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emeshelman 07-08-13 11:46 AM

Advice and Insight for a Beginner Starting a 3,000 Mile Journey
 
Good afternoon everyone, :)

My name is Evan Eshelman and I am a college student at Virginia Tech. My fraternity, Pi Kappa Phi, runs a charity organization for people with disabilities called PUSH America. One of our biggest events that we run is called Journey of Hope which is a two month cross-country bike journey from Seattle to DC during the summer. We ride on average 75 miles each morning to a new town along the way to partner with different organizations to host events for and with these amazing individuals. We do have a van and a crew that follows us the whole way to carry all our belongings, so I don't need to worry about that. I am in the beginning stages of planning my entry into this opportunity, but have many questions about the biking aspect of it all--I was hoping to hear from you all about whatever information/advice/tips/insight you can give me. And if there's something that I didn't ask that you think I should know or contemplate, please let me know!

I love biking, but I've only ever ridden a fairly affordable, low key Trek mountain bike. I don't do anything intense, and really know next to nothing about the sport at all.

I'm trying to do research and find as much information about the gear that I'm going to need and the type of bike I should be getting, but the problem is that I really don't even know where to start. I'll obviously need to look into purchasing a proper, probably fairly expensive bike. I'm fortunate enough to have a pretty decent job this summer that is paying fairly well, so I'll be able to afford quality. And that really is my focus now, I want to make sure that what I buy is worth the money and will be extremely reliable. Alongside the bike, I'll need to figure out how the special shoes work as well as which ones to buy, a helmet, and then maybe even look into a saddle? I'm not sure if people usually change out saddles, all I know is that I've never sat on a bike that didn't give me pain after fifteen minutes.

Again, I have about a million questions but I figured this would be a good place to start. Please feel free to give me whatever knowledge you possibly can, and I look forward to hearing from all of you--thank you so very much!

Best wishes,
Evan

Wilfred Laurier 07-08-13 11:52 AM

tldr

the journey begins with a single turn of the cranks

caloso 07-08-13 11:55 AM

The first thing I would do is visit a local bike shop. I'm sure there are few in Blacksburgh. Whatever bike you get, the most important thing is that it fits you, and that's best done at a good local shop.

StephenH 07-08-13 10:21 PM

You want a "road bike". You're not racing, so don't look at bikes oriented towards racing. If the route has steep hills, consider a triple.
Frame material is a Ford vs Chevy deal. Some aluminum frames can be harsh-riding.
You want to ride a bunch before you start the trip. Don't wait until you get on the road, then start discovering problems.
Cheap crap can be unreliable, but if you buy a $5,000 bike versus a $1,000 bike, you don't necessarily get anything more reliable, but more likely, something lighter. The main issues are just adjustments of the derailleurs and brakes. It helps to have several thousand miles on the bike first, then you have a good handle on how often things need to be adjusted.
Shoes and clipless pedals are optional. I'd suggest buy the road bike, ride it a while with platform pedals, then when you're pretty comfortable on it, switch to the clipless pedals. If you're going to be doing a lot of walking in the shoes, stick with mountain-bike pedals and shoes, otherwise, road-bike pedals and shoes.
On the helmets, more expensive ones are lighter and have better ventilation, they all have to meet the same crash-resistance tests.
Brooks leather saddles and Selle Anatomical leather saddles are two commonly-used saddles for longer distances. Try whatever saddle comes on your bike, if you have issues, then look at something else. With the leather saddles, you may need some break-in time, so you want to have lots of miles before you start the trip. Some saddle-fit issues can be solved by adjusting tilt, etc., on the saddle. You shouldn't be hurting or going numb if everything is working right.

MichaelW 07-09-13 05:11 AM

All solid advice so far.
Saddles are really personal. Specialized are also good ones in plastic/leather.
Modern aluminium frames are the standard product and they are not as harsh as they used to be. Carbon fibre forks make for a more comfy ride. Look for a bike with a less racy feel. Most brands have an endurance or sportif style of non-competative/non-racing road bike.
Find some padded shorts that work well and buy 3 pairs. You will need some padded mitts for protection on the bars and in a slide along the road.
Clip-on aerobars are used by tourists not just for a more aerodynamic position, but also for a more comfortable alternative handhold.
Gearing should be road triple or compact double; endurance riding is long, not fast.
You will need time to adjust to riding a bike and to dial in your riding position. I would normally advise a min of 3 months of daily riding before embarking on a serious coast-coast route. That is daily riding or saddle time, eg commuting, not athletic training or cardio workouts or anything fancy, just butt-on-saddle.

Phil_gretz 07-09-13 12:35 PM

Evan,
My advice would be to search for a true "touring" bike, complete with a triple chainring front crankset, and a wide range rear cassette. If there's an REI near you, they'll have a few options. You're going to be spending A LOT of time on this bike. It must be very comfortable, suitable for varied road conditions and elevations, as well as durable and simple. That's a touring bike.

Look toward steel, and not aluminum or carbon. Advanced materials are not advantageous and not necessary. Re-ask your question on the Touring forum, and they'll give you more specific advice. Most bike shops will have few true touring options, but a few may. Ask questions, test ride, and decide.

Good luck.

Phil G.

Retro Grouch 07-09-13 02:23 PM

Long wheelbase recumbent.

For consecutive long days on the road, nothing else comes close for comfort.

downtube42 07-09-13 02:45 PM

You can do 75 miles a day on virtually any bike, as long as it fits. I don't say that to be flip or whatever, but to give you a baseline for what is possible. Don't over analyze this. In general...

A road bike will take less effort than a MTB, even if the latter is equipped with slicks.
A triple chainring will make it easier to deal with (and take advantage of) terrain and wind than would a double, or even a single speed.
A touring bike will be more comfortable in the long run than a race or sport bike.
Steel/Aluminum/Carbon/Bamboo... I ain't going there.
Fenders will keep dirty road spray off your bike, you, and your riding partners
Lights will enhance your visibility at night as well as during daytime foul weather
Cycling shoes that allow you to walk comfortably will make bathroom/food breaks more pleasant
Cycling specific shorts will make your on-bike time more pleasant

alhedges 07-09-13 03:08 PM


Originally Posted by Retro Grouch (Post 15831794)
Long wheelbase recumbent.

For consecutive long days on the road, nothing else comes close for comfort.

That's actually a great idea. I'm not really into recumbents generally because they're not ideal for the kind of day to day urban riding that I do: but when you know you're going to be riding 75 miles/day, day after day, they would be a perfect choice.

chasm54 07-09-13 04:09 PM


Originally Posted by alhedges (Post 15831995)
That's actually a great idea. I'm not really into recumbents generally because they're not ideal for the kind of day to day urban riding that I do: but when you know you're going to be riding 75 miles/day, day after day, they would be a perfect choice.

Why? A properly sized road bike is perfectly comfortable. I've toured at much more than 75 miles per day and the idea that I needed a recumbent to make it tolerable is completely ridiculous.

Retro Grouch 07-09-13 04:25 PM


Originally Posted by chasm54 (Post 15832151)
Why? A properly sized road bike is perfectly comfortable. I've toured at much more than 75 miles per day and the idea that I needed a recumbent to make it tolerable is completely ridiculous.

Every ridden one?

Garfield Cat 07-09-13 04:54 PM

Skip the touring bike and get a plush road bike. That way after you do that 3,000 mile ride, you will have a nice road bike afterwards. Just make sure the road bike can handle a wider tire, not just 23 but the 25. That will be nice and comfortable. Many current road bikes have taller head tubes. You can add to that with spacers so it will be like a touring bike. Then just remove the spacers after the trekking.

Make sure you get good headlights and the spare battery that comes with it. That way you can rotate. Cygolite Hotshot for the rear is good too.

Bring several bike shorts. In summer humidity, those shorts start to feel awful. A change out during lunch break will be a welcome addition. Hand wash them and hang dry. Keep rotating them.

Your support van and crew should have tools like the kind they sell at Performance and on sale now for about $50.00.

KevinF 07-09-13 05:30 PM

I think the advantages of a "real" touring bike are going to be somewhat lost on the OP. He stated that he has no need to carry gear with him as there will be a support vehicle. To me, a touring bike gives you the ability to carry stuff. I'd think "comfort" road bikes are the way to go (as opposed to a full-race bike). I have never ridden a recumbent as I've never had comfort issues on a traditional road bike.

You can get just about whatever gears you want on just about any type of bike. At some point though, you're going to be dealing with long mountain passes and headwinds, so getting a bail-out gear is going to be necessary. Triples provide the ultimate bail-out gears, but they are getting hard-to-find on road bikes as compact cranks have made in-roads.

Blacksburg, Virginia is covered in mountainous roads. If you can find a gearing combo that works there, you're good anywhere.

Wheels... I'd look into getting a set of easily fixed no-funky-parts set of wheels. Something like Ultegra hubs laced to Open Pro rims. If something goes wrong (broken spoke, etc) than any shop in the country will have what it takes to fix those.

caloso 07-09-13 05:59 PM


Originally Posted by KevinF (Post 15832399)
I think the advantages of a "real" touring bike are going to be somewhat lost on the OP. He stated that he has no need to carry gear with him as there will be a support vehicle. To me, a touring bike gives you the ability to carry stuff. I'd think "comfort" road bikes are the way to go (as opposed to a full-race bike). I have never ridden a recumbent as I've never had comfort issues on a traditional road bike.

You can get just about whatever gears you want on just about any type of bike. At some point though, you're going to be dealing with long mountain passes and headwinds, so getting a bail-out gear is going to be necessary. Triples provide the ultimate bail-out gears, but they are getting hard-to-find on road bikes as compact cranks have made in-roads.

Blacksburg, Virginia is covered in mountainous roads. If you can find a gearing combo that works there, you're good anywhere.

Wheels... I'd look into getting a set of easily fixed no-funky-parts set of wheels. Something like Ultegra hubs laced to Open Pro rims. If something goes wrong (broken spoke, etc) than any shop in the country will have what it takes to fix those.

This.

downtube42 07-10-13 11:11 AM


Originally Posted by KevinF (Post 15832399)
I think the advantages of a "real" touring bike are going to be somewhat lost on the OP....

Good point.


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