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  1. #1
    VWVagabonds.com Losligato's Avatar
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    Failures | Mistakes | Errors | Bad Decisions

    Cycle tourers are positive people.

    On this forum it seems we generally focus on the equipment that worked. We write about what we did right. We discuss the correct decisions we made.

    Well, it is important to learn not only about what worked, but also what failed. So, here is the place for that.

    Did you make a really stupid decision on tour?
    Did you purchase a piece of equipment that really let you down?
    Did you learn something the hard way?

    Let's hear it.
    www.VWVagabonds.com
    Mexico, Central America, South America & Africa in a Volkswagen

    By bicycle West Coast of the U.S., Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Malaysia

    India by Royal Enfield

  2. #2
    VWVagabonds.com Losligato's Avatar
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    STUPID DECISION: I converted a regular mountain bike (Specialized Rockhopper Comp) to a tourer but never really looked closely at the braze-ons that connect the rear rack. The rear braze-one were not welded very well at the factory. If I had a chance to do it all over again I would have reinforced the braze-ons before we set out on this journey. I have had to weld it three times now.


    STUPID DECISION 2: I started out on tour with this saddle. Enough said.


    FAILED PRODUCT:The Stein Mini-Cassette removal tool (hypercracker) failed for me. Here is a photo of it mangled beyond recognition.


    FAILED PRODUCT: Cateye AT-100 Cycle Computer: The wire has crimped in several places and I have had to rewire it each time. Now, one of the waterproof buttons has pulled off. This computer seems too fragile for long tours.
    www.VWVagabonds.com
    Mexico, Central America, South America & Africa in a Volkswagen

    By bicycle West Coast of the U.S., Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Malaysia

    India by Royal Enfield

  3. #3
    Je pose, donc je suis. gcl8a's Avatar
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    Heh. I just got back from three days cycling in the Eure and Loire valleys, on my way to a conference in Fontevraud. When I planned the ride, I was really just thinking I'd like to ride, and so planned for way too many miles, er, kilometers, particularly on Sunday (Chartres to Amboise). Spent much of the day riding by church after castle after church saying "Nice place. I'll have to stop and visit someday."

    Monday was much shorter, and fantastic.

  4. #4
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    Most of my malfunctions have been due to user-error.
    Failure to click down a bar bag: it hopped of the Klick-Fix mount and took me down .

    Putting a metal mini tripod in a pannier pocket. The small pointy legs wore a hole through the tough cotton canvas and the vibration caused the knurled ring to come off. Anything metal and pointy should be wrapped in cloth.

  5. #5
    Lentement mais sûrement Erick L's Avatar
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    If you use convertible pants, you probably wear the shorts a lot more. Don't forget to wash the legs too or you'll end-up with two-tone pants.
    Erick - www.borealphoto.com/velo

  6. #6
    Senior Member xilios's Avatar
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    Don't set up your tent under pine trees, I did that in Barcelona last spring and the sap was falling like a very fine mist on our tent. We had a hell of a time cleaning it, with some gentle soap, water and a lot of patience. I don't know if all pine trees loose sap in this way.

  7. #7
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    I had a stove with odd sized butane cartridges, I was so proud of that thing...until I ran out of fuel somewhere in Kansas and could not find refills went back to my old heavy SVEA 123 white gas stove on the next trip! I still prefer the white gas stoves for the longer trips because of availability.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
    _Nicodemus

    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred
    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by xilios
    Don't set up your tent under pine trees...I don't know if all pine trees loose sap in this way.
    All the ones I've made the mistake of tenting under in No. America do...still have the darn sap on my rainfly...although I think this may be a seasonal affliction.
    centexwoody
    They're beautiful handsome machines that translate energy into joy.

  9. #9
    Macro Geek
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    The silliest thing I did on a tour was to ignore the physical signs of over-fatigue. The previous day I had climbed half-way up a pass in the Alps, and by mid-afternoon I was having trouble delivering power to my legs. I stopped for the night in a village, had a nice dinner, and got a good night's sleep. The next day, rather than take the day off, I hopped on my bike and pushed on. By the end of the second day of climbing -- fortunately I crested the mountain by early afternoon -- my leg muscles were toast. I needed my granny gears to make progress on level ground, and the only way I could climb hills was to ride for one minute and rest for five minutes. My legs eventually recovered, but I spent a week of my nearly three week bike holiday unable to pedal!!

  10. #10
    My tank takes chocolate. FlowerBlossom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xilios
    Don't set up your tent under pine trees, I did that in Barcelona last spring and the sap was falling like a very fine mist on our tent. We had a hell of a time cleaning it, with some gentle soap, water and a lot of patience. I don't know if all pine trees loose sap in this way.
    Not just pine trees. Many times it depends on the season, usually spring or fall, when the sap is moving from one extreme to the other, but with some trees it's all the time.
    Feminism is the profound notion that women are human beings.

  11. #11
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    What a great bunch of posts!

    MichaelW, Your post made me laugh. I once lost a rear pannier off a cilf due to not checking it. I was so hacked off...my brother rode up behind me laughing and that didn't help any.

  12. #12
    Je pose, donc je suis. gcl8a's Avatar
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    Oh yeah. How could I forget?

    Make sure you write down the address of the _correct_ bed and breakfast you'll be staying at, lest your leisurely bike ride turns into a 25k time trial across the French countryside in the fading twilight.

    Don't ask me how I know this. Actually, do ask, and then I can toot my own horn again. The full story (long, but hopefully entertaining) is here (this tale is in Chapter 1, under "Chartres")

  13. #13
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    My biggest mistake was not learning how to use my stove before my first tour. I ended up setting the picnic table on fire.

  14. #14
    Senior Member robow's Avatar
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    Make sure you always keep your rear tire on tour very well inflated so as to reduce the number of flats due to the weight of the rear panniers. AND NEVER EVER get on this forum and brag about how you've not flatted in X number of miles or months before a tour, a sure thing the God of Flats will look down upon this as blasphemy with a sinister grin.

  15. #15
    Flying and Riding sam21fire's Avatar
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    My biggest/costliest mistake was not getting enough practice with my new clipless pedals before going on a tour, and not realizing that they were adjusted too tight. Numerous scrapes and a bruised kneecap made for difficult riding.

    Sam

  16. #16
    Senior Member lighthorse's Avatar
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    Biggest mistake was taking way too much stuff with me. I agree with posters on this forum who say to buy small panniers so that you can't carry very much stuff. They will hold all that you need.
    Suntree, Fl.
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    crazyguyonabike.com/lighthorse

  17. #17
    www.Click-Stand.com tomn's Avatar
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    My biggest mistake was changing equipment just before the start of my 1000-mile tour. I bought new gloves. I ended up crushing my uhlner nerves in four days. Numb hands & fingers that don't work for months. By the way they were Pearl Izzumi, and didn't have padding at the wrists. I also switched to a set of pedals with toe clips. I figured that they would allow more positions for my feet. Ended up with tendonitis in both achilles after three days. Sharp pains with every pedal stroke. The toe clips allowed for lots of lateral movement, but were too short. That moved the ball of my feet back, putting a strain on my achilles. In retrospect I have no idea why I made either change.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC] www.Click-Stand.com

  18. #18
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    2 big equipment mistakes.
    1. Trying to build a do it all cyclocross bike, with disc brakes and use it as a touring bike. In a lot of ways it was a cool bike, but a failure as a touring bike. The disc brakes were not rack-friendly, so the rack mounted up a bit crooked. Since they were Avid mechanicals (otherwise great brakes) and are wide, the pannier always seemed to rest on the right adjustment knob. Between that and rack/frame flex, my brakes constantly rubbed while touring. Finally the frame cracked on the right chainstay. Possibly the result of a non-touring encounter with an oil slick; possibly due to a couple chainsuck episodes. But I think it was the mis-mounted rack carrying 2 loaded panniers introduced some twisting forces that the chainstay didn't like. Luckily I got the frame repaired on warranty, but I decided to scotch the idea of a do-it-all road bike with disc brakes, and eventually sold the frame. (it was ti, by the way--I was really surprised by the crack, as I've never had a frame fail in any way).

    2. Nashbar swap panniers, combined with the bike in #1. The panniers did not work well either as panniers or as a backpack. They had no heel cutout (in fact, they were not made in left/right models), so that combined with the short chainstays and rack mounting issues made for some serious heel strike issues. Also, the panniers had flimsy stiffeners on the back, and wanted to warp into the spokes. The shock cord was too wimpy to prevent the panniers from flying off the bike after a good bump. I eventually sold the panniers too.

    3. A planning failure. I decided to leave for a 40 mile ride to a campsite after work, in August. I thought I would have enough daylight. I forgot to factor in the lower speed of carrying a load, the somewhat shorter days of August. So I ended up setting up camp, cooking and eating after dark. I was familiar with my equipment, but hadn't used it in a while. Luckily I didn't set a picnic table on fire.

    Rich

  19. #19
    jcm
    jcm is offline
    Gemutlichkeit
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    Also, Birches, Willows, Cottonwood produce the sweet, sticky stuff. That, in turn, attracts yellow jackets.

  20. #20
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    My biggest mistake was relying on a buddy that would do the cross country tour with me that we had been planing for 2 years. He left on the third morning.

  21. #21
    Senior Member MNBikeguy's Avatar
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    LEARNED THE HARD WAY:
    .......What "thorn resistant tubes" are, since they are non-existent here up north. Coupled with tire liners, I had NO flats from AZ to FL. Isn't "goathead" a brand of beer?? :-)

  22. #22
    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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    I arrived in Cardiff, Wales at 1:00am from a trans Atlantic flight. I biked into town along an A road, until I got to an especially large roundabout that announced "City Centre". Since I was tired and there were a number of mature trees in the centre of the said roundabout, I stealth camped in my hammock. Imagine my surprise when I awoke at 6:00am to find that this was city's busiest roundabout, with thousands of vehicles speeding in circles heading downtown. It was almost impossible to get out of the wooded area and onto the roadway as there was rarely a break in traffic.

    At one such break, I chose the "City Centre" exit. Big mistake!

    The small bike lane completely dissapeared leaving me on the Toronto equivalent of the 401, with no escape. This is the first time I prayed when cycling. I thought I would die.

    Please don't tell my wife.

  23. #23
    Senior Member jakuma's Avatar
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    I wasn't really touring but was working in Batavia, NY and decided to go for a ride after work. The motel I was staying at was next I90 on 98. I took 98 going north and had strong wind at by back and so was really flying, of course I was thinking about the return trip into the wind and got back well after dark. I think a lesson was learned there.
    True bike touring is a lot of stopping

  24. #24
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    worst mistake: taking a road/touring bike on routes even downhill mountain bikers would have trouble with. i wound up breaking just about everything on my bike. but i made it!

  25. #25
    Senior Member chrisch's Avatar
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    Here are some of my bloopers from a tour last summer. Sometimes you learn the hard way!

    1. I needlessly brought an electric razor that I used once.
    2. I should have slowed down to appreciate where I was and not just where I was going. I was too rigid with reaching my final destination within a certain time frame.
    3. A boiling pot of water slipped off my camping stove (bad design!) spilling hot water on my foot and shin.
    4. On the third day I raised my seat a little higher than usual, resulting in extremely sharp pains in my right knee. The knee got better, but it still caused problems for the remainder of the tour.
    5. I left my cycling shoes in the tent vestibule, where a slug managed to find its way inside. Fortunately the shoe was spared and only a sock got smeared! Yuck!
    6. I didn't research the poor cycling infrastructure in Sweden before going there. You can't take your bike on trains or buses unless it's packed. Getting home was an adventure in itself!
    7. Getting a flat, not finding the cause, and getting another flat a day later. Fortunately the tour was already over!

    I can't wait to go again!! chris
    --
    my 2006 tour travelogue

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