Bike Touring Insights from Piaw Na

March 19, 2018 • Transportation

If you ask most people who bike, they’ll tell you there are some tasks that simply don’t work on two wheels. Like carting home that entertainment system. Or moving the contents of your apartment. Or going on our tour with your band (unless of course you’re Rupa and the April Fishes).

Then there are a few feats that only a special breed of biker would attempt—like taking the kiddos to school. Or loading up the outdoor gear and setting out on a camping trip. But, both at the same time!? I hadn’t considered the option of bike camping with the kids until I saw a stunning turquoise TRIPLET Tandem on the SAP campus one day. And then I met its owner, Piaw Na.

If you work at Stanford Research Park or bike around the Peninsula area on the weekends, chances are you have seen Piaw and his tandem bike. Every weekday, Piaw drops his children at school before heading to SAP where he works as a Software Engineer.

In addition to being a dedicated bike commuter, Piaw is a blogger, author and expert in the field of bike touring. He began bike touring in 1992 as an inexpensive and flexible way to travel. Over the years, Piaw has explored the US, Asia and Europe on his bike and even took his six-year-old son with him to England last summer.

Piaw finds that bike touring brings traveling down to a very intimate level. It’s a way to see the countryside up close and to meet friendly, local people outside of the large cities. He enjoys the independence of deciding which route to take, which days to ride…and which days to stay put, especially during downpours! His accommodations have included camping, hostels, Airbnbs, Bed & Breakfasts and hotels.

I asked Piaw for some advice for people who are interested in bike touring, and here’s what he had to say:

  • Start Small. The Pigeon Point Lighthouse in Pescadero offers a hostel for overnight stays and makes a great weekend destination.

  • If you wish to travel abroad, Europe has the best cycling infrastructure. The roads are safer, public transportation is bike friendly and there is an existing bike culture which helps since most Europeans have toured via bike at some point in their lives.

  • If you decide to travel with a bike tour outfitter, pick one that is local to your destination. This will provide a more culturally authentic experience.

  • Make sure you are fully compatible with your riding companions.

Want more? Check out the inspiring presentation Piaw gave to Stanford Research Park bicyclists and his Independent Cycle Touring book. Piaw shares tips from his years spent bike touring all over the world (with an emphasis on Europe), including where to go, when to go, route planning, how to pick cycle buddies and more! 

How to Bike Tour

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