So this bike touring is happening

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned in my post "Coming Full Circle on the Bicyclewas in the process of looking for another bicycle to add to my list to do some tour riding with my dad and brother. I have spent the past several weeks doing quite an extensive amount of research on the bike touring world and this past Saturday I went out shopping for bikes.

So I spent the better part of five hours on Saturday shopping for a touring bike and I actually ended up with something I totally wasn't expecting, the Novara Safari from REI. I went to three different bike stores and realized that I just couldn't get comfortable on any of the bikes with drop handlebars. I am not sure if my arms are too short or what but I either felt my arms were too far extended or my legs were too bunched up.

I then started testing some of the hybrid touring bikes. Trek had some good stuff, but it was just a bit too much money (~$1300) and it actually didn't have all of the braze-ons that I was looking for. The Safari certainly had some good recommendations online, but I certainly would not say that it was one of my top choices initially going into this search. After trying a whole bunch of bikes and riding them around I actually settled on the Safari. The butterfuly handlebars were simply the most comfortable.The bike also has the mounting I was looking for all over it. Three spots for water bottles/pumps, mounting points to upgrade to disc brakes, braze-ons for a front pannier.  I have to say that I was quite surprised and it was by far the most comfortable of the group to test ride on. 

 The only thing I can see immediately upgrading is the bar tape which has a very plasticy feel.

This process has also started some of my research into a ride with my dad and brother. My dad had a great suggestion of riding up to Lake Geneva and then doing a loop back down. That seems like it would be an excellent ride route. It is about 30-40 miles one way up and a good portion of the ride is on trails, which would make for a a good first excursion. I have found that Google Maps (despite its problems) has a really decent route planner for bike riding that highlights a lot of trails. 

This then of course led me to find out about the US Bike Route system, which appears to be a nationwide designation for trails, routes and roads for bike travel. It looks like the Adventure Cycling Association is working with a variety of state DOT's and other agencies to designate a national bike route system. It looks really cool. I just wish there was a better centralized website that had the routes on it in an interactive map that would help with trip planning.