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Old 11-29-06, 06:09 PM   #1
DavidARayJaxNC
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If you could do your first tour again, you would change...

I need to know, while I am preparing for my first long tour. What would you change if you could go back. I know there is a thread already on it, but lets start over.
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Old 11-29-06, 06:11 PM   #2
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I would be wiser about choosing my routes, i.e. I would put a lot more care into reading good maps and choosing my roads accordingly.
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Old 11-29-06, 06:14 PM   #3
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What do you mean, what should I look for when I am planning a route
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Old 11-29-06, 07:07 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidARayJaxNC
What do you mean, what should I look for when I am planning a route
If you have a detailed map, there is an enormous amount of useful information you can glean from it. You can find roads likely to have the least traffic, fine scenery, interesting sights, gentle terrain, (or hilly terrain), etc. You can't learn everything about a prospective road from a map, but you can usually learn enough to choose roads which will result in a more enjoyable experience than if you put little or no effort into route selection.
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Old 11-29-06, 08:16 PM   #5
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Hmm, I was a teenager, it was a sagged tour, it was 1981. What would I change? Can't say.
First unsagged tour... I was still a teenager but it was 1983. Didn't waterproof enough.
Fast forward one year, May of 1984. Tried to use an old army blanket instead of a sleeping bag. Didn't do that again.
August 1984... Sort of getting the hang of it...Needed work on route planning.
July 1985, things clicked.

Looking over that, I must be a slow learner, huh?
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Old 11-29-06, 09:29 PM   #6
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Confidence. That's what I felt my first tour* lacked. I actually spent most of the time riding on the major highways because I was well versed in riding in traffic, but less confident on the supposedly "inferior" surfaces of minor roads. The experience was a rewarding one, but with a little more self-belief I could have got a little further off the beaten track. Also thinking of the "minor" things -- I got stuck in Glen Innes for three days after an automatic teller machine swallowed a plastic card.

I would have also liked better equipment, but on my budget at the time that wasn't going to happen.
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Old 11-29-06, 09:58 PM   #7
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For me, it would have been to be in better shape so I could spend more time exploring the towns I toured. I managed to do more of that towards the end of my first tour. But early on, I had grossly overestimated what my average speed for the day would be. I was touring on a limestone trail, about 40 miles a day, fully loaded.

One thing I did do right was vary my overnight stays. The first two nights were camping, the third night in a bed-and-breakfast, and then the next two nights camping. The last night was in a cabin which allowed me to get my gear ready for the train ride home.
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Old 11-29-06, 11:14 PM   #8
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I would NOT have had my bike stolen one week before the start of the tour.**

It was a chaotic scramble extracting insurance money; ordering a new bike, components and racks; building a set of wheels for the first time; talking to police detectives and packing for the trip. I made it to the train on time. Santa Barbara to Mt. Shasta for the start of the tour across to the coast at Arcata and then home to SB via the Coast Route. A great tour including the Lost Coast from Ferndale to Honeydew, Petrolia to the Humbolt Redwoods State Park along The Avenue of the Giants. Gorgeous!

** Back home a police detective called me. He took me for a ride to a house 8 miles away. A young adult was spray painting a bike frame hanging from the garage door. I walked up and junior flunked the attitude test. I told him that I could guess the serial number on the frame. He told me what I could do to myself. I told him that he would be better off dealing with me since I am the nice guy. He continued to flunk the attitude test. I said too bad b/c now you get to talk to the very large person in the suit walking up the driveway. The detective read junior his rights, handcuffed him and we took him to jail for grand theft and possession of stolen property. Junior's attitude improved.

The father called me wanting help getting his good son out of the charges. I only asked for my insurance deductible paid back. This was done. Junior spent a short but educational time in jail and a period of probation where he paid back the insurance company. I had somewhere lost my sympathy for the young man.

A nice payback for the hollow feeling from the bike theft and the hassle of recreating a touring bike on short notice so unexpectedly.
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Old 11-30-06, 05:14 AM   #9
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I also would have eaten more. On my last day I had a serious energy crunch and spent some time along the side of the trail eating dry oatmeal so I could make it the last 20 miles. Odd, but that did the trick.
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Old 11-30-06, 06:17 AM   #10
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Only thing I would have done differently is take pictures, In my early years of touring I didn't own a camera so other than a couple of pictures of me taken by others I don't have a photo record of my tours during that era
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Old 11-30-06, 07:11 AM   #11
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For me it would be to keep a more detailed journal. I still had this on my last tour, never mind my first.

It is amazing how we forget little details, and struggle to write up accounts later, even with keywords jotted down, trying to "fill in" the spaces can be very very frustrating.

Take photos, lots of photos. Especially of the people you meet.

george
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Old 11-30-06, 07:31 AM   #12
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My first long tour was uphill both ways!

The first thing I did when I got home was put a Shimano Biopace triple on the front chainring!

That 11 inch gear was soooo nice for the later tours...
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Old 11-30-06, 08:07 AM   #13
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If I could only change one thing from my first tour (Florida East Coast - 1975): I would have used panniers instead of the steel baskets from my paper route. But then my snorkeling gear would have gotten everything else wet.
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Old 11-30-06, 08:53 AM   #14
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Carry less stuff.
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Old 11-30-06, 09:01 AM   #15
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I would have done two things differently on my first tour:

1. I would have taken it easy on the first day. Three or four hours would have been plenty. Instead, I pushed on all day, and by 4 p.m. was a wreck. I have since learned that it is better to build up mileage gradually. Now I increase my time in the saddle a little every day. By day six or so, I am ready for long days of riding.

2. I would have eaten more. I actually ran out of food on the first day or my first tour. Luckily, I noticed an ancient apple tree by the roadside, dripping with ripe (albeit slightly sour) fruit! Now try to eat to eat a little something at least once a hour -- preferably two or three times. Also, sport drinks have become part of my food regime while touring. I find they make a difference.
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Old 11-30-06, 09:10 AM   #16
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I would have worked on bike fit. My seat was too high. I was always pointing my toes down, and I ended up with an achilles injury. The toe-down riding style had never bothered me training, but putting so many miles on every day resulted in the injury. So, better fit and more training on a fully loaded bike would be my recommendation.
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Old 11-30-06, 09:21 AM   #17
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The one thing I would change is that I would not cycle with one of the people I cycled with.
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Old 11-30-06, 09:45 AM   #18
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Only to stop to take more pictures, for the rest it was OK.
I think it was beter because it wasn't perfect.
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Old 11-30-06, 08:04 PM   #19
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My first tour was a joke, but it was also one of the most wonderful weeks of my young life! I was a very poor college student. One reason for bike touring was because I didn't have a car. I had a 10-speed Raleigh. I sure could have used a granny gear for the hills, but I was young and pumped my way up. I had an old Brooks saddle that was awful. My butt would get sore at 25 miles and numb by 35.

My first tour was a 70-mile ride from Bellingham, Washington to Lake Alouette, British Columbia. I broke it into two legs heading out. I was going to take two days to ride home, but ended up having so much fun at the lake that I decided to ride the whole way home in one day. It doesn't seem like much now, but in those days 70 miles was the longest one-day ride I'd ever done. My butt hurt so bad when I got home!

I couldn't afford panniers so I bought some pack cloth at REI and sewed my own. I hung them on my $5.00 Pletscher rack I bought at Fred Meyer. I couldn't afford a frame pump so I bought an old floor pump at a second-hand store and tied that on. I tied my sleeping bag (which I got free for sitting through a sales presentation for a lot at a development in the woods, which I wouldn't be able to afford for another 30 years. The salesman knew it; I knew it; but we went through the motions and I got the bag) between the curves of my drop handlebars with string, which actually worked pretty well. I had a cheap single-wall tent and a blue foam sleeping pad. I didn't have bike shorts; I wore cutoff jeans. I ate things like tuna fish out of the can, beef jerky, bananas, etc.

Like I said, I had the time of my life, and it started a lifelong love of touring. Of course, now I have a 21-speed bike with a great granny gear, good front and rear panniers (and a matching handlebar bag), a super lightweight tent, a Big Agnes air mattress, a lightweight mummy bag, backpacking stove, mess kit, a comfortable saddle (I can ride over 100 miles with no soreness; no numbness), etc. All that stuff helps, and I ride in much more comfort. But I would recommend touring, no matter what the equipment (as long as it's strong enough to minimize mechanical difficulties.)
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Old 12-01-06, 02:38 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paul2
The one thing I would change is that I would not cycle with one of the people I cycled with.
Amen,Brother!! The riding partner that went with me on my first tour had no bike knowledge,a poorly built homemade trailer and a dumpster bike...And no money!! After four weeks I was Sooo glad to see Austin!!
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Old 12-01-06, 06:17 AM   #21
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How fast was your average spped, when you first started, with a fully loaded or semi loaded bike? I trained for about 4 months and got prety good, but I broke my foot and coming up soon when the winter starts to let off, that's when I am going to start touring. Maybe sooner. How fast should I expect to roll at?
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Old 12-01-06, 07:32 AM   #22
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I'm doing a tour in January, and I hope (hope!) to average 12 mph... is this realistic? The most I have ever gone in a day is 50 miles with about 30 lbs of gear and it was no problem. I'm planning on going 80-100 miles a day (when not in the mountains) with 60 lbs... is this going to kill me? How many miles does it take to get saddle sores? Heh.
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Old 12-01-06, 08:15 AM   #23
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How fast should I expect to roll at?
You should expect to be about 3 km/hr slower than you are unloaded.
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Old 12-01-06, 09:42 AM   #24
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I average 8-10 mph (for actual riding time, not counting breaks) and 60 miles per day, loaded, on moderate terrain. 80-100 m/d for flat terrain, 45-70 m/d for mountains. I get up early (before light, unless it's cold) and camp early (a couple hours before dark, unless it's winter). Your total length of riding day (start & end time less time for breaks/meals/tourist activities, chatting with locals, etc.) will very much affect your daily milage, as much or more than your rolling speed.

The first few days of your first tour, plan on much shorter days, like 40 or so, because you're going to spend a lot of time messing around with your camping / packing system, and you're going to be sore. I usually like to go about 6-8 days between days off, but less in the first couple of weeks.

nebben123, you're gonna DIE!!!! (just kidding, no one ever died of saddle sores, they just wish they would). But don't pin yourself down to that schedule with a time deadline. you might do that mileage happily, but if you have to, you might just end up suffering through your tour instead of enjoying it. Actually, 80-100 miles per day in JANUARY is not very realistic, unless you ride in the dark some. I just did a short tour at the end of October, moderately hilly terrain (pacific coast) and managed 60/day, but I had to be really careful not to waste any time during the day. It was a little stressful - longer days would have been a lot more relaxed.

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Old 12-01-06, 11:51 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidARayJaxNC
How fast was your average spped, when you first started, with a fully loaded or semi loaded bike? I trained for about 4 months and got prety good, but I broke my foot and coming up soon when the winter starts to let off, that's when I am going to start touring. Maybe sooner. How fast should I expect to roll at?
Don't get wrapped up in speed and/or distance. Touring not about point A or point B. Touring is about the bits inbetween. Don't be afraid to deviate from any kind of schedule that you set. The best thing to do with the schedule is to prepare it, make a good copy of it and then leave the whole thing sitting on your desk at home as you leave.

Take maps but make sure that the maps cover more than just your route. One of the failings of the Adventure Cycle maps is that they don't cover enough of the surrounding area. You get trapped into following the map and never getting off it.

Don't be afraid to use other transportation if you are going past something that would be great to see but you just don't have the time to ride a bike there. My wife and I went to Scotland long ago B.C. (Before Children). We wanted to see Dunnottar Castle but it was pouring rain and a 5 mile walk to the castle from the nearest train station. So we rented a car. It was marvelous!

On a trip with my daughter, we decided to take a side trip to Mt. St. Helens. It's around a 3 hours round trip from The Dalles, so we rented a car and drove there. It was one of the high points of our trip.

Don't be afraid to abandon all your plans if something strikes your fancy. On our trip to Scotland, we stayed the seaside town of Oban. We loved the town and didn't see all that we wanted to. We had actually ridden to Loch Awe (about 25 miles away) and decided that we needed to go back to Oban to see the things we hadn't seen. It was worth it!

Be spontaneous! Your very best adventures are going to be the unplanned ones.
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