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  1. #1
    A long distance Newbie wiles9's Avatar
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    Barcelona to Belfast

    Hi all,

    Under advice of another user, im just going to copy and paste my introduction into this forum, this is probably the forum im going to spend most time in:

    Im wiles9 from Northern Ireland, currently i live in Spain, have done for about 8 months, im studying Mathematics out here. Im a big mountaineering fan of all types, but this challenge ive set up ahead is something new to me... long distance cycling.... and i need a lot of advice please from this community..

    My girlfriend and myself have planned, what is to us a big big trip.. we plan to cycle : Barcelona -> Belfast

    The route has not yet been planned, the training has not yet begun... and last but not least.. we aint even got ourselves bikes capable of the jobs.. so all advice is welcome.

    We have april/may/june training time, and july/august/start september to do the trip, which i guess is gonna be about 1500 miles.. depending on the decided route.. ie. through spain, pyrenees, france, south ireland to north.

    Maybe to some this is a small task, to us its huge, as we never have done anything like it, talk about going of on a tangent from rock climbing to this eh..???

    People who throw some advice back.. anything is welcome and im grateful, brands, styles, price to spend etc etc... so far we have a budget, but havent been able to decide on an upper limit... as we our trying to work out how much we will spend a month on the road and during training... (living on pasta haha)

    Cheers folks,
    wiles9

    -----------

    That was my original post, since then we have trailed all over barcelona looking at all the bike shops, the three best so far have been "Pro Bike" and "Cycle House, Tomas Domingo", "Cicloturismo" if that helps anyone. Most shops dont stock the right gear, so far they have tried to sell us racers that they say they will drill holes in for us, others have even went as far as trying to sell us town bikes.. so were not taking anyones word. The three above were very helpful but still not 100% honest in my opinion. The fact that we are not fluent in Spanish does not help... we only know basics.

    Few questions...

    1. Spokes... will 32 do for heavy loaded?
    2. Aluminion forks, much more vibrations??

    and the bikes so far...

    For my gf (user ang): Specialised Tricross Sport Triple

    Me.. well im stumped, i also like the above bike, seems up to the job... but the other bike ive seen (hugely out of my price range, but hey.. we all splash out sometimes..) is a Canondale Touring, dont know the exact model..

    It has 10speed with 3 front cogs, brook leather seat, Tubus front and back racks, shimano 105 gears etc etc.. im sure you pros know the model im on about, ill find out the exact year/model tomorrow.

    Im not so sure what else to ask right now.. we have been reading some other threads but with uni work time on computers is hard to come by!!!

    Em.. Cheers again :-)

  2. #2
    Senior Member Lolly Pop's Avatar
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    I can only comment on a proposed route, and only the final leg of your journey: I recommend the ferry!

    Sounds like a great trip. You will get good advice here.

  3. #3
    I'm made of earth! becnal's Avatar
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    The important thing is that you have lots of time and don't need to rush any purchases.

    I recommend you get a bike that has the following bits:

    1. Magura Hydraulic rim brakes. They have incredible stopping power, and it takes 10 seconds to change the brake pads when they wear out. And it doesn't require any tools at all to do.

    2. Brooks saddle. Nothing else is nearly as good or nearly as proven. Your tushy will thank you!

    3. An adjustable stem for the handle bars. Being able to raise an lower the saddle and being able to raise and lower the handle bars means that you will be able to fit the bike exactly to your comfort specifications.

    4. My touring bike is a hybrid, the Raleigh Aspen. It is absolutely fabulous. I don't recommend road bikes with skinny tires because in Europe many bike routes are not on paved roads. My tires are 1.5 to 1.75 inches wide. Oh yeah, 28" wheels (700c), no 26" mountain bike wheels.

    5. Use Scwalbe Marathon Plus tires, and you will never get a flat. Period.

  4. #4
    Senior Member xilios's Avatar
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    Hi, I would also recomend a Brooks leather saddle, Champion Flyer (with sprinngs) or B17 (without) and the Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires, my wife and I both use 700x35c, they cant be beat for reliability and comfort.
    As for a bike here is a site that has some pics fullyloadedtouring.com, it will give you an idea of the different tipes used for loaded touring. I ride a hybrid and my wife a fitness bike both aluminum, good bikes, and they din't break the bank. We use them only for touring and long day trips, we have a couple cheap city bikes for everyday.
    Also make sure you have low enough gears, (your knees will thank you), we use 42/32/22 up front and 11-30 on the rear, we can climb almost anything with this setup.

  5. #5
    A long distance Newbie wiles9's Avatar
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    The cannondale i was looking at has the Brooks saddle without springs, and also has Scwalbe Marathon Plus tires, which im glad you mentioned, kevlar reinforced or whatever it says... seemed to fancy, but now you have backed them up.. it helps explain the price tag....

    About explaining routes, what did you have in mind? Yep we planned to take the ferry from France, my girl knows where exactly... ill ask..

    Anyone got any opinions on the Specialised bike?? We will go look up some reviews for it now, and ill see what i can get... so far i havent found any reviews on the Cannondale Touring, but im no google wizard :-)

  6. #6
    A long distance Newbie wiles9's Avatar
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    Oh and about the tires... as i said they are the type you mentioned and they are cross tires, if thats the right terminology, so they can handle a bit of rough... thats on both bikes.

    One of our worries about the specialised bike was that it might not be up to the job with the heavy loads, should we worry ??

  7. #7
    A long distance Newbie wiles9's Avatar
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    After i clicked this ... i noticed the Edit.. would have been much handier for you all to only have to read one post.. but ah well.. ill do it from now on...

    Hum.. cannondale website is confusing enough to navigate, but the bike that is too expensive, but looks the dogs balls, seems to come under Urban bike... so maybe i really dont have a clue, but have a look:

    http://fr.cannondale.com/bikes/07/ce...model-7TR.html

  8. #8
    I'm made of earth! becnal's Avatar
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    The bike is only the sum of the parts. Name isn't as important as the price, the fit, and the key components such as saddle, tires and rack. Oh yeah, Tubus racks are bomb-proof.

    You need to find a shop where you tell them you are looking for something suitable for touring, and they don't try to sell you a cross-racer or a road bike.

    I don't recommend you buy a bike online. You need to ride it first. It is well worth the time looking for a reliable, honorable bike shop. Internet is good for buying parts when you know exactly what you want, but not for buying your first bike.

  9. #9
    I'm made of earth! becnal's Avatar
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    That bad girl is pretty sweet!

  10. #10
    A long distance Newbie wiles9's Avatar
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    So you think, although expensive, that this bike is more than up to the job? If i am going to invest in such a bike with a price tag like that... well i wanna make sure its gonna last me many tours.. im sure once ive done this one, ill be itching for more of it..

    Brand isnt important to me, to be honest id never heard of cannondale before i seen this bike... i just researched it, read about components and thought.. hey this could be the one.. then i read another thread about a cannondale, as to whether the frame was up to the job... and no-one seems to doubt thier quality!!

    What do you think of the specialised one, this is the one my GF is looking at.. she loves it, but doesnt know again whether its 100% suited for long distance touring...

    Thanks again,
    wiles9

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by becnal
    The bike is only the sum of the parts. Name isn't as important as the price, the fit, and the key components such as saddle, tires and rack. Oh yeah, Tubus racks are bomb-proof.

    You need to find a shop where you tell them you are looking for something suitable for touring, and they don't try to sell you a cross-racer or a road bike.

    I don't recommend you buy a bike online. You need to ride it first. It is well worth the time looking for a reliable, honorable bike shop. Internet is good for buying parts when you know exactly what you want, but not for buying your first bike.
    good advice from Becnal...if you can't get it fitted & ride it, don't buy it...
    centexwoody
    They're beautiful handsome machines that translate energy into joy.

  12. #12
    A long distance Newbie wiles9's Avatar
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    OK so working from the "That bad girl is pretty sweet!" comment, and that im no sure the components are good, well.. i bought the bike on friday, due to the fact that i managed to bargain with him and got him to chuck in some nice freebies...

    Took her for a quick spin, only 20 minutes, because i had a day of via ferrata in the mountains the very next morning.. all i can say, as a purely mountain bike user.. is wow.. she is fast, i wish i had got into this a few years back....

    My girl has her heart set on this specialised bike now, it also seems the job, but different shops have said it can take different weights loaded onto it etc, and supposedly, to get it in her size is pretty difficult.... so we will have to order it into the shop..

    Has anyone used this bike, or got any opinions on it to put our minds at ease, being our first bikes and all that..

    PS, ill send some pictures in when ive got some panniers for it.. still researching whats good in that area...

  13. #13
    I'm made of earth! becnal's Avatar
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    Wow, you're a man after my own heart. You saw the thing you lusted after, and you went out and snagged it! Good for you!!!! Can I take her for a spin too?

    Was your new ride delivered from an internet company, or did you pick it up from a shop?

  14. #14
    Senior Member oilfreeandhappy's Avatar
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    Get a couple recumbents. The trip will be a lot more comfortable. Wish I could do an extended bike tour like this. Unfortunately, I can't get off work. Have fun!
    Jim
    Make a BOLD Statement While Cycling!

  15. #15
    A long distance Newbie wiles9's Avatar
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    Anyone got any ideas about routes i could take on this one?? Or any sights we must see through spain/france/ireland ?? Starting Barcelona ...

  16. #16
    Senior Member CyKKlist's Avatar
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    For route ideas, go to http://www.crazyguyonabike.com and start clicking around there. Select "Journals" then "Locales" then "Europe" etc, until you find specific rides that people have already taken in Spain, France and Ireland. Besides being useful, it's very fun. I saw that you have limited access sometimes to Internet services, so this can be dangerous -- CGOAB can be somewhat addictive.

    Much good luck in the planning, which is a big part of the fun of touring.

    Ken
    Latest bike tour journal now posted -- PALM ride across Michigan!
    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/palm2009

    Also -- NC Courthouse Tour, using Amtrak to Charlotte
    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/nccourthousetour

    Trek 520 for commuting, touring, family rides and smiling at life.

  17. #17
    I'm made of earth! becnal's Avatar
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    You absolutely must ride along the coast from Barcelona to France, then ride the Canal du Midi to cross France. GORGEOUS riding!

    http://www.bikely.com/maps/bike-path...na-to-Bordeaux
    Last edited by becnal; 04-24-07 at 10:50 PM.

  18. #18
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    Hi,
    Barcelona to Ireland sounds a great trip. Wouldn't worry too much about the bikes you're using - it's probably about 800-1200 miles of paved road - most things over about 300 or 400 euros will do the trip fine, though obviously if you're bitten by the bug you might want to go higher and better spec.
    Route wise, I cycled Amesterdam to Barcelona through the massif central, very beautiful, Dijon, champagne, Belgium. In general France is a great coutry for cycling through - loads of roads, loads of places to stop and friendly people. Have a great trip.

  19. #19
    A long distance Newbie wiles9's Avatar
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    f you're bitten by the bug you might want to go higher and better spec.
    I certainly got bit by the bug... twice over my budget and rising!!! Haha.. students eh ????

    Thanks for advice on routes, ill get looking into these webisites, and start printing / gathering maps... seems like fun. Already being a mountain lover, i like that sorta thing...

  20. #20
    A long distance Newbie wiles9's Avatar
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    Hi all again...

    Im now starting to think about a few other things:

    Food for the journey ?? What do you guys tend to munch on long tours? I plan on bringing my trangia stove with me.. we gotta do this on the cheap, not many restaurants for us.

    Clothes? How many changes of normal clothes + cycling gear. I hear in some places in France its very frowned apon to go into restaurants, even cheap ones, in very casual, or say cycling gear !!


    I have to get my camera working again, and i will upload a picture of my new bike soon, angs bike is still to come, we are working flat out trying to figure out how to get a 520 to Barcelona... they dont sell them in Europe at all..

  21. #21
    I'm made of earth! becnal's Avatar
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    Bring two bike shorts and two bike shirts. Wash one set and dry while riding and wearing the other set.

    One synthetic, wrinkle proof (or perma-wrinkled) button down shirt, and one pair or baggy khakis or jeans. When going into a restaurant or some place where you need to look nice, then pull trousers over your bike shorts.

  22. #22
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    Just make sure you have a handlebar bag that's easy to unclip and reclip because it will be your purse (actually tell that to your wife) And don't be afraid to wear your spandex in public. Obviously restaurants are different, but we always paraded our bike shorts (and bike short tans).

    Also consider getting those panniers that are roll up drybags instead of regular zip ones with pockets. I've used both, and I think I like regular ones better but the drybags are nice because they are huge and you don't need raincovers.

  23. #23
    I'm made of earth! becnal's Avatar
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    So, now you got both bikes worked out?

  24. #24
    A long distance Newbie wiles9's Avatar
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    Yep:

    Im on : Cannondale Touring Classic

    Ang is on : Trek 520 , IN THE RIGHT SIZE... woohoo... that was about a week of solid shopping to find.

    We are looking forward to recieving the Trek, takes one week to get her, only 60 quid for delivery, which is really cheap.

    When we were buying some panniers, the guy in the shop asked what we were doing with all the panniers, and we told him of our tour home, so he decided to give us two free cycling tops, obviously advertising their shop, but we dont care, saves us some money... which we are very short on due to the bikes lol... one less to buy now :-)

    Im going to start up a charity run for this as well, we thought why not... if we can get some money together for cancer research, its better than nothing.

    PS Becnal, im gonna look in some of the routes now, and your suggested part of it..

  25. #25
    Patria O Muerte!
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    Quote Originally Posted by becnal
    The important thing is that you have lots of time and don't need to rush any purchases.

    I recommend you get a bike that has the following bits:

    1. Magura Hydraulic rim brakes. They have incredible stopping power, and it takes 10 seconds to change the brake pads when they wear out. And it doesn't require any tools at all to do.

    2. Brooks saddle. Nothing else is nearly as good or nearly as proven. Your tushy will thank you!

    3. An adjustable stem for the handle bars. Being able to raise an lower the saddle and being able to raise and lower the handle bars means that you will be able to fit the bike exactly to your comfort specifications.

    4. My touring bike is a hybrid, the Raleigh Aspen. It is absolutely fabulous. I don't recommend road bikes with skinny tires because in Europe many bike routes are not on paved roads. My tires are 1.5 to 1.75 inches wide. Oh yeah, 28" wheels (700c), no 26" mountain bike wheels.

    5. Use Scwalbe Marathon Plus tires, and you will never get a flat. Period
    .

    Some time ago i almost bought this bike
    http://trenga.de/details2007.asp?kat=3&ID=89&lang=NL

    and one of the reasons it was an "almost", were the Maguras that came with it.
    I figured, who needs hydraulic brakes on a touring bike? You want to keep a touring bike lean and simple, without any sophisticated gear(like the SON dynohub that it had).
    Whaddaya say?
    When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other.

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