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Old 05-07-13, 08:52 PM   #1
Ozonation
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Recommended tour length for first tour

I'm very interested in going on my first tour. It is a fully supported, recreation oriented tour along the Great Lakes in the summer, with stops along towns, sites of interest, etc. Food is generally provided, and you can camp or stay in hotels along the way. Not cheap, but probably a lot less expensive and a lot more healthy than a comparable road trip.

Distances vary from about 80 km to 100 km per day. I have the option for going for the full tour (7 days) or paying for 1 to 6 days, and exiting the tour at whatever point I choose.

I'm relatively new to biking, and I am by no means a racer. However, I'm fairly fit, exercise regularly, and can ride 40 km to 50 km comfortably already at between 20 km/h to 30 km/h.

I do however have some competing interests. The end of the tour overlaps with another local event in which I could participate as a photographer (I shoot action/sports). I could "have it all" and go on the tour for 4 days, and then exit, and head back for the other event. While this seems like the perfect solution, I would others' opinions on:

1. I'm not sure how I would hold up - "interest wise" - for 7 days straight on the bike. It does seem a little long to me, and I'm wondering if it might just be "too much". I'm sure I will make friends, but I like to be busy, and ashamedly, get distracted easily.
2. Conversely, I'm wondering if I'll regret leaving early if I exit the tour after only four days. The tour sounds like fun, and this might be one of the few opportunities I'll get. I'll likely have other significant commitments next year.

Any opinions for a touring newbie?
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Old 05-07-13, 09:54 PM   #2
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Ozonation, Probably the most recommended first tour is an overnighter. This will allow you to test your ability to pedal X kms one day and again the next. While this can sound boring, it's amazing how different an interesting route can be when taken in the opposite direction and in different lighting. A different return route maybe a possibility also.

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Old 05-07-13, 10:30 PM   #3
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Pick whichever option you think you would enjoy the most. If you think you'd enjoy doing 4 days then going to the other event, go with it.

But here's a question ... can you make the decision on the 4th day, or do you have to make the decision in advance?
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Old 05-08-13, 12:03 AM   #4
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Thanks for the comments. I'm still undecided. It seems that a shorter tour is advisable given this is my first one?
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Old 05-08-13, 12:27 AM   #5
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Thanks for the comments. I'm still undecided. It seems that a shorter tour is advisable given this is my first one?
You're talking to a touring forum. Unsurprisingly, that forum is full of people who like to tour. That is their preference. None of them knows your preference, obviously. Ergo, you need to make up your own mind because none of us can possibly tell you what you like.
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Old 05-08-13, 01:53 AM   #6
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Recommended tour length for first tour

As above we all vary in our touring styles. Personally I find after about five days in a row I'm about ready for a rest day.
So, based on your options I would go for the 4 day tour, then the photo shoot - except I know nothing about photography :/

Oh btw, this being your first tour, you'll probably get the bug, so it won't be the last!
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Old 05-08-13, 06:39 AM   #7
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Ozonation, My reply in the second post actually is for a test tour prior to the Great Lakes tour, just to test your day to day riding. As for the Great Lakes tour, the four day ride and photo shoot is what I'd do.

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Old 05-08-13, 06:58 AM   #8
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Four days and photo shoot. Cake and eat it to.

After four days, you'll be hooked or you won't. I bet if you decide to extend the ride, they'll take your money and find you a bed.
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Old 05-08-13, 08:01 AM   #9
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Especially since it is a supported tour, I see no reason to keep it short. So do the one that makes you happy.

My first tour was self supported, 73 days, and 4244 miles. It was the first tour for my two companions as well. None of us regretted it.

I can see some merit in doing an overnighter to get gear choices sorted out for self supported touring, but definitely do not think it is necessary for experienced campers or folks staying in motels and eating in restaurants. For fully supported tours I see way less benefit to the short shakedown tour.
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Old 05-08-13, 11:02 AM   #10
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The motto about thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail is the only way to get into shape for a thru-hiking is by thru-hiking. I would have to say it is almost the same scenario when it comes to long distance biking/touring. The only real way to get into shape for long distance biking/touring is by doing it. I thought I was in good shape last year until around day two or three of the trip when my mileage each day was pathetic compared to what I was expecting to cover each day. I was used to doing 150-200+ miles a day around home...on the trip...LOL I was also always use to not carrying any equipment on me so when I added the 35 pounds of gear that slowed me down way more than I ever thought it would.

Yeah, I was in shape so that made things much easier for me. I had ridden 10,000+ miles for the year before I left for my first real bike trip last year. Okay, I had been on one overnighter the previous fall. It was going to be a two nighter but bike trouble made me change my plans since I didn't even want to contemplate getting anywhere around where I was going to be going with the bike trouble I was experiencing. I still ended up riding over 200 miles between the two days on my first overnighter, self supported bike camping trip.

How much/long you'll want to ride depends on what kind of shape you are in before the tour. It also depends on how much you are willing to let small things you can't control, like the weather, end you bothering you.

The only real way to find out how long you can ride for is to go ride.

Here's a much simpler way to look at it. If you ride 50-60 miles a day for 7 days it would only take you 10 hours per day to cover that distance while only riding 5-6 miles per hour. Do you think you can go that fast? I'll give you a hint. If you can't go that fast than you better stay off the bike. Much below 4 mph and most people can't stay upright on a bike...they fall over. I would change my attitude if this was going to be a self supported trip but since this is a trip where you pretty much don't have to take much of anything with you I have a pretty stiff/mean attitude.

I would say go for the 7 days and have fun. The only way I might change my attitude as well would be if you were quite old, 80+ years old or have some kind of disability. Then again, I rode my bike 501 miles between mid-March and mid-April this spring one legged thanks to a broken ankle...so it would have to be a very interesting disability to make me think you shouldn't try the 7 day tour.

If you don't like it then drop out. You make it sound like you can quit pretty much anywhere along the route.

Ask yourself this question...could work be more fun then going out and enjoying doing something I've never did before?

Get out there and have fun...do some sight seeing...get away from the office...live life a little for a switch and like I've said a couple of times now...go have some fun.
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Old 05-08-13, 11:10 AM   #11
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Done some sub 24 hour out and back overnight shake down tours yet?
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Old 05-08-13, 01:56 PM   #12
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As above we all vary in our touring styles. Personally I find after about five days in a row I'm about ready for a rest day. So, based on your options I would go for the 4 day tour, then the photo shoot - except I know nothing about photography :/ Oh btw, this being your first tour, you'll probably get the bug, so it won't be the last!
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Ozonation, My reply in the second post actually is for a test tour prior to the Great Lakes tour, just to test your day to day riding. As for the Great Lakes tour, the four day ride and photo shoot is what I'd do. Brad
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Four days and photo shoot. Cake and eat it to. After four days, you'll be hooked or you won't. I bet if you decide to extend the ride, they'll take your money and find you a bed.
I'm leaning towards the above: it seems to be the most logical. Four days is probably plenty, especially given that this is my first, real attempt at any sort of touring. And I'm also cognizant of...

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Here's a much simpler way to look at it. If you ride 50-60 miles a day for 7 days it would only take you 10 hours per day to cover that distance while only riding 5-6 miles per hour. Do you think you can go that fast? I'll give you a hint. If you can't go that fast than you better stay off the bike. Much below 4 mph and most people can't stay upright on a bike...they fall over. I would change my attitude if this was going to be a self supported trip but since this is a trip where you pretty much don't have to take much of anything with you I have a pretty stiff/mean attitude.
I'm confident I can hold up for multiple days. I'm not triathlete, but I bike when I can, run (often in high heat and humidity), and do resistance training. However, biking is a specific motion/skill, and I can myself getting sore! I suspect my issue is that I will start out too fast, and overexert myself when it's not needed.

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I would say go for the 7 days and have fun.... If you don't like it then drop out. You make it sound like you can quit pretty much anywhere along the route.

Ask yourself this question...could work be more fun then going out and enjoying doing something I've never did before?Get out there and have fun...do some sight seeing...get away from the office...live life a little for a switch and like I've said a couple of times now...go have some fun.
The photography event I mentioned is actually not work: I volunteer and shoot a variety of sports, etc., and enjoy it thoroughly. However, I've photographed a lot of sports (ranging from national college championships to Olympic qualifers), but I have yet to go on a bike tour... the photography might lead to some other opportunities.

To answer an earlier question, no, I have to make a decision now. I suspect I can sign up for four days, and if I change my mind prior to the tour, I suppose I could add on more. I'm not sure when the cut off date is.

The other alternative is to sign up for the whole tour, and if I find myself flagging (because of the distance) or if the photography is just "too good" to pass up, I can exit the tour. I'd lose several hundred dollars. What the heck.. it's only money, right?
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Old 05-08-13, 06:37 PM   #13
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The photography event I mentioned is actually not work: I volunteer and shoot a variety of sports, etc., and enjoy it thoroughly. However, I've photographed a lot of sports (ranging from national college championships to Olympic qualifers), but I have yet to go on a bike tour... the photography might lead to some other opportunities.

To answer an earlier question, no, I have to make a decision now. I suspect I can sign up for four days, and if I change my mind prior to the tour, I suppose I could add on more. I'm not sure when the cut off date is.

The other alternative is to sign up for the whole tour, and if I find myself flagging (because of the distance) or if the photography is just "too good" to pass up, I can exit the tour. I'd lose several hundred dollars. What the heck.. it's only money, right?

Contact them and find out what sort of flexibility you might have.

And the photography opportunity sounds good to me too ... I only dabble, but it's an interest.
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Old 05-08-13, 06:47 PM   #14
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You won't be board on seven days. Especially with other folks around. You will be surprised how fast it passes. But I would do an overnight somewhere just to shake out the bugs.
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Old 05-08-13, 07:53 PM   #15
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Go for the shorter tour and don't miss out on your photography opportunity. It's better to want "more" at the end of a tour than to risk burning out toward the end of one.
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Old 05-08-13, 07:56 PM   #16
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I'd do at least four days, because things start to settle down after the third day of touring. The next major change happens at two weeks when you'll truly "become one with the bike". I guess you'll have to wait for next tour to experience that .
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Old 05-08-13, 09:08 PM   #17
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Which tour is it? I'm from Michigan and can comment on most of them, that would allow me to give a better answer.
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Old 05-08-13, 09:53 PM   #18
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Which tour is it? I'm from Michigan and can comment on most of them, that would allow me to give a better answer.
This one is a new tour apparently around Lake Erie - Waterfront Trail. They done other tours around Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Interestingly, none of the other bikers I know here have heard of the tour or its past iterations, nor they know of anyone who's gone on it!
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