Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Central Coast, CA
Bikes: Surly LHT, Specialized Rockhopper, Nashbar Touring (old), Specialized Stumpjumper (older), Nishiki Tourer (model unknown)
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A loaded bike feels clumsy at best when riding at slow speeds. Once you get going, it's not so bad. However, try and make sure everything is balanced side-to-side.
When I was in college two friends and I decided to take a week-long tour to the San Juan Islands (my suggestion.) I had toured before; they hadn't. My friend, Mark, had gotten a large birthday check from his grandmother. He bought a new touring bike, racks, panniers, etc. - a whole rig. He didn't load it up and try it until the morning of our departure. A group of friends gathered to see us off. Mark said his words of farewell, got on his bike, waved farewell, and rode about 8 feet, then attempted to turn around and crashed.
Luckily nothing was damaged, he got the hang of things fairly soon, and we had a great tour!