Old 06-10-10, 02:49 PM
Bike addict, dreamer
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I'm back from my first tour: 10 days of ups and downs in the Adirondacks

I'm not sure where to start

See my complete CGOAB journal for all the details and pictures, if you're so inclined

I think I picked a challenging and ambitious route for my first tour. But in the end I'm glad I did. It tested my abilities and I know I can handle a heavy bike for extended hilly rides and can deal with the occasional difficulties.

The tour didn't go entirely as envisioned but it wasn't a failure either. I think that considering my lack of experience with multi-day touring, multi-day camping and the area I did quite well actually.

I had fun most of the time and I enjoyed riding and camping. The scenery was great. The hills were long

OK, so what went wrong?

1) On the 2nd day my kickstand broke off!

I knew this was coming. But I could not find a kickstand that would support a bike this heavy and due to the cable routing under the bottom bracket I was unable to mount a double V kickstand. It was annoying not to have a kickstand.

2) On the 7th day left rack mount eyelet broke off!

I didn't know exactly when this happened, I discovered it while looking for source of clicking/knocking sound (it was something else: a piece of stone stuck in a chain link). I thought at first that this was the end of the trip. But the eyelet still held up despite being broken off because it was pressed down by the weight of the rack. I stopped by a car shop in Tupper Lake looking for someone who would be able to weld it. But it was late Sat, the only guy in town who might be able to weld a steel bike was gone fishing for the weekend (small engine repair shop). The guys at the shop looked at it and strapped it down with two very thick zip ties to prevent it from sliding sideways or jumping up. I gotta say, people are nice outside of NY I would never expect so much concern and compassion for a cyclist from a car shop crew! The mounting point was pretty much immobilized and should prevent further trouble.

This confirmed the rumor that Kona Sutra frame has crappy rear rack mount eyelets. But I continued pedaling without any more trouble.

I will post in the frame builders forum if there is someone near NYC who would be willing to help me out. I don't want to just fix it, but improve it. Remove the other eyelet and weld strong tabs instead and maybe solve the problem of mounting a kickstand under the bottom bracket by welding a tab under there. If this can't be fixed I'll seriously consider a Big Dummy. Although I may have hard time getting that thing on a train.

3) On the 8th day the weather went suddenly very cold. Until that day it was sunny in the upper 60s to upper 70s with a couple of really hot days in upper 80s (the kind of "hot" that makes you pour cold water over your head), low 60s at night, an occasional passing rain. Not too bad at all. But that day temps dropped suddenly to low 40s at night, possibly upper 30s, rained two nights in a raw which resulted in unbearably miserable mornings. The elevation was only under 2000 feet. During the day the air felt frigid, mid 40s. Sweating in such temps was unpleasant, I stopped every hour to dry my clothes and warm up in the sun. I tried to tough it out for two days, but the weather forecast didn't look promising. So, with a broken heart, I resigned and called my wife on Tuesday morning to pick me up. I rode back to Lake George while sh was coming from NYC so technically I completed a loop around the Adirondack park although not as long as long as planned. I was planning to ride back to Poughkeepsie this coming Sunday and take a train back to NYC. 5 hour later my wife picked me up near Lake George.

4) I didn't do a good job building the wheels. Both went out of true and the rear is no longer dished. So I'll have them rebuilt by my LBS.

What went well then?

Considering that this was lots of "firsts" for me and "the things that went wrong" weren't that bad really I think the tour was a successful experience:

- first real tour
- longest bike ride ever
- heaviest load ever
- most hilly ride ever
- longest time living in a tent
- longest time without the usual services and amenities
- first time heading into completely unknown area
- first touring bike build
- first set of wheels I built from scratch

I felt well physically and mentally. Except for the first couple of nights I slept well. I didn't crash. I didn't bonk out. I dealt with the hills. I saw some great scenery. I saw wild animals. I camped next to beautiful lakes. I had fun.

And, most importantly, I want to do this again! I will do this route again next year. But in July this time. It'll be more crowded but warmer.

Meantime, I'll try to get my frame fixed up and dome some shorter 2-4 day rides closer to NYC as time allows.

Thanks to all of you who contributed feedback and advice!
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