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  1. #1
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    I read your FAQ. time for questions.

    hello all.
    I've been lurking around these parts for a while, but this is the first I've spoken up.
    I am just starting to dip my toe into the world of tour cycling and have some questions regarding gear and training.

    I'm planning on starting with smaller 1-2 day trips on relatively flat terrain but plan on doing a massive US or European trip within two years. massive, like multiple months long.

    I recently read Dervla Murphy's first book, Full Tilt:from Ireland to India by bicycle. I figure if she could cross the entirety of Europe, go through the middle east and into the tallest mountain range in the WOLRD at 30 and alone in 1962, then I can certainly ride my bike from NYC to Philadelphia right? well, hopefully.

    anyway, to my questions.

    any tips for training for these rides? I've read about the importance of core muscle building so my skeleton and wrists doesnt have to do all the work of holding me up, but with the exception of hill training, everything I've read on here and in books seems like stuff I already do all the time.

    I suppose I should tell you about me. I'm probably the cyclist you hate. I'm the 20-something kid riding a track bike through traffic downtown. I lane split, go fast, ignore bike lanes, and yes, I regularly disobey traffic control devices.
    I dont say these things to convey toughness or whatever, it's honest. and relevant. being one of those inner-city track bike kids means I alredy ride my bike a LOT. at least 15 miles a day. EVERY day. yes, all of them. I gotta get to work somehow and don't own a car, and on the weekend I go on longer rides just for fun. also - track bikes are fixed gears so that right there is a bunch more excersize in the mix.
    still, with all of the riding that I do, I still feel like "the tour is going to train me" on those first days and I'd like to prevent that as much as possible.

    so, aside from yoga and hill repeats, what are your suggestions?

    second. reading through threads here I saw someone post something along the lines of "the novarra randonee is only 28 pounds!" my daily bike weighs just a hair over 18 pounds and compared to some of my friends' rides, it's a tank. is 28 lbs *actually* considered light for a touring bike?
    I'm probably going to go with a custom frame, and I understand touring bikes need to be heavier due to more rack mounts, eyelets, braze-ons, gears, brakes, and longer geometery in general, but 10 whole pounds!? really?!

    that's it for the moment. thanks

  2. #2
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tacks
    any tips for training for these rides? I've read about the importance of core muscle building so my skeleton and wrists doesnt have to do all the work of holding me up, but with the exception of hill training, everything I've read on here and in books seems like stuff I already do all the time.

    I suppose I should tell you about me. I'm probably the cyclist you hate. I'm the 20-something kid riding a track bike through traffic downtown. I lane split, go fast, ignore bike lanes, and yes, I regularly disobey traffic control devices.
    I dont say these things to convey toughness or whatever, it's honest. and relevant. being one of those inner-city track bike kids means I alredy ride my bike a LOT. at least 15 miles a day. EVERY day. yes, all of them. I gotta get to work somehow and don't own a car, and on the weekend I go on longer rides just for fun. also - track bikes are fixed gears so that right there is a bunch more excersize in the mix.
    still, with all of the riding that I do, I still feel like "the tour is going to train me" on those first days and I'd like to prevent that as much as possible.

    so, aside from yoga and hill repeats, what are your suggestions?

    second. reading through threads here I saw someone post something along the lines of "the novarra randonee is only 28 pounds!" my daily bike weighs just a hair over 18 pounds and compared to some of my friends' rides, it's a tank. is 28 lbs *actually* considered light for a touring bike?
    I'm probably going to go with a custom frame, and I understand touring bikes need to be heavier due to more rack mounts, eyelets, braze-ons, gears, brakes, and longer geometery in general, but 10 whole pounds!? really?!

    1. If you want to tour, you might consider starting to ride legally. You just never know when you'll be pulled over and ticketed/fined for something you've done in another city. And the laws in your city might be different, or a bit more lax, than the laws in the next city. Fines, tickets, etc. could put quite a damper on your tour.

    2. 15 miles a day isn't very much ... especially if you are planning to work up to a touring distance. You might want to consider gradually increasing your mileage as your first step in training. From everything I've read (and what I've done myself) an average daily distance on a tour is usually somewhere around 50 miles a day.

    3. My sport touring bicycle weighs 27 lbs unloaded. Once I get the panniers etc. on, he weighs around 60-70 lbs. Another aspect of training is getting used to riding with weight on the bicycle. It handles quite differently than a very light, unloaded bicycle!


    Go out on some of those weekend test tours you mentioned and you'll start to discover what's involved.

  3. #3
    Left OZ now in Malaysia jibi's Avatar
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    Doing a tour is a bit different to riding for fun, but a tour should still be fun ( not all the time though). Ask yourself why you want to do the tour.

    So the training is not only physical but also psychological.

    Its an attitude of mind, the journey is what its about. Relax and try to enjoy every day, don't try to rush to get somewhere. You are there!! As soon as you set off you are on the journey.

    And please be legal, we get a bad enough press.

    george
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  4. #4
    Tinkerer since 1980 TheBrick's Avatar
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    Sorry for a semi hi jack the thread butI am doing the same thing as o/p and starting set my self up for a little tour go from there.

    So being as most people seem to cover 50 miles on average a day on a loaded tour do you think you need to be riding that kind of disance every day for a week or two unloaded to be acustomed to the distance plus some loaded weekend rides to become accustomed to the handelling of your loaded bike?

    Also as a side note do guys try and pile on th pounds before a long tour? If so how do you do it? Do you use some of that overpriced muscle powder shakes? (I know some people do not need to make an effort to put on waight but I find it a struggle). While not skinny I am fairly thin and can imagine loosing waite while on tour. which I would think would only slow me down further due to loos of energy.
    Last edited by TheBrick; 10-27-06 at 07:19 AM.

  5. #5
    Florida to Oregon in 2007 lighthorse@eart's Avatar
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    tacks,
    Machka has it right. You just need to ride. My own personal experience may not fit since I am 61 yrs of age, but I feel that I need to be riding at least 200 miles/week before beginning a long tour. Prior to my last cross country I was riding 300 miles in a five day week or 60 miles/da with two days of rest. I was also carrying all of my touring weight for training.

    I found it interesting that one of the tourers that I met along the way and rode with on several days was gaining strength and conditioning as he went while I was really just maintaining. He was 25 years of age and had not been able to ride much prior to departing. In the beginning I was doing longer distances each day at a much faster pace than was he, but by the time we had traveled 1/2 way across the U.S. he began to put in much longer days than I and was riding a lot of 100 mile days. I just stayed with my 65 mi/da. Youth has some advantages.

    TheBrick,
    Feel free if you think that some overpriced muscle powder shakes will help get you fit. My guess is that if you attempt a long tour (more than a month) you will find out about your personal energy requirements. I found that after a couple of weeks on the road I ate everything that I could find, whenever I could find the time. I normally don't partake of buffet style meals but when touring they are a great opportunity to load up.
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  6. #6
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    I knew you would focus on the legal.

    I ride *somewhat* illegally, and only in situations where it makes sense and I remain safe. and remember, going 5mph over the speed limit or rolling through a stop sign in your car is illegal too and those things also hurt nobody and many times makes sense in real-life traffic situations.

    and anyway, since I dont plan on touring downtown urban environments, it goes without saying that my behavior on the road would adapt to the kinds of roads, and traffic,and general environments that I would be riding in.

    as far as daily miles, 15 is my absolute minimum. after posting yesterday, I got on gmap-pedometer.com and mapped my miles for the day (commuting, lunch, grocery store, trip to friend's house, errands) and was suprised to discover that although it didnt feel like I did anything over normal, I racked up 47 miles.
    I didnt even go on a leisure ride!

    I agree that it makes sense to experience loaded weight, but as of right now all I own is my track bike and I can't really hook any racks or anything up to that. heck, I cant even get a clip-on front fender on it.

    so, back to those questions:
    training tips for someone who does not yet own a touring bike
    and when shopping for a touring rig, what is considered light, and what is considered heavy? unloaded.

    thanks.

  7. #7
    jcm
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    Most dedicated touring bikes weight around 25-28lbs unloaded. If you use a modified Old School MTB, add another 2-4lbs. Know this, I have not yet toured, but I constantly train for it and simulate the loaded weight and distances, plus some.

    Obey The Machka. She Knows.

    A trackster is like using a Porsche while a loaded touring rig (or modified MTB) is like driving a pick-up with a camper. The miles you are accumulating don't fall into the category of touring miles, strictly speaking. The stops and starts you describe have little to do with building stamina or physical saddle time. And, there is the mental aspect of long stints in the saddle. You can't solve World Issues while jetting 6 miles to your bud's place or streaking 8 miles across town to get to work. Solid hours in the saddle, accompanied by the voices in your head, along with newly dicovered energy/food needs, will solve these issues.

    In other words, it ain't for the speedster who needs to get there fast. Expect to average about 10mph and be very hungry all the time.

  8. #8
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    I wouldnt bother with anything like training. If you can ride a bike you can tour.
    I usually start my tours with a half day and take 1/2 days or rest days so I dont exhaust myself and get ill. 50mpd is a good average to aim for.
    Occasionally you do have to ride yourself to exhaustion to get someplace but you dont notice it until you stop ( a bit like drinking vodka).
    The best way to start is with multi-day hostel touring; you dont need to carry much and you are usually in bike country.
    If you want to do camping then check out the various ultralight hiking websites, it makes a lot of sense for cyclists.

    Good touring bikes weight what they have to and no more. As noted this is usually over 25lbs. Most people tour on hybrids or mid-level MTBs which feel quite heavy compared to a good custom tourer.
    The Surley LHT is a good well priced tourer but on the heavy side compared to a more expensive Waterford or Independant Fabrications.
    Tourers need tubes that are stiff enough not to flex under load and also thick-walled enough to stand the localised stress of luggage racks. Racing steel is too thin-walled for expedition use. Al tourers such as Cannondale are also heftier than their racing cousins.

  9. #9
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBrick
    So being as most people seem to cover 50 miles on average a day on a loaded tour do you think you need to be riding that kind of disance every day for a week or two unloaded to be acustomed to the distance plus some loaded weekend rides to become accustomed to the handelling of your loaded bike?
    It's not necessary, but IMO it is definitely helpful. But a comment about the "every day" thing. Rest is important. On my tours, I work best if I do approx. 4 days of 50 miles a day, and then take a day completely off the bicycle, and then maybe another 4 days or so, etc. So, when you are training for it, don't forget to take a day or two off each week to allow your muscles to rebuild.

    And, I'd strongly recommend riding your loaded touring bicycle up some hills during your training. That part nearly killed my on my Australia tour!! I had no problem riding around with my loaded touring bicycle on flat ground, but taking that kind of load up a hill was a whole different story.


    Quote Originally Posted by TheBrick
    Also as a side note do guys try and pile on th pounds before a long tour? If so how do you do it? Do you use some of that overpriced muscle powder shakes? (I know some people do not need to make an effort to put on waight but I find it a struggle). While not skinny I am fairly thin and can imagine loosing waite while on tour. which I would think would only slow me down further due to loos of energy.
    No, I don't try to put on weight before a tour ... if anything, I try to take it off! The lighter you are, the easier it is to get up those hills! If you eat well during the tour, you shouldn't lose too much weight.

  10. #10
    Chief Chef BearsPaw's Avatar
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    Finding a good route is important, especially if your first tour is going to be NYC->PHL. I did the reverse trip a couple months ago, and riding through North Jersey is insane on the wrong roads. (And I don't know if the "right" roads even exist in that godforsaken state.)

    Another thing to keep in mind is that riding in rural areas and small towns is not the same as riding in the city. Drivers are not as accustomed to seeing cyclists on the road, and are more easily confused. If you are riding all over the road, blowing stop signs, etc, you could be in trouble.

    Finally, if your first trip is just a day or two, you probably don't need much training. I had never riden more than 20-30 miles in a day before I did my first century, and it wasn't that hard. Most of the difficulty was mental.

    Good luck, and let us know if/when you come down to Philly, there's a lot of cyclists here to hang out with.

  11. #11
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    Back when I was younger, (say 25) I never bothered to train for any tour. Unless you're a total bike whuss, just jump on the bike and ride. It's 99% in your head.

    About touring bikes weighing 30 pounds--- errr, stop being a whuss. Be the time you strap on camping gear, the bike is going weigh 60 pounds. Old gray beard guys like me still have the moxie to ride these donkey bikes, so a kid like you will be fine.

    But honestly-- you can do this! Just get a bike, shut up and ride.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Old Hammer Boy's Avatar
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    You didn't ask this question, but I think it's also very important to be pretty versed on bike repair. There are a number of good ways to learn, some shops hold classes, hang with someone who can teach you, build up your own tourer, etc. Building up your own bike has its advantages, you'll know where and how everything fits together.

    If you camp, research what gear will suit you best. This and other forums on this site are simply wonderful places to get the information you might need from some really well experienced people. You might also peruse crazyguyonabike.com to read what those who have been out on the road report, if you haven't already. Good luck, it can be great fun, challenging fun, but a great way to expreience the world...

  13. #13
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    I agree with some others, if you are on your bike all the time, no need to train. Sounds as if you are young and relatively fit, no need to train. I did my first tour this summer. Just a week. Had a place to sleep each night so my load was kind of light, just two panniers with food and clothes and a few other things. I commute to work 18 miles each way a couple times a week and ride to school a few times a week.

    Just remember to slow down on tour. Don't be in a hurry. Get some gears so you can sit back and just spin up the hills. Stop frequently to enjoy the scenery or eat a little something and you'll be fine.

  14. #14
    Lentement mais sûrement Erick L's Avatar
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    I wanted to train for a hilly trip once and after climbing the sole hill we have here, I got bored. Just go. Touring is more mental than physical. 50 miles isn't so difficult over a day. It's doing it day after day, going uphill in the rain with a headwind without anyone to "share the experience" that can get to you.

    But if you want training, here's a good program: http://www.cyclecanada.com/Report/Craig.htm

    It was originally posted on this site: http://www.cyclingtrip.com/ but he seems to have taken it off. Edit: apparently, he's not the author either. Dunno where it comes from then, but it sure is funny!
    Last edited by Erick L; 10-29-06 at 10:24 PM.
    Erick - www.borealphoto.com/velo

  15. #15
    I'm made of earth! becnal's Avatar
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    Just remember that touring isn't a race.

  16. #16
    This user is a pipebomb brotherdan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by becnal
    Just remember that touring isn't a race.
    Unless you want it to be one!
    Bikes belong in the motor city

  17. #17
    This user is a pipebomb brotherdan's Avatar
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    I've never done very much training for tours. I ride everyday and I do a lot of longish (50-100 mile) rides during the warm months. Usually I average around 200-300 miles per week, including commuting and recreational bike rides. So when I head out on a tour, my legs are already ready for the work, even if I haven't been training with a loaded bike. Cycling is a lifestyle for me, and touring is one aspect of that lifestyle.

    In your situation, I would continue doing your normal commuting during the week. 15 miles a day isn't a bad average. But on the weekends you should try to work up to longer rides. Try for centuries if possible. IF you don't want to spend a lot of time training, you can always get in shape while you're on the tour, which is what I did on my first big tour.
    Bikes belong in the motor city

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