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  1. #1
    Hamish200sx
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    Traditional road bike for TransAmerica

    I was wondering if it was possible to just use my road bike for a transamerica tour if I swap out the wheels for some touring wheels and pull a trailer. Is there advantages or disadvantages of doing this over buying a touring specific bike that I can load with racks and panniers. Thanks for the advice.

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    I've never done a tour, so take this for what its worth. But, I am planning on doing san diego to florida in a few weeks. With the idea of doing it in around 14-16 days. I am heading out with another friend and we are both doing it on regular road bikes. I thought about using my specialized tarmac. But, with a carbon frame, I have no way of using racks/panniers. I am going to use a cheap specialized allez I have. All aluminum frame. I am just gonna put 25mm tires on it and go with it. But, something to keep in mind. We are planning on doing a motel every night and no tents or sleeping bags. So, we're traveling very light. I don't see any reason why you couldn't use a regular road bike. I am interest in what others have to say about this idea though. And I'll let you know how my trip goes.

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    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hamish200sx View Post
    I was wondering if it was possible to just use my road bike for a transamerica tour if I swap out the wheels for some touring wheels and pull a trailer. Is there advantages or disadvantages of doing this over buying a touring specific bike that I can load with racks and panniers. Thanks for the advice.
    I saw folks doing a tour with a similar setup to what you are suggesting when on the TA last year, so it is possible. I don't know how well a road bike handles with a heavily loaded trailer in tow. I would think some experimenting with that before you go would be wise.

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    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hamish200sx View Post
    I was wondering if it was possible to just use my road bike for a transamerica tour if I swap out the wheels for some touring wheels and pull a trailer. Is there advantages or disadvantages of doing this over buying a touring specific bike that I can load with racks and panniers.
    Advantages to Road Bike:
    no need to buy and set up a new bike
    trailers can be a little easier to pack than panniers


    Disadvantages to Road Bike:
    riding position might be too aggressive for an extended tour
    forks & seatstays are usually too narrow for wide tires & fenders
    gearing is usually too low, upgrades are expensive
    some trailers are not as rugged as you'd expect, and require you to carry a tube for it


    Keep in mind that if you're pulling 50-60 lbs behind you, you'll need much lower gearing than what you normally use. Wide cassettes and low triples are standard among tourers, with good reason....

    My guess is, new wheels and tires will run you $350-400, upgraded gearing could be another $200-$400. Less if you can do it yourself, of course. If the total comes out to $700 or more, you might as well drop $1,000 (or less) on a real touring bike, no?

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    Senior Member john bono's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by couchweight View Post
    I've never done a tour, so take this for what its worth. But, I am planning on doing san diego to florida in a few weeks. With the idea of doing it in around 14-16 days. I am heading out with another friend and we are both doing it on regular road bikes. I thought about using my specialized tarmac. But, with a carbon frame, I have no way of using racks/panniers. I am going to use a cheap specialized allez I have. All aluminum frame. I am just gonna put 25mm tires on it and go with it. But, something to keep in mind. We are planning on doing a motel every night and no tents or sleeping bags. So, we're traveling very light. I don't see any reason why you couldn't use a regular road bike. I am interest in what others have to say about this idea though. And I'll let you know how my trip goes.
    Think again if you are planning on doing it in 16 days. At 100mi/day(damn near insane mileage to do loaded with 40lb of gear), you'll be lucky to get midway Through texas. Plan on around 40-60 mi/day, and taking two months.
    Ride a bike. It makes your legs stringy, and less tasty to our Kanamit friends.[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

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    Quote Originally Posted by john bono View Post
    Think again if you are planning on doing it in 16 days. At 100mi/day(damn near insane mileage to do loaded with 40lb of gear), you'll be lucky to get midway Through texas. Plan on around 40-60 mi/day, and taking two months.
    Actually, we're planning on around 200 miles a day. Not planning on carrying 40 pounds of gear. 1 small bag with some clothes, and a few minimal spare parts. Thats about it. Motel every night. No need for camping gear. I know it sounds nuts. But, I am used to pretty big mileage, 500+ miles per week for almost every week over the last two years. This will be a bit longer, but much slower pace then I am used to. The worst thing that happens is that I get tired and crack and have to rest for a day or two.
    http://www.facebook.com/mattbigosathlete

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    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by couchweight View Post
    Actually, we're planning on around 200 miles a day. Not planning on carrying 40 pounds of gear. 1 small bag with some clothes, and a few minimal spare parts. Thats about it. Motel every night. No need for camping gear. I know it sounds nuts. But, I am used to pretty big mileage, 500+ miles per week for almost every week over the last two years. This will be a bit longer, but much slower pace then I am used to. The worst thing that happens is that I get tired and crack and have to rest for a day or two.
    Keep in mind that most trailers weigh 13 pounds or more empty.

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    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hamish200sx View Post
    I was wondering if it was possible to just use my road bike for a transamerica tour if I swap out the wheels for some touring wheels and pull a trailer. Is there advantages or disadvantages of doing this over buying a touring specific bike that I can load with racks and panniers. Thanks for the advice.
    Check out this thread:
    Touring on my road bike
    In particular read Lighthorse's comments. He is a good source since he has ridden coast to coast on a road bike.

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    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by couchweight View Post
    Actually, we're planning on around 200 miles a day. Not planning on carrying 40 pounds of gear....
    Y'know, I gotta say that if that mileage really is your goal, you're going to need a support van & crew.

    200 miles a day is practically RAAM territory; the slowest RAAM solo male took 12 days to cover 3000 miles (250 miles per day). They ride fully supported with a multi-person crew, carrying almost no gear on the bike... and it's considered one of the single most difficult cycling events in the world.

    Also, a typical RAAM rider needs about 5,000 calories per day, and even with that intake they tend to lose a lot of weight during the race. You might get by with 4,000 calories, but it will not be easy to consume that in a fast & healthy fashion. (In fact, the mere act of eating can be a major challenge if you're doing double centuries for 16 days in a row.)

    Even cycling 500 miles a week (which is a lot), at 200 miles a day you'll be tripling your usual mileage -- and lugging gear to boot. The trailer itself weighs 12-15 pounds, you'll need to carry lots of water food that you know you can tolerate, and almost certainly more spare parts than you expect. Remember, you could be a *long* ways off from a bike shop, if you break something in the middle of Wyoming or Nebraska. (You're also very likely to go through a set of tires and a chain by the 2,500 mile mark.)

    Mind you, I think you can do it. I just think you're going to need a van full of spare parts, Gatorade, Clif bars, a half-way decent mechanic and a masseuse.

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    Senior Member robow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by couchweight View Post
    Actually, we're planning on around 200 miles a day.
    Unless you're currently being paid to ride, you have almost zero chance of making this happen according to schedule. Pro cyclists put between 20,000-25,000 training and racing miles into their legs per annum. Do the math, that's 2000 per month and you plan plan on 50% more in half the time while riding lightly loaded. Hope you don't hit any head winds or rain. Yea right.
    Last edited by robow; 08-25-08 at 09:55 PM.

  11. #11
    Slowpoach
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    I am heading out with another friend and we are both doing it on regular road bikes. I thought about using my specialized tarmac.
    You could get an aluminium seatpost and attach a rack or saddlebag support to that. If you're just bringing money and rain gear and a few spares you should be OK.

    One of my bosses regularly tours like this, eg. south island New Zealand I think he was doing about 150km per day. That's about half your distance. He's 50, but is pretty fit.

    Sounds like a challenge, good luck!

  12. #12
    Hamish200sx
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    Yeah you make a good point. Sometimes we get caught in an idea and can't step outside of it to see the problems with it. Thanks for the help.

  13. #13
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hamish200sx View Post
    Yeah you make a good point. Sometimes we get caught in an idea and can't step outside of it to see the problems with it. Thanks for the help.
    I would advise figuring out what you hope the trip to be. I think that riding double centuries everyday while hauling all of your food, water, and gear and still finding time to shop, do laundry, and take care of all of the other things required for day to day life on the road is probably not a realistic plan. Then again who knows? We met Bjorn Suneson when we were doing the TA and he was running coast to coast carrying all his gear in a baby jogger. I think it took him under 100 days. http://www.suneson.se/

    If the idea is to experience the country, your plan is a bad one. In that case allow a lot more time and take time to meet people and do things along the way. Most bike tourists would consider half the daily mileage you propose to be a death march. It is easy to underestimate the toll that riding long mileage day in and day out can take.

    If the idea is that the whole purpose of the trip is the physical challenge of crossing the US quickly it is still probably flawed. In this case I would advise picking a shorter coast to coast route than the Trans America (you can check out Bjorn's 2007 route at the link above). Even using the same start and finish points you can probably shave off a thousand miles or so. No point in taking the indirect route when you won't have time to see anything along the way anyway. Also if you really want to ride that many daily miles if at all possible try to do it with a support vehicle. That said it doesn't sound like fun to me, but who knows you may love it.

    I hope that you make choices that work for you and wind up having a great trip.

  14. #14
    cyclist
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    I comptenplated this for a while before I just got a dedicated commuter bike that was a LHT. Problem solved with my touring bike. However, my best idea was to switch out the road fork for a touring fork, and use front panniers as my main baggage. A seat post rack for lightweight but big items to finnish it off. I realize you would still have to spend money on fork, and brakes, but it would be cheaper than a trailer. Depending on your road bike, the gearing would still be an issue. This was my best idea before I just fixed it by getting the appropriate bike.
    Of cource I never have tried this... Its all just a theory.
    Scott

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    Well, for what it's worth, both my daughter and I used regular road bikes for doing the Northern Tier unsupported. We used road bikes because that's what we had. We didn't change out rims, add racks, etc. Being unsupported, we both towed trailers. I used the BOB, and she used the Burley.

  16. #16
    Dismember Lou627's Avatar
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    I say go for it. Get rear racks and panniers. I dont see why anyone thinks you cant do 100+ a day for a few weeks, especially if you have a motel everynight, no wasted energy camping and cooking or draging camping gear. If your motivated its no problem. I used a $200 racing bike for a tour with rear panniers, tent and sleeping bag and it help up fine. held everything I needed, lived off it for 4 months, 2500 miles.


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    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lou627 View Post
    I say go for it. Get rear racks and panniers. I dont see why anyone thinks you cant do 100+ a day for a few weeks, especially if you have a motel everynight, no wasted energy camping and cooking or draging camping gear. If your motivated its no problem. I used a $200 racing bike for a tour with rear panniers, tent and sleeping bag and it help up fine. held everything I needed, lived off it for 4 months, 2500 miles.
    I think those who said it was unrealistic were referring to the comment about 200 miles per day not 100. My comment was mistakenly directed at the OP (Hamish200sx) when it should have been directed at couchweight (sorry about that).

    You did 2400 miles in 4 months. Your average was about 20 miles per day, he is proposing 200 per day. Ten times as many miles per day is a big difference, still most of us didn't say it was impossible only that it might be ill advised. I would maintain that it probably is.

    I know that of the folks we met on the TA there were a few that starting out had a goal of 100 miles per day, but in the long grind most decided that all things considered something more like 80 was a better idea and none of them were averaging 100 day over the whole trip and their goal was half of what couchweight is proposing.

    Can 200 miles per day for a somewhat extended period be done? Sure. How many could pull it off? Damn few? Of those few how many would enjoy it? Not many.

  18. #18
    Dismember Lou627's Avatar
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    I look at their trip and schedule as more of a challenge than an sightseeing tour (and also thought it was the op as well), kind of a time trial to see how fast they can make it across. Ive seen some crazy guy logs of people that have done this and think it is a cool idea, and have thought about it myself. Also, bringing up the 4 months had nothing to do with giving information about mileage per day, but just to quell some of the fears of putting 30-40 lbs on a rear rack on aluminum racing bikes for an extended period of time, something that comes up here quite often.

  19. #19
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lou627 View Post
    I look at their trip and schedule as more of a challenge than an sightseeing tour (and also thought it was the op as well), kind of a time trial to see how fast they can make it across. Ive seen some crazy guy logs of people that have done this and think it is a cool idea, and have thought about it myself. Also, bringing up the 4 months had nothing to do with giving information about mileage per day, but just to quell some of the fears of putting 30-40 lbs on a rear rack on aluminum racing bikes for an extended period of time, something that comes up here quite often.
    My point was that putting in 10 times as many miles per day would mean beating the bike a lot harder. To do that kind of daily mileage they will be riding fast and the rough roads will stress everything a lot more than if they were poking along at 10 mph or what ever. They will need to average 20 mph to do their 200 miles in 10 hours of riding. I think they need to at least consider that. Pulling this off will probably require packing really light. It is hard to do that with a trailer since the trailer probably weighs 13 pounds by itself. My experience in long distance touring is with the TA and I think there was a stretch where we didn't pass a bike shop for more than 500 miles without seeking one out and going a good bit off route.

    If they want to do it I hope they do and are successful. To be successful they will need to treat the trip more like Randoneering than like touring.

    I don't remember ever seeing a journal on Crazy Guy where anyone averaged anything close to that pace for any extended period. I don't even remember any where anyone even averaged half that for 2 weeks or more. I recall one where a guy planned on 100 per day, he did well but fell short of the 100 per day average by a good bit. I would really be interested in reading some journals where someone pulled something like this off. If you remember any specific ones pass the links on, I would be interested in reading them.

  20. #20
    Dismember Lou627's Avatar
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    I remembered this guy's off hand (due to the obscure title) although he's rather vague about his trip http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?...c_id=3646&v=1U.

    This is not of much value for a road biker but these guys did it pretty quick on recumbents http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?...c_id=1202&v=Fo

    200 a day never crossed my mind as realistic, but im sticking by a cheap racing bike holding up. I pushed that thing pretty hard, riding 60-100 mile days for week or two at a time, and setting up camp in town for a week or two and using it as my transport when in town. Didnt have one problem, not even a broken spoke (i know it was mostly luck).

  21. #21
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lou627 View Post
    I remembered this guy's off hand (due to the obscure title) although he's rather vague about his trip http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?...c_id=3646&v=1U.

    This is not of much value for a road biker but these guys did it pretty quick on recumbents http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?...c_id=1202&v=Fo

    200 a day never crossed my mind as realistic, but im sticking by a cheap racing bike holding up. I pushed that thing pretty hard, riding 60-100 mile days for week or two at a time, and setting up camp in town for a week or two and using it as my transport when in town. Didnt have one problem, not even a broken spoke (i know it was mostly luck).
    Thanks for the links. They are a bit of a disappointment since the one only seems to address what they ate and the other is about recumbents. Recumbents are fine, but I consider them a different sport and am not personally interested in them.

    I was kind of hoping to hear about someone doing 200 miles per day average. Barring that a journal with 100 mile days and some detail about the bike and the trip would be nice.

    I think we actually agree on most of this issue. I think a racing bike can hold up especially for very lightly loaded touring and more so if it has a reasonable spoke count. Lots of folks have ridden road bikes across the country. I think it gets more and more questionable as the spoke counts get lower and lower. If you have 16 spoke wheels you better not carry much. If you have 32 or 36 spoke wheels there is a lot less worry there. When talking modern road bikes I tend to think of 24 rear and 20 front and I wouldn't want to load a bike like that down much and ride across the country. OTOH, I wouldn't have any qualms at all about my 1990ish road bike with 36 spoke wheels making it there fine with any reasonable load. The stock gearing would be woefully inadequate though.

    What I thought was a stretch was the 200 mile per day average. I think it is possible, but it really wouldn't be a tour in the usual sense and would have more in common with Randoneering. 100 mile day averages are definitely possible. I think that even a normal 57 year old like myself could do that, if I was really motivated to, trained hard, and packed light. It might not even be that hard for a credit card type tour. I thus far have been more attracted to a camping and cooking type tour, but who knows? I just might do something like that myself at some point.

    BTW: What kind of spoke count did your wheels have.

  22. #22
    Dismember Lou627's Avatar
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    I was suprised to see it had 36 on the front and rear. when I got it I didnt know anything about bike specs and it was stolen a few weeks after I got back from my trip. It was the 62 cm 2005 or 2006 version of this http://www.motobecane.com/MBUSAmir.html. Nothing on the new one on this link looks different than the one I had. Looking at it now it seems more like a light touring bike than a racing bike. I really should have bought a better pair of tires though. I used the stock 25s on it and got a flat almost every other day when riding. 2 times I had to lock the bike and hitchhike to larger towns off route to stock up on tubes, but was fine once a roadie I met gave me a pair of his spares. Wow, I really hijacked this thread.

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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    I would really be interested in reading some journals where someone pulled something like this off. If you remember any specific ones pass the links on, I would be interested in reading them.
    It's not the same, but you might wanna check out Mark Beaumont, the current round the world cycling world record holder. He managed 100 miles a day on a fully loaded touring bike for around 200 days with about 10 rest days, all self-supported.

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    Dismember Lou627's Avatar
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    my search came up with the mark beaumont that interviewed keith richards when he said that he had mixed his fathers ashes with some blow and snorted it. Same guy?

  25. #25
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    i just finished 100/day tour from Vancouver to Boston. Although I spent 50 days total, I was only riding for 42 of them because i spent 8 days at a wedding with family. I did the trip on a converted cross bike with mostly lightweight parts and had issues with my 32 spoke rear rim and my carbon fiber cranks (yes, I learned my lessons the hard way).
    I consider myself to be a strong, fit cyclist and could have maybe done 120/day but my body tends to revolt pretty quickly beyond that. 200/day sounds ludicrous if you are not supported for food and massage and mechanical related issues but i envy your ambition at the same time.

    if you want to read about my experience, it is here: www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/rosey2008

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