Several years ago, I got into biking for fun. Sure I had ridden bikes as a kid, but once I got a car, my bike collected dust and rust. After a 25-year break from riding, I again discovered the thrill of the wind on my face and the power of my own body. My first bike as an adult was a Gary Fisher mountain bike. I didn't know what to do with all the gears! Since that discovery, I've now got a Trek carbon fiber for road riding and a Bianchi for touring. I call them my SUV, sports model and sedan.

I'm not at all interested in racing or fast riding. I ride for the pure pleasure of the ride. And I love bike vacations and touring. My intent with this section of the web site is to enlighten someone to dust off his or her old bike and hop on. Maybe they will feel a small portion of the enjoyment I get while riding.

We do all of our touring unsupported. No organized tour. Just the two of us. We don't camp. I want a nice shower, a firm bed, a great dinner and a glass of wine at the end of a day of biking. We like the freedom of being on our own. We use the tour company brochures to help plan our trips. They often list their routes, great B&Bs, and special points of interest.

While touring I keep journals. I want to post portions of these journals so I can help someone else plan the vacation of their dreams. The internet is a great planning tool because you can learn how others plan their trip, see what works and what doesn't, investigate what may be right for you, eliminate what may be wrong for you, and get answers from people who have experienced part of your dreams.

Here are some things to think about as you plan:

Know your travel partner. My travel partner is my husband of 33 years, Roger, so we know each other pretty well. On the road you see the best and worst of each other. Expect that. That's part of the fun. Hopefully you will tour with someone with compatible likes and dislikes. It makes life easier.

Think about what to take with you. Talk to others and learn from their mistakes. I carried a can of hair spray and a curling iron for 18 days in Holland. Just because I use it at home doesn't mean I'll need or want it on the road. Evaluate everything and consider how much it weighs and how bulky it is. It's not just carrying it on the bike that's important. You will be keeping your panniers with you at almost all times. You will carry them through museums, airports, restaurants, festivals etc. If they are too heavy or bulky, you will quickly quit having fun.

Be flexible. It's good to have an itinerary and goals, but if you stop for lunch in some quaint village, 40 miles from where you are planning on going for the day, be flexible enough to stop for the day and enjoy. You can’t see and experience everything. Be grateful for what is in front of you and experience it to the fullest. Some of our best finds and fondest memories were not on our itinerary, but boy did we have fun.

Know your bike. The basics in repair are essential for touring. Have the proper tools. Knock on wood, we’ve never even had a flat while touring, but we make sure to carry enough tools that we can make basic repairs on the spot. We’ve attended bike maintenance classes sponsored by our local bike store. Having a little knowledge gives a great feeling of security while touring. We dismantled the bikes well in advance of their first airplane ride. Everything in bike repair takes longer than you expect, so be prepared.

Plan how to get in and out of airports. After a long flight, you’re tired. Know what to expect of each airport. Use the internet and other touring journals to figure out what to do once you have landed. Where do you pick up your bike (usually oversized luggage)? Can you take your bike on a train? Does it need to be in a box? Does your airline provide boxes? Where is your hotel? Lots of questions and this takes digging to find the correct answer. Sometimes you are given the wrong answers, so it’s good to confirm. I was told that you could fly your bike free on international flights. When we checked into the airport, they wanted to charge us $100.

Know your own capabilities. The Swiss Alps look beautiful, but do a reality check. Can you really ride those mountains on a fully loaded bike? I know I can’t. We pick places that are flat or rolling hills, have great food, good climate, nice scenery, some history or interesting sights.

Keep your objective in mind. This is fun. It is your vacation. Most of us only get one a year, so be sure to have fun. Keep an open mind. Fun is where you least expect it but you need to be open to it. Enjoy.