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  1. #1
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    Houston teen wanting to take a bike trip to Big Bend National park(570 miles one way)

    First off, I'm not much more than an amateur cyclist. The biggest thing I've ever done was the BP MS150 last April (150 miles over 2 days). I ride a Schwinn Prelude , which I'm pretty sure is the cheapest road bike that money can buy. I'm pretty desperate to get out and see some mountains, but the nearest are in the vicinity of Big Bend national park. I haven't modified the bike in any way, but I'm pretty sure I'll have to attach racks to it and whatnot if I'm going on such a trip. I'm planning this in June by the way.

    Any advice on how and what to pack if I'm going alone? Should I even attempt this? How much cash should I bring? What do I do if I find night falling with no civilization in sight? I'm pretty sure the path I'll follow takes me through some pretty unpopulated areas. Anyway, Thank you all for taking the time to read this, and I'll appreciate any advice I can get.

  2. #2
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    What trips locally have you taken on that bike with an overnight stay.. carrying the camping gear.

    Galveston on the Gulf Coast perhaps?

    do a few rehearsal trips and see how it goes..

    75 miles a day in High summer is mostly how long can you stand sitting on the saddle and turning the pedals (Long daylight hours)

    but 10 MPH for an 8 hour day , 1/2 Hr for lunch Might be too much like a Job,

    then plan to take more days to get there..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 01-18-13 at 10:50 AM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member mtnbud's Avatar
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    I wouldn't go alone.

    You say you are a teenager. Talk to your parents about it - see what they think.

    Try to find some friends to go with you. Consider trying to talk your parents into serving as a sag wagon. Just carry what you'll need for each day. Plan out your stops ahead of time. Have your parents carry the majority of the gear in the vehicle. See if they'd be willing to camp far from your camp site to give you and your buddies the freedom to be yourselves.

    Regarding the bike: It looks like you might have issues with heel strike if you put a rear rack on your frame. Measuring your chainstays will help you determine if that'd be an issue.

    I didn't notice rack brazeons on the rear triangle. If you're lacking brazeons, you'll need to figure out someway to attach the rack to the bike or buy a rack specifically designed for bicycles without brazeons. There are ways to get around most of these issues - bikepacking gear might be a possibility.

    I did my first bike tour in college on a steel frame Huffy. I went with my college buddies and we had a blast.

    I also agree with Feitsbob - It'd be prudent to start with an overnighter close to home to see how well it goes before embarking on such a long trip.
    “If You Open Your Mind Too Much Your Brain Will Fall Out”

  4. #4
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    The question of underage solo touring comes up occasionally on here. Can get pretty complicated. Parents are rarely on board and there are potential problems with police, border patrol, camp site regulations, etc. Not to mention inexperience, a questionable bike, and the extreme heat of Big Bend in the summer. Won't be a walk in the park.

    You'll likely get a lot of advice on here. Maybe links to previous discussions. Look also at www.crazyguyonabike.com. All anyone needs to know about cycle touring on there, and the search function works pretty good.

    Your goal is admirable and achievable. If not this summer, maybe after you've turned 18. How old are you?

    BTW, I'm heading to BB the end of January for a tour with some buddies. Cool or cold weather and nearly zero rain chance.
    Last edited by Cyclebum; 01-17-13 at 11:24 PM.
    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

  5. #5
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    I'd recommend taking a bus to Albuquerque with your bike, then riding up around Santa Fe, Red River and Taos.

    Not that much further, potentially a much more enjoyable and more civilized mountain trip.

    Maybe one of your parents would be interested in turning a weeks vacation into riding sag/hanging out in the SW with you.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  6. #6
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    Crossriff, Welcome to the forum.

    The MS150 is a great way to discover a taste of touring. An unsupported ride across Texas is much more complicated, however. Gain some experiance whenever possible beforehand and consider day trips in Big Bend using the train or bus to go there.

    Ultimately it'll be your parent's decision.

    Brad

  7. #7
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    Crossrif,
    Assuming parental issues and independence is possible I'd start with Bekologists suggestion to bus there unless you want the miles and the route is good. I did a trip from Calif to Colorado but took the train to Utah then rode from there.
    Regarding the bike. If you can count on no rain you can save yourself a lot of weight and bulk by eliminating a tent and panniers.

    Put a simple rack on the rear and strap bags between rack and seat. It looks like your bike has dropout mounts but no seatstay so get a rack with a brake bolt mount.
    Get two water bottles in the frame triangle and find a place for one to two more. Something as simple as a strapping a liter bottle on top of the bags can work. You may need to configure a carrier for it.
    Basically you don't want to ever find yourself riding empty to the next watering hole and a flat or accident leaves you stuck in the heat for hours. Likewise when you get to your campsite you should wake up with a full bottle to get you to the next water. You might end the day slightly dehydrated so you do not want to start the day in the heat or altitude dehydrated.

    Strapping a dry bag under the handle bars can work but I'd look at the many mini front racks to keep the weight low and close as opposed to handlebar bags that extend out from the bars.
    You can keep valuables like wallet, money, cell phone in a couple zip lock bags in your jersey back pockets or the mini bags that fit on the top tube near the stem.

    Basically try to do this without panniers with the weight spread out to enjoy the ride up and down mtns.

    Your gears may be inadequate with the size of your inner chainring and size of cassette/freewheel. See if you can get a wider range gear cluster.

    Before cycling clothing I wore t-shirts and shorts. In very hot weather I started wearing long sleeve poly cotton button shirts to cut down on the baking of the arms. When I got into cycling clothing it was right before Lycra and believe it or not thin wool jerseys worked fine.
    Lately as an old fart I'm paranoid over being visible on the road (didn't realize how blind old folks were until I became one) and found a bright mesh vest over thin poly long sleeve under shirt worked fine in the heat. Baking bare skin in the sun really isn't necessary, look at how people who have lived in deserts for millenia have dressed.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crossriff View Post
    What do I do if I find night falling with no civilization in sight? I'm pretty sure the path I'll follow takes me through some pretty unpopulated areas. Anyway, Thank you all for taking the time to read this, and I'll appreciate any advice I can get.
    Night falls predictably so you shouldn't be surprised, it happens about the same time the night before. Sometimes weather, storms, cloud cover can cut available light sooner than other times. Use a map. Get off the road with enough light to have dinner and set up camp, rest, hydrate, stretch and loosen up. The quality of your campsite and sleep can go down fast if you're looking in the dark.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crossriff View Post
    I'm planning this in June by the way.
    Do you have a plan for carrying the huge amount of water that you'll need in order to survive the summer heat? As I recall, Big Bend gets quite warm...

  10. #10
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    From the downtown Houston area, it's about 40+ miles to Brazos Bend State Park, almost a straight shot down Almeda. You can load up your bike with your touring gear and do overnighters to BBSP and back pretty easily to practice camping, carrying gear on your bike, etc. I've done a few of these as S24O's and it's quite fun and doesn't interfere with everyday life. As far as Big Bend goes, touring in Texas in the summer will be absolutely brutal. If it's mountains you're after, Arkansas isn't far and you could take a train/bus up there with your stuff and ride around for a week or two. You could also Amtrak up to MO and ride the Katy Trail (not mountains, but a great touring experience).

  11. #11
    Senior Member Fangowolf's Avatar
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    Crossriff
    Here is a ride with some little hills for a test run this saturday
    http://kingwoodfillies.net/2012_bike_ride.php

    Look for an organized ride in that area and hitch a ride with others going to the ride. I don't have any desire to do hills yet
    Last edited by Fangowolf; 01-20-13 at 07:11 PM.

  12. #12
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    Two summers ago the wife and I took a Van/camping trip to Big Bend from Austin. Air conditioner went out in the van halfway there. I have to tell you, and this is coming from someone who grew up in Texas, that was the hottest 6 days of our LIVES. The desert in June is pretty harsh. I don't know that I could handle riding in those kind of conditions between 11 and 3 during the day. We did all our hiking and exploring early morning or late evening.
    Be prepared. There are mountains at the center of the part (70 miles in) and that's where you want to be because of the cool air at night. But everywhere we were surrounding those mountains was torture.
    If we ever go back it will be in the fall or winter which employees of Big Bend informed us was the busy season. Summer is the off season, for good reason.

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