Guest Author - Sharry Miller
Somewhere, while perusing my e-mails and favorite cycling websites, I recently came across a web-based game called Armchair Bike Touring (http://www.biketouringtips.com/ArmchairBikeTouring/). Intrigued, I spent a half hour or so seeing what it was all about.
You start out the game as an inexperienced Newbie embarking on a tour of 100 miles. You have a monetary budget for purchasing food, lodging and bike repair supplies. As you ďride,Ē the game updates your mileage travelled, how tired and hungry you are, and shows you photos of beautiful scenery from around the world. Occasionally youíre presented with a repair that needs to be made or a decision about spending time with a ďroad angel.Ē You accrue points by ensuring you get enough food and rest before itís too late, staying within your budget, and by not having to hitchhike to a bike repair shop.
Once youíve completed your first 100 mile tour, you become a tour Novice and can move onto a 200 mile tour. Your monetary budget is higher and there are more decisions to make, but the basic premise is the same.
Finally, as a full-fledged Bike Tourist you can take on a 300 mile ride. The tours get longer and harder, but you get tougher, too.
Of course, itís not really like riding on a tour since your legs donít scream at you, but the decisions youíll make are fairly realistic. Depending on whether you stop at a snack bar or restaurant, you get a variety of menus to from which to choose food, as well as the ability to decide if youíre going to eat right away or carry the food with you. I noticed that the game kept track of how often you made junk food choices, but Iím not sure to what end. (I never chose enough junk foods to be penalized, if there were penalties).
When you decide to stop for the night, you often have choices ranging from cheap primitive campgrounds to expensive hotels. Your choices, of course, have to fit into your allotted budget.
The best part of the game is the photos showing where you supposedly are. They donít follow any sort of real route (you might be in Maine first and the suddenly in France), but the photos will certainly inspire you to travel.
In the world of computer games, Armchair Bike Touring is definitely primitive, but itís worth a look. Iíve only played all three levels once, but soon Iíll go back and see if I can better my score.
Ride safe and have fun!