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  1. #1
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Half your body weight

    Speaking of the amount of weight we feel comfortable carrying with us, I just thought I'd mention ...

    Through my experiences, I have found that when I'm cycle touring, if the weight of everything I bring comes to half my body weight or less, I can tour quite comfortably. But if the total weight is more than half my body weight, that's when I really start to struggle ... especially on the climbs ... and that's when I feel like cycletouring is more work than fun. It's difficult for me to pedal all that around, it's difficult to walk and push the bicycle, and it is difficult to haul it all up into a hostel or wherever.

    That total weight includes:
    -- the bicycle
    -- racks, panniers, and other bags
    -- everything I put in the panniers and other bags

  2. #2
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    I like hauling around half your body weight too, I would imagine. Half my body weight and we have a definite custom everything on the bike situation...

  3. #3
    Gone, but not forgotten Shiznaz's Avatar
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    I guess you're trying to suggest a workout for the heavier folks?

  4. #4
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shiznaz
    I guess you're trying to suggest a workout for the heavier folks?

    I did say half my body weight OR LESS. In fact, less is better!


    Basically what I'm saying is that if I bring any more than half my body weight on a tour, it's too uncomfortable. I see stories of other female cycle-tourists who are hauling around their body weight or more, and I really wonder how they manage it!! Either they're really strong ... or ... perhaps they are struggling like I have in the past when I've tried to carry more than half my body weight.

    It's a good guideline for me ... I weigh what I bring and if it starts creeping up to half my body weight, I start reconsidering what I'm bringing.

  5. #5
    'Mizer Cats are INSANE Mentor58's Avatar
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    I was just playing with that in an Excel Spreadsheet that I made up... sounds like I'm going to have to start that "Jumbo Pizza and Cheese Fries" diet. Actually it makes good sense, I know I have a tendency to want to take too much junk that I never need / use. Shows how little things all start to add up after a while.

    Steve W.
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  6. #6
    'Mizer Cats are INSANE Mentor58's Avatar
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    I've just sat down and started to weigh up things. At my weight by this guide, I can plan on not more than 80 pounds. My LHT is about 27 pounds with racks front and rear. Add in the 6 poiunds for the Lone Star Panniers front and rear.and that leaves me about 46 pounds to work with.

    I add in my home (tent, sleeping bag and pad) at a total of about 9 pounds, and that drops me to 37 pounds to work with.

    I suspect that I can get under the limit easily enough, but I've never weighed everything like that before, so it's a bit of a shock. I wonder if I may consider getting a smaller lighter tent. I do like the space of having a 2 person tent however.

    I wonder how many of us this winter will start laying out stuff, grabbing the baby or kitchen scale, and going "Humm, how much can I save if I don't bring this.... or only half as much of that?"

    Thanks Machka, now you've given me a new thing to try and quantify.

    Steve W.
    Who thinks that the 5 pound canned ham isnt going on more rides... just in case it's needed.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member ken cummings's Avatar
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    On a tour in Colorado I stayed with a family in Colorado Springs. The lady said, "People have asked me if I am worried about cyclists stealing stuff. I say, Hardly, the cyclists who stay with me usually are paring down their load and sending stuff home." Sounds like a plan for my next tour. Start with everything the guide books say I need then start sending stuff back home. Being a Clyde Machka I think in terms of 1/3 or less of my body weight.
    This space open

  8. #8
    My itch crotches to go! treefire's Avatar
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    I like it!

    I will always try to have my half weight as my maximum. I will try. I will. Really.

    Peace out,

  9. #9
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    Half one's body weight is considerable, I asume we are including hte bike weight?. Guys are stronger (humor me), and everything they take on a trip is going to be proportionally less heavy, so for instance how much can the person of smaller stature save on their bike weight, tent or stove weight, just because they are shorter and lighter? Weight varies by the cube of the primary dimension, like height. I could certainly see how a person of smaller stature might need that 1/2 mark, but that's tough sleding.

  10. #10
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    if half ones body weight includes that day's water ration, and the weight of the bike, i could see how some heavy packers could breach the half ones weight. And I thought my Long Haul Trucker dressed out with racks and fender flaps is like 42 pounds, not even close to mentor 58's weight. I do have two front racks on my LHT though....

    I doubt i've broached the half-weight mark, even out winter bike camping. MAYBE hauling my ski gear i hit half my weight- 85 pounds- or so including telemark ski gear, the bike and a gallon+ of water with 4 days of food.

    that is a lot of crap to be hauling around though, id think a general lightening up would be in order? or are you suggesting, machka, that more than half is a common weight ratio for tourers?

    for all our sakes I'd hope not. that is tough sledding, a bike at half your body weight must feel like a two man bobsled if it starts to shimmy.
    Last edited by Bekologist; 11-01-06 at 10:48 PM.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  11. #11
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    If you have another glance at my first post, I do mention that I include:

    -- the bicycle
    -- racks, panniers, and other bags
    -- everything I put in the panniers and other bags


    In my case my bicycle weighs 27 lbs, which leaves me approx. 40 lbs left to work with for my bags, gear, food, water, and anything else I want to carry.

    It is surprising how quickly light, little, seemingly inconsequential, things can add up to 40 lbs!! When I was packing for my Australian tour, I put all the basic necessities into the bags, and still had some room in there, so I proceeded to add some "comfort" items ... after all, how much could a little pillow, a couple extra pieces of thin, light clothing, and so on, weigh. When I arrived in Australia, I could barely move the bicycle!!!! I ended up leaving somewhere around 15 lbs of those "comfort" items in Sydney so I could actually manage to ride the bicycle over the Snowy Mountains. Then I mailed home another 5 or 6 lbs when I got to Tasmania.

    Through that experience in particular, I discovered that my weight limit is pretty much exactly half my body weight. Less is better, of course, for cycling and hauling purposes ... but unfortunately it isn't easy to tour in relative comfort with less (clothing, toiletries, tools, etc., all add up). More than half my body weight, however, means I'm walking and heaving my bicycle up mole hills (nevermind mountains), and am travelling on flat ground at a speed where snails are leaving me in their dust ....... and it means I'm having no fun at all because it is all work.

  12. #12
    Crankenstein bmclaughlin807's Avatar
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    ...

    I carry over a third of my body weight on NORMAL rides. Commute and leisure. Doesn't leave much extra room for touring equipment, does it? :-p Then again, I'm a lightweight, about 125 lbs. I've ridden my bike pretty comfortably when the total weight of bike and stuff I was carrying on it was over 90 lbs. Just slow down on the bigger hills.
    "There is no greater wonder than the way the face and character of a woman fit so perfectly in a man's mind, and stay there, and he could never tell you why. It just seems it was the thing he most wanted." Robert Louis Stevenson

  13. #13
    www.Click-Stand.com tomn's Avatar
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    Just for fun I pulled onto a truck scale, I think it was California. The officer said I was at 300 pounds almost to the pound. I was about 225 pounds of it. We were staying in motels though, explains why so light a load. Twice along the trip, before the Leggett Hill, I mailed home things I didn't need.

  14. #14
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tomn
    Just for fun I pulled onto a truck scale, I think it was California. The officer said I was at 300 pounds almost to the pound. I was about 225 pounds of it. We were staying in motels though, explains why so light a load. Twice along the trip, before the Leggett Hill, I mailed home things I didn't need.

    So your load (the bicycle and all your stuff) weighed 75 lbs. See ... that would be more than half my body weight. I'd be mailing stuff home too just so I could make it up the overpasses!!

  15. #15
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    So I have a physics type of question ....

    Suppose you've got a person who weighs 130 lbs, and whose load (bicycle, gear, and everything) weighs 65 lbs. Person A.

    Now suppose you've got a person who weighs 200 lbs, and whose load (bicycle, gear, and everything) weighs 100 lbs. Person B.


    Would both people be putting out the same effort to move all that stuff down the road? Or not?

  16. #16
    jcm
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peterpan1
    I like hauling around half your body weight too, I would imagine. Half my body weight and we have a definite custom everything on the bike situation...
    Yeah. Machka probably weighs less than a breeze, judging by her pics. Half my body weight requires a truck.

  17. #17
    Faster but still slow slowandsteady's Avatar
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    So I have a physics type of question ....

    Suppose you've got a person who weighs 130 lbs, and whose load (bicycle, gear, and everything) weighs 65 lbs. Person A.

    Now suppose you've got a person who weighs 200 lbs, and whose load (bicycle, gear, and everything) weighs 100 lbs. Person B.


    Would both people be putting out the same effort to move all that stuff down the road? Or not?
    It is always more effort to move more weight. However, the perceived effort might be different if that 200lb person was all muscle versus a flabby 130lb person. Perceived effort would also be different if that 200lb person is a 5' woman who really should weigh 100 lbs.

    The www.analyticcycling.com website will allow you to input your wattage and change many factors including weight to see how that impacts your speed.
    "Ride lots." -- Eddy Merckx

  18. #18
    GATC
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    I feel bad for my poor 5 yr old, who bikes to school every day on his 12" (or is it 16") bike, w/ training wheels, at about half his body weight. No wonder he seldom breaks 5mph on it...

  19. #19
    Senior Member Sebach's Avatar
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    But it's good training for touring!

    I carried about half my body weight on my last tour, enough to start giving my ride a touch of the 'wet noodle' feeling at times when I got too lazy to load the heavy stuff (SLR lenses, water, etc) anywhere but the top of my rack.

  20. #20
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    I just did a quick trip, and left a lot of stuff I usually carry behind - spare tire, parts, water filter, peanut butter. I didn't weigh in, but I'm guessing I cut about 8-10 pounds. It made a big difference! I'm going to try harder next time to go light.

    Still over half my body weight though.
    ...

  21. #21
    Crankenstein bmclaughlin807's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    So I have a physics type of question ....

    Suppose you've got a person who weighs 130 lbs, and whose load (bicycle, gear, and everything) weighs 65 lbs. Person A.

    Now suppose you've got a person who weighs 200 lbs, and whose load (bicycle, gear, and everything) weighs 100 lbs. Person B.


    Would both people be putting out the same effort to move all that stuff down the road? Or not?
    Muscle mass distribution would have a HUGE effect on perceived effort.

    I don't do any kind of lifting or cross training, so my legs are very well developed, the rest of me... not so much. :-p It's ok, I can push harder and move more than a lot of people quite a bit heavier than I am. I can't remember the last time I had to walk my bike up a hill for any reason other than a total loss of traction.
    "There is no greater wonder than the way the face and character of a woman fit so perfectly in a man's mind, and stay there, and he could never tell you why. It just seems it was the thing he most wanted." Robert Louis Stevenson

  22. #22
    Tuck Fexas SoonerLater's Avatar
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    Hmmm... half the bodyweight, eh? How about 3/4?

    I weigh 240 lbs. and this is my preferred way to travel:

    22 bike
    30 Trek Mt. Train single-wheeled pedal trailer for son
    55 six year old son
    30 Bell two-wheeled trailer for daughter
    44 five year old daughter
    5 picnic supplies, toys and water.

    186 lbs. or 77.5% of my body weight. 89% if I take the 22 mos. old also.

    Granted, we never go more than 25 miles this way, make frequent unscheduled stops to chase butterflies, look at interesting bugs, collect leaves and generally explore stuff, and, yes, we do slow down a lot going up hills (but I still never get to my lowest gear, undoubtedly because I have such a fine stoker behind me), but I can't think of a finer way to travel. They ain't heavy. They're my kids.


  23. #23
    Crankenstein bmclaughlin807's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SoonerLater
    Hmmm... half the bodyweight, eh? How about 3/4?

    I weigh 240 lbs. and this is my preferred way to travel:

    22 bike
    30 Trek Mt. Train single-wheeled pedal trailer for son
    55 six year old son
    30 Bell two-wheeled trailer for daughter
    44 five year old daughter
    5 picnic supplies, toys and water.

    186 lbs. or 77.5% of my body weight. 89% if I take the 22 mos. old also.

    Granted, we never go more than 25 miles this way, make frequent unscheduled stops to chase butterflies, look at interesting bugs, collect leaves and generally explore stuff, and, yes, we do slow down a lot going up hills (but I still never get to my lowest gear, undoubtedly because I have such a fine stoker behind me), but I can't think of a finer way to travel. They ain't heavy. They're my kids.
    ...
    Now THAT'S cool! Keep it up!
    "There is no greater wonder than the way the face and character of a woman fit so perfectly in a man's mind, and stay there, and he could never tell you why. It just seems it was the thing he most wanted." Robert Louis Stevenson

  24. #24
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by SoonerLater
    They ain't heavy. They're my kids.
    SoonerLater, you are in a different touring category altogether!

    By the time their combined weights reach 7/8th's of your body weight, they'll have their own bikes and will be pacing their old man.

    Thanks for sharing this one - added a certain sweetness to my afternoon.


    Woody
    centexwoody
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  25. #25
    40 yrs bike touring
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    21% for me using The Matchka Formula:

    Bike,racks,panniers: 30#

    Equipment,water,food: 20#

    On my first tour many decades ago I vividly remember stopping at the first post office to mail back 20# of excess gear and clothing after climbing the first pass. My bike had become an unstable noodle while climbing and descending with that load back then. The grades grew steeper on the rest of the trip but all were rideable with a feeling of stability and control whether going up or down.

    One benefit to carrying less is reduced chance of wheel problems. Most recently I have not had to retrue or replace the wheels I used on the Divide Ride on this all rigid cross bike carrying me the Clydesdale as well.

    Less IS More in my experience. Now If I could only apply this idea to me!

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