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  1. #1
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    Am I getting in over my head?

    Well, I have had the idea to ride my bicycle all the way from Minneapolis to La Plant, South Dakota. La Plant is just beyond the Missouri River.

    The whole time I have been feeling very comfortable and confident about riding my mountain bike for 10 hours at a time but,

    when I told my dad about it over the phone, he was like,

    "This is definitely not one of your brightest ideas. You can't go that far on a bicycle. You could barely do 50 miles in one day! You have no experience riding long distance."

    When I heard his words, plus the bad luck I have had with flats, it bruised my confidence a bit. What do you guys think? Is it a real tough challenge to ride a bicycle for ten hours? Is it just too unrealistic?

    I have converted my bicycle into an E Bike but, the battery is cheap so, it is a very heavy SLA battery. I just went to the local grocery store without the battery strapped to the rear bike rack and, I felt a total difference! Weight does matter. I felt like I could fly with just my two legs without the heavy bulky battery.

    The battery only has 15 miles on it at 20 miles per hour but, I am sure that is not enough for a 127 mile trip. Well, weather if it is possible to ride a bicycle for ten hours and make it to one of my destinations on time, I guess I wont know till I try.

    I guess in the least sense, I can try thirty miles to test myself. Surely Thirty miles in one day is very very doable. No problem.

    Well, if anyone could be so kind to share some tips, I would greatly appreciate it.

  2. #2
    Senior Member jonsam's Avatar
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    How far do you ride currently? Does your bike fit you and is it comfortable to ride for long periods? You also didn't mention what your time frame is for the trip. Are you planning on riding the whole 127 miles in one day? Ultimately you'll have to figure out for yourself what you feel comfortable with. If your goal is 127 miles in one day, start going out and building up to that.

  3. #3
    Eater of Food WillJL's Avatar
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    Long distance cycling is very accessible, even if you're only moderately fit. However, going 127 miles in a single day without any practice or training is another story. If you've never done that kind of distance before, there is no way of knowing whether or not you are up to it. I'd recommend that you try to do practice rides beforehand and consider breaking the trip into two days. That said, there are 50-60 year old "randonneurs" who can ride 200-300 miles in a day, so with practice, anything is possible.

    I assure you that if you practice for 2-3 weekends before hand, adjust your riding style, and learn your limits, that doing 127 miles in 2 days would be no problem for a healthy adult. If you are particularly fit, or if you have the right attitude and can avoid hurting yourself, maybe you could even do it in a single day.

    If you are weighed down by an underpowered e-bike, it will be all the more difficult. You should certainly remove the battery and consider replacing the original wheel for this ride (I'm presuming that you bought a hub motor and you still have your original wheel). Also, do you have bottle cages for carrying water, and a backpack or handlebar bag for bringing food? Is your saddle at the correct height for riding a long distance?--Your legs should be about 80% extended at the bottom of your pedal stroke. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT IF YOU WANT TO AVOID INJURING YOUR KNEES!!! Also, you should use your gears to keep your pedaling at about 70rpm. If you are mashing on the pedals all day in a high gear, its another good way to hurt your knees.

    If you are concerned about getting a flat along the way you could bring tools, a patch kit and extra tubes. I would even suggest that you invest in flat-resistant tires or "Mr.Tuffys", which is a plastic tire liner that will prevent flats if you install it between your tube and tire. You may find that your saddle is uncomfortable after 15-20 miles, particularly if if is made of plastic and heavily padded. Many cyclists use a stiff saddle with padded cycling shorts, or better yet, a leather saddle. Your local bike shop can help you with all this. You may want to get lights for your bike in case your ride continues into the night.

    You should also consider the route: is it hilly? Are there amenities along the way for you to get food and water, or is it long stretches of trackless wilderness? Are there high winds on any of the roads? If you break it into a two day trip, where will you stay? I'm not familiar with the area, so I can't answer those questions for you...

    Don't let your father discourage you from trying this. The experience of riding a bicycle a long distance is liberating and exciting, and it will change the way you look at the world. Build yourself up to it with practice rides and you'll have a better sense of what you need to do to be ready. Good luck, and don't hesitate to ask more questions!
    Last edited by WillJL; 06-17-10 at 01:19 AM.
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  4. #4
    mosquito rancher adamrice's Avatar
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    127 miles in a day is certainly doable. I'm sure lots of people on this forum have done it. But it's also something you need to train up to.

    Some years back, I rode Austin-Houston (165 miles) on two occasions; for each attempt, I started out with a good base level of fitness, and stepped up my training about a month in advance to the point where I was riding a mix of long and short rides totaling about 220 miles/week. I tapered off in the last week, and for both rides, had pretty good experiences and good times (9:00 and 8:40), although I started feeling exhausted after about 120 miles.

    This route was absolutely flat, well-paved, and probably had a small net elevation drop; both rides were done in mild weather. I was on a nice racing bike with aero bars, and was carrying minimal gear to weigh me down (basic tools and patch kit, food, camelbak). I had sent a change of clothes ahead to my destination. So that's probably a best-case scenario.

  5. #5
    Senior Member cyclist2000's Avatar
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    The distance is doable but train for the distance. sheer will power can get you to ride this type of distance without preparation but it may be a miserable painfull experience. Train, read about touring and it will be an enjoyable experience that you will want to do again.
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  6. #6
    17yrold in 64yrold body
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    I agree with all the above, and would add that depending on how your bike is set up, you might actually have FUN on this ride. I have done a few century rides, and found that having different hand positions helps me a LOT. You did not say what style of bike you have--MTB, racer, cruiser, etc. so specific advice is tough, but if it is a MTB, you can add bar ends for more hand positions. Drop bars on racers already have pretty good positions, but cruisers are a different story. The upright swept back type of bars on most of them do not give more than a couple hand positions, and the upright riding position is not at all aerodynamic, and will be pretty uncomfortable after 30miles or so.

    All that said, YOU have to decide what is comfortable for 'the long haul'. Some people have little problem doing 50 miles on a cruiser--I am just not one of them. I personally use 'randonneur' bars which give me multiple hand/body positions. This helps on long rides to keep me from getting 'rogor mortis' by staying in any one position for exdtended periods.

    Another thing you might consider is tires. If you presently have fairly wide--1.5" or more, and you switch to narrower, higher pressure ones, it will help you roll easier (I'm assuming paved roads), and you can get some pretty good puncture-resistant tires. I use Continental Ultra Gatorskins and have had good success with them. Someone above mentioned liners--I use them too (in some tires) and they too have worked well. Even so, I always carry spare tubes, a patch kit, and mini-pump. My current favorite is a Topeak Turbo Morph. It has a fold down foot, T-handle, hose for connection to tube, and a flip-down analog gauge. Fits right well in my Camelbak too!

    Hope some of this helps. I second the other posters suggestion to train up a little (or a lot if you want) before trying this ride. If you are comfortable and well trained you should enjoy it and want to do it again. If you are uncomfortable and not well trained, you may NOT enjoy it, and give up before you really have a chance to see how rewarding long-distance touring can be.

  7. #7
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    You said you want to ride from Minneapolis to La Plant. That is 400 miles, not 127. You could do it in a week and enjoy the ride.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Rob_E's Avatar
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    Ultimately only you can decide if you're up for it, but, as has been stated, you really haven't given enough info for people to properly advise you. Maybe your 127 mile figure is your daily goal for 3 days, giving you (almost) the 400 miles to get to your destination. To my mind, that sounds very ambitious and probably unwise, but then I'm just guessing at your goals based on the scant info.

    Here's some thoughts:
    An electric assist bicycle is generally a short range tool. On a day long trip it will run out of power early on and drag you down the rest of the way. You're much better off for a long trip on a bicycle without the electric assist. It's just going to be dead weight, and one thing you don't want on a long ride is dead weight.

    If you have been relying on an electric assist so far, you almost certainly haven't been pushing yourself physically. You really need to bike around locally without an electric assist to see what you're capable of.

    I do remember hopping on my bike at 18 and taking a trip of about 200 miles with very little preparation. I had been biking right along up until I left, but my longest trip was probably about 30 miles. That said, I had a good idea of my ability and my speed. I knew how tired I got after a 10 or 20 mile ride, I knew how long it took me to recover, and I knew about how fast I travelled. That's the kind of information you need to plan out your route. For me, I think I was averaging 50 miles a day. I probably could have done more, but that left me with plenty of time to recover at the end of the day. You can always pick out multiple stopping points depending on how you feel and how far long it's taking you, but no stopping point should be farther away than you already know you can travel. If you don't know yet if you can do fifty miles in a day, then planning for 120+ miles in a day seems like asking for trouble. Even if you make it through one day, if your body isn't ready for it, the next day you may be no shape to keep up that pace.

    Also, get a tire patch kit and the necessary tools. Make sure you are comfortable changing and patching a tube using just the tools you plan on taking. And, if you're having a lot of flats now, make sure you have decent tires. If you start a trip of several hundred miles with worn out tires, your flats will only increase as you go until your tire itself becomes useless. Many people touring long distances will cary a spare tire as well as a tube. That may not be necessary for a trip of a few days if you know that your starting out with good tires, but it's not a bad precaution. A trip that long with no mechanical problems is a lot to hope for, especially if your bike is already flat-prone. But that alone doesn't make the trip impractical. It should just inform you about what needs to be addressed on the bike before you leave and what repairs you should be prepared to make on the road. There are probably very few tourers who have not had to do roadside tube maintenance. It's one of the easiest things to fix on your bike and shouldn't stop you from going if you're prepared to deal with a flat. But if you're already flat-prone, that's something you should try and address ahead of time.

  9. #9
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    The simple answer is that, yes, you are getting in over your head, given your current preparation and experience.

    The electric motor/battery sounds like a bad idea. It won't last very long and will be heavy. The mountain bike doesn't seem ideal either.

    It's not clear if you are talking about doing 127 miles in one day. This would be fairly ambitious for one day of riding, let alone being part of a multiday ride.

    Quote Originally Posted by Manji82 View Post
    I guess in the least sense, I can try thirty miles to test myself. Surely Thirty miles in one day is very very doable. No problem.
    Almost anybody can do 30 miles on a bicycle in one day. While you should do this (and already have done this), it won't be any indication of being able to do 127 miles in one day. You should probably have a few 100 mile (century) rides before you consider doing 127 miles (as part of a multiday trip).

    Ride more, much more. And dump the motor/battery. And then, come back and ask if what you are planning is doable.
    Last edited by njkayaker; 06-17-10 at 04:38 PM.

  10. #10
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    As far as the 50 miles bit is concerned, that's relatively trivial. I normally knock off the first 40 in the morning, and then what with distractions heat, etc... I barely get to 90-100 the rest of the day. I average about 10 miles an hour made good. In a 16 hour day you can average nearer 3 MPH and cover 50. It could be walked.

    Fitness and prior experience count for little. Just start out slow, keep at it, and take a few days to build up. People are crazy for training these days, and it certainly can pay off, particularly if you have to keep up with other people who are well trained. But athletic training these days is way over the top for average performance, people train more today than pro athletes did 30-40 years ago.

    What does count is being able to stay comfortable on the bike itself, if you get sore and just keep getting sorer as you go, then it is no fun, like blisters while hiking. The other thing is the terrain. The tougher the terrain the greater the premium to preparation, good equipment, etc... Or learn to get off the bike and walk...

  11. #11
    Eater of Food WillJL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peterpan1 View Post
    Fitness and prior experience count for little.
    This is the silliest thing I've ever read. A person with no experience and a poor level of fitness is not going to be able to handle a 100+ mile bicycle ride particularly well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Peterpan1 View Post
    What does count is being able to stay comfortable on the bike itself, if you get sore and just keep getting sorer as you go, then it is no fun, like blisters while hiking. The other thing is the terrain. The tougher the terrain the greater the premium to preparation, good equipment, etc...
    So then how do you suggest that someone learn what makes them comfortable on a bicycle without having EXPERIENCE? How do how to prepare and which equipment is best for them if experience counts for so little? Don't you think that the ability to handle a diversity of terrain might have just a little to do with fitness? Granted, hardcore training may not be necessary, but from the original posters words I gather that he has never gone farther than 15 miles with an electric assist...

    Quote Originally Posted by Peterpan1 View Post
    Or learn to get off the bike and walk...
    If the prior points in your response didn't warrant th reader ignoring nearly everything you've had to say, this probably will be the clincher.
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  12. #12
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Is this a tour of 127 miles a day for 3 days, or one 127 mile ride?



    Quote Originally Posted by Manji82 View Post
    "This is definitely not one of your brightest ideas. You can't go that far on a bicycle. You could barely do 50 miles in one day! You have no experience riding long distance."

    When I heard his words, plus the bad luck I have had with flats, it bruised my confidence a bit. What do you guys think? Is it a real tough challenge to ride a bicycle for ten hours? Is it just too unrealistic?

    I guess in the least sense, I can try thirty miles to test myself. Surely Thirty miles in one day is very very doable. No problem.

    Well, if anyone could be so kind to share some tips, I would greatly appreciate it.
    No, it is not unrealistic to ride 127 miles in one day. You could ride for a full 24 hours and, if you were fast enough and experienced enough with long distance cycling, you could cover 300+ miles in one day.

    When do you want to do this ride? Next week? In September? If it isn't going to be a for a while, ride 30 miles this weekend, and start building up toward 127 miles. Plan to do a century (100 miles) about 2-3 weeks before the 127 mile ride. Fitness and experience are very important. At one time I might have thought that anyone could hop on a bicycle and ride that distance with little fitness or experience, but I'm changing my mind on that ... as I'm struggling to cover 100 km these days.

    Get rid of the battery and start using your own legs. The more you use them, the stronger you'll be.

    Learn how to change your tires ... if you have had a lot of flats, you might want to invest in new tires.

    For more tips ... go here: http://www.ultracycling.com/

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    No, it is not unrealistic to ride 127 miles in one day. You could ride for a full 24 hours and, if you were fast enough and experienced enough with long distance cycling, you could cover 300+ miles in one day.
    This is bad advice to stranger on the internet you don't know enough about.

    He isn't "fast enough and experienced enough" and he is using a bicycle with an electric motor and heavy battery (the motor is a bit of a red flag too). The scant evidence we have indicates he is woefully unprepared to think about doing this. It doesn't even appear he has ever done a ride as long as 30 miles!

    The dude should pick an appropriate target (a much shorter ride) and see how that goes. People here should be providing that advice.
    Last edited by njkayaker; 06-18-10 at 11:05 AM.

  14. #14
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I'm glad you highlighted the key part of my comments. I chose my words carefully and wrote that part for a reason. I wanted the OP to know that it is humanly possible to do a lot more than 10 hours or 127 miles on a bicycle if a person were fast enough and experienced enough with long distance cycling.

    Whether it is possible for the OP at this point is another matter, which is why I added my next four paragraphs ... which include advice about building up slowly, getting rid of the battery, learning to change flats, and a link to a very useful resource for long distance riding.



    But the thing is, a lot of people have a mental block when it comes to what is possible for the human body to do. When the OP's father said, "You can't go that far on a bicycle.", did the OP's father mean that the OP, at this point in his fitness and experience level, can't go that far on a bicycle ......... or did he mean that humans in general can't go that far on a bicycle? When I tell people about the sort of riding I've done, I get that sort of reaction ... is it really possible for a human being to ride so far on a bicycle???? Most of them can't imagine riding much more than a few times round the block.

    I wanted to let the OP know that it is humanly possible to cycle amazing distances ... provided that person has decent fitness and experience (which, incidentally includes things like getting the fit of the bicycle correct, working out nutritional issues etc., as well as building up distance on the bicycle).

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    Machka, I agree 100% and felt your advice solid and words well chosen.

    The glass is half full, or probably more!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    I'm glad you highlighted the key part of my comments. I chose my words carefully and wrote that part for a reason. I wanted the OP to know that it is humanly possible to do a lot more than 10 hours or 127 miles on a bicycle if a person were fast enough and experienced enough with long distance cycling.
    Well...

    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    No, it is not unrealistic to ride 127 miles in one day.
    He'll read this and say "OK, I'm good to go".

    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    You could ride for a full 24 hours and, if you were fast enough and experienced enough with long distance cycling, you could cover 300+ miles in one day.
    He'll read this and say "I have no interest in doing this (so this doesn't apply)". You also indicate that "fast enough and experienced enough" is a requirement/condition for riding 300+ miles. That is, you inadvertantly make 127 miles seem easy!

    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    When do you want to do this ride? Next week? In September? If it isn't going to be a for a while, ride 30 miles this weekend, and start building up toward 127 miles. Plan to do a century (100 miles) about 2-3 weeks before the 127 mile ride. Fitness and experience are very important. At one time I might have thought that anyone could hop on a bicycle and ride that distance with little fitness or experience, but I'm changing my mind on that ... as I'm struggling to cover 100 km these days.

    Get rid of the battery and start using your own legs. The more you use them, the stronger you'll be.

    Learn how to change your tires ... if you have had a lot of flats, you might want to invest in new tires.

    For more tips ... go here: http://www.ultracycling.com/
    Here, he will go "tl;dnr"!

    ==========

    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    did the OP's father mean that the OP, at this point in his fitness and experience level, can't go that far on a bicycle
    Yes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    or did he mean that humans in general can't go that far on a bicycle?
    No (see following).

    Quote Originally Posted by Manji82 View Post
    when I told my dad about it over the phone, he was like,

    "This is definitely not one of your brightest ideas. You can't go that far on a bicycle. You could barely do 50 miles in one day! You have no experience riding long distance."
    ==================

    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Whether it is possible for the OP at this point is another matter
    No, this is the primary matter, especially given the weirdness of the original post. (Using a battery? Can't fix a flat? Hasn't done as much as 30 miles? Thinking about doing 127 miles in one day? These are red flags!)

    Before people encourage him to follow down the randonee trail, let's get him to do some 30 mile rides first!!
    Last edited by njkayaker; 06-19-10 at 09:10 AM.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Kimmitt's Avatar
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    Starting with a 300 mile ride while being mechanically uninclined and riding a bike that isn't a good match for that trip sounds like there's a lot going on there.

    I hope you will take me seriously when I suggest that you consider seeing a counselor. This is an epically bad decision, and you're also getting a lot of negativity from your family about the wrong things.
    I see unexamined people. All the time. I don't think they know they're unexamined.

  18. #18
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    We don't know when the OP is thinking of doing this trip. He hasn't returned here to give us further details, and isn't likely to ... they rarely come back. But if he is planning to do this next weekend, he might find it quite challenging and difficult. If he is planning to do it in September, that's a whole other story ... he has time to sort out any bicycle, mechanical, and fitness issues.

    The OP doesn't need to seek counselling ... anymore than any randonneur needs to seek counselling. The OP needs to build up to that distance. As the OP said, he was going to try out a 30 mile ride, not start with anything longer than that. Perhaps he's doing that this weekend, and that's great! That's an excellent start. If he finds the 30 mile ride very difficult, then perhaps he will need to ride that 30 mile distance on weekends for a while, plus shorter rides during the week. After a few weeks like that, he might want to increase the weekend distance to 40 or 50 miles and work at that for a while. If he rode the 30 miles and found it easy, then next weekend he could go for a 40 mile ride and see how that goes.

    Based on his comment that he is going to try a 30 mile ride, I would assume that he is not thinking about doing the longer trip for a while ... and that he has some time to build up. I hope he does come back and report on his 30 mile ride.

  19. #19
    I'm made of earth! becnal's Avatar
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    I don't think it would be far from the truth to say that most parents would prefer for their children to stay home, on the sofa, away from any and all sorts of danger. What American parent would not discourage their child from going on a bike tour for hundreds of miles.

    OP, unless your father is a touring bicyclist, advice from forum members here with actual experience of the subject is more useful than a parent's in this matter. Just my two cents.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  20. #20
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    The OP's father sounds like a sensible man, IMO. Of course lots of us can ride 127 miles in a day, we've been at it for years. Coincidentally, last year I did a trip to visit my sister that was exactly 254 miles each way - two days out, two days back, 127 miles per day. But If I'd attempted that as a newbie I'd have been lucky to complete the first day and certainly wouldn't have been able to get on the bike on day two.

    OP, everything depends on how long you have to prepare and how much time you put into that preparation. The key to long distances isn't speed, it is simply being able to remain reasonably comfortable on the bike for extended periods. Your estimate of time is realistic, at least: if you're doing this on a mountain bike you'll do well to average much more than 12-13 mph on the road. That means you'll be actually riding for 10+ hours. Doing one ride of thirty miles, as you suggest, will tell you very little about your ability to ride for four times that long.
    Last edited by chasm54; 06-20-10 at 05:14 AM. Reason: typos
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Kimmitt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    The OP needs to build up to that distance.
    That's actually why I suggested counseling, to figure out why this didn't occur to him. My 2c, YMMV.
    I see unexamined people. All the time. I don't think they know they're unexamined.

  22. #22
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kimmitt View Post
    That's actually why I suggested counseling, to figure out why this didn't occur to him. My 2c, YMMV.
    But it did occur to him. He's riding to the store ... and he was going to try out a 30 mile ride to see how that went. He's not leaping in and doing 127 miles for his first ride. Go back and read his first (and only) post.

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    Senior Member Kimmitt's Avatar
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    I hear what you're saying, but there were a lot of odd red flags -- why would it matter what Dad thinks if he's not a rider, for example? And 30 miles is a long, long ways for a new rider.

    Again, my 2c. What I'm hearing here is someone who isn't getting a chance to thrash out their ideas with a good support system. YMMV, past performance is no guarantee of future results.
    I see unexamined people. All the time. I don't think they know they're unexamined.

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    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    127 miles.. I've done 143 miles and I am hardly the strongest rider in the world. You have no huge hills to climb. My 143 miles was in Big Sur's hilly terrain..
    You could always slow down , take it easy and not exceed your training.. Enjoy the ride. Turn it into a two day credit card tour..
    Then you won't have to worry about the longevity of lights . Have you considered alternative tires with better puncture resistance.? Maybe insert a liner.
    One of my lighting systems, I carry two identical batteries to assure they won't run down.. That should be worth at least 3 hours ride time.. Don't forget to be well reflecterized for safety concerns. Plus a blinking light on your rear fender so cars will see you better..
    Have you researched the best routing for safety issues..
    And, I recommend carrying some kind of light you can mount on your forehead. You can buy such lights at REI.. Otherwise changing flats in the dark is no easy chore.
    Pray for the Dead and Fight like Hell for the Living






    ^ Since January 1, 2012

  25. #25
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    There have been numerous posts here and on other forums by people whose parents and other relatives don't support them in their cycling and don't think that cycling is anything more than a kiddie pasttime. They don't think it is possible for cyclists to do any sort of lengthy riding or if they do think it is possible, they don't think it is safe or wise or whatever. I'm very thankful that in my case, my parents have been very supportive, but the more I read, the more I feel in the minority. And it does seem to matter to the unfortunate cyclists who do not have a support network what their families and friends think ... they wish their family and friends were supportive.

    I wish the OP would post again to clarify a few things and tell us how his 30 mile ride went. But that's not likely going to happen.

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