I grew up in South Africa in a small town (too small for public transport) so we rode everywhere on our Raleigh Sports with Sturmey Archer three speed hubs.
After I left school we did a couple of overnighters on the same bikes and my first camping tour which lasted about a week was around the Anglo-Zulu war battlefields in KwaZulu Natal. (Remember the Michael Caine Film, Zulu?) At some stage we decided that the braking effort of the Raleigh calipers on steel rims was pretty ordinary in the dry and non existent in the wet so we upgraded to the Sturmey Archer front and rear hub brakes which was a big improvement.
Then after I bought a motor car I took up kayak racing and put the bike in the shed.
After I passed my Chartered Accountant's examinations I went to work in England where I joined a Youth Hostels affinity group which had a cycling and a walking section, both of which spent weekends in the country staying overnight in Youth Hostels. At this stage I had a ten speed tourer with a Reynolds 531 frame but still running steel wheels. I met Mary, my wife of 40 years in the walking section and after we married in 1971 we returned to live in South Africa without a bike. In 1978 with three sons we moved to Australia and I decided that I needed a bike for the 4km each way trip to the railway station to travel to work and I obtained another 10 speed tourer but alas not a Reynolds 531 frame. I did the usual weekend day rides with my sons from time to time until my eldest son who had progressed through the various levels of the Scout Movement became a Venturer ( the 14 to 17 year old age group) and I became an Adult leader in that Section. My son moved on but I remained as VL and at this time the Unit had two cycle tours to Tasmania about three years apart up and down the east coast staying at Youth Hostels. This could not be done today because the chain of hostels that we stayed at have all closed.
The Scout Association had a policy at that time that adult leaders had to retire at age 55 and I was having difficulty keeping up with seventeen year old boys and girls on bush walks and nordic skis although I was still OK in the kayak and on the bike so I hung up my Scout hat at that time.
I then started riding on Sundays with KBTC and did a solo on the Great Ocean Road from Warnambool to Geelong also staying at YHA hostels.
When I started working less and transitioning to retirement I decided that I had to do at least one decent tour and this was the Adelaide to Melbourne in 2009.
Meanwhile in forty years of marriage Mary had never shown any interest in riding a bike until six months ago when two fellow club members put their tandem on the market because Maureen, the stoker had a hip replacement and could no longer lift her leg over the top tube. I convince Mary to go for a test ride and she is now extremely keen and we will be doing some credit card type overnighters soon. Meanwhile John and Maureen have another tandem with a low step through stoker's position and are still cycling and we spent a week away with them recently doing day rides.