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  1. #1
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    Gettin' geared up for my first longish tour

    Hey everyone!

    Right now I'm in the middle of final exams (which is a horrible, soul-killing trial) but the semester ends May 20th, and I'm leaving that night by AMTRAK to visit my sister in Port Angeles, then riding my bike back to Berkeley. I have limited time to do this tour, since I'll be starting an internship almost immediately after getting back, so I'm avoiding camping by staying in hostels or with friends (and covering a lot of ground each day). I'll be riding a 2006 Jamis Quest.

    I haven't had much time to make preparations for the trip lately, and it's going to be a sprint all the way to the end. What should I be doing in these last couple weeks? And what will I forget to bring (I generally pack as light as possible - being comfortable in adverse weather conditions just isn't a priority, though being safe is)? I'm also an utterly incompetent bike mechanic. Fit, yes, but I don't trust myself to do anything other than fixing a flat.

    Do I really need a triple chain ring? I'm a bit strapped for cash, and swapping it out would also mean a new bottom bracket, chain, and rear derailleur, running $217 just for parts. But on the other hand, it would probably resolve an issue I've had shifting onto the big chain ring (though that might just be a limit screw adjustment).

    I happen to have tickets to see a great band in a great venue on June 1st in Berkeley...I could probably sell the tickets but part of me wants to stop in Eureka and take the AMTRAK back. Please rate this idea on a scale of (1-10) where '"1" indicates abject lameness and "10" is cool.

    Thanks guys! I've been enjoying the forum posts.

  2. #2
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    If you need lower gears, you can get a 30T bailout gear to work with a short cage rear der. Harris makes and sells it as the Century Special.
    http://sheldonbrown.com/harris/k7.html#9

    The question is... how low a gear do you need?
    Do you have panniers or a saddlebag? A backpack day after day is a pain.
    What kind of shape are your tires in?
    We are as gods, we might as well get good at it.
    Stewart Brand

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the reply!

    Panniers, and I'm planning on installing a saddlebag, too. I've done a 130-mile day with a fully loaded backpack and I survived, but it's much nicer with panniers

    I'm not exactly sure how low a gear I need. There are definitely hills on the route (including the infamous Leggett Hill on CA-1), and there have been times when I thought it would be nice to be able to shift to a lower gear, but I've not yet run into anything insurmountable.

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    If you run into any hill insurmountable, you can always dismount to overmount the hill.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by ljwoodw View Post
    Hey everyone!

    Do I really need a triple chain ring? I'm a bit strapped for cash, and swapping it out would also mean a new bottom bracket, chain, and rear derailleur, running $217 just for parts. But on the other hand, it would probably resolve an issue I've had shifting onto the big chain ring (though that might just be a limit screw adjustment).

    I happen to have tickets to see a great band in a great venue on June 1st in Berkeley...I could probably sell the tickets but part of me wants to stop in Eureka and take the AMTRAK back. Please rate this idea on a scale of (1-10) where '"1" indicates abject lameness and "10" is cool.

    Thanks guys! I've been enjoying the forum posts.
    The route along the coast is very up-and-down, and a triple crankset is a great help. But where did you get the impression that this would cost $217? That's almost the total cost of all three of my main touring bikes over the last 25 years. Want a triple? Go to St. Vincent de Paul's, buy an old mountain bike for $20, and put its triple crank on your bike.

    And don't rush to Berkeley for this show. It will be cool for three hours, but you'll be messing up hundreds of hours of your tour if you make this date a priority -- it's too close, and you'll be racing. Any afternoon along the coast in northern California in May is worth way more than any amount of the best band playing in Berkeley!

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the response.

    Well, it's not really rushing any more than I would be otherwise...because of the limited time frame, I'm not camping (making it much easier to cover 90-100 miles a day). Which meant I lost a lot of flexibility. All the stops are already planned, and skipping the concert would just mean riding all the way back (still needing to make it a certain distance each day) instead of taking the train. I wouldn't say I'm leaning either way on this one...a shorter tour would be less satisfying, true, but REM and Modest Mouse at the Greek Theatre (an outdoor venue with views of the bay)...tough to pass up...

    As for the crankset, I was in LBS one day, noticed that they had a triple crankset on sale and asked them what it would take to install it. They told me that I couldn't just swap it out - because of the way the bike was set up, I'd need a new bottom bracket, a new rear derailleur, and a new chain (and perhaps something else). Like I said, I'm an utterly incompetent bike mechanic, so I had no inclination to disbelieve them (and there's no way in heck that I'd install it myself. That = recipe for frustration and eventually, disaster).

  7. #7
    Inebriated Ninja Hatters BMonei's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ljwoodw View Post
    Thanks for the response.


    As for the crankset, I was in LBS one day, noticed that they had a triple crankset on sale and asked them what it would take to install it. They told me that I couldn't just swap it out - because of the way the bike was set up, I'd need a new bottom bracket, a new rear derailleur, and a new chain (and perhaps something else). Like I said, I'm an utterly incompetent bike mechanic, so I had no inclination to disbelieve them (and there's no way in heck that I'd install it myself. That = recipe for frustration and eventually, disaster).
    The new BB is to space the extra Chainring properly.
    The Rear Der. is to accommodate more range within the front gears (double to a triple crank).
    The new chain is also to accommodate more gears.

    Hope this helps a little bit.

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    You could exchange your amtrak ticket for a plane ticket and save 1 1/2 days that you could riding instead.

    I did a 4 day credit card tour last september, here's some stuff i learned. I used my road bike, which has a triple, a Tubus Fly rack and 2 Lone Peak P99 panniers. The rack weighs 11 oz and my panniers, loaded, weighed 9 pounds (including the bags & contents). You should be able to get it lighter than that - i needed serious cold/wet gear, as I was riding at 10-12,000 feet in the rockies in autumn. my touring buddy used a Detours EXP UL tailrider and a camel back - no panniers - but her back hurt, so I wouldn't necessarily recommend that.

    -pack really light - all you need is one set of off bike clothes, your toothbrush, sunscreen, one set of on-bike clothes, warmers, wind/rain jacket, lights and the usual tools. don't take any comfort items, only the bare necessities. you can wash your bike clothes in the room every night.

    -packing light includes getting the absolute lightest rack and panniers you can.

    -put the lowest gears you can get on the bike without a new der/crank. The Bicycle Outfitter in Los Altos is (or used to be, they changed owners) a great touring store with an incredible amount of re-world touring knowledge.

    -I hope you have at least one or two days built in to your schedule for off days or emergencies. One short storm could ruin your whole trip if you can't take a day off. You're probably not going to be able to make up any miles with such an aggressive schedule.

    -You can sometimes rent a car one-way, or rent a uhaul, if you need to bail.

    -Legget hill is long but gradual, the ones that are tough are all the short steep rollers, 10%+ grades. THere are some steep bits in WA & OR too.

    -It would be good to have some extra money. Credit card touring is expensive, you have to eat in restaurants the whole time. Be ready for that. And if something goes wrong, you might have to get an un-planned hotel, and you might not have a choice about how much that costs.

    I'm not trying to discourage you AT ALL, just pointing out some things. I saw a guy in Big Sur once who was riding 120 miles/day down the coast and all he had was a tiny under-seat wedge with one pair of running shorts in it. Everything else was just what he was wearing - bike clothes.

    Also, that decision about getting back for the show - that's totally your call, you have to decide your priorities. use your internal coolness rating scale.

    have a great ride, whatever you decide to do!

    by the way, i thought that Oregon was some of the best miles on the whole coast.
    ...

  9. #9
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    Thanks valygirl, that's some great advice that I'm sure I'll look at again.

    IMO, "credit card touring" is a misnomer. For the vast majority of us, the real financial constraint with touring isn't the amount we spend on a hostel or campsite, but the amount of foregone income from not working. If you are able to do a tour in half the amount of time by not camping, you can save major $. Thats definitely the case this time.

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    To clarify, I used the term "credit card touring" to mean you carry your credit card (or cash, or ATM card, etc.) instead of a camping equipment, and sleep in hotels/indoors. Not as in "I'm paying for it on credit because I can't afford it." I was saying the expensive part was eating in restaurants instead of cooking.


    I agree the total cost of the tour has to be considered including the foregone income, as well as the actual daily expenditures.

    Warning, thread drift:
    It would be interesting to calculate the cost of a tour considering
    - missed income (some people get vacation pay, some don't, pay amounts vary hugely, are there foregone benefits as well)
    - startup equipment costs (bike, camping gear, cooking gear)
    - travel to start/end
    - hotel vs camp
    - cook vs restaurants
    - number of people traveling together
    - miles covered
    - number of days on tour (product of miles covered and weight carried)

    somewhere in there you would have to figure costs/benefits over the total lifetime of touring, too
    - amortize cost of touring / camping equipment over number of days on tour
    - health: fitness, weight, accidents, mental health

    Ugh. this is more fun to think about than work. oops.
    ...

  11. #11
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    Oh man, I'm a transportation planning grad student. I'm SURE I could turn that into a long paper...

    I'm leaning towards sticking with the double for now, but making whatever adjustments I need (hopefully just the limit screw) so that I can comfortably shift between gears without fear of ithe chain jumping off (this happens <50% of the time that I shift to the big ring) The bike is hella light, I'm not carrying much, and I've been riding up and down the Berkeley hills enough that I bet I'll be fine. I'll keep y'all updated...

  12. #12
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    I did this route when I was 41 years old. I carried a big load. I had a triple chainring with a 26-tooth granny, and 7 speeds in back. There were a lot of hills and I was glad to have the low gears, especially with the giant load I was carrying.

    If I was younger and not carrying camping gear I think a double chainring would be fine. After all, my first tours were on an old 10-speed in the 70's, up in the northwest on the same sort of hills you'll be climbing. My legs were much younger then though. If all you carry is a couple changes of clothes, some rain gear, a spare tube, a pump, and not much else, and you're young and strong, I think you'll do fine with a double. However, no matter how young and fit you are, you might be happier with a triple.

    Leggett Hill was bad but not that bad. I've done worse since. I was in my lowest gear the whole way, but like I said, I was carrying a mammoth load. If I did it on a Saturday ride with no load, I don't know if I'd need my granny (but I have a wide-range 9-speed cassette in back now.) (but I'm 56 years old now.)

    P. S. I'd bring good rain gear. The chances of rain are high in May - possibly a LOT of rain. It will also be cold on the coast. I'd worry about hypothermia if I was riding without suitable clothing.

  13. #13
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    I'm BACK!

    Oh, it was glorious. Yes, it rained (last time I was on the Olympic Peninsula in mid-May, we had 7 days of sun; maybe my expectations got unrealistic), but I don't think it affected me a whole lot. I actually got two flats in the first three days (having never gotten a flat on this bike before). Since I'm utterly incompetent in the area of bike maintenance and repair, this was pretty discouraging. I broke a spoke, too. That threw me for a loop. All part of the experience. I don't think I've ever felt so relaxed or free or just exuberant before...I think I'm hooked. You know you've started to reach inner peace when you look at the big trucks zooming by you and thank them for the nice draft that they create for you.

    Some of my accommodations were pretty hilarious...the "hostels" in the Rain Forest and Aberdeen stretched the definition to new limits, but the yurts in Oregon were just about the cutest thing I'd ever seen. Great scenery, met some great people, ate some great food...

    I decided to stop in Eureka to come back to see R.E.M. (with Modest Mouse and the National). I mean, I've never seen R.E.M. in concert and they're probably my favorite band (and who knows how much longer they'll be touring). It'll be good to get my life in order before starting the new job on Wednesday, anyway. I still have my last accommodation booked (at the Point Reyes Station hostel) and I think I'm still going to ride out there, spend the night and ride back. I just had such a fantastic time at the Klamath hostel and I could turn it into a really nice loop around the entire bay.

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