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Thread: Your First Tour

  1. #1
    This town needs an enema.
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    Your First Tour

    How long was it (days and miles)?

    What time of year? What kind of weather?

    What is something you felt you did right (or something that worked itself out) for your first tour?

    What is something you did wrong or forgot and wish you had brought with you?

  2. #2
    Senior Member mattbicycle's Avatar
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    Hong Kong to Shanghai

    1900km

    23 days (November to early December)

    Weather in the south was very hot. I got sunburnt. After two weeks it was cold. On my last day the temperature near Shanghai ranged from +2 to -3.

    I underestimated the maps I'd need to navigate through cities. I didn't realise so many roads would welcome bicycles but then become motorised vehicle only roads with no warning or way to divert to other minor roads. I didn't have access to reasonable scale English language maps of the countryside (for the most part they don't exist). I underestimated both the hot weather in the south and how cold it would be in the mountains and closer to Shanghai. I bought my bicycle the day before my trip and it didn't occur to me that the seat post was incredibly short and couldn't be extended any further-- luckily I was able to buy another in a small town where they sold folding bikes with long seat posts.

    I really wish I had the $2 compass bell for navigation which I rely upon so much but foolishly (trying to save weight in every possible way on the plane) didn't bring because I thought I'd buy another in HK. They are a dime a dozen in Shanghai but I couldn't find one anywhere in HK or along the way. I thought I could burn 56% alcohol in my Trangia stove. I was correct (in the south) but didn't realise it wouldn't stay lit once the weather became cold. Tent was useless (I slept in abandoned buildings) but very helpful to wrap myself in because I stupidly only had a 10 degree sleeping bag and it wasn't warm enough.

    Did right: I bought foam handlebar grips along the way for the handlebars and bar ends ($1 for a pair). The cushioning effect and comfort made a huge difference. I bought a front basket and was amazed how convenient it was. The army surplus bag I brought from Australia and system to attach to rear rack worked perfectly.

    I wasn't close to 100% comfortable a lot of the time. But learnt more in the trip than all the internet research I could do in a lifetime. I learnt an incredible amount on what to do in the future.

  3. #3
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I didn't jump right into the touring thing ... I sort of eased into it.

    I guess my first sort of tour was in my first year of "serious" cycling in 1990. My father and I cycled a 50 mile U shaped route in northern Alberta, and my husband at the time met me in a town at the end of the route, and we camped overnight. It was my intention to ride home the next day, but the next day was a horrible day for weather so we just drove home. But the day my father and I rode was one of the hottest days of summer.

    Then I suppose the next might be a 4-day adventure in 1995. My father had ridden Jasper to Banff in three days when I was 17, and I rode the last day with him. When I did that, I told myself that one day I'd do the whole thing myself. So in 1995, I did. Two days of riding, a day off, and then the third day to finish. That was a supported tour because my husband at the time sagged for me. The weather was typical of summer in the Rockies ... cool and rainy with some warm spells.

    And then I think it was in 1997 when I rode a MS150 event ... cycled from Winnipeg to Gimli, stayed overnight, and cycled home the next day. Fully supported, of course. I enjoyed that ride, and the next year I got into racing because of some of the people I met on that ride. Weather? Seems to me that Day 1 was very, very windy, but Day 2 was nice.

    Then I got into racing for the next three years ... and then into Randonneuring ... and then Randonneuring led back into touring again as well as into other long distance riding. I've written about the more recent tours etc. here: http://www.machka.net/

    The thing is, the more you cycle, the easier it is to ride long distance and be comfortable on the bicycle. You also learn what you need to bring in terms of clothing, tools, food, etc. etc. I'm talking about cycling in general ... not specifically touring. Prior to, and in between, the short tours I mentioned there, I rode my bicycle regularly ... commuting to and from work in all sorts of weather, doing centuries, exploring my local area, etc. You've got to get out there and ride lots. Experiment with stuff ... do short tours to practice with your panniers, and other touring gear. Do long rides that aren't tours. Ride as many days in a week as possible so that you get a feel for getting on your bicycle day after day.

  4. #4
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    Sweden to Spain 1986 (?) about 2000 km on a 5 speed "Monark". Plastic pedals, no toe clips and barefoot all the way. No tent just a sleeping bag and see-through plastic sheet to wrap into when it rained.

    The only map i had was a whole of europe one, but I'd been hitching and living all around western europe for about six years prior to going over to bike touring. Around 1984 it started to get harder and harder to hitch hike...

    What would I do differently? Nothing... but nowadays I do... plan more, have a better bike and camping gear, oh and generally have more money than in those days to take into campsites for example... oh and hot food!

    Basically I strapped my little rucksack and guitar onto my city bike and took off.... MAGIC!

    Thanks cradduck good thread brings back good memories *PEACE*

  5. #5
    Bicycle Student bokerfest's Avatar
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    NE to CA by way of Dallas. It was even my first over night trip.
    2100 miles. Left april 15th arrived May 28th. I somehow missed most of the rain. Only two strong storms. Coldest night was 35 degrees in northern Kansas. Hottest day was 118 in Phoenix.
    Asked people what to expect down the road. Most of the time they were off with an over or under expectation but I learned how to read people's advice well.
    I didn't need a stove. I carried it the whole way and didn't use it once.
    Last edited by bokerfest; 12-24-09 at 04:01 AM. Reason: added content.

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    My first tour lasted 6 days, covered 480 miles in the early spring of this year. Had fabulous weather for 4 days, and of course downpours for the last two.

    Done right was sticking to the plan and going. 6 weeks before leaving I had skin cancer removed from my middle finger and wasn't able to ride at all until 1 week before the trip. 2 days before the trip the incision got infected and the night before needed to be drained. Common sense said scrap the trip, but I was dying to ride so decided to go and take it easy. I'd spent the winter figuring out packing and provisions and wouldn't get another shot for a while.

    Did wrong, just rode too fast. It felt so good to be riding that by end of day one I was half way through day 2's distance. I rode the whole week pretty hard cause it just felt so good to be pedaling, so I guess that was right after all.

    Planning tour 2 now (clockwise around Lake Erie) and promising myself I'll just leisure it.

  7. #7
    Senior Member xilios's Avatar
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    I cycled from Holland to Greece, May-June 2005, took me 5 weeks one of the best experiances of my life. (more details on our page)

  8. #8
    Lentement mais sûrement Erick L's Avatar
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    A ~250km overnight trip from Quebec city to Magog, Quebec. I had a handlebar bag, a sleeping bag strapped to the rear rack and a daypack on my back. Weather was hot and sunny. I got there with burned skin and an ass on fire.
    Erick - www.borealphoto.com/velo

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    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    First tour was a 3 day at age 13 with some friends. We rode from the center of town about 12 miles out to one of the guy's uncle's farm. Spent the night, then rode to a campground near a lake, then home on the third day. Total mileage was probably around 35 or so. Not bad considering most of us were on single speed coaster brake bikes. IIRC one guy had a fancy shmancy "English Racer" 3 speed.

    Next really serious tour I did was about 3-4 years later, 14 days on the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Shenandoah Skyline Drive. Biggest problem was food and not having enough cool/cold weather gear. Food was only available if you drove off the parkways, quite often 10 miles or more. That bike was a 15 speed that was built up on an old Motobecane frame set.

    The bikes have gotten better over the years, the engine has gotten smarter...and slower.

    Here is an interesting story about a first tour, just shows what can be done.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

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  10. #10
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    My first tours were as a poverty-stricken college student/musician. It was somewhen in the 70's. I had a bike - a Raleigh Gran Prix 10-speed. It had steel wheels (that rusted), straight (non-butted) tubing, and a leather Brooks saddle that was a torture instrument. I couldn't afford panniers so I bought some pack cloth and sewed my own. They were extremely crude but they worked. I still have them. I had a cheap sleeping bag, a bicycling poncho, and a blue foam pad. I had no stove or cooking gear.

    The first tour was from Seattle to Bellingham, Washington, up Whidbey Island. I stayed the first night at South Whidbey State Park, the second at Deception Pass, and made it to Bellingham relatively early on the third day.

    The cost of campsites was something I wanted to avoid. Instead I waited in the picnic area until it started to get dark, then threw my poncho on the ground off in the woods and laid out my pad and sleeping bag. I didn't get caught.

    I didn't own a stove so I ate things like fruits and vegetables, canned tuna, and beef jerky. Not great but it was only three days. I survived.

    The great thing was the feeling of freedom and independence, which I'm guessing we all feel is a big part of the attraction of bike touring. Also good was how cheaply I was traveling while having a great time.

    I went on several tours of this nature, though I actually paid for campsites - usually. (On my third or fourth tour I had gotten rudely kicked out of my sleeping spot under a picnic table in a picnic area at dawn. It was justified because I wasn't supposed to be there and knew it, but unpleasant.) I did learn to look for campsites in the woods - not in picnic areas - and they were some of the best.

    It wasn't until many years later, in the 90's, that I was able to afford a more appropriate bike, panniers, a stove, etc. - all the stuff I needed. I think buying touring gear is like buying good tools - it may be initially costly, but it will last for many years. On a prorated basis, it's still cheap. My bikes last me much longer than my cars, and the only reason I buy another bike is because I want to - not because the old one is broken.

    I just re-read the original post and see that I ignored two questions. It was 120 miles, and during the summer.
    Last edited by BigBlueToe; 12-27-09 at 12:11 PM.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Quemal's Avatar
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    1985 San Diego to La Paz, about 1000 mi. Left in late January, rained for the first 3 days (I HATE RIDING IN THE RAIN), then sun the rest of the way. The scenery is just awesome, I wish I had brought a better camera.

    My father passed away a year earlier, he would have really enjoyed the ride. Not having done the tour several years earlier is my only regret. I got my adventurous attitude from him. He first got me into cycling, when he bought me my first multi speed bike, when I was 12.
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  12. #12
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    500 miles in Texas. No problems but High winds.
    Take a look if you want:

    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...League-City-TX
    [SIZE=1][B]What I like about Texas[/B]
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGukLuXzH1E

    Set F1re To The Ra1n ( NY Night Rain Ride)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7jfcWEkSrI

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    I entered touring at the shallow end of the pool rather than jumping right into the deep end. As such, my mistakes were small and boring and easily corrected before they become a problem. I started in ideal weather. I did a bit of supported touring first, which is really nothing more than day rides and camping. Then I did some loaded day rides, progressing to longer and hillier loaded day rides, progressing to an overnight flat ride, progressing to a one-week hilly ride. I still have more to learn and longer tours to do.

  14. #14
    family on bikes nancy sv's Avatar
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    My very first tour was more a comedy of errors than a tour - but I had a blast and am still out there pedaling, so I guess it couldn't have been all that bad!

    I took off for a quick 4-day trip to a canyon 100 miles from home, but I didn't pay any atention at all to what that 100 miles would be! I rode through corn fields and sugar beet flields and potato fields for hour after hour after hour trying to find a place to sleep, all the while repairing my broken rack with bitty bits of stick every 5 or 10 minutes!

    I wrote about my experiences here: http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-1...edy-of-errors#
    Last edited by nancy sv; 12-24-09 at 02:11 PM.
    WE DID IT! Our little family of four cycled 17,300 miles from Alaska to Argentina! The trip of a lifetime for sure. www.familyonbikes.org

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    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    First tour was about 250 miles, home to home, in good weather. Discovered I'd left my pump. Wife brought it to me. Cheap panniers and a homemade stuff sack. Only problem was 4 flats in 5 miles 'cause I didn't have enough sense to check the tire for wires. Gave up and hitched to nearest town with a bike shop. Just made the trip that much more memorable.
    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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    L.A. - S.F - L.A. 14 days - 1000 miles - Summer 1978 - Has become 1 of my yearly tours.

    All went well,except for the broken rear hub in Santa Barbara,because I carried WAY TO MUCH STUFF.I also ran off the road in Big Sur and had 2 flats because I was looking around and the road turned,and I didn't.

    That was also the first and last time I'll ever ride 17 mile drive in Pebble Beach.

    I had a custom built Shogun touring bike built for that first trip(they did that in those days)and it's still going strong 32 years later.
    Last edited by Booger1; 12-24-09 at 12:03 PM.
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    1st.

    68 days in a 1.5 man with dad tent at age 20. I'm forever traumatized.

    Summer 1990 England/Scotland on the bike with a fast 3 week train trip all over Europe.

    Things I learned:

    Midges ug
    1.5 person tents for two people -> no ( I will forever schlep a 2 person tent just for me)
    all the weight on the rear -> no
    wild camping in scotland -> yes
    Backpacks strapped to top the rear rack can work sorta


    Things dad learned:
    camping is a spot and day tripping.
    Exploring the food.
    Bring back cool stuff for friends

  18. #18
    experience over lungs
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    Three days across the state of Connecticut with my dad when I was 12. The mileage was somewhere around 200. I think the only mistake we made was to start at the NY border to say we covered the whole state -- the roads and traffic was lousy, but it was the short day, so it helped in getting us sorted out. Still, I'd say it's never worth covering ground just for bragging rights. A good lesson to learn as a 12 year old. The last day through mystic and into Rhode Island was awesome, even though I got heat exhausted on a climb after we made a wrong turn, but that climb I remember to this day for it's lush trees and views. I think we did over 100 miles that day.

    I think it is really important for cyclists to take their children on a tour. This tour is one of my fondest memories of my childhood and I learned many important life lessons in just those three days. Now, almost 30 years later, when I'm moaning on a long ride on my modern bike, I just have to remember that I covered all that distance as a kid on a steel rimmed Panasonic camel frame and had no idea that it was supposed to be hard -- I just rode. One of the great gifts that trip showed me was that you shouldn't worry about preparation -- just get on the bike, fix what needs fixing as you go, and have an adventure.

  19. #19
    family on bikes nancy sv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dg going uphill View Post
    i think it is really important for cyclists to take their children on a tour. This tour is one of my fondest memories of my childhood and i learned many important life lessons in just those three days.
    yes!!!
    WE DID IT! Our little family of four cycled 17,300 miles from Alaska to Argentina! The trip of a lifetime for sure. www.familyonbikes.org

  20. #20
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DG Going Uphill View Post
    I think it is really important for cyclists to take their children on a tour. This tour is one of my fondest memories of my childhood and I learned many important life lessons in just those three days.
    While my parents didn't really take us on bicycle tours, they both rode a lot, and my brother and I rode with them. Bicycles accompanied us on many of our vacations, and we'd stay in one spot for a week or so, and cycle around that area ... then go on to the next spot on the trip, etc.

    I guess that's basically hub and spoke touring ... and because I enjoyed it so much as a kid, maybe that's why I still enjoy hub and spoke touring now. In that case, my first tour was likely when I was around 10 or 11 years old.

  21. #21
    Senior Member jalbri's Avatar
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    My first tour was a complete disaster...a lasting monument to inept planning and general multi-dimensioned studidity.

    Started out in Basking Ridge, NJ. Intended destination: Hartford, Maine. Actual destination: New Milford, Connecticut. Total distance: 130 miles over two days.

    Time of year was August (hot!)

    Hadn't ridden my bike at all for weeks before beginning the tour. Managed to get 85 miles from home the first day. Had to push the bike up most of the (many) hills because of severe leg cramping. Made it to Fahnestock State Park in New York after dark. In the middle of nowhere. Too tired to eat, but starving. Only thing I had eaten all day was a few dried apricots.

    Next day only made it 45 more miles. Seat sore, legs not functioning. Called son to come and rescue me.

    Many lessons learned on this tour, so I guess it wasn't a complete failure.

  22. #22
    Senior Member wheel's Avatar
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    Your First Tour

    How long was it (days and miles)?
    3 days 160 miles

    What time of year? What kind of weather?
    January approaching storm 15f degrees at night 25f during the day. Tour was sunny.

    What is something you felt you did right (or something that worked itself out) for your first tour?
    I made the loop and climbed some 8,000 feet.
    What is something you did wrong or forgot and wish you had brought with you?
    Smart wool socks.
    Yes seat was too low. Took 2 months off cycling. Last day of tour I was in pain.
    Took to much stuff. Didn't have panniers.

  23. #23
    Flying Under the Radar X-LinkedRider's Avatar
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    PA-CO

    1600 miles

    31 days
    May - 2008

    Just wish I had more time, better weather and more video footage.
    12' SuperiorLite SL Pro w/ Sram Rival | 10' SuperiorLite SL Club w/ Sram Force | 06' Giant FCR (Dropbar) w/ Shimano 5700 | 10' GT Avalanche 3.0 Disc

  24. #24
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    My first tour was San Francisco to L.A.( Ventura actually...) via Big Sur..........Five full days on the road..... I just put in the miles, emphasizing climbing and felt I was ready..It was in the Fall ( Sept.) because I was told the winds off of the Pacific are better in Early Fall... It went ok.. Was not quite used to carrying all that stuff on a self supported tour with two other friends... I really do favor Sag tours... If you are only self supported , I suggest you think that out well in advance. Maybe, take a mini self supported tour before you do the big tour...
    It was a memorable tour. I look back on it as great fun.. Not especially my thing tho. Because those open cliffs without barriers to the Pacific is some what of a challenge for someone with a minor fear of heights. Good therapy however..
    Last edited by cyclezealot; 12-25-09 at 02:02 AM.
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  25. #25
    Arranger Power Powerarranger's Avatar
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    My 1st was from DC to Hancock on the C&O towpath on my trusty old Trek 730. I had planned to make it to Cumberland, but I forgot I had a gig and had to cut the trip short. I was out for four days.

    11.jpg

    I carried all my food, re-watering at campsites along the way. It was GREAT! The worst thing that happened was that I left one of my panniers open after leaving my first campsite and my nice Army PT sweatpants fell out. Had to stop at a Dollar store to replace them and get some warmer clothes due to a cold snap (this was in early October).

    My 2nd was the same route, northbound, only this time I took a friend along. He bailed after one day, I continued on to Cumberland. Once there, I decided to head back to Baltimore via Rt. 144/40. It was a great ride, especially after all those miles on the muddy towpath, but I soon realized that if I wanted to continue touring I would need better gearing. Those mountains were challenging!

    IMG_8797.jpg

    I stealth camped on the way back, and stopped at grocery stores to re-supply. I had a 3-litre water bottle which was adequate, but bulky - a Dromedary or something similar would have worked better.

    I kept the food simple and had no issues with it - oatmeal, spaghetti, canned tuna, peanut butter, bagels etc. I'd stop at a restaurant or Quickie mart for a sandwich or a sit-down dinner if I didn't feel like cooking, though it cost a little more.

    That trip took just over a week, and now I'm hooked.

    After that trip, I upgraded to an LHT (what Kool-Aid?) and my Trek 730 is still my main commuting bike.

    I can hardly wait to take the Trucker on its first tour next year!
    Originally posted by Elkhound
    Respect goes both ways. If we want motorists to respect our right to use the road, then it behooves us to ride in a responsible, lawful manner.

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