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Big adventure on little wheels

Old 09-30-10, 04:30 PM
  #1  
lucille
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Big adventure on little wheels

We're back from our 3 week trip in France with the Bike Fridays and had most wonderful time.

The bikes were folded and unfolded almost daily, carried up and down the stairs, onto the trains and even couple of long distance buses.
All went great except for a few things:
- We had too much baggage and even though the bikes took the weight fine, it was a lot harder to ride and climb than we expected.
- I have developed a clicking sound in my right crank, that I couldn't figure out and just rode with it.
- Hubby has a very annoying squeaking sound when he's riding. Sounds like it's from the seat post, but we couldn't find anything wrong. It's happening with and without luggage on the bike, but wasn't there before the trip.
- When bikes were loaded, gentle pulling up on the seat (to help get it up on the curb for example) resulted in seat post folding. That screw doesn't seem to hold very well.
- I really, really miss the top tube! It was so hard to stop and check the map or take a photo.
- Plescher kickstands we got for the trip weren't very useful. The bike was too heavy to lift it enough to swing the kickstand open (can't pull on the seat to do that). And I was afraid to break it under the weight. It worked well in hotel rooms, on trains, train stations etc., when bikes weren't loaded.
Other than that, the hardest thing was the daily loading and unloading, and dealing with getting to the train, changing platforms (stairs!) etc.

We had some people coming up and asking about bikes, but most looked at us like we were totally crazy.

I've seen lots of different folders and took some photos for you all. Will post them soon, when I get organized.
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Old 09-30-10, 08:29 PM
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I thought that it was a little quiet here...

Welcome back!
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Old 09-30-10, 10:18 PM
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Have you figured how much stuff you could eliminate next time?

(Traveling 6 weeks+ in our small, folding Aframe trailer has made learning to travel light very easy.)

Lou
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Old 10-01-10, 08:25 AM
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Look forward to the pictures and more stories! Thanks for sharing.
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Old 10-01-10, 10:47 AM
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Lucille, I would love to hear more, and see pix. I toured Normandy on my TR here

What routes did you take ? And did you have the seatpost problem with both bikes ? I was fantasizing about BF NWT as an ultimate tourer plus everyday hauler bike - you know, from that thing that "if you only have one bike then the NWT is it". But maybe not, no ?

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Old 10-01-10, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by IronMac View Post
I thought that it was a little quiet here...

Welcome back!
Hey!

Originally Posted by Foldable Two View Post
Have you figured how much stuff you could eliminate next time?

(Traveling 6 weeks+ in our small, folding Aframe trailer has made learning to travel light very easy.)

Lou
We will definitely have to make some cuts, we had almost 50 lbs of luggage each on the bikes. I thought I was doing pretty well, because everything did fit in the panniers no problem. I found it really hard to cut things out. You need cycling clothes, warm layers, rain gear, clothes for off bike, clothes to go to dinner and be half presentable. Shoes take a lot of room, we only took pair of sandals and runners each, and a pair of flip flops. Toiletries, tools, all my photo stuff, laptop (will need to find alternative next time, just too heavy), chargers, cables etc.

It was three weeks, moving every day to a new place. Usually taking a train to some place, riding for the rest of the day, arriving around 6ish, shower, dinner, look around, sleep. Not much time for looking for a laundromat, and clothes don't dry well in 6 hrs. We were constantly trying to make sure we have clean clothes. I have no idea how people tour with one pair of cycling clothing. Any ideas or suggestions?
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Old 10-01-10, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by SesameCrunch View Post
Look forward to the pictures and more stories! Thanks for sharing.
I'll probably post some pics on Flickr. Or maybe start a blog. But I do have some that I took with you lot in mind, will post them here.

Originally Posted by gringo_gus View Post
Lucille, I would love to hear more, and see pix. I toured Normandy on my TR here

What routes did you take ? And did you have the seatpost problem with both bikes ? I was fantasizing about BF NWT as an ultimate tourer plus everyday hauler bike - you know, from that thing that "if you only have one bike then the NWT is it". But maybe not, no ?
Looks like a great trip, thanks for sharing.
In Normandy we rode from Caen to Juno Beach (it's in Courseulles-sur-Mer), then to Bayeux where we spent the night. We were planning to spend a little more time in that area, but were held up by rain in the morning, and then I got locked in the bathroom in restaurant and had to be rescued by a young lad that punched a hole through the door to get me out. No, not kidding. ;-)

NWT is a really great bike, we love them. Little problems that we had were not really problems, just small things that developed with riding. What I meant about the seat post was that normally you can lift your bike by the seat. With the load on, my husband's seatpost was getting unhinged as if he wanted to fold it. I didn't have that problem.
I don't think you can have just one bike for everything. I think it's a very good touring bike, without it folding, we would have a problem in a few hotels, one train and wouldn't be able to take it on the bus. But you would probably find that it's not a very good commuter. It folds well, but not as small as some other folders, it's heavy to carry and it doesn't roll. I'm starting to save for a Tikit to commute on.
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Old 10-01-10, 11:54 AM
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Can offer a few ideas from our experiences:
1) We traveled clear across the country earlier this Summer for the 2nd time. Moving on every day is a pain, so we did a number of 3-4 night stays in interesting biking places like Madison, WI; Wash D.C; Bar Harbor/Acadia Nat Pk, ME and Burlington, Vt. Allows for some rides as well needed rest and laundry time.
2) Have noticed that most on cycle trips take TWO outfits; wash at night and dry during next day.
3) All clothing is poly-fiber (no cotton except maybe one pair of jeans) No real "outfits, just a lot of stuff that layers and goes together color-wise. I have number of Ex-officio brand long sleeved shirts and a pants. Wife has Columbia brand below knee pants and shirts and we both have Under-Armour T shirts. In Italy in 2007, I added one pair of black poly-fiber slacks.
5) Laptop is a problem on a mainly bike trip - we didn't take ours to Italy - guess Blackberry would be best option to communicate and manage finances.
6) We minimize toiletries on a day-to-day basis. Wife's hair dryer is the space-taker here.
7) Shoes are a problem with my size 13 feet. My walking shoes are also my dress-up shoes (Black/Brown combo Eco's). You're right here - would also need Slaps and bike shoes. Main thing is to keep their weight down.
8) I only carry a small Nikon digital with a 5x zoom. Fits in pocket of cycling jersey.

Hope that helps some.

Lou
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Old 10-01-10, 12:17 PM
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Thanks, Lou!
We have already decided not to do a mad race like this again. Minimum of two nights at one destination, more if there's more to see.

We had three sets of cycling clothes each. Started out with four, but sent some stuff home after a week. I was thinking that next time I would take three pairs of shorts, as they are the most crucial to change daily and take longest to dry, and two sets of jersey/socks. But maybe two sets would be enough.

We didn't take jeans, never really do when we travel. I have a pair of very plain black hiking pants, that look just like dress pants. Those were my going to dinner/walking around when cold pants. Hubby took a pair of thin black pants as well. Other than that two pairs of shorts for him, two pairs of capri pants for me - may cut it down to one next time, but you know that will be just the time when you get a big stain on your pants.
Laptop was mostly for photo storage. I had my dslr, one more lens and tripod. It was in a camera backpack strapped to my back rack. I'm not willing to go without my camera, may as well not go. Well, I may ditch the tripod.
How do you minimize toiletries? Do you keep buying more? Some hotels had them, some didn't. I'm allergic to strong scents, so usually take my own.
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Old 10-01-10, 01:36 PM
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Hi Lucille, thanks so much for all the detail - sounds like real fun. We only toured for a week, so didn't need to take so much. We found hotels, if we called ahead, were really happy to find a garage or barn in which we could lock our bikes. Which was good, because the rooms were small sometimes. I took small toiletries to use as fallback not everyday, not that I didn't wash everyday, just most of time I could use hotel stuff, though I don't like the strong perfume stuff either.

But a couple of times it did rain a lot and the wind for sure, had to set off next day in damp clothes.
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Old 10-02-10, 04:39 AM
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Originally Posted by lucille View Post
Thanks, Lou!

Laptop was mostly for photo storage. I had my dslr, one more lens and tripod. It was in a camera backpack strapped to my back rack. I'm not willing to go without my camera, may as well not go. Well, I may ditch the tripod.
First of all, I have no idea how anybody tours with only one set of cycling clothes. At least two sets!

Second, ditch the tripod or get a monopod. The latter comes in handy in case of self-defense.

Third, if all you need is photo storage then you may want to consider one of those hard drives that (Nikon?) sells whereby you can upload your photos to every day. Alternatively, you may look into options such as fiddling with the settings of the camera to produce smaller files or getting bigger flash memory cards.
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Old 10-02-10, 08:12 AM
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You need to be much more brutal with your packing list. I was carrying 56lbs for solo, self supported camping for 8 weeks.
Some foldy-bike tourists use a 40L backpack lashed to the low rear rack (+ bar bag). This makes you much more mobile when carrying a folded bike.
Use a photo storage device or a small netbook with a large thumb drive or card. Use devices with a USB charger so you can daisy chain off your netbook rather than separate charger units. Use a mini tripod.
Cut down on footwear. One pair of walkable riding shoes and one pr sandals or other ultralight shoes (eg marathon race shoes)
Use one set of off-bike/hiking/dinner clothes.
If you do spill dinner over your pants you can always change into your cycling leggings.
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Old 10-02-10, 08:31 AM
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Sounds like you had a great time. Thanks for posting! Isn't it great to be able to take your own wheels with you?
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Old 10-03-10, 02:23 AM
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Originally Posted by MichaelW View Post
You need to be much more brutal with your packing list. I was carrying 56lbs for solo, self supported camping for 8 weeks.
Some foldy-bike tourists use a 40L backpack lashed to the low rear rack (+ bar bag). This makes you much more mobile when carrying a folded bike.
Use a photo storage device or a small netbook with a large thumb drive or card. Use devices with a USB charger so you can daisy chain off your netbook rather than separate charger units. Use a mini tripod.
Cut down on footwear. One pair of walkable riding shoes and one pr sandals or other ultralight shoes (eg marathon race shoes)
Use one set of off-bike/hiking/dinner clothes.
If you do spill dinner over your pants you can always change into your cycling leggings.

I wish I had had some of these tips before. You know what, maybe I will start a thread on "touring tips on small wheels" ?
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