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Are bike forums chronic touring forum posters representitave of common tourers?

Old 04-12-15, 11:00 PM
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shipwreck
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Are bike forums chronic touring forum posters representitave of common tourers?

I got to thinking this today as I was out for a ride and ran into a cross country tourer. Talked for a bit, asked if they needed anything. Casually asked if they used bike forums. The answer, as almost always, was no. I ask almost every fellow bicycle tourist this. Almost all tell me no, most have seen it but never posted, some say that they asked some questions before their first tour, about their bike, gear, the standard new to touring stuff. The few who have used bike forums say that they just use it to research topics, reading old threads. Never run into a crazy guy user either. Just People who have gotten on their bike with some stuff and gone.

While I have only met and asked maybe thirty people, it makes you realize that for every one person who asks "can I tour on this bike that was not meant for touring", or those who obsesses about tents, gear, what type of shifters, pedals, or saddle and post their opinions and experiences on such over and over here, there are many, many more who just do it in whatever fashion. About half of those I talk to are on dedicated touring bikes or good MTB/hybrid conversions, the other half on anything from newer or older road bikes not meant for more than seat bag but with a variety of carrying systems, to old sears free spirits with milk crates and wald baskets. A lot of them know NOTHING about what kind of crank they have or tires they are running.

So whats the difference between those who post here and them? there is a wide variety of techniques, philosophies, and opinions represented here, but that's just it. Your here, posting about it. Their not. This is not really a question that has a definitive answer, I realize, but it still interests me.
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I did ride half a day with someone who is a touring poster, and a nice guy both in person and on the forums, but it was before I started reading them myself. So hi, Robow.
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Old 04-12-15, 11:06 PM
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Those who do do; those who don't write about it,
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Old 04-12-15, 11:23 PM
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No, no judgment on how much or even if some one tours. There are a lot of people here who undoubtedly have a lot of practical experience on the subject. No insult or inference is meant.
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Old 04-12-15, 11:30 PM
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Originally Posted by shipwreck View Post
No, no judgment on how much or even if some one tours. There are a lot of people here who undoubtedly have a lot of practical experience on the subject. No insult or inference is meant.
That was tongue in cheek. It's pretty obvious that there are quite a few people here with long experience touring.
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Old 04-12-15, 11:35 PM
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A lot of people have no interest in spending time on the computer in their free time. Some don't want to because they spend all day on the computer at work and they just want to get away from it. Others just have no interest in the computer at all, or very limited interest.

And it just goes to show that we can find the answers without a computer. I did when I first started touring. I just explored options in my local shops, read books in the library, and set off with the one-and-only bicycle I had then.

Next time you talk to a cycletourist, maybe ask how they acquired their information ... did they go to the library? to the local MEC or REI?


It also goes to show that there is no single right answer. A tour is whatever you want it to be ... long, short, camping or not, with whatever equipment you feel works for you.

And I suspect that many of these people try stuff ... experiment ... decide whether or not it works for them. Chances are, they go on shorter tours to work out the bugs, and then tackle their longer tours. You might ask them that too.
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Old 04-13-15, 12:03 AM
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It kind of goes back to this thread ...

https://www.bikeforums.net/touring/97...-internet.html

There are still heaps of people out there who are doing tours on their own without the input and reassurance of the masses.
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Old 04-13-15, 12:41 AM
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When I did my first tour I didn't research anything.

I just took my hiking pack from my backpacking adventures and loaded it with about 35lbs of gear, hopped on my knobby tired suspension mountain bike, and rode 800 mils across the country.

I was ill-prepared compared to how I'm approaching my next tour, but I made it happen. In the end that's all that matters.

Anyways, random facts about that tour:


-Didn't ever plot a route. Just headed in the general direction I needed to go and checked my phones GPS once an hour or so to avoid highways.

-Got drunk way more often than I should. **** it, stopping at breweries was fun.

-Couldn't tell you what crank I rode, how many speeds my bike had, what components were on it, what size or PSI my tires were etc.

-Had no dedicated bike lights, helmet, racks, panniers, fenders or second water bottle cage. no on bike storage whatsoever, 100% of my gear carried in a hiking backpack.

-Solo of course.

-Told no one where I was going or what I was doing. Just showed up in a town I used to live in and surprised old friends.

-The only tools I carried were a mini pump and a swiss army knife (for the bottle opener and can opener). The one flat I got, I just walked to the next walmart and bought a tube. Not even a hex key, spare tube or tire levers.

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Old 04-13-15, 04:51 AM
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My observation has generally been that the forums tend to be populated with more gear heads than the general run of folks you will see out touring. There seems to be more general fussing over the bike itself as well as the gear. I think this is a disservice to folks who are new and reading to figure out what they need to do a tour.

I personally think that it makes sense to spend time thinking about what to carry and how to carry it, but when it comes to individual items people seem to lose sight of the fact that good enough is good enough.

If most people wanted to drive coast to coast or just to the relatively nearby beach, mountains, or whatever they would just pack what they need in whatever car they own and head out. They wouldn't say they needed a Mercedes, Lotus, Rolls Royce, or whatever, but would just drive their 5 year old Corolla, Accord, or whatever. A lot of folks would be better off if they were a bit more like that about a bike tour.

In my experience after a tour looking back it is really never about the bike or the gear itself but about the people and places. As long as it was at all reasonably suitable the bike and gear is just background noise. Like I said earlier good enough is good enough.

I do find that a few things about the bike and gear, while not critical, still do greatly enhance my trip, but for me most of those have to do with things like trimming the fat to ride a more lightly loaded bike, sleeping in comfort, or chosing tires with a nice lively feel. So I splurge a little on tires with good road feel, sleeping bag and pad, and maybe a few other items, but mostly I just try to go light by taking less stuff. Other folks preferences will run differently and they will splurge in different areas.

I think it is kind of sad when I read about someone who has yet to go on a tour, reads the forums, and thinks they need a particular brand and model, usually expensive ones, of just about every item they need and a ton of items they don't need.

On the other hand, if someone wants to obsess over their gear and enjoy that more power to them. I just wish fewer newbies would get lead down that path.
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Old 04-13-15, 05:01 AM
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I think many posters are wannabees, like me.

In reality, I do two, maybe three, short tours per year. But vicariously, by reading about everybody else's trips, I spend 365 days a year on the road.

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Old 04-13-15, 05:08 AM
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New touring bikes apear yearly, with improvements. Drive train and brakes, wheels and tyres also improve. Unless I visit local bike shops frequently, I'll not be up to date on improvements. Also imjprovements on camping gear that need to be followed. I find bike forums a great place to learn of new stuffs. Then there are routes that deteriorate, and new routes that are improved or opened. If I just tour, I sure can enjoy my tour. But with better bike and camping gear, I will definitely enjoy my tour more. I like to pass on my experience to other riders who may travel my path, and I'm thankful for helps I get from touring furums.
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Old 04-13-15, 06:08 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
If most people wanted to drive coast to coast or just to the relatively nearby beach, mountains, or whatever they would just pack what they need in whatever car they own and head out. They wouldn't say they needed a Mercedes, Lotus, Rolls Royce, or whatever, but would just drive their 5 year old Corolla, Accord, or whatever.
I don't think it's much different. There are plenty of people who just pack and go (bike or car) but many search for the best RV for their trip. People travelling by car don't need to worry about size, weight and comfort too much so it's understandable that bikers look into it more.

It's also easier to talk about nuts and bolts than the actual touring. We all carry gear but we don't tour in the same places. I can't give advice on touring in places I've never been but the gear is more or less the same.
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Old 04-13-15, 06:20 AM
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
Those who do do; those who don't write about it,
Bull! Those who can, do. And those who can also teach.
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Old 04-13-15, 06:21 AM
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If obsessing about my gear makes me a gear head, so be it. As a car hauler I've learned there are necessities. Air hose, zip ties, cutting wheel, snips, hydraulic splices. You don't want to be anywhere loading or unloading without these things.

The same goes for tires and tubes on a bike.

Otoh, there are times where I find I've brought too many clothes and can barely get around the interior.
I'm going to obsess until I think I've found the best balance of needs I can. I want to be as prepared for as many things as I can so my tour goes smoothly. I know things will go wrong, it's not a perfect world. But one or three problems vs. a whole string of them.....

So, I'm thrilled to have BF to help me sort details, like how to handle a less than productive day when I run into wind.
Books are fine, I just prefer getting opinions and weighing them out.

BF4 LYF?
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Old 04-13-15, 06:26 AM
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My website has been a good thing for my touring. barring the last two months of surgery and grad school, it usually gets me off my butt and out on an adventure because I have to have stuff to write about. Big storm coming? Sub-zero temperatures? Long weekend, perhaps? Let's go bike camping and write about it!

That said, I had a moment of perspective. I'm planning a thru-hike with my cousin Colin. I told him I was probably going to try blogging from my iPad on the trail, and he said he was probably going to leave his smartphone at home. I had a pang of guilt that that wasn't MY first response to a month-long hike.

I suspect maybe I'll bring my phone to save weight on a trail guide, so I can bring a few other books with me. No iPad this trip, though.
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Old 04-13-15, 06:27 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Bull! Those who can, do. And those who can also teach.
I would hope so.
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Old 04-13-15, 07:07 AM
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I love adventures and I love bikes. Put the two together equals bike adventure. Thinking about up and coming bike adventures occupies a lot of my thoughts and I'm interested in what you all have to say on the subject and the many related topics.
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Old 04-13-15, 07:10 AM
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In answer to the OP's question, I think the 'chronic posters' here are fairly representative of the touring population. And I agree it's a very small sample.
When I ride on a popular route, I see a very wide range of styles. It's easy to see that range here, too.

Some cyclists I meet are on a "once in a lifetime" ride. Those, I think, are unlikely to stay active on a forum after the ride.

I'm relatively new here and am only here because 1) I'm retired and have time on my hands, 2) I've spent a lifetime on a bike commuting and touring, and 3) I have a computer and internet access at home. If any leg of that triangle were missing, I doubt I'd have even heard of this forum and I suspect that's the case with the majority of cyclists out there.
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Old 04-13-15, 07:25 AM
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Originally Posted by shipwreck View Post
...So whats the difference between those who post here and them? there is a wide variety of techniques, philosophies, and opinions represented here, but that's just it. Your here, posting about it. Their not. This is not really a question that has a definitive answer, I realize, but it still interests me.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___________________
I did ride half a day with someone who is a touring poster, and a nice guy both in person and on the forums, but it was before I started reading them myself. So hi, Robow.
Most every forum I've involved myself with has a trend. Most initial posts are from those complaining followed by those seeking some guidance. Then there is the handful of experienced forum members giving back to the community by offering suggestions and assistance.

The bike forum is good with morning coffee.

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Old 04-13-15, 08:32 AM
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There are many types of typical bike tourists. For this question, I will categorize them into two groups as I see them.

I have done several trips with a friend where we did our own trip planning, but we did this on popular bike touring routes where we saw a lot of other bikers. On these trips, a lot more low budget bike tourists, many appeared to be college age on a very tight budget. Most of these tourists had equipment that would generally not be recommended gear on one of these forums. And many of them were on a tour that was within a few hundred miles of home, they did not travel far to start their trip. But many of these bike tourists were on a first or second tour, not a lot of experience under their belt. But there were enough of them that I think they made up the majority of the bike tourists I have seen on the common bike trails and routes. This photo was pretty representative of the norm we saw on the Pacific Coast last summer, unfortunately you can't really see too much in the photo.




I did a self supported tour with Adventure Cycling where they provided guide and took care of the campsite reservations, cooking gear, organizing us into cooking groups, etc. That trip had experienced riders, many with good quality gear that was not cheap. Lots of Ortliebs, Tubus racks, mainstream or higher end touring bikes (or Bike Fridays), etc. Most of the people on that tour took an airplane flight (with bike as expensive baggage) to get there and return home later. Thus, this trip was not cheap. I think the people in that group were more representative of the people I see posting here. I am not saying the at the people on this forum are more likely to spend more money or are richer, but I am saying that people on this forum are more likely to own and use dedicated touring type gear instead of trying to get by with whatever they own. Unfortunately you can't really tell from the photo what I am talking about, but overall I think that the bikes and gear and experience level of this group was more like that of most of the forum posters here. Nobody in this group was on a first tour.




To summarize, I think that most posters here have a lot more than average or median level of experience.

I will however make one observation on how many of the posters on this forum are different than what I have seen as the typical or representative bike tourist - this forum has a lot more ultra light bike tourists that are highly experienced than I have observed at the hiker biker sites or on other bike trails.
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Old 04-13-15, 09:02 AM
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Absolutely not. 90% of the people I meet touring have just picked up the closest bike and left home with whatever mix of gear they happen to have on hand. People who post here are much more knowledgeable and obsessive than average.
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Old 04-13-15, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Yan View Post
Absolutely not. 90% of the people I meet touring have just picked up the closest bike and left home with whatever mix of gear they happen to have on hand. People who post here are much more knowledgeable and obsessive than average.
While the old saw "you can tour on any bike" may be true, you could also cover your handlebars in broken glass, build a saddle out of barbed wire and outfit the bike with concrete "tires". None of those ideas are really good ones but, hey, whatever floats your boat.

The same holds true for touring on "any" bike. After about the 8000th time your heels clip your panniers in a day or when they wear holes in the panniers or after you've popped the 20 or 30th spoke on those 28 spoke wheels that are on "any" bike you choose for touring or that 4 mile long walk while pushing a highly geared bike up a steep hill, most people would reconsider the choice of bicycle. There's a reason that touring bikes have a similar geometry and similar construction. Longer chainstays, lower gears, rack mounts, relaxed geometry, etc all work to make a tradition "touring" bike a better choice than just "any" bike for touring.

Those of us who post here are sometimes more knowledgeable because we've made those mistakes. Wrestling with a death wobble at 30 mph on a bike that is carrying 50 lbs of gear over the rear wheel only or fixing spokes that pop like corn makes you think there is a better way to do things. Many of us have learned the hard way. It's not "obsession" on our part but trying to impart wisdom to those who don't know where the traps lie.

Some people listen and some don't.
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Old 04-13-15, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
While the old saw "you can tour on any bike" may be true, you could also cover your handlebars in broken glass, build a saddle out of barbed wire and outfit the bike with concrete "tires". None of those ideas are really good ones but, hey, whatever floats your boat.

The same holds true for touring on "any" bike. After about the 8000th time your heels clip your panniers in a day or when they wear holes in the panniers or after you've popped the 20 or 30th spoke on those 28 spoke wheels that are on "any" bike you choose for touring or that 4 mile long walk while pushing a highly geared bike up a steep hill, most people would reconsider the choice of bicycle. There's a reason that touring bikes have a similar geometry and similar construction. Longer chainstays, lower gears, rack mounts, relaxed geometry, etc all work to make a tradition "touring" bike a better choice than just "any" bike for touring.

Those of us who post here are sometimes more knowledgeable because we've made those mistakes. Wrestling with a death wobble at 30 mph on a bike that is carrying 50 lbs of gear over the rear wheel only or fixing spokes that pop like corn makes you think there is a better way to do things. Many of us have learned the hard way. It's not "obsession" on our part but trying to impart wisdom to those who don't know where the traps lie.

Some people listen and some don't.
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Old 04-13-15, 09:40 AM
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I've learned so much on this site...I love it!!!!!
However, it has cost me a lot of money on upgrades that I probably wouldn't have desired if I didn't read it here first.
I've done few really long tours before I knew this site existed without any mechanical problems what so ever.
Not sure weather to thank everyone here or not.
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Old 04-13-15, 09:40 AM
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Get Out There On the road and find out..

In Astoria Oregon I see Several Hundred Touring cyclists passing through town every year .. I talk about what I see.

(@ LBS I box up some Bikes that have crossed the Continent, to be shipped eastward For the Riders to their Homes )

This forum seems to have people not good on independent problem solving Outsourcing the Deccisionns Online,

They may be less well equipped for Adventurous touring destinations .. But at least You Can Try.

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Old 04-13-15, 10:11 AM
  #25  
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Bikes: 1995 Kestrel 4000; 2013 True North Touring; 1989 Miele Tivoli; 1979 Colnago Sport

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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
While the old saw "you can tour on any bike" may be true, you could also cover your handlebars in broken glass, build a saddle out of barbed wire and outfit the bike with concrete "tires". None of those ideas are really good ones but, hey, whatever floats your boat.

The same holds true for touring on "any" bike. After about the 8000th time your heels clip your panniers in a day or when they wear holes in the panniers or after you've popped the 20 or 30th spoke on those 28 spoke wheels that are on "any" bike you choose for touring or that 4 mile long walk while pushing a highly geared bike up a steep hill, most people would reconsider the choice of bicycle. There's a reason that touring bikes have a similar geometry and similar construction. Longer chainstays, lower gears, rack mounts, relaxed geometry, etc all work to make a tradition "touring" bike a better choice than just "any" bike for touring.

Those of us who post here are sometimes more knowledgeable because we've made those mistakes. Wrestling with a death wobble at 30 mph on a bike that is carrying 50 lbs of gear over the rear wheel only or fixing spokes that pop like corn makes you think there is a better way to do things. Many of us have learned the hard way. It's not "obsession" on our part but trying to impart wisdom to those who don't know where the traps lie.

Some people listen and some don't.
You'll get no argument from me. My touring bike is a bikeforums-approved custom brazed dynamo powered drop bar ten speed triple bar end shifted 19 gear inch fendered v-braked Mavic A719 rimmed 700c x 35 Schwalbe tired leather saddled wonder machine with a mix of carefully selected mountain and road components, with a rear wheel built with thinner gauged radially laced non-driveside spokes to optimize tension! And I have a carbon seat post and carbon stem spacers! This is my hobby and I'm clearly obsessed.
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