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  1. #1
    Road Runner DougG's Avatar
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    Organized tour as a senior?

    I'll admit that getting my road bike rekindled much of the enjoyment that I gave up when I quit riding motorcycles. So now I'm getting tempted to ride in a well-organized 7-day group tour this summer (the "Michigan Shoreline West" tour), but am wondering if this is too wild an idea for someone my age.

    I toured on my motorcycle back in the day from coast to coast with my tent and gear strapped onto the back and have many, many good memories of it. But that was mostly when I was in my 20s and 30s -- not in my 60s like today. And there were also a number of cold and/or rainy days in there that I tend to conveniently forget.

    Anyway, I am sure that I am physically up to the tour. After all, I'm a distance runner who has done marathons in recent years. I've done continuous riding up to 60 miles without being particularly worn out, and this tour averages about 60 a day with all day to do it (they also suggest alternates for those wanting more riding).

    One thing I'm concerned about is the camping aspect. It's been a long time since I camped out, and I've gotten used to a lot more creature comforts over the years. Sleeping in the midst of a hundred snoring campers might be a bit of a challenge! And there's also the matter of companionship. I'd be going into this alone and am not sure if there would be others that I could join up with along the way. I'm not exactly an outgoing person, but still would like to have a group to hang out with in camp and on the road.

    So has anyone here gone into something like this cold-turkey? I could probably find a shorter tour, but since there's a limit to how often I can do this at all, I figure I might as well go for the whole experience. Any comments or suggestions?

  2. #2
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    If it's the camping aspect of a tour that you are reluctant to try you may want to search for a tour such as Bike Virginia that allows you to either camp out or stay at local motels. I've done this tour twice, once camping and last year in motels. My problem is that I love to ride my bike and I love to camp, but combining the two is more than I care to do. Especially because the summers in Virginia are really hot and after riding 60 to 80 miles I have no desire to crawl into a stiflingly hot tent.

  3. #3
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    I have done a similar tour, the Bicycle Ride Across Georgia, many times. Meeting people and making friends on a ride like this requires no effort at all. With 1500 to 2000 people riding together and camping together for a week, it just happens. There are always plenty of people in their 60s and older on BRAG. Plenty of people of all ages.
    I like camping on BRAG. On the hot days, of which there are many in Georgia in June, I seek out cooler places to stay during the afternoon and only go in my tent at night when it is cooler.
    Others prefer camping inside the gyms at the schools where we stay. Think of the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina and you'll get a good idea of what that is like.
    Another bunch of people stay in motels the whole week. A lot of extra expense and trouble to miss out on the best of the whole experience imho.
    In recent years, services have come in to provide all the camping equipment for riders. Pay their fee and they do all the work of finding and setting up a campsite for you. Most will even have your favorite post-ride beverage waiting for you.

    I'd say go for it. If your ride is anything like BRAG, I'm sure you will love it.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  4. #4
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    I say, go for it! Sixty-one is not too old to do these rides. You can pack an air mattress if you're worried about sleeping on the ground. Finding motels for each night gets you away from the group in the evenings and you really miss out on the flavor of the ride, so I don't recommend it. And on a ride like that, there's always someone to ride with. Nowadays, I ride with a group. Shoreline West is one I'd like to do someday.

    Papedaler - isn't Bike Virginia in the fall?

  5. #5
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    As a first tour, I rode the TransAmerica this Summer self supported (camping, carrying our own stuff) with my daughter and a friend. It was 4,244 miles in 73 days. I am only 56, but we met plenty of folks older than you doing the same. I plan to be able to do self supported touring well past your age.

    An organized supported tour like this should be no big deal. The mileage sounds like something anyone in reasonable health could manage if they prepare for it and put in some training miles. Camping gear is better these days than when you were in your twenties. Do buy a nice sleeping pad, especially if you plan to do much camping beyond this trip. I like Thermarest, but Big Agnes and others make nice ones.

    I say that if this sounds like fun by all means go for it. Some people do rides like this at least into their 80's. At 61 you could have many years of touring ahead of you if you want to and stay in reasonable health.

    Much of the ability to do a thing like this is the willingness and commitment to do it.

  6. #6
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    If the camping is in small tents- then not a problem. Unless it is a very small site- then you won't hear much from any one else at night. I did an event as an organisor once and we used Village halls. That was bad. 50 of us in one room- very large room though- but one snorer kept everyone awake the first night. After that he was thrown into his car at 10pm.

    And as to the event- My one fear would be the butt on a second days ride- so find a saddle- find some chamois cream and go for it.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


    Spike Milligan

  7. #7
    Senior Member George's Avatar
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    Find out the route you'll be taking and get a motel close by. You could hang around with everybody for a while after you eat and then head for your room. I think it would miss out on some of the fun meeting new people though. Just think of all the stories you can tell/or miss around the camp fire. If I could, I'd do it in a heartbeat.
    George

  8. #8
    www.ocrebels.com Rick@OCRR's Avatar
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    Just do it! My wife and I have done similar tours (OR, WA, CA, WY, MT) for years, and they've all been excellent. We do have decent (comfy) camping equipment, but nothing really expensive.

    And 60 miles a day is peanuts! Gives you plenty of time to make all kinds of new friends. Which, as mentioned above, is quite easy even if you aren't naturally outgoing.

    So sign up, do it, and then write to us when you get back and tell us all about it!

    Rick / OCRR

  9. #9
    Road Runner DougG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BluesDawg View Post
    In recent years, services have come in to provide all the camping equipment for riders. Pay their fee and they do all the work of finding and setting up a campsite for you. Most will even have your favorite post-ride beverage waiting for you.
    Thanks for the responses so far. This particular ride does happen to be served by "Bubba's Pampered Pedalers" -- he provides and sets up the tents and air mattresses, carries your gear (better than the tour truck), provides fresh towels and a camp chair, plus various refreshments. That is about the only way I'd do this, since managing a wet tent is not one of my favorite memories of my camping days.

  10. #10
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    You've got Bubba's in Michigan?

    That sounds like a very well organized tour.
    "Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen." Louis L'Amour

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  11. #11
    Senior Member ?? Beverly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Bombadil View Post
    You've got Bubba's in Michigan?

    That sounds like a very well organized tour.
    Bubba's from Florida.....he only visits the north in the summer
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  12. #12
    Senior Member ?? Beverly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DougG View Post
    I'll admit that getting my road bike rekindled much of the enjoyment that I gave up when I quit riding motorcycles. So now I'm getting tempted to ride in a well-organized 7-day group tour this summer (the "Michigan Shoreline West" tour), but am wondering if this is too wild an idea for someone my age.
    I did this tour last summer and really enjoyed it. It's well organized and I think you'll love the tent service provided by Bubba. Last year this ride offered a 3-4 day option. The people riding the shorter ride joined us later in the week.

    The ride is hilly so be prepared
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  13. #13
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DougG View Post
    Thanks for the responses so far. This particular ride does happen to be served by "Bubba's Pampered Pedalers" -- he provides and sets up the tents and air mattresses, carries your gear (better than the tour truck), provides fresh towels and a camp chair, plus various refreshments. That is about the only way I'd do this, since managing a wet tent is not one of my favorite memories of my camping days.
    Bubba's is one of the services on BRAG. The people who use him rave about it. Here is a typical post on the BRAG discussion board.

    "Re(1): Pampering Brag
    IP: 70.144.33.242
    Posted on January 12, 2008 at 07:29:47 AM by Bobby

    If you are going to camp, Bubba is worth EVERY CENT that he charges. Here is what you get:
    In addition to putting up and taking down the tent each day, Bubba provides a clean towel and washcloth, pumps up the air matresses, provides camp chairs, and has a community tent where you can get out of the sun and enjoy cold drinks. It is an easy way to enjoy the BRAG experience. On top of all of that, Bubba is a just a great guy!"

    If I was not riding with Team Occisus Via, I would think seriously about going pampered. We take along a vehicle and trailer to haul our own gear. We each take a turn driving instead of riding. The driver sets up the campsite, scouts the town for bars and restaurants and makes sure the beer cooler is stocked.

    One of our better camp sites -
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  14. #14
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    I always camp, although sleeping in a tent, on a lawn, with indoor restroom and shower facilities available isn't really my definition of camping.

    Nonetheless, I must agree, dealing with a tent twice a day, wet or dry, is a pain in the ass. I've been tempted to try a service such as Bubba's which would simplify things and save time as well. That is...until I checked the price. It costs way more than the price of the ride. .

    Gymnasium sleeping* is not my cup of tea so I guess I'm stuck with the "put 'em up - take 'em down blues".

    *I love Blues Dawg's image of gymnasium sleeping, in an earlier post^^^.
    Last edited by Louis; 01-18-08 at 08:42 PM.

  15. #15
    Squirrel solveg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BluesDawg View Post
    and makes sure the beer cooler is stocked.

    One of our better camp sites -
    Did Bubba put up the dead armadillo flag and the pink flamingos??? I was imagining more like "mint on your pillow" stuff.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by solveg View Post
    Did Bubba put up the dead armadillo flag and the pink flamingos??? I was imagining more like "mint on your pillow" stuff.
    Not to mention the doll symbolically hanging by its neck.

  17. #17
    Ride Daddy Ride Jet Travis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by papedaler View Post
    If it's the camping aspect of a tour that you are reluctant to try you may want to search for a tour such as Bike Virginia that allows you to either camp out or stay at local motels.
    I've done Bike Virginia a number of times, sometimes camping, sometimes doing the motel option. Both are good. Bike Virginia is an extraordinarily well-supported ride and this year, it travels through beautiful but hilly country in the southwest corner of the state. In addition, there's a cultural theme (which you can embrace or not) built around the music of the area.

    These days, I find myself increasingly opting for the hotel option. In fact, I'm planning to do the ride and already have my motel rooms booked.
    "Light it up, Popo." --Levi Leipheimer

  18. #18
    Violin guitar mandolin
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    I'd check on the state of the art thermarest. And make sure all my clothes would dry really fast. Used to stop at streams and lakes, rinse out clothes often and let dry on the bike. That makes all the difference. Changed socks a couple of times a day.

    Otherwise, camping shouldn't be a problem. With modern microlights and so on, doesn't weigh much to camp. My daughter and I camp

  19. #19
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    At least do the tour-60 miles a day is not a problem. Since I'm an early riser, the last one I did I wound up getting to the next town/campsite before anyone else or any of the support vehicles and was able to entertain myself by doing some self guided tours around that area!! They are a heck of a lot of fun. I really enjoy camping and always go that route.

    I like the idea of Bubba's but never used him but I can say that the folks that did seem to be extra cheerful and smiling the entire week.......

  20. #20
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by solveg View Post
    Did Bubba put up the dead armadillo flag and the pink flamingos??? I was imagining more like "mint on your pillow" stuff.
    Reread my post.

    That is not a Bubba campsite. That is a Team Occisus Via campsite. They may have a little more luxury, but we have a lot more fun.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  21. #21
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Louis View Post
    Not to mention the doll symbolically hanging by its neck.
    That's Fred the roadkill cat. He hangs out with us wherever we go.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

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