A few weeks back, I posed a question about touring Scotland. With the current craziness in airfare prices (having trouble finding anything under $1400 pp to london), and the fact that the rental place we chose (the only one we could find that had road style touring bikes) is flaking out on us, we are considering using our own bikes, and going out west to Glacier/Banff/Jasper. Of course that means the trip just moved from light load staying in B&Bs to fully loaded touring. This trip is meant to be our last big "adventure" before starting a family, buying a house, etc.. (not to say that we wont have more adventures, but there probably wont be many for some time after this point).
The issue we now run into is one of equipment, and of course, money. I am hoping we can make this work, but if it is not realistic, we would like to know now. If I am wrong on any statements below, please let me know.
First up, my setup. In this corner, weighing in at 185lbs (which I hope to lose some of my spare tire by august), me! My frame is a 2001 LeMond Tourmalet frame (steel) with the stock (steel) fork. It has been true to me, has a nice soft ride, and I have gotten used to its hefty weight. My components are a Shimano Ultegra double chainring setup, with 11-22 gearing (ouch!). Finally, the wheels are a Shimano racing wheel with waaaaay too few spokes. Obviously I am going to have to pimp my ride (tm) a bit to make things tour worthy.
First up, the frame. The Tourmalet has been a great, solid frame for me, and I have had no problems at all with its integrity. It is strong, steel, and I think it should work fine. I have mounted a rack/panniers and have no clearance issues with my pedals/feet, so I think the frame might just work. Next, the gears. I have a triple crankset/bottom bracket in the garage ready to go, and my shifters support a triple. I have a friend who will let me use his spare Shimano 105 triple front and rear derailer. I'll be purchasing a much more touring/mountain worthy cassette. Finally the wheels. They have to go. I'll look at building up as inexpensive but reliable wheelset as is realistic.
In the other corner, weighing in at 70lbs less than me (do the math.. she'd kill me if I posted the number alone), my lovely wife. Her frame is a Specialized Allez (aluminum frame, CF fork), and she has been commuting to work on it, with loaded rear panniers for the past few weeks without incident. Her gearing is a tiagra/105 triple, so all is happy there. Finally, her wheels are Ksyrium Elite's. Obviously her ride does not need the same level of modifications as mine. Here is what I am thinking:
Her frame seems to work fine. She has clearance between her feet/the rear panniers. Her triple setup is fine. Her rear cassette is a 12-24, which may need to be replaced with something a little more well suited to touring. Finally the wheels. I realize that the Ksyrium Elite's are not great touring wheels. That being said, they hauled my 70lb heavier body, and heavier frame around for 3500+ miles, and were solid as a rock. I am wondering if they would work for my wife's bike as fully loaded, she'll still weigh less than me with no gear.
One last thing to consider. In general, we tend to travel quite light. We do a good deal of extended backpacking, have a bunch of light-weight camping equipment, and have gotten our loaded backpacking packs down to about 30-35lbs each.
Frankly, this trip (par for the course) is turning out to be more expensive than we planned. Our current investment is 2 sets of rear Jaand mountaineer panniers and 2 rear racks, but I can see that the rabbit hole may go much deeper. So I guess my big question, before we take the plunge is:
Are we being stupid about this, trying to fit our obviously non-touring bikes into a tour? Or is this something that is doable? Any tips for those who have tried to tour with a similar non-tour bike setup? We're looking for adventure, but getting stuck somewhere in the middle of Canada would be more adventure than we want