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  1. #1
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    Off-road touring

    Wondering if anyone does much "off road" touring? I'm thinking primarily of walking trails, fire trails, and maybe even a bit of single track. Anywhere that cars can't get to. How does your setup compare to if you were on road? How far do you get in a day?

    I'm just thinking about what I like about hiking, what I like about bike touring, and how to combine them.

    Steve

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    Good topic! I tried to do this once around the north of Scotland (about 20yrs ago!), choosing footpaths I saw marked on the maps. BUT... many of those footpaths were either steep and rocky and I had to push or even carry the bike, or went through swampy, soft ground which was also impossible to cycle. I should have done more research. It was great fun, but a LOT more work than I bargained for.

    Nowadays I'm also more aware of the extent to which cycle tyres can ruin a good footpath, turning it into a deep, rutted mess very quickly. And those ruts restrict movement of small invertebrates and insects, affecting the populations of birds, and so on and so on. Worth bearing in mind.

  3. #3
    Cycled on all continents JohnyW's Avatar
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    Hi,

    I did the Munda Biddi Biketrail in Western Australia (only part there I was several days off road) in 4 Days. Sometimes I found some hiking paths over the mountains. The lowrider bags were too low or the rocks too high.

    To combine hiking and biking: Cycle as far as it is possible - then hike...(okay not very suitable if you don't want to come back to origin)

    Thomas
    My Travelogues: http://thomasontour.de (currently only in German)

  4. #4
    dia por dia El Pelon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Al Downie View Post
    Nowadays I'm also more aware of the extent to which cycle tyres can ruin a good footpath, turning it into a deep, rutted mess very quickly. And those ruts restrict movement of small invertebrates and insects, affecting the populations of birds, and so on and so on. Worth bearing in mind.
    Especially in wet lands! Good post.

    On another note, I have toured extensively through Baja California. There is one major paved road that runs north/south. Most of the rest is dirt. A good portion of it is compacted to the extent that you could drive your grandma's Oldsmobile on it without any more problems than a thin film of dust. But, there are parts that are rutted, boulder strewn, and (worse) silt beds. (For those of you whom have never ridden in silt, it is the WORST! Even motorcycles and trucks have problems with it. I flew into a silt bed on my moto at about 55 mph and bogged to a stop with my rear wheel buried in less than 50 yards.)

    The offroad stuff in Baja is fun as hell, and there is nothing that has been too rough for my LHT. I strongly recommend giving it a shot.
    Dia por dia.

  5. #5
    Senior Member foamy's Avatar
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    MTB toured in the Poconos and eastern PA hills a few times. Rear rack and a day pack. This was before I knew that such things as "panniers" existed. Bag and tent on the rack, everything else (which isn't a lot) in your pack. I 'spect you could use some rear panniers, but for three or four days (which was as long as I stayed out), you'd be allright with the rack'n pack. Plus, it keeps things light. You'd be surprised at how much you don't need.
    None.

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    hello roadfix's Avatar
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    I've packed my mountain bike and ridden into the local mountains, mostly on fire roads which are closed to traffic, and have done over-nighters on trail camps, accessible by foot or bike only.
    .cinelli.olympic.surly.long.haul.trucker.kona.ku.surly.steamroller.
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    I've done a bit around Corsica and Sardinia (and hopefully Andalucía next year). Yes it is great.

    I ride a steel-framed HT mountain bike with a rack on the back.

    I tend to ride mainly on fire roads and 4x4 tracks - if you have luggage then it's not easy to pick up the bike and hike with it - so footpaths are a bit of a gamble.

    I'd say 50 miles in a day is good going.

  8. #8
    Senior Member kbabin's Avatar
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    For ideas on unsupported trips, check out www.bikepacking.net

    for other type of off road tours,

    www.sanjuanhuts.com
    www.westernsprits.com

    kev

  9. #9
    40 yrs bike touring
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    For off pavement touring self contained I long ago found that using two panniers mounted high up front and a dry bag stuffer on top of the rear rack works very well provided that you go light weight for basic equipment.

    This setup allows me to jump the front end over obstacles and the rear end follows over the obstacle without slamming into it and damaging the rear wheel. My wheels have lasted for years without even truing them.

    I first used this arrangement in the early 1980's in Montana to follow gravel roads along the West edge of Glacier NP crossing into Canada @ Trail Creek and them over Elk Creek Pass to end up later on the Ice Field Parkway on the way to Jasper NP. This route is almost the same as the Canadian extension of the Divide Ride now.

    More local trips in California only reinforced my pleasure in routes without vehicles in National Forests and BLM land. [Before last Summer's fire I could ride from my front door in Santa Barbara for a few miles and then take fire roads and trails for several hundred miles without traffic.]

    Long trips in Baja off pavement from La Rumarosa to San Felipe/Puertocitos and up Picacho Del Diablo and then several months doing the same in the Andes of Ecuador and Peru again reinforced my preference for gravel and dirt. [Pavement has come to parts of Baja since then.]

    The Divide Ride in 2003 with this set up was a pleasure even on my old rigid bike. I watched many folks struggle with overloaded panniers or BoB trailers. I was not deprived by my lighter load!


    There are many places where you can stitch together mostly off pavement route without damaging the tread or wildlife. The damage was often originally done when the logging roads were cut. I remember riding across the Queen Charlotte Islands on logging roads only to find much clear cut devastation at intervals along the way. Stark beauty then Stark destruction but it did provide access!

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    Senior Member wheel's Avatar
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    I got average <5 mph on my 32mm 700 on forest roads or walk you can walk around 2 to 3 and hour.

    The best thing was even motorcross or atv would have a hard time where I went.
    I was Isolated.

  11. #11
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    I would want a very different set up if I were doing a lot of off-road biking, something more like a mountain bike than a touring bike. Over the years, my touring bikes have had anywhere from 23 mm to 32 mm tires. I have never shied away from gravel, but I draw the line at sand and deep mud. Perhaps the "worst" road I ever attempted was a logging road through the mountains -- and in those days, my tires were 23 mm slicks! -- and I was fine, although I took it very slowly. The track was dry, and I don't think I would have tried it had it been wet or muddy.

  12. #12
    More Energy than Sense aroundoz's Avatar
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    I try and stay off the pavement as much as possible now and prefer the dirt since the scenery is almost always better. I can get up to 2.1s on my touring bike which is fine for FSRs and dirt paths. Front suspension would be nice for singletrack but IMO overkill for anything less unless the roads are really bad so....I think it depends on what you would be doing more of. Most well thought out touring bikes can handle pavement and smooth dirt but it takes a mtb to enjoy rough terrain. Also, a BOB would be preferred for ST over panniers unless you pack really light. Again, IMO.

    Great thread.

  13. #13
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    >BUT... many of those footpaths were either steep and rocky and I had to push or even carry the bike, or went through swampy, soft ground which was also impossible to cycle. I should have done more research. It was great fun, but a LOT more work than I bargained for.

    Ha, yeah reminds me of some riding I did in Innsbruck, Austria. Hired a mountain bike, set off around the skifields (in summer). One of the trails, there was a steep little bit with tree roots everywhere so I thought "I'll just carry the bike up this bit". It was nearly 2 hours before I reached a bit where I could actually get back on the bike.

    Then again, I also found it was a lot more rewarding picking pedestrian trails and just seeing where they went, rather than following the designated "mountain biking trails" (almost all well graded, gravel, car-width paths - boring).

    These posts are great - I wouldn't have thought of "rack and pack".

    Steve

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