For overnighters, I use a trailer and ride free of the weight on me or the bike itself.
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You may have to live with neck and shoulder pain and aspirin. Almost every book I have read on touring mentioned it. On all my tours I've had it. There are various sports stretches which target the muscles and bones in those areas. They can relieve tension and stress. Many complained of pain in the lower back-spinal area, most particularly when climbing hills. Every form of transportation has its tradeoffs. Every form of refuge has its price.In addition to getting the fit right, I have to do a whole series of stretches several times a week. They seem to help a lot for the activities I do. biking seems to be one of the hardest on the body. I have to stretch for achilles, hamstring, lower back, and neck problems. I seem to have reached the place where, with the fit right and the stretching, and some work with light weights, things are good. I'm also 61 and was touring and riding a lot 30 years ago with very few of these concern.
No politics here, just worry!And justified worry, I think. I would not want to be stealth camping in parts of that route. In fact, There were places in Southern
I've toured several times with people of differing abilities. Sometimes we would ride together, and other times someone would get ahead for awhile. On a long tour, I was with a partner almost half my age, who also happened to be a racer. He was often ahead, but sometimes we'd ride together, and always had main meals together and camped together. We greatly enjoyed each other's company and had a blast. I liked being alone and also riding with him. He felt the same. We both felt free to go our own pace. It was probably my best ride.We would agree to go our own speed and meet at the PO in the next town.I am not sure why you would tour with someone unless you were going to ride with them. Care to elaborate on the advantages? Do you just camp the same place with them? Share cooking? Something else?