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Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

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Old 06-18-10, 12:33 PM   #1
JeffOYB
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Ultralight touring?

I'm looking for info and discussions of ultralight touring, on paved and dirt alike.

I'd think it would be real popular these days. UL is popular everywhere. Credit card touring sounds like fun.

What's a light, fast crossing of the USA like these days? Anyone know? What are the timeframes?

I haven't had luck with the google on this subject, but I'll keep trying. And post what I come up with.

--JP
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Old 06-18-10, 02:45 PM   #2
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Supported it is being done in around eight days: http://www.raceacrossamerica.org

There are also tours that will get you across in a month: http://www.pactour.com/

Those would both be on aggressive side if you weren't supported and at least had minimal amounts for credit card touring. After that point it will depend a bit on both the person doing the ride and your own preferences and styles. For example, how much of the time do you want to spend on the bike, are you looking for rest days, etc.

It wasn't quite credit card touring (I carried a tent and other camping gear) but my first trip across the US I did in five weeks averaging 95 miles per day including my one rest day. I wasn't particularly fast, but spent long days in the saddle. My second trip across the US was a month and a half and averaged 75 miles per day and was more comfortable in other dimensions. It can be done faster (eight days!) but you definitely need to work through your abilities, styles and preferences.
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Old 06-18-10, 08:21 PM   #3
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Familiar with those options. I'd just think lots more was being done these days, considering UL innovations along with carbon/aero/suspension/lighting advances in making a fast, comfy, versatile bike.

Pactour has been running from before the UL movement. The ultra-rando scene also seems to have boomed since Pactour started.

Lon H has mentioned to me that longdistance fast self-supported touring is unwise. I'm not convinced, though, of course he should know!

He may have even said/suggested that one can do 100 mi's a day on their own, but that 150 mi/day really needs help and support -- which is what Pactour attempts, from what I know.

Still, it seems that folks in the UL and biketech scenes simply wouldn't take No for an answer. For instance, folks could ride together and do mutual support. The buddy system! A major innovator in the UL said that the buddy system was a big cause to promote, for him. UL is social! There's no rules here. People could draft. They could use tandems.

Lastly, self-supported touring at any pace could be cheaper, couldn't it?
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Old 06-18-10, 11:01 PM   #4
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He may have even said/suggested that one can do 100 mi's a day on their own, but that 150 mi/day really needs help and support -- which is what Pactour attempts, from what I know.
If Lon really said this, he is wrong. I often average over 150 miles/day, and I don't exactly travel UL. In fact, I rarely pull out the credit card for anything but food.
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Old 06-19-10, 07:22 AM   #5
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I recall something about 150 m/d being the reasonable limit because he sees riders doing this for his tours and sees the states they're in when they're done. Also said that "tired bikers and motorists just don't mix." That was the gist anyway.

I can see his concern but when folks are on their own I'd think they ride safely. Their safety is certainly up to them. Are the Tour Divide racers riding along in an irresponsible state where they can't hardly ride and care for themselves safely? I highly doubt it. Are long distance rando riders in such a state?

I do suspect that RAAM riders are often in such states -- but they have a follow van. To me, that's just silly. That's the scenario to avoid. ...Even though an organizer might say that they're being "safely cared for."

I still think that with improved UL, aero, lighting, food, clothing, comfort and safety technologies, and with all the services on the road these days -- and with cellphones and the internet -- that it's reasonable for folks to ride light and long for days on end and to see the country that way without undue risk.

And, heck, the way everyone pushes the extremes anyway and says "I love risk!" you'd think dozens of bikers would be outright foolishly pushing the distance-touring limits at this moment, overtly relying on strangers to care for them, like the extreme distance sailors do ALL THE TIME. Heck, there's a yearly rowing race across the Atlantic. Those folks need rescue all the time. Climbers, too, of course. So where are all the bike adventurers pushing the limits? ...Even if it isn't safe, you'd think they'd be out there. (Climbers climb without rope often enough, right?) ...They'd be out there BECAUSE it's dangerous. Why doesn't bike-touring have the kooks like all the other sports do? Ha...

I note that a guy just set a new self-supported record around Australia -- today I think! -- 15000km in 50 days. On a lowracer recumbent. I note that in interviews and such that he is reported as sounding very relaxed, "no big deal," about what he's doing. 300k/day.
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Old 06-19-10, 08:48 AM   #6
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At the end of your comment, you allude to the point that I wanted to make: speed is not so much about weight as it is about aerodynamics, and on a lowracer with a tailbox, Peter Heal was about as aero as you can get without a full enclosure. To be sure, low weight helps, just not as much.

As to the question "Why doesn't bike-touring have the kooks like all the other sports do? Ha..." there probably is no definitive answer, but I get the impression that when bike tourists decide that crossing the country isn't enough of a challenge, they go to other parts of the world where the infrastructure isn't as developed, rather than going faster.
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Old 06-19-10, 09:19 AM   #7
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didn't someone recently encircle the globe on a bicycle in less than 200 days? Mark Beaumont... bicyclist encircles globe in 195 days

He wasn't even travelling ultralite!

I think the lighter you go, the easier it is to do multiple 100 mile plus days. you can ride fairly far on a bike in the long days of summer and if you just keep plugging along, the hours let you go further. but a mans got to eat!

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Old 06-19-10, 09:51 AM   #8
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Their safety is certainly up to them. Are the Tour Divide racers riding along in an irresponsible state where they can't hardly ride and care for themselves safely? I highly doubt it. Are long distance rando riders in such a state?
Well not really. A regular riding buddy of mine used to ride with guy before he moved who did the Tour Divide a few years ago. The guy was somewhere in the southern third of the race when he blacked out from exhaustion and dehydration. He woke up in the hospital with another guy from the race in the bed next to him. So yeah these guys do push themselves to unsafe ends.

First thought, do a search on "ultralight" on the Touring board and you will find a multitude of good threads. Folks like nun and bekologist have provided great information on ultralight touring.

Second thought, there seems to be two points to your comments, 1) ultralight set ups (both bike and gear) and 2) long distances in the day. Yes ultralight loads will make putting in lots of miles in a day easier but ones fitness and ability is equally or more important. This second factor is hard for anyone to ascertain via a web forum. Ones set up is something that we can all understand as the weight of a bike, tent, etc. is what it is where ones fitness is relative. I guess the point is 50, 100, or 150 miles in a day is such a personal thing.
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Old 06-20-10, 12:37 AM   #9
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There is a huge difference between a tour and a race. One is competition, the other is to have fun.
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Old 06-20-10, 06:10 AM   #10
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To me there's not so much difference. Also, racing can be fun. Also, this kind of distinction does seem a bit not so relevant.

UL backpacking has taken off like wildfire, with people doing 50 mile days, days on end. People going for personal records and records on the big trails or just for distance. Is it a race? Is it fun? Who knows. No need to travel abroad. It can even be thrifty. People are also doing this in mtbiking. It just seems a bit overly quiet on the road side of things.

Now, there is a fairly active email list out there. People ARE getting into it and going UL on the road. I just haven't heard much about big distance pushes. I think the saying is that "less than 12 lbs including racks" is UL. But the concept usually avoids racks.

Maybe Lon is right and it's safer to get a bit delirious out on a trail and that being fatigued on pavement is a bad idea.

Another angle is that the Tour Divide race IS a "road tour/race." I've read that only 5-10% of the 2750 miles is on trails, the rest is on dirt/gravel roads.
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Old 06-20-10, 07:08 AM   #11
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Will you really be "seeing the country" with your head between your knees, sweat pouring into your eyes, vision blurred from lack of rest, so tired at the end of the day all you can do is sleep, not seeing any of the sights, not hiking any of the mountains, not meeting any of the people, just so I can get home as fast as I can and brag to my friend that I did it in 45 days instead of his 46 days, kind of tour?

I guess everyone has different priorities and definitions of "fun."
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Old 06-20-10, 08:02 AM   #12
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Right.

Think walkers versus hikers versus runners versus 10kers versus marathoners versus ultramarathoners.

How to pick which one to say is "wrong"?

Of course there's no "versus" at all. There's just a thread and its subject...

Indeed, it's all relative but for the thread and its subject...
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Old 06-20-10, 09:29 AM   #13
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walker= recreation
ultramarathoners= sports/competition

I think that "touring" by nature is a recreation and not a sport. There is no competition or medals to win, just personal satisfaction. If touring is a sport/competition then so is reading a book.

This is the touring forum so maybe your question should be posted on one of the other more competition oriented forums?
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Old 06-20-10, 10:03 AM   #14
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Competition = recreation / fun (for many).

I suggest there's a continuum and that aspects of one can inform and assist others.

Some people get personal satisfaction from going far and fast and possibly with more simplicity than usual.

If you dislike the record-attempt side of my discussion, then perhaps look instead to the ultralight touring side, which just looks to the perks of the UL concept to enhance the tour experience in that way, just like backpackers do (some go for personal records, most use UL just to go farther, faster, easier and they like that).

Obviously, I'm not only talking about racing here.

The racing forum doesn't seem to deal much with multi-day self-supported luggage situations. But I'll try over there in "ultracycling" and see if there's interest.

So far it doesn't seem like there's a similar/parallel level of interest in the UL concept here in this bike touring forum like there is elsewhere for backpacking. Again, it seems that UL can equally benefit/inform road touring as it does mtbike touring and backpacking...for any kind of goal.
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