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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 08-22-09, 01:54 PM   #1
Fastflyingasian
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First attempt of a solo tour = Failure

First off i completely underestimated the challenges of doing a 600 mile solo unsupported tour in which 400 miles of it being all mountains. i live south of boston and i had planned to ride to up state vermont. then i would ride to southern maine, take my vacation then ride home.

i usually expect to average 14-15 mph on long rides. the whole route was new to me and stores were far and few so i needed to fill up as many times as possible. so it is was common to cover only 10 miles or so per hour especially in the mountains when averaged out. also before i left i forgot to charge my ipod so i was left to my thoughts and wind noise. i know many people dont like mp3 players but after 12 or 13 hours on the saddle your thoughts and motivation is nowhere close to where you started. so my trip to maine was very rough. i now know i was suffering from over training before i left because i was just tired, slow, and unmotivated from mile 10.

planned Leg 1: ( 230 miles 2 days) from south of boston to up state vermont
Day 1 i planned to ride 140 miles to rutland vermont. i came up way short. i left an hour late and came up 45 miles short. it was cold and misty most of the day. after 10 hours on the road i called it quits and found a motel. (90 miles)
Day 2 i hit the rode late again and made it to lower vermont at about 3:30. i was way off pace and spirts WAY LOW. opted to skip my visit to my father and turned north east for maine. the route to maine was 152 miles. i knew it was going to take 2 days because of the pace i was stuck on and i couldnt shake how miserable i felt. (60 miles)
Day 3-4 was all the same. slow, ate alot, drank alot, stopped alot, and slept little. but i was now 300 miles later in maine and at my vacation spot with my family. (152 miles)

planned leg 2 didnt happen. it kinda merged in with leg one.

planned leg 3: (175 miles 1 day) from maine to home
After having a week and a half off with plenty of time to recover i was ready to go home. there is a hurricane or tropical storm that is going to pass sunday. i had planned to ride on sunday and monday if needed, but had to move it up to yesterday to try to beat the storm if it hits. i hit the rode at about 6:30 in the morning and expected the first 40 miles would be all mountains i would cross in the leg, but they would be the smallest of all that i crossed so far. once i got near the coast the temp went from 60 and cloudy to 90+ and very humid with not a cloud to be seen. also i am going south at this point and the storm is going north. the wind was a stiff 15-20+ mph wind and it was constant and unrelenting. thats just a guesstimate but i do know i was pedaling down hill so i could stay above 15 mph. i was not excited about that. so i rode the next 100 miles into the wind.

half way in i was fighting heat stroke i believe. this is only the second time i ever got cold shivers in 90+ degree heat. by the time i realized it i was in between towns and had at least another 30-45 minutes till the next store. stopped and dumped water on me and got myself to cool down a bit. and hit the road. at mile 80 i do not know why but i started to suffer sever depression. i had never experienced this before. i am on the flat part of the leg but at the sight of the next hill i couldnt get myself to keep riding without stopping and trying to collect myself. 45 minutes later i hit the next store. at this point i am just unsure about everything. used the restroom then put on some chamois cream and hit the road and instantly felt much better. finally i hit Mass with 40 miles to go and the wind picked up. it was about 8 oclock and sever thunderstorms moved in. there was a lightning strike about 75 yards from me and thats when i called it quits. about 40 miles to go and called in the sag and that was the end of my miserable tour de failure. (140 miles 14+ hours)


this was my first solo tour and i had no idea the extremes that i would face between navigation and not having anybody else to talk me into and out of bad decisions. if i had at least 1 other person i think the tour would have been much easier and cheaper because of hotels. the mental extremes would be not so bad because i would have had someone to push me and for me to watch over and talk to. will i try it again next year solo..... ABSOLUTELY!!! at least this time i will know what i am in for.
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Old 08-22-09, 02:25 PM   #2
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Hey FFA, sorry to hear about the struggles. FIrst thing right off the bat I saw is that you were VERY ambitious in your planned mileage per day. Most tourers set goals of around 60 miles per day and allow frequent stops. It doesn't sound like a lot of mileage, but if you are carrying anything at all the additional weight and open road take a toll.

It's a bit scary to read your return experiences. It sounds like you flirted with disaster but won the day in the end.

I'm happy to hear you aren't giving up on the idea and looking forward to next year. Touring is the last frontier for me and I can't wait to explore it.
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Old 08-22-09, 02:37 PM   #3
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Sorry to hear about the trip. I've read that 60 miles is a common daily mileage for multiday loaded touring. It seems low to me, but planning on longer distances is risky.

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Old 08-22-09, 02:44 PM   #4
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FFA,
What's all this talk?! You did great! You tried and you succeeded. So what if you came up a little bit short. It's alot like me walking the hills. It irritates me that I can't zoom up them but I know someday I will. Next year you'll have a completely different tour. And---you've got a whole year to look forward to it!
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Old 08-22-09, 03:21 PM   #5
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Sorry to hear how the trip went for you. Having been there myself, I can attest to the awful sinking feeling you get when you realize you're overheating and far from services. Scary stuff.

Like the others have said, try starting off your next tour with lower mileage at first to get your legs up to speed. Lots of rest stops and fluids are important too. I really admire your ambition, though. 200+ miles in a couple days. . . no big deal

You might feel pretty bummed over the next few days. Short, easy rides with friends will get you feeling good in no time. Keep on truckin, guy.
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Old 08-22-09, 05:20 PM   #6
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thanks guys. yea looking back now i feel like i was a bit ambitious. i am thinking next time i will shoot for around the 75 mile mark per day terrain depending. i packed everything i needed with no extras and i was still traveling heavier than i ever had. i am very happy i did it. i had great insight to what my nutritional needs were and what i needed per hour. i was always so used to drinking and eating when i can instead of when i should. my watch was my best friend on the tour. i set it for 30 minute intervals to remind me to eat and drink at regular intervals. also it was great to see another 30 minutes go by as it became my goal. simply survive to my next eating point instead of a distance goal.


i have done a few back to back centuries including one earlier this year. but this is also unloaded except for food and usually with a group.

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Old 08-22-09, 05:37 PM   #7
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Ouch!

Wouldn't go as far to call it failure...

more of a lesson learned...

try again!!!
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Old 08-22-09, 05:40 PM   #8
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FFA, remember, with a tour, it's not about how fast, it's about the journey itself. The idea is to just travel, stop when and where you want to to eat, no specific goals, really for the day, other than making your planned night stop, and 40-60 miles a day is a good touring distance, especially for a new tourist. Also, 10-12 MPH is a reasonable average pace for loaded touring.
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Old 08-22-09, 10:32 PM   #9
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Your tour wasn't a failure, it was a learning experience. For your next tour you will cut the daily mileage way down and enjoy your days more. You were looking at some long hard days. Remember, "Good judgement comes from experience, experience comes from bad judgement." We are always learning. You can also post your touring routes and ideas in the touring forum, and you will get a lot of good advice based on the info you provide.
Interestingly, I don't usually like to ride alone, but when I tour, I much prefer going solo. I think it's due to the mindset. When I tour, it is all about the moment and I rarely think about time or distance. I have a basic plan, but many things can alter it. When I ride for fun and fitness, there is usually a set time or distance and that is the overriding determinant, rather than I'll ride till I get where I think I want to go.
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Old 08-22-09, 10:38 PM   #10
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FFA, remember, with a tour, it's not about how fast, it's about the journey itself. The idea is to just travel, stop when and where you want to to eat, no specific goals, really for the day, other than making your planned night stop, and 40-60 miles a day is a good touring distance, especially for a new tourist. Also, 10-12 MPH is a reasonable average pace for loaded touring.

i totally understand what your saying. the week before i left i opted to ditch the tent and made it a credit card tour. since i was low for cash to begin with, there was added pressure to make the distance i was hoping for in the first place. my expectations for myself are always set very high especially in situations when they shouldn't be i can say now that i will not make the same mistake next year but it is quite possible i will take a big gulp out of the HTFU bottle. but at least i learned a very good lesson and should make better decisions next time.

Note 1: buy better camera. bought a cheap camera so if it gets wet i dont care. went to download the pics and they were not there. the camera uses volatile memory. i dropped it yesterday and and batteries came out and the pics got erased

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Old 08-22-09, 10:44 PM   #11
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Sounds like a success to me! Heat stroke symptoms aside, if your version of failing is that you didn't stick to the itinerary, and that you didn't suffer through dangerous weather, you are just setting yourself up for failure every time IMHO.

A surefire way to beat heat stroke is hydration. In the Army we worked in really hot weather doing really strenuous things with really heavy things on our backs, and so long as we kept the water flowing we were fine. Those who didn't hydrate properly were the only heat stroke casualties.
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Old 08-23-09, 12:00 AM   #12
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Part of touring is to ENJOY the experience, scenery, and people.
It's hard, when you're used to flying low, to tone down and embrace your inner turtle.
I'm so happy you survived the endeavor, but Daaaaaang! Man!...
That sounded like a very large econo-sized bucket of misery.

Time now to heal up. It sounds like you've learned the lesson and are on track for a better experience next time.

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Old 08-23-09, 06:41 AM   #13
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Sorry to hear about the trip. I've read that 60 miles is a common daily mileage for multiday loaded touring. It seems low to me, but planning on longer distances is risky.

Michael
+1 on limiting to 60 miles a day. This was no failure,you just expected too much of yourself. I always plan for 10-12 MPH, three hours in the morning and 3-4 hours in the afternoon. If I do more than that, the whole trip turns into work. I don't like four letter words when I'm touring, and I never start with something to prove. Doing 60-80 miles a day gives you time to recouperate and enjoy the locals.
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Old 08-23-09, 06:57 AM   #14
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I am glad to hear that you made it up and back without any serious falls or mechanical failures, thats what I call a successful tour.

Posts like these are very beneficial for me because I am planning a solo tour from Steamboat Springs, CO to Iowa City, IA for next spring which is about 1200 miles and I feel it is important to hear about what can go right, but also what it is like when things go "wrong".

This tour was a learning experience for you, you now know what works and what doesn't so the next one you will be that much more prepared. Keep up the good work.
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Old 08-23-09, 12:38 PM   #15
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Way I see it you pushed yourself to your breaking point and learned something about yourself; and now you've got the motivation to do better. That's a solid win in my book. Keep fighting!
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Old 08-23-09, 04:13 PM   #16
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Your ride is a big accomplishment and something to be proud of! Your expectations just need an adjustment, because your distance goals were tough, very very tough.

Dan
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Old 08-23-09, 04:45 PM   #17
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Part of touring is to ENJOY the experience, scenery, and people.
It's hard, when you're used to flying low, to tone down and embrace your inner turtle.
I'm so happy you survived the endeavor,
but Daaaaaang! Man!...
That sounded like a very large econo-sized bucket of misery.

Time now to heal up. It sounds like you've learned the lesson and are on track for a better experience next time.

"Your a better man than I am, Gunga Din!"


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+1 on limiting to 60 miles a day. This was no failure,you just expected too much of yourself. I always plan for 10-12 MPH, three hours in the morning and 3-4 hours in the afternoon. If I do more than that, the whole trip turns into work. I don't like four letter words when I'm touring, and I never start with something to prove. Doing 60-80 miles a day gives you time to recouperate and enjoy the locals.
that sounds nice traveling in the morning then in the afternoon. i did stop to "enjoy" the locals once on the first day and came across a church. i stopped to ask direction for the nearest motel. the woman out front didn't know so she called out to the others inside. when the rest of the backwoods yocals came out all i could think of is, isn't this how texas chainsaw massacre started one look of these people and i cut my break WAY short
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Old 08-23-09, 05:05 PM   #18
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Also try riding your bike loaded for a week or two before you start next year. That way you'll be over the idea of traveling faster than 10-12 mph and not beat yourself up as much the first day.
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Old 08-24-09, 12:08 AM   #19
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If that tour was a failure, then all my tours have been failures. Let's see, I've had broken spokes, broken ribs, damaged chains, flats, reschedulings.... I've bonked because I didn't plan ahead for food, I've been stranded because my lodging plans fell through.... You can't expect everything to be perfect. You'll make mistakes and other will make mistakes you wind up paying for. That's one reason we do this.

I think your tour was damn good. Keep touring.

Neil B, who just got back from yet another 'failed' tour.
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