Well, Its less than 3 weeks to go until my big trip across PA and back and this weekend was my shakedown cruise. First hint I've learned something is I'm altering the moniker for my trip. It began as a bike trip around PA. Right now, I'm thinking 15 days with a day or two extra (just in case) will probably not be enough. My total trip is coming in ~1,000 miles, which at an average of 60 m/day gives me 16 days exactly. This leaves no time for any rest days, rain days, sightseeing days - This means either I modify the trip length or I add days or I add serious daily distance.
Other things I learned on my trip? Well, you think I would of listened to all the touring posters and their constant yammering about triple this and triple that and can I interest you in a nice triple today sir? Man you'd think they all had stock in "Triples are Us" But noooo..... I had to find out the hard way. Its amazing what fenders, a rack, two panniers (albeit somewhat on the smallish side), a tent and a mattress pad will do to ones climbing ability even with a 34-28 "granny"! The morning started off OK, but around early afternoon the legs started to complain. Now I'm no neophyte to hills, I live in Chester County, PA, certainly a hilly section of PA. Trust me, we don't need highway overpasses to practice our climbing around here! But that 33 lbs seems to make a difference, I had to dismount and push, on more than one occasion
I think part of the problem was my route planning and trying to keep several desires in the mix:
- plot a straight/direct path
- stay off (potentially) busy state roads/highways
- see some scenery (sometimes hills=scenery)
There is a quandary here, since the truly nice scenery is to be seen on the typical back country road, you also tend to find that the grade of these roads can sometimes be far steeper than you'll see on a state road (and also can increase dramatically the navigation chores). Its not that you never see steep grades on state roads, but they don't go to the top of Mount Steep just because the ye olde Iron Furnace happens to be located there. Bottom line is I'm going to have to alter my initial route with a serious mind to topology that I just was not focusing on to a huge extent. In fact much of my route intentionally had trips the side of many an Appalachian mountainside just for the heck of it - well not anymore, I will pick my scenic must-not-miss detours carefully.
My final struggle is the question of getting a triple. Its not an cheap way to go, it would require a new crankset, bottom bracket and front & rear dérailleurs, although I can get a good discount on the labor. I've pretty much decided to go ahead and do it, although the wife is getting a little cranky about the accumulating cost of my pending trip and I've not even set out yet! I have an idea to put it all on some future dedicated touring bike, like a Surly LHT frame or the ilk....