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  1. #1
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    crazy

    Hello, my name is Andrew just for introductions. I have several real questions i realize i will probably get some negative responces to this but i figure this is the easiest way to get the answers im looking for. First off my plan or atleast idea. I currently reside in alaska and am looking to venture to florida what i would like to do ideally is buy a plane ticket to kansas and then purchase a bike and ride to florida. my questions; first off I am interested in the best possible bike i could buy for around 500 dollars to accomplish this 1000+ mile ride wether it be a brand new 500 dollar bike or a bike that sells for more new but i could find for around 500 dollars used. second what would be essential for this ride? I have a biking tent and a stove and prolly a dozen gas canisters a small cooking set and a sleeping bag. I plan to stock up on water obviously. and will be using something like a little kid trailer to carry all this preferably. but what else might be essential i mean absolutely essential for this trip? thank you

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    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    You need good legs,
    Fred Tipps rode from New Mexico to Florida, 2100 miles, on a $69 Next bike.
    He camped the whole way.
    [SIZE=1][B]What I like about Texas[/B]
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGukLuXzH1E

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    The most essential thing you need for your trip is an "I'm gonna make this work" attitude. The world is full of people doing things they didn't know they couldn't, so don't let anyone tell you it can't be done. Go find a good used bike and if you can, get a good mechanic to check it over. Better yet, teach yourself to be a good mechanic. It's an invaluable skill for touring. Check out Adventure Cycling for a lot of good info. Take a couple 3 day shakedown cruises with full gear and you will learn a lot. I started touring with no fancy stuff and just made it work. You can too.

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    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
    Fred Tipps rode from New Mexico to Florida, 2100 miles, on a $69 Next bike.
    +1 that.

    I'm thinking contact a bike shop in Kansas and order yourself a hybrid, preferably without a suspension system. Have them upgrade the tires to puncture resistant Schwable, Continental, or Vittoria. and add bar end extensions for hand positions, and you'll be good to go. Will probably cost about $500. This set up should carry you a 1000 miles with few or no problems.

    The kiddie trailer idea will work if you get the right one. I met a man on tour pulling one he bought at WM and seemed to be doing fine. Not nearly as good I suppose as one custom designed for touring, but not nearly as expensive either.

    Before you contact the bike shop, find out what size hybrid you'll be needing. A local shop in Alaska can help you with that.

    Don't forget you can resell the bike and trailer on eBay to recover a little of your investment.

    You certainly won't need 12 gas cannisters, or shouldn't. I used 3 with a Pocket Rocket on 1200 miler. Read the forums here and journals here for all you'll need to know about touring.
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

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    Senior Member bobframe's Avatar
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    I agree with dkahern.

    The do-ability of this little project of yours is almost entirely dependent upon what kind of human you are. If you are physically fit (or willing to become so), self sufficient, tolerant of some discomfort, willing to ask for help, able to learn and have a bit of creative adaptability inya (didn't I just describe the "typical " Alaskan???)....then by all means do it.

    OTOH, if you are a perfectionist, control freak with an entitlement mid set.....book your flight all the way to Florida- it's lovely this time of year.

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    the hole reason im doing this is for the adventure im a fly by the seat of my pants type and very adaptable to anything and everything ive hitchiked from seattle to L.A. before and loved it on 150 dollars. basically just looking for tips and apparently find some good help thank you. another question anyone here had any experience with mre's? i figure 140 dollars for two weeks of high content meals that and water would equal my main weight figure ill be pulling 70 pounds all together food water and essential clothes.

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    p.s. i am not quite in shape now. not like id like to be but again im pretty adaptable and can fight through cramps ive done extreme sports consistantly for the past ten years and last time i got in the biking mood i prepared for about two days and then rode the seattle to portland with a friend no problem.

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    it's a great idea. Just to clarify is your bike budget $500 for everything bike related, bike, racks, spares, pump, bags, fenders etc or $500 just for the bike? Your cheapest rack and pannier bag combo could be found for about $100 but maybe not at the same shop. Cheap racks are pretty much everywhere. You might consider pre-shopping some things if shipping costs aren't pricey to Alaska or if you have a base in Kansas have the items shipped there. If your total bike budget is $500 you're looking at a $350-$400 bike.
    It's all doable. I've been surprised sometimes to find little shops out in the sticks having killer deals in low cost bikes as much as you might find good used bikes in college towns.

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    500 for the bike.

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    When my bike broke on tour I had two choices. Buy cheapest bike which I can tolerate or have a back up shipped.

    Cost to ship (Air + Fuel Surcharge) and box 240

    Cost of a new Trek 7.2 FX 480 inc tax.

    I would have bought the Trek but the stores in the area did not stock my size.

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    look at some of the touring sites to see what u are forgetting. As for fuel for the stove, you can't fly with these, so plan on buying fuel in Kansas.

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    Observations on using a kiddie trailer for load hauling:

    "His trailer was one that is designed to carry little kids as passengers, but he used it to tote all of his canned food and extra water. Not a bad idea, if you ask me. It does a better job of carrying a lot of weight than those touring trailers I’ve seen, and keeps that weight off of the bike’s rear axle."

    From Alaska to Mexico by J. Dickey. Interesting video of his interview with the fellow pulling the trailer. Scroll down the page to find it.
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

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    Quote Originally Posted by image00 View Post
    the hole reason im doing this is for the adventure im a fly by the seat of my pants type and very adaptable to anything and everything ive hitchiked from seattle to L.A. before and loved it on 150 dollars. basically just looking for tips and apparently find some good help thank you. another question anyone here had any experience with mre's? i figure 140 dollars for two weeks of high content meals that and water would equal my main weight figure ill be pulling 70 pounds all together food water and essential clothes.
    down here in the lower forty eight there are stores and water within a few hours riding distance so it's not necessary to carry all your food fuel for days on end. At the most you'll carry a couple days worth.

    Keep it simple Sherlock, don't pack the kitchen sink or try to turn your bike into a two wheeled RV. Personally I wouldn't carry more than 30lbs of stuff max. I'm guessing you didn't hitchike with a big suitcase, no reason to do the same with a bike just because it can roll. Imagine having "barely enough stuff" and the option of picking up a $5 shirt from Goodwill than carrying an extra shirt that you wear once every five days. That once every five days shirt you brought from Alaska will take up space for snacks you'll eat everyday.
    If 75% of your day is riding why carry around stuff that's only used 2% of the time.
    One stove, one pot (or none) in one bag, all your clothes able to fit in one small duffel bag(or one side of a pannier), all shelter items (poncho,tent,pad) fit into another tight bundle, tools(spare tubes,patch kit) fit into one frame or seat bag. You can tie a small/medium drybag holding your sleeping bag under the bars.

    Get four to six bungies for holding stuff down tight.

    ps. on the spare tubes/tools bag make it secure and not loose/floppy. Same with all the gear. Having your clothes bag and sleeping bag in a dry bag is more convenient than a collection of kitchen sized garbage bags and stuff sacks. Either way have a couple kitchen sized garbage bags neatly folded up and tucked away for emergencies.

    I strongly suggest something BRIGHT yellow or flourescent as part of your regular riding outfit to wear or hang off the back. When I was young it never occured to me how blind a person could be as they get older or what bad vision does for folks who held off getting glasses as long as I have. Now I know. For old farts and drunks passing you at 45-70mph it really helps if they can see you 1/4mile away. That's 15 seconds at 60mph to think about the bright bobbing object up ahead. Someone dressed in dark clothes on a dark highway with other things in the background might give that person only a few seconds reaction time.

    I helped my daughter and a friend gear up for a tour and they didn't have anything bright to wear or flashing LED tailight. I got her a bright yellow vest with mesh back(not hot) and her friend a PlanetBike Superflash tailight. A week later they were riding in the rain for hours and said they appreciated the light and vest as the visibility was crappy and the cars didn't drive any slower. Over the years one hears enough stories and may know someone who has been cleaned off the highway by a car that didn't see them. Getting to know a town through their local hospital isn't fun.

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    Trek 7.2 fx is an excellent choice. can't go wrong there.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

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    eternalvoyage
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    Quote Originally Posted by image00 View Post
    Hello, my name is Andrew just for introductions. I have several real questions i realize i will probably get some negative responces to this but i figure this is the easiest way to get the answers im looking for. First off my plan or atleast idea. I currently reside in alaska and am looking to venture to florida what i would like to do ideally is buy a plane ticket to kansas and then purchase a bike and ride to florida. my questions; first off I am interested in the best possible bike i could buy for around 500 dollars to accomplish this 1000+ mile ride wether it be a brand new 500 dollar bike or a bike that sells for more new but i could find for around 500 dollars used. second what would be essential for this ride? I have a biking tent and a stove and prolly a dozen gas canisters a small cooking set and a sleeping bag. I plan to stock up on water obviously. and will be using something like a little kid trailer to carry all this preferably. but what else might be essential i mean absolutely essential for this trip? thank you
    It can help to think in terms of what you would carry in a backpack. Bike touring isn't so different. You might want to carry some extra tools and bike maintenance stuff; but basically the requirements are about the same as when you are backpacking.

    If I had 500 dollars to spend on a bike, I would look for a quality used bike in good condition. It's partly a matter of luck, partly a matter of knowing where and how to look, and what to look for; and it's partly a matter of persistence.

    If you can find a low-mileage older mountain bike or touring bike that has been kept dry in a garage (there are a lot of them out there), you can end up with something that will last a lot longer, and be much more repairable and maintainable and reliable, than a cheap department store bike.

    You can sometimes find excellent older bikes for much less than 500 dollars. You could spend the extra on some good tools and other useful items.

    On the other hand, if this is your only bike trip, and you don't want or need a bike that will last longer and be good for a lot more traveling -- if, for example, you will just be getting rid of the bike in Florida -- then it isn't so important. You might do fine with a cheap new bike from a discount store, or a lower-end bike on sale at a bike shop, or a blowout model from an online seller (these can be good deals; Cambria and Supergo and Nashbar are among the companies that have some good online deals at times).

    If you are in it for the long haul, though, a better bike might be a better choice. And learning bike mechanics (which isn't that difficult if you find some good books or teachers or websites) might be worth doing. It gives you a lot more independence and longterm viability, saves money, makes you independent of bike shops and mechanics, and it helps when you need to select bikes, parts, and components. Plus it is a good feeling to know what you are doing.

    If you want to keep it simple, you can ditch the cooking stuff. By searching this forum for "cooking-free" or "no-cook foods," you can learn more about this approach. It frees up a lot of weight and space and time.
    Last edited by Niles H.; 10-22-09 at 11:39 AM.

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    eternalvoyage
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    For 400-500 dollars, you can get a decent and reliable new bike. That Trek is one of them.

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    My wife flew to Halifax got a 20 dollar bike at Goodwill or Salvation army, and rode it all over the place for the summer. Helps not to know what a good bike is.

    Try this out, I think this is the one where they buy walmart bikes, and these guys are pros:

    http://www.rayjardine.com/adventures...Bike/index.htm

    If you have somewhere to stay in Kansas, you might craigs or kijiji your way into a nice ride. Just be sure that the Kansas-Florida route is actually worth it (no opinion). The one thing that can ruin trips is preconceived route notions. Let's say your mom lived in Kansas and your dad in Florida. That might be a good reason to go to those two places, but it doesn't make the route pleasant.

  18. #18
    eternalvoyage
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    Another possibility is to do some online searching for a used bike that you can pick up in Kansas.

    A problem, though, with buying used, is that you need to know what to look for and what to stay away from, in order to be sure of ending up with a good bike.

    Also, it can take a lot of time and looking.

    On the other hand, you could post some 'bike wanted' ads with cycling groups in Kansaa, and on craigslist (among other places), and watch places like craigslist for bikes that come up. It's easy to do, and you might just score a great bike. You could get some help from those here on this forum, if you want some good evaluations of a certain used bike.

    With the economy the way it is, there are probably people who would rather have the money than a bike festering in storage.

    If nothing turns up this way, you can go with plan B.

    Plan B might be buying a new bike online and having it shipped to somewhere in Kansas (a friend or relative, or possibly a business or some other pickup location). Fed Ex will allow you to pick up packages at some of their centers. UPS might make similar arrangements. It's easy enough to call and ask. Just explain the situation.

    Or you might have another plan B or plan C.

    You can sometimes find great deals at yard sales, bicycle swap meets, other swap meets, flea markets, and second hand stores. But it is a little hit and miss. You might find something great in one day, or it might take quite a while. I suspect that your odds are not very good of finding a very desirable bike in this way, especially with limited time and transportation, in Kansas. And if you don't know what to look for and what to stay away from, you could end up with a serious lemon.

    Buying a well-chosen new bike would be a much surer bet. If you find something online, or if you are interested in a certain model, you can always post here on bikeforums.net and get some informed evaluations of a given bike.

    Be sure to get it in the right size, and adjusted properly for your body (you can do this yourself with a bit of online research on bike fit). Those things can help enormously when riding for long hours.
    Last edited by Niles H.; 10-22-09 at 03:40 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by image00 View Post
    looks doable but it's unclear if you're using a trailer or carrying gear. If you are carrying gear or particularly heavy it might be worthwhile looking for something with 36 spokes in the rear but either way I'd want to go over everything on the bike and reassemble it especially have a wheel builder go over the rear wheel. Either by yourself with what tools you have or pay a shop $150 to check/overhaul select parts. When it comes to screaming deals there's a reason, it would be a shame to discover it's because the machine trued wheels don't stay true or someone forgot to assemble important parts with grease or the bearings are so tight you're grinding grooves instead of rolling along.

    The other issue is the stock 26mm tires, make sure the frame can take 32mm tires because 26mm won't cut it if you're putting gear on the rear rack.

    If you didn't want to pay to have it reassembled/overhauled at least get the rear wheel checked over, check pedal/crank is snug on, head set is snug and not loose/tight, replace the tires with 32mm. If the cable housing or brake/gear wires are not lined as some have mentioned is a possibility you could rethread them with a coat of grease where the wire goes into the housing although that wouldn't be a problem for a few months but it will ensure they operate as well as possible if the bike goes through a rainstorm and dries out repeatedly.
    Last edited by LeeG; 10-23-09 at 02:15 PM.

  21. #21
    eternalvoyage
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    Quote Originally Posted by image00 View Post
    That looks like a solid, well-appointed bike for the money. You could make it work. Set up and cared for properly, this bike could go many thousands of miles, and be enjoyable to ride.

    Beginners tend to choose larger bikes. More experienced riders tend to go smaller. If you are deciding between a bike that is a little too big for you, and one that is just right or a tad smaller, I would suggest going for the just right or the tad smaller. For some reason, a lot of beginners make the mistake of going too big. You could test ride a few sizes and see what you think. Cycling clubs, friends' bikes, shops, whatever. Or, if necessary, try one of the bike fit systems on the internet, that go by careful self-measurements.

    If you have big feet, the relatively short chainstay is something that you might have to work around. But that can be done. Jandd's expedition racks are longer than most, so they allow you to mount your panniers back farther. That gives you more heel room. I've done this myself with short-chainstay bikes, and it has worked fine (I wear size 12 shoes). A trailer would be another possible solution.

    Or you can strap a backpack on top of the rack (nylon cinch straps, like those sold by REI, allow for a more solid, non-shifting attachment, in comparison with bungees). Using a backpack in this way has advantages and disadvantages (compared with panniers); but some people do it and it works for them.

    This is not a special-purpose touring bike; but it can certainly be made to work for you.

    The wheels should be touched up -- the spokes should be adjusted evenly and properly, to the right tension. That is important if you want your wheels to last, and want to be free of breaking spokes. Most machine-made wheels need to be hand-finished in order to be more reliable. If you find the right bike shop, they can do it fairly quickly. It is important to find someone who is experienced and skilled at wheel building and truing. Some bike shop mechanics are just kids who don't really know what they are doing when it comes to wheels (among other things).

    If you decide to go with a rack or racks, rather than a trailer, a solid rear rack, like the Jandd Expedition, is especially worth having. It is something like a foundation (for most touring setups) -- it takes most of the weight (and the extra weight when you are stocking up) and it is important to get a good, reliable rack that won't fail on you. Part of this involves mounting it well. You should use grade 8 (or grade 10 if you can find them) bolts -- weaker bolts (including stainless steel ones) can shear off. It has happened to me. Grade 8 bolts seem to be quite strong enough.

    Also, loosening bolts (especially rack mounting bolts, but others as well) are a very common and bothersome problem. This can be avoided easily and effectively if you follow the right steps, using medium-strength thread locker, such as Blue Loctite or equivalent (the higher-strength thread lockers, such as Red Loctite, can make it almost impossible to remove the bolts if you should need to). If you use Nyloc nuts in addition to the thread locker, you will have this problem covered very well.

    Be sure to keep track of chain stretch, especially if you ride beyond a thousand miles. A lot of people ignore this and learn the hard way. If you ride with a 'stretched' chain, it will wear out the cogs and chainrings much faster than if you replace the chain in time with a fresh one. Once the damage occurs, it's much more expensive to deal with it. Replacing the chain early is not so expensive. Sheldon Brown (Harris Cyclery), Park Tool, and other sites go into more details about chain wear (or 'stretch').

    It is easy to check the wear with a ruler or a little tape measure or a variety of other tools, even a piece of dental floss marked off at precisely twelve inches -- you just need something that allows you to measure twelve inches very accurately, so you can tell when the chain has 'stretched' an eighth of an inch per foot (some people replace their chains before that). KMC chains are cheaper, but they don't last nearly as long as mid-range SRAM or Sedis chains (which are both more lasting and more cost effective over the lifespan of one of their chains).

    I've tried racks and I've tried trailers; and I much prefer racks for a wide variety of different reasons. If you go to the Adventure Cycling website, or email Mike Deme, they have evaluated the pros and cons well. They've followed the debates and reasonings on both sides for many years, and can give you their findings on this subject.
    Last edited by Niles H.; 10-23-09 at 06:52 PM.

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    You have already got a lot of good info. I would add that you should think about going as light and simple as possible. Most novice tourers have WAY too much stuff. It is so much more enjoyable to travel light. Although you are (I assume) traveling on paved roads, you will be well served to check out the bike setups on Bike Packing. Check out the rest of the site as well for great lightweight, self sufficient bike packing. This site is geared toward off road riding but the same approach will apply to on the road. There are also a bunch of sites for cheap and/or make-it-your-self gear. Just google "light weight backpacking" for more info and links than you will ever need about traveling light and self sufficient.

  23. #23
    eternalvoyage
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    Quote Originally Posted by image00 View Post
    ...second what would be essential for this ride? I have a biking tent and a stove and prolly a dozen gas canisters a small cooking set and a sleeping bag. I plan to stock up on water obviously. and will be using something like a little kid trailer to carry all this preferably. but what else might be essential i mean absolutely essential for this trip? thank you
    If you will be in rain, it is best to be well and truly prepared for it. Many beginners don't do it right. It's best to make sure your system actually works -- that it does its job properly and keeps you and your gear dry.

    Being cold and wet, and out there on your own, with no home for going back and retreating and warming up and drying out -- it's not good.

    So it's best to do it right.

    It doesn't have to be expensive or fancy or high-tech, it just has to work well.

    ***
    If you will be riding in a lot of rain, fenders might make sense. Without fenders, water will spray all over you, the bike, and the gear. It isn't just water, though. It usually contains road grime and grit, and it isn't so great.

    Last I checked, SKS (Esge) fenders were about the best that were widely available and fairly reasonably priced. Planet Bike fenders weren't quite as good, but quite viable and less expensive.

    ***
    Essential tools: A few Allen wrenches and small double-open-end wrenches (sizes of both will depend on your bike; you can probably find out beforehand, if you like, by calling around -- a double-open-end wrench with 8mm on one side and 10mm on the other, for example, is often very useful for bike work, but it does depend to some extent on the exact model and components), maybe a chain breaker tool, some chain lube, a spoke wrench (appropriately sized for the nipples used on your own wheels), a patch kit, tire levers (lightweight nylon ones tend to work well), a compact pump (Road Morph and Mountain Morph pumps are good ones; some WalMart stores carry something virtually identical), and maybe a few other small items.

    Aside from the pump, all of it should fit in a small pouch. I have used small socks (like kids' socks), inside a waterproof bag. Some potato-chip-type bags are very durable, and work well for this. You can roll the top, and put a rubber band around it to keep things dry.

    Park Tools are good quality and value.

    Multi-tools are not as versatile as a small pouch of dedicated tools. Several mechanics have confirmed this.

    ***
    Some routes are incomparably better than others. There is a world of difference between a pleasant, scenic, quiet farm road or backroad, and a noisy, busy, dangerous, tense, stressful, smelly, polluted, non-bike-friendly, litter and debris strewn, flat-inducing truck route.

    Choosing a good route and a good set of roads can make a huge difference when on a tour.

    ***
    It makes a lot of sense to start out with a well tuned, well adjusted, well lubed bike. It's worth starting out the trip in this way.

    Most bikes need a few adjustments and tunings here and there when they come out of the box.

    There are mechanics who can do this for you, for a reasonable price. If you can find someone who has taught local bicycle maintenance courses, and is an experienced mechanic who knows wheelbuilding, he could help you put the bike together properly, and go over it point by point. If you explain that you want it tuned so that nothing comes loose or gives problems for a thousand plus miles of touring, it might help. (This doesn't have to be done at a shop; you can, if you call around, probably find someone who can do this at home or in a garage, or who can even meet you where you are staying. You can get one-on-one instruction this way -- like a having a music instructor, except that you can probably cover everything in one good session.)

    He could also fill you in on what he is doing, and show you the basics of maintaining the bike on the road.

    If you call around, you can probably locate someone who can do this, and do it at a reasonable price, and be glad to do it. Some people are born teachers and are glad to be of help.

    You should know how to replace a tube that has flatted, how to patch a tube, how to remove and replace both wheels properly, how to use a quick release lever properly (Sheldon Brown explains this well), how to lube a chain, and use a chain breaker tool, how to take up the slack in the brake and derailleur cables when they stretch out a bit (as they will in the beginning -- your bike will probably have barrel adjusters that will often work for this), how to keep the brakes properly adjusted as the pads wear, and a few other things.

    ***
    A good, versatile layering system is a great way to go for clothing.

    ***
    A dry bag (the types used by kayakers) can work well in keeping things dry. Be especially careful to keep your sleeping bag dry. A wet sleeping bag can be very unpleasant and ineffective.

    Doubled garbage bags can also work for keeping things dry, if you take care of them so they don't leak.

    Dry bags are great, though. Some people have toured with most or all of their gear in one large dry bag strapped to the top of their rear rack.

    It's a good practice to carry enough but not too much gear and food and water.

    Keeping it light or reasonably light helps make the touring more enjoyable.

    ***
    Among the better bike repair and maintenance websites are Sheldon Brown's, Park Tools', and Jim Langley's.

    You don't need to learn the more obscure or unlikely-to-be-needed tools and skills, just the most likely to be useful for what you are doing.

    ***
    If you get the bike adjusted and tuned and lubed properly before starting out, you shouldn't have to touch the headset, bottom bracket, hubs, wheels (though it might help to understand how to tighten a spoke), pedals, or anything else but the brakes, derailleur cable stretch and slack, saddle adjustment (though if you get it just right from the start -- both the height and the fore-aft adjustment --, you might not need to touch it either), chain lube (and possibly chain replacement if you ride long enough), and flats (which can be largely avoided by avoiding puncture-causing objects and the places where they tend to accumulate).

    Carrying a couple of extra tubes is a good practice. That way, you're not stuck on the side of a (busy) road in the rain fumbling around with patching a tube -- you can just slip in a fresh one, and deal with patching the puncture when you get to camp. It's better to let the adhesive cure for a day or so anyway -- slow leaks can be caused (at the patch) by inflating too soon.

    You should understand the principle of lubing threads before tightening, and have a feel for not overtightening things to the point of damage. And you should know how to make saddle and handlebar adjustments, and how to attain a good fit and riding position.

    Using medium-strength threadlocking compounds wherever something might loosen is also a good practice
    Last edited by Niles H.; 10-24-09 at 08:12 PM.

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