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  1. #1
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    Getting started in touring

    So I've decided I'd like to take a few long weekends this summer and find some destinations within the state to bike to. This will be all new for me, and I'm looking for some advice on how many miles to plan per day for a first tour.

    I'm going to try and plan a trip riding from Columbus to Cincinnati (to see a Reds game) in June or July hopefully as my first trip. The distance on the route planned is 135 miles from my door to the ballpark. If I do it in 2 days, the first day would be at least 80-85 miles to a camping spot. If I split it to three days, it breaks down to a little under 50 miles a day, which would be very manageable for me.

    As a first timer, I'm just not sure how much I should bite off.

    I'm posting this here instead of in the touring section because I'm still relatively new into biking and would appreciate the advice from other big people.

    FYI, I'll be riding my voodoo bizango w/rigid fork, rack/panniers. Not a speed machine.

  2. #2
    Neil_B
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    Unless you are used to riding long distances with a touring load, don't plan on long distances with a touring load for a first tour. I suggest the 50 mile a day plan over three days as you mentioned.

    What do you have for camping gear?

  3. #3
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    I'm pretty flush with camping gear. I will probably just pack a lightweight down bag, bivy sack, insulating pad and tarp. I'll probably pack a whisperlite stove with the smallest fuel bottle I have, one aluminum pot, fleece jacket and a shell. Past that, a few tools, spare tubes/pump etc and maybe a book. Camping is not really on my radar of concerns.

    Oh, and my luxury item, as always, a percolator. Something about percolated coffee in a dirty cup starts a day right.

  4. #4
    Neil_B
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    I suggest adding a light. I use a helmet light, which doubles as a flashlight when I need it.

    Its no longer online, but a few years ago Adventure Cycling had an article on a cyclist who took the summer off and rode to each MLB stadium. The trip ended in Montreal, which shows how long ago that tour took place.

  5. #5
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    That would be an awesome trip. I'll certainly have a good flashlight with me and a headlamp plus the niterider 350. I need to find a way to charge that thing on the road.

  6. #6
    Senior Member gyozadude's Avatar
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    For a first time tour, my recommendation is to scout out the bed-n-breakfasts on the way. Target a daily mileage that is about 2/3rds of the distance of what you might consider "long." E.g. if you can ride a century in say, 9 hours, then average only about 65 miles - 70 miles/day. If you haven't been riding as much, factor in "butt soreness" into the equation because you might cut your trip short if you develop back-side issues that keep you off the saddle.

    The other option is to look at doing it with a group and hiring a sag vehicle that transports all your gear from site to site. Then you're free to take your time without hauling all your gear. This is really good for a first bike tour with camping. After you find that easy, then graduate to fully loaded with panniers front and rear.
    Yes, I can roll my own potsticker skins!

  7. #7
    Senior Member volosong's Avatar
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    I was a lot younger back then, but I did a cross country trip back in 1995. That would have put me in my mid-40s. I kept a journal on the trip, (one of my main reasons for going was that I had to do some 'arm wrestling' with God and sort some things out). I did not train for the ride and after one week, I shipped about 30 pounds of 'stuff' home. Among them was my oboe. It took it thinking I'd get some practice in when I stopped for the day, (silly me).

    Going in, I figured that I'd average 10mph overall, but had no daily mileage goals. My best day was about 135 miles and my worst was only 55, (bad head wind that day - drained me emotionally). Overall, I averaged right at 75 miles per day. The bike I took was a non-suspended mountain bike. I guess they would be called hybrids today. Ran with front and rear racks and panniers.

    How many miles a day you can ride is totally dependent on your physical conditioning. I wasn't in super condition, but not poor either. At that time, I skated competitively, (roller dance and school figures), and played a some softball. Not a whole lot of cycling mileage. Basically, I rode myself into shape. That first week was really tough, but it got a lot easier after I sent a lot of weight home.

    Good luck. You'll have fun and quite an adventure. Being on the seat of a bicycle for hours on end allows one to really think about things.
    Deut 6:5

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    "Ha ha! You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders - The most famous of which is 'never get involved in a land war in Asia'".
    - Vizzini during his "battle of wits" with the Man in Black

  8. #8
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    I am with Neil on this. Plan for 50ish miles a day and enjoy the riding. A lot of people, I hear, try to bite off more miles then they can chew and it seems, on average, that tourists are round the 50/day area.

    Just a thought.
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  9. #9
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    I'm a regular tourist, and have no problem doing well over one hundred miles a day, loaded, if the circumstances warrant it. But my average daily distance when on tour is much more like 60 miles, which is a nice comfortable five hours or so at touring speeds. So if you have the time to take three days over your trip, then I, like others, would recommend that you do that and look at a 40-50 mile average. Being loaded makes a big difference to your speed and day two is a lot more fun if you aren't shattered from day one.

    If you find that turns out to be easy, you can always plan on upping the mileage on subsequent tours. But most of the time I reckon that touring about five hours a day on the bike is a nice amount. It leaves plenty of time to look around, and means that if you do run into mechanical problems or whatever, you don't run out of daylight while you're getting them sorted out.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattgmann View Post
    As a first timer, I'm just not sure how much I should bite off.
    Why bother guessing? Do some test rides and figure it out for yourself!

    Before my first tour, I spent about six weeks doing training rides with all of my gear strapped to the bike. Before I left, I knew that I could easily ride 60-80 miles/day and average 10mph on the hilliest terrain I was likely to encounter. Knowing that my daily mileage goals were achievable made the whole trip less stressful.

  11. #11
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    My first tour was from some place called Seattle, WA to some place called Ocean City, NJ via some place called Bar Harbor, ME. Average about 65 miles/day. Within the first week we crossed the North Cascades Highway. First 100 mile day during the second week of the trip. Took a grand total of one fully-loaded practice ride of 62 miles the week before the trip started.

    If you have a strong cycling background, you should be able to handle it in two days. But I am in the camp that says if you have the time, err on the side of caution and do it in three. Overextending yourself with a load can lead to misery. Have you ever bitten off too much during a "regular" ride? Is so, imagine having the extra weight to bear.

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