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  1. #1
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    First Tour - Lots of questions!

    Hi everyone, My wife and I are planning our first tour in June and, needless to say, we are really excited.

    We plan to go for 5 days, total of just about 130 miles, that will be split amongst 3 days of riding, 60 first day, 40 on day three, and right around 30 the final day home. We are camping at some local state parks.

    I'm having the hardest time deciding on the size of panniers I should get. I'm a big fan of the Axiom products. I think they are well made and great value. I'm planning on riding my Cyclocross bike which already has a standard rear rack on it and I'm planning on getting a front rack as well. My wife will be riding her road bike with the Axiom Streamliner rack.

    For my bike I'm planning on using the Champlain pannier in the rear with the Kootenay up front. For my wife's bike, I'm thinking of getting the Lasalle for the rear with nothing up front. I'm planning on taking most of the gear.

    I just don't know if that is too much room for a 5 day tour? I'm not sure I need a bag as big as the Champlain, however, I don't want to spend the money and NOT have enough room. The tent, sleep bags and sleeping mats will be tied down to my rack. Am I overdoing it on the panniers? Do I even need front panniers? We plan on taking really light weight, packable cloths for off the bike (performance apparel, shorts, tee shirts).

    We also plan on eating mostly MRE's, we tried some and think they taste great for freeze dried foods! we will be packing a small stove (screw on type to butane canister) small mess kit etc.

    I also had a question about tires, my wife currently has 700x23c's on her bike, I'd like to get something a little bigger for her bike, but they can't be too big so they clear the side pull breaks. I was thinking something no bigger then 28mm....anyone have any suggestions on a good tire?

    Ok, I think that's all for now! Thanks so much for any help you can give!!!

  2. #2
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bryan0520 View Post
    Hi everyone, My wife and I are planning our first tour in June and, needless to say, we are really excited.

    We plan to go for 5 days, total of just about 130 miles, that will be split amongst 3 days of riding, 60 first day, 40 on day three, and right around 30 the final day home. We are camping at some local state parks.
    Good for you If you can try to split your mileages closer to 50. 60 miles is a pretty ambitious for the first day. I find that there's a fine dividing line between something that is fun and a death march. That line usually falls around 50 miles. You can do 60 miles pretty easily but stuff starts to hurt around 50

    Quote Originally Posted by Bryan0520 View Post
    I'm having the hardest time deciding on the size of panniers I should get. I'm a big fan of the Axiom products. I think they are well made and great value. I'm planning on riding my Cyclocross bike which already has a standard rear rack on it and I'm planning on getting a front rack as well. My wife will be riding her road bike with the Axiom Streamliner rack.

    For my bike I'm planning on using the Champlain pannier in the rear with the Kootenay up front. For my wife's bike, I'm thinking of getting the Lasalle for the rear with nothing up front. I'm planning on taking most of the gear.
    Big isn't necessarily better when it comes to bike panniers. That just encourages you to carry more stuff to fill the empty space. I use Ortlieb rollers front and rear which have volumes of 1200 cubic inches and 2400 cubic inches. I consider the rear ones to be huge and rarely fill them to even half capacity. Trust me, 3600 cubic inches is a lot of space


    Quote Originally Posted by Bryan0520 View Post
    I just don't know if that is too much room for a 5 day tour? I'm not sure I need a bag as big as the Champlain, however, I don't want to spend the money and NOT have enough room. The tent, sleep bags and sleeping mats will be tied down to my rack. Am I overdoing it on the panniers? Do I even need front panniers? We plan on taking really light weight, packable cloths for off the bike (performance apparel, shorts, tee shirts).
    The front pannier should carry most of your weight (and you might want to consider one for your wife instead of a large rear bag). It improves handling but is kind of counterintuitive.

    Packing for a 5 day tour (3 riding days) is almost harder than a multiweek tour. Unless you really want to do laundry every night, carrying 3 changes of bicycle clothes doesn't add that much weight. They are bulky but not too heavy. Think of it this way: You've just done a death march, you have to set up a tent and camp, clean yourself (shower or just water rinse), cook food, eat it, clean up dishes, and get secure for the night. Do you really want to add laundry to the list? Just carry enough bike clothes so that you can avoid that chore.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bryan0520 View Post
    We also plan on eating mostly MRE's, we tried some and think they taste great for freeze dried foods! we will be packing a small stove (screw on type to butane canister) small mess kit etc.
    Are you really going to be that remote? I carry one freeze dry meal as an emergency backup but won't eat it if I can find something else. There are usually grocery stores...or the hated Hellmart...somewhere along the way. There are lots of rice dishes that can be suplimented with other stuff to make them quite palatable. Zatarian's rices are very good, don't weigh much (without the box but save the cooking instructions) and can be found all over the place. Hellmart sells foil packed chicken or foil packed spam to add some protein if you like. It's easier to carry food 10 miles than it is to huck it for 120 miles

    Quote Originally Posted by Bryan0520 View Post
    I also had a question about tires, my wife currently has 700x23c's on her bike, I'd like to get something a little bigger for her bike, but they can't be too big so they clear the side pull breaks. I was thinking something no bigger then 28mm....anyone have any suggestions on a good tire?
    A 28mm tire is around 1 1/8". A 32 is around 1 1/4". I've toured on both without problems. I've toured on 37 mm tires (1 3/8") and had way too many blowouts (see the stories in my sig). I'm almost ready to go back to a much thinner tire that will let me run slightly higher pressures for effiency. I had to run my 37mm on my most recent tour around 75psi to avoid blowing them off the rim. That's really soft for a loaded bike.

    A 28 mm should be fine.
    Stuart Black
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  3. #3
    Senior Member crazybikerchick's Avatar
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    My thinking is you can't go too big for panniers (unless it interferes with pedalling). Or if it causes you to fill them up with useless dead weight If you have extra space for 5 days it will work out well if you want to do a bigger tour in the future.

    Its nice to have free space for your days groceries, bottle of wine to enjoy at camp, etc. Much nicer than eating freeze dried. Just stop a couple of hours before you reach camp to pick up supplies. (closer obviously if you are picking up fresh meat, but we are vegetarian)

  4. #4
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    This is for three weeks of "light touring". Fully self contained. Those are 25mm tires, and the held up well on several multi-week trips.

    This is the set up we used for 3 months. Those are 28mm tires and they are about as heavy as I'll go. We have used them for most of our major ventures. We tried 32mm, but did not like the weight or the ride.


    FWIW- Try to determine what type of touring you will do in the future, and outfit accordingly. The problem is that you have to carry about the same amount of gear for one week as you do for three weeks.

  5. #5
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    The Champlain seems very large, even if you just use those without any front bags. I only use rear panniers of about 2200 in^3 and a small handlebar bag and that gives me enough room so I can stow the sleeping bag, pad, and tent inside the panniers and leave the top of the rack empty.

    I usually plan to stop at a grocery or convenience store somewhere shortly before the camping spot to get food for dinner and possibly the next morning's breakfast. I do carry enough 'emergency food' to be ok if the planned food stop doesn't work out, but that has only happened on rare occasions. MRE's and similar packaged meals are fine for backpacking, but an advantage of bike camping is that in most cases you can pick up fresh foods each day.

  6. #6
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    Hey Doug64, your pics didn't load.

    NM....I think my office blocks photos....
    Last edited by Bryan0520; 05-13-10 at 11:56 AM.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the info everyone, I've decided definatly against the Champlain, I saw a new picture of them the yesterday, some lady carrying them over her shoulder and they were HUGE....seriously gigantic. So I think I'm going to go with only the Lasalle's on the back for both our bikes. We also have camel back backpacks that we were originally going to use only to carry very very light weight inside, possibly our additonal bike clothes. So I think we'll have plenty of room.

    Cyccommute - thanks for your info! I agree that I'm a little nervous about the 60 miles on day one. We've done a handfull of metric centuries and that last 10 miles is always a bear, however, we are going to two state parks in our area, (Burbs of Chicago, IL) Starved Rock State Park and Shabbona State park on day 3. The first is actually only about 40 miles from us, but I ended up tacking on almost 20 more miles to modify the route to avoid the US highway (Rt 71) that makes it only 40 miles! We do come up to a small town, Earlville IL, almost at mile 30 so we plan to rest, grab lunch and then go finish the rest of the trip.

  8. #8
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    Since you like Axiom, add these to your bikes for raisins/cranberries as you go along. http://www.axiomgear.com/products/ge...lty/power-bag/
    I also put my camera in mine.

  9. #9
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bryan0520 View Post
    Thanks for the info everyone, I've decided definatly against the Champlain, I saw a new picture of them the yesterday, some lady carrying them over her shoulder and they were HUGE....seriously gigantic. So I think I'm going to go with only the Lasalle's on the back for both our bikes. We also have camel back backpacks that we were originally going to use only to carry very very light weight inside, possibly our additonal bike clothes. So I think we'll have plenty of room.

    Cyccommute - thanks for your info! I agree that I'm a little nervous about the 60 miles on day one. We've done a handfull of metric centuries and that last 10 miles is always a bear, however, we are going to two state parks in our area, (Burbs of Chicago, IL) Starved Rock State Park and Shabbona State park on day 3. The first is actually only about 40 miles from us, but I ended up tacking on almost 20 more miles to modify the route to avoid the US highway (Rt 71) that makes it only 40 miles! We do come up to a small town, Earlville IL, almost at mile 30 so we plan to rest, grab lunch and then go finish the rest of the trip.
    Since you are carrying Camelbaks, do yourselves a huge favor and pack them with ice each morning. This makes the water in them more refreshing but the ice filled bladder acts as your own personal cooling unit. Ice usually lasts several hours, depending on how much you pack in there. A 100 oz bladder will take a large percentage of a 7 lb bag of ice.
    Stuart Black
    Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
    Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
    Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
    An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.

  10. #10
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    Good for you If you can try to split your mileages closer to 50. 60 miles is a pretty ambitious for the first day. I find that there's a fine dividing line between something that is fun and a death march. That line usually falls around 50 miles. You can do 60 miles pretty easily but stuff starts to hurt around 50
    I usually like to do a shortish ride the first day. This may be much less of a big deal for you since you have a day in between and the tour is short.

    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    Big isn't necessarily better when it comes to bike panniers. That just encourages you to carry more stuff to fill the empty space. I use Ortlieb rollers front and rear which have volumes of 1200 cubic inches and 2400 cubic inches. I consider the rear ones to be huge and rarely fill them to even half capacity. Trust me, 3600 cubic inches is a lot of space
    Yep 3200 cubic inches is plenty for the way we pack including room for extra stuff when needed. Some people carry a lot more stuff than others though.

    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    Are you really going to be that remote? I carry one freeze dry meal as an emergency backup but won't eat it if I can find something else. There are usually grocery stores...or the hated Hellmart...somewhere along the way. There are lots of rice dishes that can be suplimented with other stuff to make them quite palatable. Zatarian's rices are very good, don't weigh much (without the box but save the cooking instructions) and can be found all over the place. Hellmart sells foil packed chicken or foil packed spam to add some protein if you like. It's easier to carry food 10 miles than it is to huck it for 120 miles
    I also much prefer to buy food as needed. Also, I'd add noodles dishes, foil packed tuna, and foil packed salmon to the suggested list.

    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    A 28 mm should be fine.
    I like the Continental Ultra Gatorskin in 700x28 quite well.

  11. #11
    Senior Member damselfli's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bryan0520 View Post
    My wife and I are planning our first tour in June and, needless to say, we are really excited.
    Yeah! The excitement is a wonderful part of the journey!

    Quote Originally Posted by Bryan0520 View Post
    We plan to go for 5 days, total of just about 130 miles... I'm having the hardest time deciding on the size of panniers I should get. I'm planning on taking most of the gear... I just don't know if that is too much room for a 5 day tour?
    Is there anyone you know who would lend panniers to try out, rather than buying them before your *first* journey? Even being able to borrow some for a neighborhood ride (testing the load) might be helpful to you... I carried front and rear panniers on a 12 week tour (1100ci/unit front, and 3300ci/pair rear) and my tent, rainfly and sleeping bag were all inside my bags. I used half the clothes I carried, finding what was most comfortable and sticking to them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bryan0520 View Post
    We also plan on eating mostly MRE's, we tried some and think they taste great for freeze dried foods! we will be packing a small stove (screw on type to butane canister) small mess kit etc.
    I prefer carrying a minimal amount of raw foods. My normal breakfast is raw thick rolled oats, chopped nuts, seeds and coconut flakes mixed with a bit of dried milk powder; I just add water and top with fresh cut fruit, for a quick protein-filled meal. If I am really working (burning calories up the mountains) I stop for a second breakfast (pancakes!) I carry hard-boiled eggs carry for a few days; they make a great mid-day snack. Cooked quinoa or wild rice embellished with fresh veggies and other goodies I buy along the way make dinner... Good food is a wonderful treat after spending hours in the saddle. And sometimes a bottle of wine or a cold beer is in order! I learned to reduce my load by hunting for dinner and other groceries near the end of the day.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bryan0520 View Post
    I also had a question about tires, my wife currently has 700x23c's on her bike, I'd like to get something a little bigger for her bike, but they can't be too big so they clear the side pull breaks. I was thinking something no bigger then 28mm....anyone have any suggestions on a good tire?
    Conti Top Touring 2000 tires have performed for me; I put on a 2nd set after 5000+ miles on my first pair.

    Enjoy your first tour!
    Last edited by damselfli; 05-13-10 at 06:34 PM. Reason: added info
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