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 I am an avid cyclist and always try to encourage friends and colleagues to bicycle more. I cycle commute to work and use my bike(s) for most day-to-day transportaion. Apart from commuting, cycling is one of the best ways to tour and truly experience the scenery and culture of new places. Cycling is fun, good exercise, and is a great way to reduce one's carbon footprint. When I first moved to Los Angeles, I had driven my car to work, but when I stared to cycle, the experience was much better. Instead of a somewhat stressful drive with Los Angeles traffic, I come into work refreshed and with my 25 mile roundtrip, it nicely satisfies my daily exercise quota. Of course, the route on which I bike to work is quite different from the one on which I used to drive; in fact, most of it is along designated bike paths without any cars.

CHOOSING ROUTES FOR YOUR BICYCLE TRIPS: As you begin cycling in urban areas, you will soon find that the choice of your route is a much more sensitive issue than when you drive. Increasingly, many urban areas are taking care to encourage cycling, and the number of roads with either separated (by concrete curbs) bike lanes, or painted bike lines, or signage which either tells motorists "bikes may use full lane" or at least, "share the road" help to make cycling safer and more enjoyable. When planning routes, especially ones that you are going to use often--like commutes to work, you should spend some time asking other cyclists for advice and experimenting with some differnt options. Google maps is another good resource--if you search for directions and click on the "by bike" icon. For longer urban commutes, cycling can be combined with public transportation. Many municipalities allow bikes on their subway systems and have bike racks on their city buses. Another advantage of cycling over driving is that parking a bike is often free and very convenient. On my end, I just roll mine into my office (after showering at the campus gym).

A FEW WORDS ABOUT SAFETY: If possible/practical, using bike lanes and paths are always a better idea than sharing the roads with cars. Depending on which areas you cycle, car drivers are not always used to sharing the roads with cyclists so you must never take it for granted that a car sees you, even if you have the right of way. Always wear a helmet and wear bright clothing when cycling on roads with cars. When cycling during dark hours, make sure to use strong headlights and taillights. Very bright lights are available. For my headlamp, I use the rechargable Night Rider brand light. It is so bright that cars sometimes turn on their high beams when approaching me. Cycling in groups increases your visibility and hence also your safety. If a road is too congested and/or the lanes are too narrow, use the sidewalk (if the local police allow it).

LONG DISTANCE BIKE TOURING: During the 15 years that I lived on tropical islands (in Hawaii and Guam), I could pretty much cycle around the whole island in one day, so multi-day bike tours were not a relevant concept. When I arrived in Los Angeles, in the Long Beach area, I was impressed with the large network of very nice bike paths/trails/routes. It was not long before I did my first "century" (= 100 mile bike ride in one day). Then I thought about longer rides. I did not know whether if I tried to ride long distances for several days in a row, my body might cramp up or something. My first experiment with a long ride on multiple (nearly consecutive) days was a trip I took from Long Beach to San Diego, along the coast, which was about 100 miles. It is a gorgeous ride down the coast. A friend drove there to meet me, and we spent a couple of days doing non-bicycle activities, e.g., kayaking, swimming, hiking, and tourism activities. Then I cycled back to Long Beach. I was a bit concerned about the return voyage, but it felt great! My love for cycle touring was thus born, and dreams of longer cycle adventures started to come to me regularly.

Since this initiation, I have went on to do other long-distance bike tours. My first multi-(consecutive) day tour was in the fall of 2009 (during a week that we were on furlough due in a bad budget year for the state of California). It was a nearly 600 mile (roundtrip) ride on the Katy trail in Missouri including an extra trek to the Gateway Arch of St. Louis. This is a gorgeous bike trail (converted from an old railroad track) that is mostly flat, follows through part of the Lewis & Clark expedition trail, and passes through numerous historic railroad towns. It is the longest rails-to-trails bike path in the US that nearly streches across the entire state of Missouri. I had ridden parts of it near the city of Columbia during a sabbatical leave I had spent there. Since then I have done other wonderful tours, including the entire California Coast.

TWO EPIC TOURS: Since I did my first century, a ride across America was among my ultimate dreams. How cool it would be to ride my bike from my home inLos Angles to visit my family in the Washington DC area! But there was so much to contemplate: how to plan a route so it would be reasonably safe, enjoyable, and possible to find hotels, food, and water when I need it (I would not be camping); I was particularly concerned about much less densely populated areas in the Western and Mountain Regions. Finally the spring of 2012, I came up with a plan, and rough plan for a route, made the difficult decision to attempt the grand crossing, and I did it. It went so well that if I had more time, I might just have biked back to LA after my visit to my family (rather than flying back, as I did). It was such a wonderful and memorable experience that I even wrote a book about it (see below).

Two years later, I was looking for a new challenge: A bike tour in a foreign land, with a new culture and language. A tour in a beautiful, interesting (and challenging) foreign country. Europe would have been too easy compared with touring in the US while some countries would have been perhaps too dangerous, like Russia, so I was gravitating to an Asian country. Japan, Korea, and Taiwan would have been natural choices, but they were too small for the length of tour that I wanted. I settled on China. It met all of my criteria: big, beautiful, a very different culture than the US, interesting people, delicious food. As an added bonus, despite the fact that China will soon surpass the US as the world's largest economy, hotels and restaurants are still significantly lower priced than in the US. I did the tour and it once again went wonderfully. I also wrote a book about this adventure and included much practical information that should be useful for anyone who might be interested in bicycle touring in China, or simply visiting China as a tourist.

Bicycle Adventure Tour Books

A. A Westerner's Bicycle Tour in China, with a Crash Course in Chinese Culture and Society

Barnes & Noble (Nook Book)

Amazon (Kindle Book)

Tour Map (graphic file)

Southern Portion of Tour (graphic file)

Northern Portion of Tour (graphic file)
B. My Bicycle Ride Across America: the People, the Culture, the Scenes, and the Ride

Barnes & Noble (Nook Book)

Amazon (Kindle Book)

Tour Map (pdf file)
NOTE: The book B has also been split into three parts:

Part B1


Barnes & Noble (Nook Book)

Amazon (Kindle Book)

Part B2

Barnes & Noble (Nook Book)

Amazon (Kindle Book)

Part B3

Barnes & Noble (Nook Book)

Amazon (Kindle Book)


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