Touring - Getting started, use my road bike?
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44 yo former couch potoato, have started just this year, riding various loops from my house for fitness and relaxation. I've purchased a new Trek 1200 road bike, which I really like. I ride about 100 miles/week, always with hills, mostly in the evenings. My average pace is about 13 mph (slow?)
I'm interested in a bit more adventure and I'm wondering if my bike is appropriate.
The bike has a triple 52/42/30 front ring and 12-25 rear cassette. Tires are 700x25. Wheels have spokes all around (whatever you call that), not the racing type wheels. It's a stock 2005 model, except for upgraded pedals.
1) Supported rides like BRAT (Bike ride across Tennesee)? Do folks carry panniers on this kind of ride? Handlebar bag? Just a seat wedge? Is that kind of ride the best way to start?
2) Weekend overnighter at a motel? I guess you would need at least small panniers, right? The Trek has braze-ons and eyelets on the back and eyelets on the front dropouts, so I guess you could mount racks? Fenders would be a problem, it looks like.
3) 2-3 days fully loaded, camping, cooking, etc.?
4) Would you pull a BOB trailer or similar?
Thanks for any feedback. My wife would probably strangle me if I told her I wanted to buy a touring bike now :p
06-17-05, 11:26 AM
1) BRAT type rides - Most people just use a seat wedge. I use a seat post rack with a trunk bag on it so I can carry bad weather clothes and everything else I might need.
2) Weekend overnighter at a motel - I have done this with a rear rack and small panniers like you said. That will be plenty of space for moteling it. You don't really need fenders.
3) 2-3 days fully loaded - you might need a different bike unless you can pack really light. I think your front fork is carbon and I don't think you are supposed to attach racks to those (unless it is specifically made for it, which I don't think yours is). The picture I saw of a Trek 1200 doesn't have eyelets on it so maybe you have a different fork.
4) Personally, I don't like trailers but that is definitely an option for you and your bike to do a fully loaded trip.
06-17-05, 11:28 AM
Also, I think a BRAT type ride is a GREAT way to get started. You will learn a lot from that and find out if you want to take it to the next level of adventure.
06-17-05, 11:54 AM
I don't know the Trek 1200 specifically, but it sounds like a good setup for light touring.
I also don't know Tennessee that well... But I'm sure you've got hills to climb. The reason I say that, is the gearing you mention is more suited to fast road riding (not loaded touring) and/or riding on the flats. So if you get into touring you might consider a lower range; say 48/38/28 with a 12-32. Somethin' like that. Gears are easy to change (a full set should be from about $80 on up, depending on brand and quality). It'll be a lot easier cranking up hills with even a small load.
Yeh -- BRAT sounds like a great way to introduce yourself to long rides. It depends on the level of "supported". Do they carry your full gear each day and meet you at the campground? On these rides, most people carry only a handlebar bag or small stuff sack on the rear rack. To carry a jacket, rain pants, some food, etc. You rarely see panniers on these rides. In fact, some of them look like pelotons.
The next level up is credit card touring. You could get by the same as a fully supported tour, carrying only a handlebar bag or small stuff sack. Buy everything else you need: from snacks to disposable cameras to repairs to an extra pair of shorts.
Motel touring would need at least a small set of panniers -- more clothes, picnic lunch, tools, etc.
Loaded touring is camping on wheels. If you're going out for more than a couple of weeks, you'd need a full rack/pannier setup or a trailer. Search this board for comments -- there are advocates for both. Also, there are advocates for carrying cooking equipment or not; I've decided the extra weight of a stove and fuel just aren't justified when my route passes through at least one town a day.
With panniers, at some point the weight you carry requires you have both front and rear panniers. If you try to stuff everything on the rear rack, the bike gets squirrely. General rule seems to be split the weight about 60/40 (rear/front).
You don't have to get it perfect the first time. Like any other adventure, you get better at it the more you tour. Your idea to do BRAT is a great introduction to touring. You'll learn about your capabilities, your bike, your preferences. That'll give you confidence for extended touring. The confidence edge you need, if you want to get out on the road yourself, is to learn your own bicycle maintenance (changing spokes, adjusting brakes/shifters, etc.) -- in fact, if you get new gears, swap 'em yourself.
13 mph isn't slow :) Unless your name is Lance. Touring just requires that you can do 50-70 miles a day, doesn't matter if it takes 10 hours.
I think your front fork is carbon and I don't think you are supposed to attach racks to those (unless it is specifically made for it, which I don't think yours is). The picture I saw of a Trek 1200 doesn't have eyelets on it so maybe you have a different fork.
The fork is carbon, but it does have eyelets right next to the dropouts. (The "tips" of the fork where the eyelets are appear to be aluminum). The rest of the fork is smooth, so I don't how you would attach the top of a rack...
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