these provided low cost dormitory accommodation along with washing and cooking facilities. And, as a bonus for a lone traveller, company to chat with in the evenings.

I searched for Italian youth hostels on the web and indeed it turned out that they existed. The Hostelling International web site provides details and booking facilities. Now I could lose the camping and cooking gear - cool! However, it would mean plotting my route taking into account the location of hostels. This didn't seem to be too much of a problem since there seemed to be plenty of them; but it would call for advance planning.

I reckoned I could put together a small pack of luggage that would see me through my month's tour and yet leave me free to wander around the towns and villages as the urge took me.

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