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Old 07-19-11, 03:39 PM   #1
DogBoy
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2 Long Mileage CC Touring days....pre-reqs?

I've never done a proper tour, but my wife and kids want to go camping at a site that is 220 miles from home. I'd like to ride my bike there, with a stop off in a hotel (complementary stay due to point accumulation). For me to get there, I would have two days, then two days of camping and then riding back home in the van. To get to the free hotel, I'd have to do 140 miles on day one, leaving 80 days on day two. I plan to average 12 mph including stops, so this would mean 13 hours (giving an extra hour of stopping for lunch/dinner combined) and then 6:45 on day two.

I have done this type of ride in the past, but this year I've been doing more frequent/shorter rides with commuting to work. My longest ride so far this year is 75 miles. There aren't many hills, only 4k ft of climbing over the 140 miles, so I'm thinking this is doable, but I'm looking for advice.

What kind of a checklist would you use to ensure that you are good to go for this type of riding? How soon would you want to pass them before calling it off?

My load would be me, food for the day (a few PBJ's, some bananas, energy bars, Gatorade mix) 2 20 oz waterbottles on the frame + a 1 Liter bottle in a trunk bag. Spare tubes, pump, patch kit, tire levers & multi-tool, riding jacket and a handtowel, plus a second day of riding attire & toiletries.

This ride would be mid-august sometime. Any thoughts?
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Old 07-19-11, 04:24 PM   #2
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Doable with nice weather and a tailwind. Not much fun with a headwind!
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Old 07-19-11, 04:33 PM   #3
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opinion only:

chance of making 140 on day 1? 50/50.

chance of making an 80 miler on the day after a 140. about 10 percent.

chance of making 220 in three days. much better.

if you try it. good luck.
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Old 07-19-11, 05:34 PM   #4
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I have done a few "rewards points" tours (as opposed to credit card tours). While the free hotels make it cheaper, I've had to route myself in ways I definitely wouldn't have otherwise to do it. If I were you, I'd...well, hell, I'd try it. I just did a week around the lower half of Lake Michigan using some hotel points, one night of staying with family of a friend, and a few nights paying for rooms. First day was 90 miles, not nearly the 140 you're thinking of, but without any real preparation beyond my daily 10 mile roundtrip commute I was a little worried. Even though I ended up riding through a few miles of mud for some reason, gunking up the whole drivetrain and slowing me down, I made it to my first free place to stay with plenty of time to spare, and legs that felt like they could go another 30 miles without undue stress if need be.

Also, with the rest of the family coming the next day in the van, it seems like you've got a day 2 bailout option right there. If there were a few places to stay along the way I'd feel a little better, with the option of just stopping and paying for a room. For prep, why not do 50 miles out and 50 back on the route you're planning to take - if you feel pretty good and get that done in 8 hours, no reason to think you can't finish the 140 in a decent amount of time.
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Old 07-19-11, 07:10 PM   #5
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Keeping in mind that different people have different reasons (and scopes) for touring, IMO touring at its best is an intrinsic pursuit.

If you need to travel more than 200 miles on a limited schedule, take motorized transport. Get permission from your better half to spend a day or two doing 50+ mile rides in that area, without the pressure of needing to get to Spot X in such a limited time.
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Old 07-19-11, 07:45 PM   #6
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You'll know best how much of a stretch the ride is, but when I've done similar things I've done two things to help just in case:

1) Start early, e.g. at first light to give myself some extra "contingency" hours just in case I ran into mechanical troubles, weather, etc. In any case I wouldn't plan my trip planning on pushing dark in the last miles.
2) Otherwise think of backup plan just in case (it might be as simple as realizing 45 miles in that this wasn't going to work and turning around)

But with those things in mind, I would simply go for it on that particular day.
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Old 07-19-11, 09:45 PM   #7
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Just for the heck of it I went out for a 40 mile loop tonight on similar terrain with basically no prep (meaning I grabbed 1 gatorade and 1 water and took off). I rode 10 easy and 30 hard miles yesterday. I didn't push myself too hard and finished right around 3 hours on the LHT with the handlebar bag and my locks in the trunk-bag to emulate the load. I feel okay, but two days of 40 miles has my legs pretty sore. I still have several weeks before the date, so I'm going to play it by ear. I can cancel a reservation up to the day of it, so I've reserved the free room, and if the weather smiles on my and my fitness continues to progress, I'll go for it. If its a crummy day or I have trouble as I step up my distance in the next few weeks, I'll bail. I'm thinking by slowing down on the bike from 16 to 13-14 it will help me stretch the distance. Plus today was like 95 and humid, so if the weather returns to the more normal 70-80s I put my odds at 75% success on day 1. I'm still not sure of day 2, but the wife can bail me out in the van. Thanks for all the input.

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Old 07-19-11, 10:39 PM   #8
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If possible, I would consider leaving well before first light on day one. If all goes well, then you arrive at the hotel early and get more rest for day two. If you find that you are overmatched, you can take a few more breaks and still make it all happen. While it is usually faster to keep rolling no matter how slow you get, it is certainly a lot more fun to take the needed breaks and ride with more pizazz.
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Old 07-19-11, 10:48 PM   #9
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Here is an option, toss off 40 miles after work the night before, and then get shuttled home, then start from the 40 mile mark the following day. That is what I would do loaded, except I would just camp the night after the 40 miles.
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Old 07-19-11, 11:37 PM   #10
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Go for it... What's the worse that can really happen if you don't make the 140 miles? Someone would have to get you or you would have to pay for a hotel before the 140 miles or have to find alternative shelter for the night..... No matter what, you'll be fine in the end.
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Old 07-20-11, 07:58 AM   #11
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Ask yourself whether you think you will enjoy almost 11 hrs. in the saddle pedalling, because that's how long it will take to cover 140 miles at 13 mph assuming you can actually maintain that pace for the duration of the ride. Throw in the numerous stops you will make and you are talking about a very long time out on the road. Starting at 6 a.m., you will not finish until nearly 5 p.m. not factoring in stopping time. The next day you will have to pedal for another 6+ hrs. to reach your destination.

I would have a bailout plan.
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Old 07-20-11, 09:42 AM   #12
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Planning a 140-mile ride in order to stay in a free hotel room seems a bit misguided. Why not ride 80-90 miles, stay in a Motel 6 or other cheap hotel for $40/night, ride another 80-90 miles the next day, and get picked up by the family on their way to the camping site? If your longest ride of the year is 75 miles, I suspect that 140 miles and 4000 feet of climbing is going to be rough. Possible, but probably not enjoyable.

Like indyfabz, I'd suggest you have a bailout plan that starts far short of the 140-mile mark. Take the addresses of cheap motels starting around the 80-mile mark, or have a plan to call the family and get them to book something for you, etc.
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Old 07-20-11, 11:18 AM   #13
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Ask yourself whether you think you will enjoy almost 11 hrs. in the saddle pedalling, because that's how long it will take to cover 140 miles at 13 mph assuming you can actually maintain that pace for the duration of the ride. Throw in the numerous stops you will make and you are talking about a very long time out on the road. Starting at 6 a.m., you will not finish until nearly 5 p.m. not factoring in stopping time. The next day you will have to pedal for another 6+ hrs. to reach your destination.

I would have a bailout plan.
Noted. I guess I'm going on the "its still 40 miles shorter than a 300k brevet, and I've done that several times." The biggest difference is that almost all my time in the saddle recently has been shorter mileage rides, and I'm afriad it will make a big difference. Anyway, comments noted. Bailout plan in the works.

As for being misguided....so? My wife already thinks I'm misguided for riding my bike to work. So it may be misguided, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't go for it. Being misguided is how I have bumbled into lots of crazy things I enjoyed. Maybe I'm just reckless.
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Old 07-20-11, 12:12 PM   #14
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Planning a 140-mile ride in order to stay in a free hotel room seems a bit misguided.
I actually think it makes sense. Why not create an arbitrary goal that is not ridiculous (the OP clearly has long distance cycling experience) but not easy, especially if a) the hotel has a hot tub to soak in at the end of the ride, and b) you've got other options (bailout ride, other places to stay) if it turns out to be undoable?

I have been known to ride pretty far out of my way for a free hotel room, though. Or end up planning a 40 mile day followed by a 100 mile day just for free rooms. And with most rewards programs, you have until the regular time to cancel the room that day and not lose your points (i.e., I've been able to call and cancel a room 3:30pm then rebook a further hotel because I actually made better time than I'd initially planned for that morning).

Most people regard cycling almost any distance to be ridiculous, or at least a bit of a misguided thing to do. That said, obviously I wouldn't encourage anyone to do anything that seems completely past the point of reason. And now that I think about it, maybe I'll pick a hotel that I have a free night for that's about a hundred miles from my apartment this weekend, just to get in back to back centuries - which I haven't done before, but am pretty confident I could get done in good time.
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Old 07-20-11, 12:25 PM   #15
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I rode 135 miles fully loaded once, taking fourteen hours including breaks. I felt fine the day after and did 30 miles to a predetermined destination, but certainly could have done 80. This was three months into a tour, so I was in good shape then. Since you're doing this ride unloaded, I'd say go for it. Try to start early in the day.
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Old 07-25-11, 11:46 AM   #16
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Noted. I guess I'm going on the "its still 40 miles shorter than a 300k brevet, and I've done that several times." The biggest difference is that almost all my time in the saddle recently has been shorter mileage rides, and I'm afriad it will make a big difference. Anyway, comments noted. Bailout plan in the works.

As for being misguided....so? My wife already thinks I'm misguided for riding my bike to work. So it may be misguided, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't go for it. Being misguided is how I have bumbled into lots of crazy things I enjoyed. Maybe I'm just reckless.
Please don't attribute quotes I did not make to me. I never called it "misguided."
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Old 07-25-11, 12:11 PM   #17
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I have done a longer day (142 miles) and felt good enough to do 80 the next day, but never on the first day of a tour. That was loaded touring with gradual climbing over one easy pass. It was also a trip where I could have stopped along the way and taken an extra day if I wanted too.

It is definitely possible, but would it be fun? Only you can really answer that. Personally, I tend to only do really long days when I feel like it that day and probably wouldn't commit to it ahead of time and be locked into a schedule. Schedules with firm deadlines are something I try very hard to avoid when on tour. Everyone is different though.

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Old 07-25-11, 12:47 PM   #18
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For what it is worth, I've done successive days of 127 and 139 miles on a touring bike with about 15lbs of gear in rear panniers. Fair amount of climbing on the first day, less on the second. It wasn't a huge problem, though I'd have liked it a lot less with a strong headwind.

So there's no reason why your plan shouldn't work. The trouble with really long days of this sort is the lack of contingency should the unexpected arise. Then they become very long days indeed. But go for it, why not?
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Old 07-25-11, 01:44 PM   #19
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I have an average speed of 7 to 10 mph, riding for X hours, that is how far I get.

120~140 miles? .. 2 days. 7 hours ..
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Old 07-28-11, 10:02 AM   #20
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I have an average speed of 7 to 10 mph, riding for X hours, that is how far I get.

120~140 miles? .. 2 days. 7 hours ..
I have a similar algorithm to calculate touring distances in Europe, as follows:
1. Decide how many hours I want to be on the road. For my solo credit card tours, that usually means 10am until sunset. However much I want to get on the road sooner, there's nearly always something that stops me - sleeping, shopping for essentials, sightseeing in my overnight town, route planning etc.
2. Let's say sunset is at 8.30pm - that means 10.5 hours on the road. Now, take two-thirds of this time. 15 years' experience says that that will almost always be the time I spend actually riding - in this case 7 hours.
3. Decide what is likely to be my average speed - while riding - for the day, taking account of terrain, wind and surface. The last of these will already have determined whether this is a road-bike tour or an MTB tour. Remember to be pessimistic! On the road, on the flat, I never count on an average above 11 mph. In the hills on an MTB, an average of 7 or 8 mph will do me just fine. I'm 56, with barely average fitness.
4. Multiply the result of 2 by the result of 3, and see where that will get me by sundown. Look backwards and (a little bit) forwards along the route on the map from that point to find possible accommodation, and make sure I have phone numbers at hand for those options.
5. Then I take stock of how much progress I've actually made by 3pm, phone ahead and book a room. It only failed me once, when I mis-guessed how early the sun would set in the deep south of Italy in Autumn. I never bother with lights while touring, so I had to call a cab big enough to take my Dawes Galaxy and me to my hotel. The ignominy! Since then I've used a sunset calculator on the www to get accurate data.
6. Call me a nerd, but it works for me!

Last edited by camcycad; 07-28-11 at 10:06 AM. Reason: clarification
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Old 07-28-11, 10:16 AM   #21
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I just finished a tour with one of the days being 170 kms long. It was into the wind almost the whole ride, spent 10 hours in the saddle pedaling. I survived, and did 90 kms the next day but it sure took a lot out of me. Your trip is totally doable, but if you have to ask others on this forums, I assume you are having second thoughts. I would never bike that far just for a free hotel room.
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