Cycle Touring on a Budget

I’ve already provided an exhaustive (-ing?) set of posts about my bike trip to Montreal a month ago. But there are aspects of my trip that I left out.
Why did I bike? And how could I afford it?
This summer I had the opportunity to do this trip because my wife has started a new job and wasn’t able to get more than a few scattered days for vacation. It was an ideal opportunity for me to try a little part of a dream I’ve always had to tour by bike. I wanted to bike across Canada when I was younger and still hope to one day. So I tried the experiment and I enjoyed it very much.
The how is contained in a bunch of lucky breaks. I had purchased a used bike for $35 from my favourite supplier in Kitchener about a week and a half before the trip but once I had it home and set up, it didn’t look like it would be reliable enough for such a long trip. I went to Backpeddling twice in Guelph, here, and as luck would have it I found a really interesting bike being sold on consignment the second time. It’s a big frame and of the older hybrid style both of which I really like. An older Sekine I think (it’s painted black with fluorescent green/yellow highlights so it’s kinda hard to tell): probably about 15 years old. I added in some old toe clips (not installed) and the total came to just over $165. It was a gamble (I rarely fork over that much for a bike since I’m so hard on them, it’s rarely worth it) but, as it turned out, entirely worth it.
I put on a new seat, a bell, fenders and a water bottle holder from my stock at home. I go through a lot of bikes so I tend to accumulate extra parts! I had lights for night driving already.
Then I went shopping for panniers. After quite a few tries I finally found what I wanted at Braun’s bike shop. My set of Vaude panniers (with the all important waterproof covers) were on sale there for about $100. They wouldn’t fit my existing old-style rack so I had to buy a new one but it was fairly inexpensive (around $25). I already had a cheap, strap held handlebar bag for holding my wallet, munchies, camera and maps so I was set there.
I already described the cheap tent I had (probably a mistake but certainly light) but I also bought a cheap tarp to cover the bike with from Canadian Tire.
My homemade Gator/PowerAde mix I described in a previous post but make no mistake, that is a very good thing to have.
The next thing I needed were pants that wouldn’t chafe. Biking pants are REALLY expensive (hundreds of dollars) and there was no way I was going to fork over that much money on my ‘little’ trip especially as our family budget is so strapped. I only had one night to go when I found two stretchy kids shorts that I could wear underneath my track pants as underwear. Not perfect but as they were under $10 each at Value Village I judged that these were far better than normal underwear. I was right… there was no discomfort from chafing at all. The pain I experienced was, I think, from pushing too long and too hard with my deadline.
The only thing you really need after that, besides the will (and perhaps a will), is a good set of directions. I described where I got those before too.
So my conclusion? Although there is a tendency to think that the finest in expensive equipment is required to tour, I can tell you it isn’t. If you take a little time to look around before your trip, you’ll find it’s entirely possible to make do without having to spend a fortune. You do have to buy food along the way, true, but you would have to do that on most other types of voyages too.

About tgrignon

I came I saw I rented the DVD
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3 Responses to Cycle Touring on a Budget

  1. Dan the Bro' says:

    You went into quite a bit of detail on how much you spent for the bike and accessories, but I’d like to know how much you budgeted for meals, and if you were over or under budget at the end?

  2. tgrignon says:

    My point with the title was that I did the trip for a lot less than if I outfitted myself with the latest and best equipment. There was no set budget. And, of course, all the money spent on my bike is still with me as I’m still using it for my daily commute to work.

    I had intended to eat heavy on the protein side but I didn’t spend a lot on food. I ate granola bars for breakfast and sometime lunch too. I did splurge on a hot meal for supper but I wasn’t all that hungry: usually between $15 and $25. I was thirsty. I drank a lot of my powerade and water with a definite preference for water. I biked through a lot of parks on the way but the only ones I saw drinking fountains in were in Quebec. Those were life savers!

    If I had taken the train or the bus to Montreal I would still have spent roughly the same amount of money on food.

    When I was in Montreal I ate less. There was a supermarket close to the Palais and I went there to buy a drink, an apple and some cheese and more granola bars. I practically lived on the new Nature Valley Sweet and Salty Dark Chocolate bars.

  3. Calah Brooks says:

    Hi. I’m creeping the net looking for opportunities to spread the word about The RIde TO Conquer Cancer and your name and blog keep popping up so… I thought I’d introduce myself – hello, I’m Calah and if you’d like to know more about the ride and/or assist me in getting the word out to fellow cyclists and riders who would like to make a difference and raise funds for cancer research, get back to me at Thanks for the time and read. šŸ™‚

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