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First Bike Touring Trip - Voyageur's journey

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First Bike Touring Trip - Voyageur's journey

Old 04-24-19, 05:44 PM
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First Bike Touring Trip - Voyageur's journey

Oh, yes, I could post this in with the Touring crowd but I like this neighborhood much better. Besides it's C&V. I'm finishing preparations for my first bike packing trip, ever. I'm taking my 1987 Schwinn Voyageur, my beer bike (cost me less than a case of Rolling Rock). I purchased a set of classic Cannondale panniers from Bikerider007 a couple of months ago. They fit just right and, so far, have more storage space than I need. I've made my list and I'm checking it twice. It seems like I can get by with very little but the contingencies stuff sure adds weight. Spare spokes, wrench and FW remover. Rain gear. Water filter, etc. I'm hoping the total gear weight will be under 25 lbs but I'm not sure I'm going to (or even can) weigh the whole shebang.

Anyway this is the basic idea shown in the photo. First trip will be a practice run. We drive to the Jersey Shore (no not that one. This one is in the mountains). Crank up the Pine Creek Trail 50 miles, camp for the night, then back down to the cars. Going with two friends who are riding modern gravel grinders/adventure bikes. I'm the obsolete old duffer on the obsolete bike. Suits me though. I'm looking forward to it.

If this works out and the stars align, I'll target riding about 300 miles on the GAP towards the end of summer. Not bad for an old duffer.

PS: that stick tied to the top tube is just a prop to keep the bike up. On this trip I'll be using a 2 piece aluminum prop I've made. You can just see the end of it between the blue and brown stuff sacks.

More news when I have it.

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Old 04-24-19, 07:59 PM
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Very nice! This is a summer goal for me as well. Look forward to any pics or reporting you might share of the practice run when it comes to pass.
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Old 04-24-19, 09:11 PM
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Fantastic! This is what I want to be doing in a couple of years when I retire. Note however, that this is a classic bicycle touring rig, not a bikepacking rig. Bikepacking is a relatively new term that is used to describe off-road bicycle touring using a mountain bike and a multiplicity of bags strapped directly to the bike without using racks. Given that bikepacking setups can't carry much gear, bikepacking trips are generally just a few days, compared to weeks on the road possible with a classic bicycle touring rig using racks and panniers.
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Old 04-24-19, 09:30 PM
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Looks awesome. Love ur bike.
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Old 04-24-19, 11:17 PM
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Old school setup, looking good!
@davester, no need to wait till you retire, you can get in a 3 day weekend tour with friends if you plan ahead!
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Old 04-25-19, 04:23 AM
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Originally Posted by davester View Post
Fantastic! This is what I want to be doing in a couple of years when I retire. Note however, that this is a classic bicycle touring rig, not a bikepacking rig. Bikepacking is a relatively new term that is used to describe off-road bicycle touring using a mountain bike and a multiplicity of bags strapped directly to the bike without using racks. Given that bikepacking setups can't carry much gear, bikepacking trips are generally just a few days, compared to weeks on the road possible with a classic bicycle touring rig using racks and panniers.
Thank you. I've wondered about the terms. I'm bicycle touring. The other two are bike packing on new rigs with frame packs, etc.

BUT, as of this morning the forecast for Saturday is overcast with 21mph winds. Sunday says rain starting at 5am at 38degF. That is not what I normally call fun. Pondering my choices now......

Yesterday morning, the forecast was for pretty nice weather both days. And dry. Ugh.

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Old 04-26-19, 07:25 PM
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This morning the forecast was even worse. Sunday morning dawns with 35deg and snow all day. Trip postponed. At least the Voyageur is ready when called.
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Old 04-26-19, 08:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Prowler View Post
This morning the forecast was even worse. Sunday morning dawns with 35deg and snow all day. Trip postponed. At least the Voyageur is ready when called.
Itll happen. Im an old man who loves short tours
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Old 04-27-19, 07:55 AM
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Just a comment- you might want a little more weight on the front end- if you do have to carry the bike- having all the weight in the back makes it more difficult.

I'm just as guilty of it- I don't like the way it affects steering
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Old 04-27-19, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by The Golden Boy View Post
Just a comment- you might want a little more weight on the front end- if you do have to carry the bike- having all the weight in the back makes it more difficult.

I'm just as guilty of it- I don't like the way it affects steering
I agree. I have bigger bags on back but more weight on front lowriders.
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Old 04-27-19, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by The Golden Boy View Post
Just a comment- you might want a little more weight on the front end- if you do have to carry the bike- having all the weight in the back makes it more difficult.
Thanks for the advice. I have racks that can mount to the fork lowers but have not decided if I need them. Just went for a 20 mile training run on packed cinder trail, a couple of tight turns, steep hillocks, wicked west wind and the whole shebang handled real well. It all just disappears once I'm under way. Confidence is now a step higher. As to 'carry the bike' I did have to carry it, both out and back, over two downed trees, big ones. Second time, I lifted it by a chain stay which was much better balanced (vs by the TT the first time).

I may use those racks for tools, fuel and food though.
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Old 04-28-19, 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by gugie View Post
Old school setup, looking good!
@davester, no need to wait till you retire, you can get in a 3 day weekend tour with friends if you plan ahead!
That thread is definitely giving me some ideas. I'm also thinking that this is a model for next year's Eroica, based on something you suggested in the Marinica thread (i.e. do Marinica on the Sunday before Eroica and then keep on riding south to Cambria). Amtrak's Coast Starlight does stop in Paso Robles, or a car ride could be bummed back to the SF Bay Area with Eroica participants not doing the down the coast tour.
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Old 04-28-19, 01:52 PM
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@Prowler obsolete old duffer on the obsolete bike Hey now you're picking on my hobbies! Great looking Voyageur have fun. I would be happy to get in an S24O one of these days.
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Old 04-28-19, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by ryansu View Post
@Prowler obsolete old duffer on the obsolete bike Hey now you're picking on my hobbies! Great looking Voyageur have fun. I would be happy to get in an S24O one of these days.
Those are so easy, i love them.
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Old 04-28-19, 03:45 PM
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Snow in late April in PA! That's just not right!
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Old 04-28-19, 10:23 PM
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Originally Posted by davester View Post
That thread is definitely giving me some ideas. I'm also thinking that this is a model for next year's Eroica, based on something you suggested in the Marinica thread (i.e. do Marinica on the Sunday before Eroica and then keep on riding south to Cambria). Amtrak's Coast Starlight does stop in Paso Robles, or a car ride could be bummed back to the SF Bay Area with Eroica participants not doing the down the coast tour.
Ok, got me to thinking of creeks flowing together into small rivers, small rivers flowing into large ones...

Work backwards from Cambria, one day's ride away. Then it bifurcates, two routes become one, and on and on...Days are set, join the train when it comes by...Some people will ride a week, others a few days, some maybe one, but all have the same destination.
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Old 04-29-19, 04:09 AM
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Gugie, don't say 'bifurcates'. People will think yer a dweeb. Next you'll be saying 'promulgate' and 'instantiation'.

It's a slippery slope Mon.
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Old 08-09-19, 09:26 AM
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Postponed but nor forgotten

When last we gathered, I was targeting a tour at the end of June. Life pre-empted my plans so that did not happen. I even had to be OOT (out of town) for 2 weeks, no riding, just getting fat. So I restarted planning and training on July 1. The long range forecast looks good so I'm planning to set out on Aug 19 for this adventure. Adventure for me anyway.

I'll drive to Cumberland, Maryland and park. Ride the Great Allegheny Passage trail 150 miles to Pittsburg then ride back. Plan A is 4 nights camping and around 60 miles/day. "No plan survives engagement........" Sorry to miss doing this on the longest day of the year but I'm actually in much better shape and better prepared now. So, all's good. I rode my last shake down ride this morning - bike as shown. This is the configuration I'm going to ride. I heard the advice and have shifted weight to the front. Not a lot but some. As shown this monster tipped the scale to 66lbs. I'd filled it with extra water and junk to get the weight up for today. I don't expect my actual weight to be this high but it'll be OK if it is. This rode very nicely. Easy to ride one handed on pack cinder trails. Easy rolling, easy on rough stuff and road crossings. I rode the Thun trail out of Pottstown, PA this morning. Up grade going 10 miles out and down grade on the return. Very confidence inspiring. Ave 12mph which should work nicely. With a 60 mile/day target I'll only have to ride half the time. "No plan survives engagement......."

A couple of photos. I'll ride a bit in the coming week but not training efforts. I'll also go over the bike well - ensure wheels are true, lube housings and chain, listen to all the bearings, see if the derailleurs need anything. Tires, tubes and strips are new so they'll be fine. I think I'm ready.

I know a 300 mile bike tour is easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy for many folks. But for me, at almost 68yo, its epic. I'll post news when I have it.



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Old 08-09-19, 10:42 AM
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Have a great trip! I've been wanting to do a Pittsburgh-DC trip on the GAP/C&O trails for a while now. You've given me some inspiration to finish up my touring bike build - a drop-bar conversion of a late 90's hybrid. Maybe it'll be ready in time for a fall trip.
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Old 08-09-19, 10:42 AM
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Fantastic! 66 lbs ain't too bad a total weight, BTW with tent, sleeping bag, cooking gear...the freedom of having everything you need on your bike, riding as many or few miles every day, taking life in a bicycle speed is one of my favorite things to do. You're surely carrying too much, but you won't know what you can ditch for the next tour until you do this one. I always lay everything out before packing and take pictures before I pack so I can remember afterwords exactly what was used, and what could be left at home. It took me 3-4 credit card tours to narrow down exactly what I need and want. I haven't done enough full camping touring to do the same yet.

The fact that you're doing it full C&V and not spending much on your gear should be noted. You can spend a LOT more with not much more capability/rideability/comfort! Grand adventures lie ahead!

BTW, @Andy_K is originally from Cumberland and can give you some tips on where the best local greasy spoons are located. @northbend did the GAP as part of his epic cross-country ride earlier and might have some tips to share.

Also, age is just a number. The two tours I've done this year included 4 people older than you!
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Old 08-09-19, 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by gugie View Post
BTW, @Andy_K is originally from Cumberland and can give you some tips on where the best local greasy spoons are located. @northbend did the GAP as part of his epic cross-country ride earlier and might have some tips to share.
Well, after I sent @northbend to Coney Island for hot dogs I'm not sure how much weight my recommendations carry. I maintain that those are the best hot dogs to be found anywhere in the world, and they're just a couple of blocks off of the trail. northbend...how can I say this?...very politely declined to agree. If you're arriving by car, my recommendation would be D'Atri's Subs. For a good post-tour meal, I like Uncle Jack's, right across from the trailhead. If you want ice cream, Queen City Creamery is excellent.

Have you figured out where you're going to park? Downtown Cumberland doesn't really have great options for extended parking that I remember. There's a parking lot right next to the trailhead, but I feel like it's an hourly rate. There are some places under the freeway that I think you can park, but you'll want to be sure not to have any valuables in the car. There's a sketchy area not far away. Cumberland desperately wants to be a tourist destination, so I'm sure if you call one of the local bike shops or the Canal Trust they'd be more helpful than I am.

Regarding the trail, I've done that from Pittsburgh-to-DC. It's fantastic. The GAP is almost all immaculately manicured hard-packed dirt. It's a steady climb from Cumberland up to the Continental Divide, but even fully loaded I don't think you'll find it too burdensome. Once you get to the divide it's all downhill! The grade is much more gentle coming the other way from Pittsburgh, but it's unrelentingly uphill, so I feel like that part is actually harder mentally. I'd plan to spend at least a few hours in Ohiopyle. It's one of the best stops along the way. A side trip to Fallingwater would be a nice addition if you have the time.

You have the Trail Book, right? There aren't nearly as many stopping points along the GAP as there are on the C&O Canal, so sometimes your hand is forced on stopover points. I feel like 5 days/4 nights is a pretty aggressive pace for this trip. When I did it, I originally planned to go from Pittsburgh to Cumberland in two days. Someone on the touring forum here asked me, "Why are you in such a hurry?" It was the best advice I got. This trail is well suited to a leisurely pace. If you have the time, take your time.

I learned from @northbend's travel log that there's a cool bike hostel in Pittsburgh. If you feel like you need a break from camping, there's a nice (but expensive) old riverfront hotel in Confluence.

Since apparently I'm still 12 years old at heart, I'll share one of my favorite pictures from the trail (with apologies to Mr. Stiffey, who I'm sure was a very fine person deserving of much better than my juvenile snickers). I think this is just north of the Mason Dixon Line.

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Old 08-10-19, 04:46 AM
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Thanks Andy. Allegheny County Tourism is telling trail riders to park there under the freeway/I64 in Cumberland. Howard street, I think. I'll just have to trust its ok. And I drive a beat up Corolla with a stick shift, no back seat and no wheel covers. Who'd even look at it.

My training miles have been unladen but 50 miles flat and hilly, only brief bio breaks, and done at a strong pace. I'm hoping that 60miles of pootering along with long breaks will be fine. I also move when it's light out and sleep when it's dark. So I expect to be packed and turning cranks by 6:30 each morning. Plenty of time.

I am planning to camp and cook in camp. Starting weight includes the kitchen, the Nylon motel, minimal clothing, and food. Mostly dry starches and vedg I've dehydrated. Two foil packs of tuna and some flat breads, trail mix, granola. Mentally, I'll know that the weight goes down as each meal passes. I've been primitive camping for decades so have a good idea of what I can live without for 5 days. I have read about the neat hostile that Northbend stayed at in Pittsburgh. Won't need that.

Plan A is to camp with the Army at Outflow - first and fourth night. Then camp at the cemetery near Boston. Ride on into P'burgh to mile 0 for photos and back to the cemetery/Dravo. I've been 'around these here parts' for decades so have seen P'burgh, Falling Waters, Ft Ligonier, etc. Been a tourist here in Penn's Woods so this trip is primarily a riding one. Just groovin on the woods and wildness. And seeing what I can do.
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Old 08-10-19, 06:33 AM
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Thanks for the posts and have fun Prowler! I’ll be following along (virtually).

Info on your fork mount racks?

@Andy_K - you have to think Dick had a sense of humor about it, otherwise he would have gone by Richard or Rich.
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Old 08-10-19, 10:49 PM
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Have fun @Prowler hope it goes smooth and you have tailwinds the whole way. For the record I would be happy to a 30 mile overnight on my 87 Cresta GT, I envy your 300 mile multi day tour, have fun on the GAP I have read many cool posts about rides there. Your Voyageur looks like it will be be a Champ on tour.
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Old 08-11-19, 12:54 AM
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Inspirational, @Prowler. I am soon to be unemployed and plan to make the most of my fall riding with at least a couple mini tours; kicking off with Cino 2019 a few days after my business closes down for good.

After that little race-bike jaunt, I'll finally get down to some loaded touring business and mount my my big low-rider rack and bags on either the the C-dale 600 or the Voyageur (mine's an '88, SO PRETTY) and either head out to the Washington coast, or do an STP and beyond until my legs can't go no more or my wife calls and admits she misses my cooking.

Both bikes are wanting the lowrider racks mounted up front. Which one will get the call?



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● 1971 Grandis SL ● 1972 Lambert Grand Prix frankenbike ● 1972 Raleigh Super Course fixie ● 1973 Nishiki Semi-Pro ● 1980 Apollo "Legnano" ● 1984 Peugeot Vagabond ● 1985 Shogun Prairie Breaker ● 1986 Merckx Super Corsa ● 1987 Schwinn Tempo ● 1988 Schwinn Voyageur ● 1989 Trek 400 ● 1989 Bottechia Team ADR replica ● 1990 Cannondale ST600 ● 1993 Technium RT600 ● 1996 Kona Lava Dome ●
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