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  1. #1
    Big, Fat, Texan WalksOn2Wheels's Avatar
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    Well, finally went on my trip....

    Or part of it anyways.

    The original plan was to go from Grand Prairie to Dinosaur Valley State Park near Glen Rose on day one, go to Dublin and back on day 2 and then back home.

    I got a late start on day one, knowing I had some miles to cover, and then got caught out by rain that I was trying to beat and ended up hanging out in some apartment complex until it passed. So now it was like noon and I have 70 plus miles to go.

    So leading up to this, I've been commuting 14 miles a day and have done longer rides anywhere from 25-35 miles with not much difference in the overall feel. However, I had not, as of yet, ever ridden further than 50 miles in one shot and that was years ago.

    Basically, what I'm hinting at is that this trip was 100% awful. The route sucked, I had to ride a cratered shoulder of 67 for a good bit of it, even with the CR and FM detours, I experienced some extreme chaffing, my right knee is still in immense pain, what I have self diagnosed as Morton's Neuroma in my left foot now has parts of my left foot numb indefinitely (going on 16 hours since I got home and it's still numb), etc. etc.

    I barely made it to camp, only forcing myself there by will and the promise of a shower, only to find out that there were indeed no showers. The forecast had predicted rain, but there wasn't a cloud in the sky, so I originally pitched my tent without the fly because that's the only way sleeping would be bearable. But loud campers at the nearby bathroom at random hours of the night as well as the threat of rain kept me from ever sleeping peacefully. Finally around 1:30 a.m. I decided to just put the fly on, hoping it would give me piece of mind. With the door of the fly still open, it was unbearably warm and I got barely any sleep at all. And yeah, it didn't rain.

    I got up, made some breakfast, packed up and left on the bike. Thankfully, my body had not yet become pissed enough at me to start complaining and I didn't wake up sore all over. But riding was definitely a chore from the start and I had to do all 70 plus miles back on the same horrible route.

    Without getting into a whole lot of other details, I got back home safe enough at about 5:30 p.m. and got a shower and immediately jumped in the bed. Lots of cramping got me out of bed and walking just to keep my muscles working.

    Surprisingly, none of my muscles ache whatsoever, it's just the numb foot and the sore knee that are bothering me.


    So what did I learn?

    Mainly, I think my trip was too destination oriented and not at all route oriented. I was so determined to make camp at one spot that I put myself in a lot of road conditions that I wouldn't touch otherwise. I think this was my primary mistake. Flexibility in my route and in my camping options would have solved the next problem:

    I just thought I was more physically prepared than I really was. I don't think the route (cratered shoulder) helped with my morton's neuroma (it can flare up due to excessive vibration), and my knee, well it's never been my best knee, but I guess when you're only 28, it's hard to accept that you have a bum anything. The rough roads probably didn't help my knee, either.

    Overall though, the bike worked great and the gear worked great, and I'll definitely give this another go in the future, I just need to really rethink things and perhaps go with someone more experienced.

  2. #2
    It's true, man.
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    Destination fixation can definitely jack up a tour. So can riding on SH 67.

    I'm surprised you didn't punt and camp at Cleburne State Park.

    I know the area between 35W and Glenrose pretty well and cycle there often. When you're ready for another try , let me know and we'll see if we can work out something more fun.

    As for the camping at DV, one thing you can do is pay first, then tell the rangers you want to ride in and pick your spot, rather than having one assigned. They'll give you a map of what's available. You might have to go back to tell them which one you picked out (or the ranger will tell you they'll just note you when they make rounds).

    Campsite considerations:
    Not in a pathway between other campers and any facilities (showers, potties, trash cans, observation points)
    Not under a dead tree
    Not in an area that doesn't get a breeze
    Away from RV's and travel trailer or other things with electric generators

    If you're not planning a campfire (burn ban's in effect, right?) there's not much keeping you from putting your tent in an out of the way place that's not strictly a "camping" spot as long as you don't make a big deal about it.
    Last edited by truman; 05-25-11 at 10:22 AM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    Sounds like you got it figured out pretty good. Like your attitude about the 'bummer' tour. But now that you've gotten a lot of the learning curve under your belt, I'm sure the next trip will be a winner.

    Sounds like the route, distance, and this being a first tour, had you under a bit of stress. Would have me. Stress can itself aggravate unlying medical conditions. Maybe next time under less stressful conditions, the medical stuff will stay away.

    Several years ago, my pump went missing while on tour. I had to detour 25 miles to a bike shop to get another. Developed severe tendonitis in my right knee on the way. It was gone by the next morning. As I'd never experienced such before, and haven't since, I think it was brought on by the stress of the situation.
    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

  4. #4
    djb
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    ahhh, to be 28 again with a "not best knee"..............
    I wonder if in 20 years I will look back and think, "oh, to be 48 again with a "not best knee"?

    sounds like 70 miles (110k) was a bit ambitious for the first days, even when I was your age, I found that the first few days it really is worth it to do some short days.

    Too bad though for the crappy road and the bad nights sleep--the latter is a real killer for not helping anyone feel energetic the next day (no shower sucks too).

  5. #5
    Big, Fat, Texan WalksOn2Wheels's Avatar
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    Yeah, beyond the numb foot and painful knee, the lack of energy on the second day was my chief complaint and concern. There were several times where I thought, "Maybe I'll stop here and call my wife to come pick me up," but she had work until 6:30 and I didn't want her to have to skip out on my account, so I just kept going. But when I did stop about 10 miles south of home, I gave her a call and I don't know if she noticed, but I was audibly out of it. Just talking in short, mixed sentences with lots of hesitation. I knew in my brain it sounded bad, so I tried my best to hide it. Definitely a sign of major fatigue.

    Unfortunately, when I got into Arlington proper, it was basically rush hour. Coming off of 130 or so miles total riding in two days and then dropping myself into rush hour really, really sucked. This is when I stopped to rest and make a call. As I got going again, I realized there was a sidewalk and said "Heck. Yes." I rode that all the way until I knew traffic wouldn't be an issue. Speed was of no concern vs. getting run over.

    Thankfully that was also when the south wind really picked up and the clouds finally hid the sun that felt like it was melting my skin right off. I got home well before the big storms hit that night, but the cloudy weather couldn't have come at a better time.

  6. #6
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    A lot can go wrong on a tour, huh? I'm glad you're considering going again. I'm sure you'll have a much better time. I always start my tours with very low mileage goals and build up as I get in the swing. I love to camp and choosing a good campground and campsite is more important than riding a certain distance.

    Consider a trip on one of Adventure Cycling's routes. They're good at picking good routes - quiet roads, etc. - and they list all the services, campgrounds, motels, etc. It's totally possible to plan your own route, but it's nice to have ACA doing your groundwork for you.

    Going with someone with experience can be good. Another good plan is to do a popular route where you'll encounter other tourers. I've picked up lots of valuable tips by watching what others do and talking to them about bike touring.

  7. #7
    Senior Member irwin7638's Avatar
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    I sounds like you learned not to be too rigid or aggressive with your plans. I usually expect to get 60-80 miles a day (60 against the wind,80 with) and always have a contingency bail out plan enroute. Things (mechanical, road conditions and weather) happen. Forcing yourself to a deadline that's difficult takes all the fun out of it. After all it's good to accomplish things, but better to enjoy it.

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  8. #8
    djb
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigBlueToe View Post
    I always start my tours with very low mileage goals and build up as I get in the swing. I love to camp and choosing a good campground and campsite is more important than riding a certain distance.
    blueappendage, all really good points you brought up, but this one is a really good one. I too have found that even when I was younger, starting with lower mileage was nice for the old or young body, and a nice way to get into the swing as you say. Ditto for a nice campground, well, especially showers...

    cheers from Montreal

  9. #9
    ghost on a machine Bike Hermit's Avatar
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    My first tours were miserable. I didn't even carry water on the first one 40 years ago, I was that green. And attempting to sleep at a campground in Maine in 80 degree heat and 80% humidity and clouds of mosquitoes and no tent resulted in standing in the shower, water running to keep the mosquitoes away, most of the night. Sort of surprising I ever wanted to ride a bike again.
    As for the knee issues you might want to check your saddle height.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member simplygib's Avatar
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    Sorry it didn't go as well as you'd hoped. But you did it, you made it home, and you've learned what not to do next time. That's one of the things I love about touring, it always teaches me something. I was way too aggressive on my first tour as well, and paid for it with six months off the bike waiting for my knees to recover. Not good. But I learned, boy did I learn.

    Hope the next one goes much better.

  11. #11
    Big, Fat, Texan WalksOn2Wheels's Avatar
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    Thanks all for the kind suggestions. Hermit, your link led me to hunting around and it seems that my knee pain can be best described as patellar tendonitis. It seems to fit the bill as far as symptoms and causes go. I was on my carbon Roubaix and not on my commuter steel bike, but I checked the seat height on both and they are pretty much spot on the same, so I'm not sure about that one, but Mostly I think it was just overdoing it. I also think that the numbness in my left foot might have caused me to rely more on my right leg and maybe push it a bit too much. I will at least have to not ride for a couple more days and actually take some anti inflammatory meds instead of just thinking about it.

    That was another silly move. Not bringing any sort of ibuprofen or anything like that.

  12. #12
    Neil_B
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    So you rode double or triple your usual mileage, while carrying gear, and you didn't expect to feel beat up? Sounds like you were too ambitious here.

  13. #13
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    This is a tough time of year to be touring in Texas. I remember visiting Dinosaur Valley State Park on a May camping trip when it was 108F in the shade. When my family tours, we do much more poorly in exceptional heat. Especially when it's so hot at night. A poor night's sleep + a hot day is a sure recipe for some king of meltdown on our trips.

    You have great Fall/Winter/Spring weather for touring. Perhaps you should developing your touring experience in more favorable weather?

    When your having a blast on a wonderful tour in January, you can think on me riding through the ice and snow

    Jim

  14. #14
    Senior Member jr59's Avatar
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    I don't post here often, nor do I mean to pile on;
    BUT, REALLY?

    You are riding 14 miles commuting 5 days a week, and your long rides are 35 miles!
    So you expect to load up your bike and ride 70 miles? REALLY?? What did you expect?

    You need to improve your fitness, before you do another bike trip. Unless you are going 35 miles.
    Try loading up your bike with all your gear and riding a few 50 mile round trips first!
    Then extend it to 70 miles, then 100 miles, all while loaded.

    When you can do this, then plan your trip.
    IMO; Your fitness is no where near good enough to try a trip that you describe.
    You were doomed before you ever got started.

    Please keep in mind two things,
    1. It's harder to ride 70 miles, after riding 70 the day before. When not use to it.
    2. You won't ever get the same rest on the road that you do at home.
    3. Loaded touring bike is harder to pedal than un loaded!
    Gravity hates us all, but it hates me more than thin people!

  15. #15
    Big, Fat, Texan WalksOn2Wheels's Avatar
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    Rereading my initial post, I think I may have over dramatized my level of fitness being low. When I say 35 miles for a long ride, those 35 miles never hurt or wore me out. And riding 50 miles way back when was bad, but that's because I was young, stupid, started on an empty stomach and carried hardly any water. So saying I only commute 14 miles and that longish rides were 35 may have been a bit misleading.

    I think on a "perfect" day and a better route, I would have been in much better shape. When I do my commute, I usually push it in the afternoon, so it's closer to a 7 mile sprint. I can average 18 - 20 mph with stop sings and lights and that's with a loaded pack just like I wore on the trip. This helps a lot when I do longer rides at easy paces. After 35 mile rides, I felt no different than after any other ride, and definitely not worn out. 50 miles is not out of the realm of feasibility for a ride, if not more, loaded or not. On a morning ride on the commute, I try to take a moderate pace and shoot for a 16 mph average and in a strong headwind will go as low as 14 mph. If I make a conscious effort to cruise and take it easy, I will average 14 mph minimum on a normal day. All that to say it was mostly the road conditions and heat that did me in more than the mileage itself. Other than the other health flareups that I mostly attribute to the roads themselves, my muscles were fine and a good night's sleep (lower temps) would have made a world of difference as well.

    All considered, I still did nearly 75 miles in less than 6 hours of riding each day, not a blazing average speed, but not much lower than a taking it easy day on the commute. I'm happy with my overall performance considering the conditions, I just thought the trip itself was miserable. I was super fatigued at the last 15-20 miles, but again, I contribute that more to riding straight through the peak temp hours that day and road conditions. Things cooled off immensely thanks to incoming storms for my last ten miles. I was in much better spirits and those miles were better than the previous ten in hotter temps. Being on my home turf with good pavement helped as well. And seriously, truman can maybe back me up here, but the shoulder of 67 is a nightmare. It's just awful. Nothing but miles of torn up chip and seal that's more loose gravel than pavement. The back of my legs were caked in shredded asphalt. There was a slight downhill section I attempted to coast on and was actually loosing speed because of all the energy being lost in keeping the bike straight with a crosswind and rolling over a million tiny speed-bumps.

    Now for sure, on the next trip, I'll keep the first day or two at 50 miles or less. That's what I thought the distance was way back when I originally thought about this trip. I remember looking it up and I guess I had a different stop point, because I remember it being something like 50 miles. It wasn't until a couple of days before that I decided to set up a cue sheet and that's when the hubris set in. Again, I feel like better roads would have made those 75 miles a lot more doable, but my destination oriented route really killed it for me.


    And speaking of heat, after three days off, I got back on today and took a ride to see how things were shaking down. Of course it had to be 99 degrees out. But this is Texas, so you do what you have to do. I just took a 5.5 mile jaunt to the bookstore, chilled off there and rode the 5.5 miles back for a total of 11. Things were fine on the way there, but I got ambitious again on the return trip going into a headwind with traffic and my right knee flared up again. It stayed there for the rest of the ride, but was never a major issue. Just made sure to spin, spin, spin. All In all, I'll take a few more ibuprofen tonight, stay off the bike tomorrow, and give it another shot Monday.

  16. #16
    Junior Member Jim Picardy's Avatar
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    Why do we go touring? Well, for myself it's to see parts of the world I don't know, meet people, perhaps from different cultures (if you're cycling abroad), or to simply enjoy being outside. Touring is not about performance. You mention a few times in your last post your average speed. It seems to me you've got it all wrong! If you want speed, you do racing, not touring. Touring is about taking the time to enjoy the things that you don't usually get to enjoy. Sure, you want to make progress, of course you do - but you mustn't deny yourself the pleasure of taking it easy. And believe me - and this is one of the reasons I like cycling - it does you just as much good to cycle that way. For me "no pain no game" is a stupid philosophy. But, like you, I learned all this the hard way. On my first touring trip I averaged 120 miles per day. But when I look back on that trip, I mostly see myself in the saddle - pushing, pushing, pushing. What's the point?

  17. #17
    djb
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    good followup there big Texan ;-)

    but hey, this is life, learning as we go. Watch the knee, titanium replacements aside, we only get 2 per life.
    good riding

  18. #18
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    WO2W, It reads like you've figured out the positives and negatives of your first overnighter, good on you.

    A couple of items I can add maybe are first to try the commuter bike next time, if it's the bike that you ride most often. For example, I'm planning to take the touring bike on my next century as I've rode it most often since it's build. The second is more important because it has to do with your knee. Long story short, I have to keep attentive to my left knee and if it becomes painful while riding I just spin up and accept the fact I'm going to ride slower... recovery is much quicker the more load I keep off of it. A nice spinning ride (around White Rock Lake, for example) can do wonders within a couple of days of a flare up.

    Brad

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    Quote Originally Posted by WalksOn2Wheels View Post
    Thanks all for the kind suggestions. Hermit, your link led me to hunting around and it seems that my knee pain can be best described as patellar tendonitis. It seems to fit the bill as far as symptoms and causes go. I was on my carbon Roubaix and not on my commuter steel bike,
    The seat height could still be wrong on both bikes. You might be able to get away with the wrong height on short rides. Note that the seat height could be wrong by a fairly small amount and cause problems. It's even possible that the seat heights on the two bikes might not even need to be the same.

    It's also possible that your cadence is too low (and you are pushing too high a gear).

    Quote Originally Posted by WalksOn2Wheels View Post
    Rereading my initial post, I think I may have over dramatized my level of fitness being low. When I say 35 miles for a long ride, those 35 miles never hurt or wore me out. And riding 50 miles way back when was bad, but that's because I was young, stupid, started on an empty stomach and carried hardly any water. So saying I only commute 14 miles and that longish rides were 35 may have been a bit misleading.
    People might be in good shape and have problems on longer rides. It takes some getting used-to for longer rides. Note too that strategies/techniques that work for short rides won't necessarily work for longer rides.

    Your basic "mistake" was doing too many new things in one shot.

    (You should also get a real diagnosis for your foot problem.)
    Last edited by njkayaker; 05-29-11 at 09:44 AM.

  20. #20
    Don't be a "Drew" Muttleyone's Avatar
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    Walks and Truman, I'm just down the road from y'all in Euless. If you are headed out again on a short tour please me know. I'd love to tag along if I could.

    Thanks
    Mutt
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  21. #21
    Senior Member Roustabout's Avatar
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    Good Lord, almost makes me apprehensive about my first bike tour. Ha! I am a newbie and currently building up stamina on an older Diamondback MTB. Plan on getting more tour-worthy tires next week to help me out some. After the new Treks come in, hopefully in August or September, hope to get a 520. Plan on being able to build up to ride for 5 hours over a 12 week period. Found a good training schedule from experienceplus.com bike touring website. Overall plan to do credit-card touring and see where it goes from there. At close to 60 years of age, I know I will have to gradually break myself in (or else it will break me down) gradually. One thing I don't want to do is be overly ambitious as far as capabilities. Hope to get my wife interested in this new lifestyle/endeavor should I sound enthusiastic enough. As an addendum, I live in Northeast Texas and do know how hot it gets and also windy. Went riding today for about 45 minutes in wind gusts of 20-30 mph. Thought it was gonna eat my lunch. Can't imagine doing it for hours, but I guess that is what conditioning is all about.
    Roustabout

  22. #22
    Big, Fat, Texan WalksOn2Wheels's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Picardy View Post
    Why do we go touring? Well, for myself it's to see parts of the world I don't know, meet people, perhaps from different cultures (if you're cycling abroad), or to simply enjoy being outside. Touring is not about performance. You mention a few times in your last post your average speed. It seems to me you've got it all wrong! If you want speed, you do racing, not touring. Touring is about taking the time to enjoy the things that you don't usually get to enjoy. Sure, you want to make progress, of course you do - but you mustn't deny yourself the pleasure of taking it easy. And believe me - and this is one of the reasons I like cycling - it does you just as much good to cycle that way. For me "no pain no game" is a stupid philosophy. But, like you, I learned all this the hard way. On my first touring trip I averaged 120 miles per day. But when I look back on that trip, I mostly see myself in the saddle - pushing, pushing, pushing. What's the point?
    I only mentioned avg speeds to give an indication of general fitness. I certainly won't judge a tour overall by someone's average speed. I did see some great things out on the road, but generally, my poor planning didn't allow for much scenery to begin with. Definitely enjoyed the backroads quite a bit more. Lots of farms and houses to check out and nice little ponds and rivers. Those were the good times (minus unleashed dogs that feel the need to chase you away). Unfortunately, a lot of my route had me on roads I wouldn't even commute on much less enjoy on vacation.

  23. #23
    Big, Fat, Texan WalksOn2Wheels's Avatar
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    Ha! I may be revisiting this hell way sooner than I thought. A friend just posted on facebook about a possible overnighter to Cleburne. However, his route is far superior to mine and only briefly touches on 67. This will probably happen before the end of the month. I'll be sure to enjoy myself more and take pictures this time.

  24. #24
    Senior Member jr59's Avatar
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    That's the spirit!

    Try to have a good time!
    Gravity hates us all, but it hates me more than thin people!

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