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Touring in 3 Weeks - Guidance Please

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Touring in 3 Weeks - Guidance Please

Old 04-22-05, 11:49 PM
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Touring in 3 Weeks - Guidance Please

Hello, I am finishing off another year of college and am debating whether or not to tour from WPB, FL to Atlanta, Georgia in May (630 miles). After putting up with engineering classes that have sucked all the life and goodness out of me, I think a refreshing/invigorating tour will do me good. I have waited tables over the past year and have saved up about $1100 for this trip. I guess the reason I am posting is because I have two issues I am trying to contend with: 1) Bike 2) Time.

For the bike, I have been scoping Ebay and have found some good used steel road bikes (jamis aurora at about $700) and a new trek xo1 for $900 (both with panniers). I plan on using the bike around campus/city for years to come and want to stay away from a traditional touring bike. I have talked with the LBS and their prices are pretty high. I figure I can buy from ebay, have it shipped to FL, build it there and come back to Atlanta with it. Am I pretty safe with both these bikes, or is one better than the other? Is steel more suitable than aluminum? Are tiagra components good enough for my purposes?

As for the issue of time, I will be flying down to south Florida May 4th (last day of finals) to see family. Unfortunately, I have to be back on campus by the 16th for summer courses. I was planning on trying to make the trip (630 miles) in 7 (8?) days. The problem is the earlier I leave the less I get to see family so 7 days seems best. I know this seems like a lot of mileage/day, but I don't mind pushing the limit so long as it is possible. I have been biking about 1.5 miles to work on my mtb (trek 4300 - don't think it would be a good touring bike at all) and otherwise am pretty fit. I think the biggest thing running for me is that I have two bad habits: the stiffer the challenge the more worthwhile it seems to overcome it, and a nagging desire to try new things.

While I donít want this trip to be easy, I donít want this to be a miserable experience either. Is this trek at all possible or am I reaching for dreams that aren't all that feasible?

On another note, it is nice to see so many other people out there that are willing to help. I have read through many posts and am always impressed by peopleís mindsets. Everyone seems to be living their life for the right reasons.

Thanks in advance, I will be checking back frequently.
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Old 04-23-05, 05:37 AM
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Since there is only one auction for a Jamis Aurora on Ebay right now I assume it is the red 57cm Aurora ( current bid $499)you are interested in ? Read the description carefully. he made some good upgrades , just keep in mind he is not including the pedals or the rear rack ( add another $125 or more new) and he is selling it as is with no warranty so you are relying on the pictures and his word. Shipping is probaly going to be $35 or more.

3 miles a day riding and you plan on riding 7 consecutive days of 90 miles. well... it isn't impossible but it is foolish. I should know becuase this is the same foolish stuff I did when I was younger and living in Atlanta.
The first day or two may not be bad but your body is probaly going to be hurting big time from the 3rd day on. 4th day you will probaly be hitting the rolling hills of middle Georgia, not big hills but they will wear you down even more, Also if I recall correctly May temps are usually in the mid 80's in northern fl and south Ga?
Since you are going to do this anyway I would suggest making it an 8 day trip, 80 mile days are better than 90 on tired legs. divide the day's ridiing into 4 , 20 mile rides with a break in between each leg. Start early in the am to take advantage of the cooler temps and spread the riding out over
an 8-10 hour period.
During the next two weeks you need to be riding everyday at least 20 miles to get you body used to riding. Take it easy the last few days before the tour so your body is rested and fresh when you start.

goodluck!

PS: A couple of other posters on this thread suggest using your MTB, I agree ! It probaly won't weigh much more than the Jamis, I know someone who has that same MTB and i'm pretty sure it came with eyelets for a rear rack. If you are comfortable on the MTB, put on some touring tires on it and add barends or maybe an aero bar and you got pretty much about the same touring bike many of us have. You can use the money you saved for the ice packs and Bengay you will want every day

Last edited by Cyclist0094; 04-23-05 at 07:27 AM.
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Old 04-23-05, 06:19 AM
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My only concerns. Jamis Aurora..Not familiar with it..YOu are going to tour, I would think a touring bike is in order.Plus, commuting about campus..You will be carrying a load of stuff..that is weight..Maybe you can get all your stuff into a backpack for campus..
But, what about off campus...Groceries, books..Touring bikes can carry a lot more stuff...You sort of want a race bike...Many touring bikes are similiar to road bike geometry..
I have a Klein race bike...But, probably ride my Fuji tourer more often..and it's geometry is pretty similiar to my Klein..I hardly notice the difference...In fact on long trips the tourer is more comfortable..If you want to race , then a road bike is in order.
If your trip to Georgia is sag, then a road bike will be no problem...Are you carrying much up on the trip..
as to ebay...Friends have had great finds using such with great luck...Bought a Trek for about 1/3 retail price.

Last edited by cyclezealot; 04-23-05 at 10:36 AM.
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Old 04-23-05, 06:39 AM
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1. Type of bike: What kind of touring are you doing - fully loaded stealth camping and panniers filled with everything imaginable, or motels & restaurants every night and two panniers filled lightly with toiletries, clothing, and camera gear?

Also, there is no truism about the steel vs aluminum argument. It needs to be on a bike-by-bike/person-by-person basis, but steel is the overwhelming favorite among tourists. The tourist can be a weight weenie, but it's usually in regard to the camp kit more than the bike, which should be something of a comfortable armored vehicle the more you stuff onto it.

Don't discount your mountain bike. They can be converted into fine AT touring machines, and have many of the qualities that many modern expedition riders like: fatty wheels, robust construction, and small gearing for tall hills. If you look into the "post pics of your ride" thread stickied to the top of this forum, you'll notice a large number of converted mtn bikes. They do seem to have a frequent lack of appropriate braze-ons and eyelets for racks and fenders, but then so do many "touring" frames.

2. Distance: It's good to have a goal, but there are probably fine rides that are closer to where you live if you've only got a week to play with. I love a 1000-mile trip as much as the next guy/gal, but I'm a bigger fan of 'radial tours' when I'm crunched for time - where I'll camp and ride in a circle around my starting epicenter, but never stray too far outward from it (within a 2-day ride from home, usually), and sort of "wing it" as far as where I decide to go and camp. This allows you to hoof it home when you need to, and it's still an adventure of discovery unless you claim to know every road, nook, & cranny around you. It's also the best way for someone to introduce themselves to this activity, imo.

Again imo, the best tours aren't about covering a certain linear distance in a day or even keeping to schedule from A to B, but rather just about enjoying the utter glory and freedom of riding in remote places, discovering "point B" on the way, camping, getting fresh air, feeling your body improve, and both meeting new people and finding solitude with a nice book or a hike into the woods.

What's your hurry? Is it just the challenge? You seem to place importance on character-building difficulty. Highly admirable! But...if you spend your whole week in the saddle in order to get to Atlanta, you might miss out on some good times out of it, (which is half of any tour, for me). Don't make your short vacation into the very same regimented burden that you're trying to escape! If an engineering student needs anything, it's this: time to sit next to a tree, relax, and 'unthink' ala Siddhartha and the river. When you have more time, then think about the long tours, and plan them when you've got the tour bug fully in place. Until then, escape when you can on little tours. They are no less adventurous for the distance.

I might add that 3 miles per day is not close to adequate training for a week of daily 'century' rides- especially loaded ones. Even if you're really aerobically healthy and you fit your bike harmoniously, you'll need to get your bottom acquainted with the saddle for those distances, and that takes time. Your ass may stop you before day 2 is done.

If you're seriously a type-A achiever and need this trip as fulfillment of a further rite-of-completion mantra, ignore everything I wrote here and just go. In any case, be your own captain and enjoy it out there! Good luck, my friend.

-Matt

Last edited by Alekhine; 04-24-05 at 09:26 AM.
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Old 04-23-05, 06:52 AM
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Howdy.

...a couple of thoughts...

Have you considered riding your current bike? Mtn. bikes have been used by more than a few long distance tourists. They generally have strong frames, low gears and a decent wheelset. Many times, only a few changes from a stock setup are all that is needed. The *usual* tires found on these bikes can be replaced with a more efficient design better suited for long days on the road. One example would be the Avocet Cross IIK that is available in the 26" size. It's a very good touring tire and can still handle light duty trail riding. Racks and fenders can be added...Old Man Mountain makes a front pannier rack suitable for suspension forks. Also, bar-ends offer additional hand positions for comfort.

I'm not sure if the Trek XO1 would make a good touring bicycle. For lightly loaded credit-card travel, maybe so, but I wouldn't trust those low spoke count wheelsets for self-contained touring.

As for your conditioning, right now, could you ride 40 or 50 miles with no serious discomfort? Could you get up the next day and do the same?

A number of years back, a friend and I rode from Fort Lauderdale to Atlanta as part of a longer tour. We followed the coast road (A1A) as much as possible before turning NW just past Jacksonville. After a stop at the Okefenokee NWR, we pretty much meandered thru the Georgia backroads before approaching Atlanta from the east. I recall spending the night at the Stone Mountain campground. It was a wonderful ride as we were in no hurry, averaging approx. 50-60 miles per day. There's a hostel in St. Augustine which could make for a nice overnight.

The Adventure Cycling Association offers a touring map which covers the stretch from Ormond Beach thru Jacksonville.

Scott
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Old 04-23-05, 08:49 AM
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My son has a Trek 820 that he bought serveral years ago. He has ridden it down the Pacific Coast twice. The last tour being 700+ miles. I suggested he buy a new bike but he like you works hard for his money and so he is happy with the Trek. He does put road tire on however.

I would at least try a couple of long rides before you attempt this ride just to make sure of chaffing issues, ie shorts ect. Things like that usually don't show up untill at least 20 miles.
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Old 04-23-05, 10:12 AM
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A Jamis Aurora is a great touring bike. I have over 7,000 miles on mine. Any big name bike company will have a good touring bike. The components will be fine for the trip and for around campus/town. Your mountain bike would be fine too with the right tires.

You are not riding enough distance on a regular schedule to be able to have a good time on any 90 miles rides. Especially with an unfamiliar bike that has yet to be fine tuned to your comfort. Add in the hills and the weight of your equipment and then consider repeating the 90 mile ride over again. You are not trained enough. You may get too tired and get leg cramps. Once you can ride a 60 mile ride in the hills and feel just fine, then it's time to consider this trip.

Get some road tires for your MTB, load on some gear and do a 90 mile ride on a weekend, then make a judgment based on that result. Or just go 90 miles with it the way it is now, to get a feel for what's going on.

Don't forget to bring your cell phone. Have someone available to pick you up if needed. Find out when sunset is in case you need lights too. Bring plenty of food and water.
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Old 04-29-05, 01:12 PM
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What I'd suggest doing is getting some inch and a half slick tires for your mountain bike, and using that for the trip. This has the advantage of keeping you on a bike you're used to, as well as providing a more stable mount when loaded, as well as saving you the time and money involved in getting and setting up a new bike. With slick relatively narrow tires pumped hard, the mountain bike won't need lots more energy than a road bike for what you're doing.

I also agree with another poster about the advisability of getting in some more training before you go. I've done a number of long trips off a base of ten or so fast miles a day, and they were o.k., but the first week or so of a trip I did off a base of a hundred twenty miles a week was more enjoyable. You could do your trip without additional conditioning, but probably not in the time you've allowed for it. The main thing you have to do is work very hard at pacing youself in the mornings. It's too easy to let fresh spirits and muscles work hard when you start out, and then your beat in the afternoon and do about half the morning's miles. When your touring, you cover more miles by keeping up a moderate pace for ten or even twelve hours a day.

Finally, spend some time with good maps (AAA ones, for example) to find as quiet a route as is practical.
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Old 04-29-05, 01:25 PM
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That's not too long of a trip. Your MTB will be fine. Getting a low end road bike is not as good an idea as it seems at first. You'll have to deal with the cheap wheels going out of true with all that camping gear weight. You might even have broken spokes. MTB are much more rugged than road bikes and can take alot more abuse (of all the type of cycling, touring is probably the most abusive on the bike). And shopping for a new bike is sorta stressful, not to mention that you need to break that bike in before going on your trip. You're better off getting slicks, cheap aero bars, and keep the money in your pocket to splurge on beers, burgers and bungalows. Certainly would be a more enjoyable trip.
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Old 05-01-05, 07:30 AM
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Originally Posted by mooncricket
That's not too long of a trip. Your MTB will be fine. Getting a low end road bike is not as good an idea as it seems at first. You'll have to deal with the cheap wheels going out of true with all that camping gear weight. You might even have broken spokes. MTB are much more rugged than road bikes and can take alot more abuse (of all the type of cycling, touring is probably the most abusive on the bike). And shopping for a new bike is sorta stressful, not to mention that you need to break that bike in before going on your trip. You're better off getting slicks, cheap aero bars, and keep the money in your pocket to splurge on beers, burgers and bungalows. Certainly would be a more enjoyable trip.
The three B's huh I'll have to remember that.
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Old 05-01-05, 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by mooncricket
That's not too long of a trip. Your MTB will be fine. Getting a low end road bike is not as good an idea as it seems at first. You'll have to deal with the cheap wheels going out of true with all that camping gear weight. You might even have broken spokes. MTB are much more rugged than road bikes and can take alot more abuse (of all the type of cycling, touring is probably the most abusive on the bike). And shopping for a new bike is sorta stressful, not to mention that you need to break that bike in before going on your trip. You're better off getting slicks, cheap aero bars, and keep the money in your pocket to splurge on beers, burgers and bungalows. Certainly would be a more enjoyable trip.
must be an old guy? A younger guy would say Beers, burgers and babes
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Old 05-02-05, 03:00 AM
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Yeah, and remember that on a road bike, you're probably going to be sitting in a new position, so make sure you give yourself enough time to get used to it...

I mountain biked thousands of miles before I got my road bike, and my ass was sore for the first 3 rides!

If I were you, I'd honestly get the 1.5" slicks and take the bike you've been riding... and good for you for seeing a challenge and wanting to overcome it.

You can read about my first tour (Virginia's mountains) if you'd like... I put the list of everything I packed and whether I ended up needing it or not, or what I would have changed or didn't expect... mainly so I'll have a readily available list to print out on future tours... enjoy!

https://www.strangerthanfact.com
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Old 05-02-05, 12:36 PM
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Yeah, babes used to be my 4th B, but after a few thousand miles you just realize that there aren't many babes who would go for a smelly, dirty guy on a bike. Sure, there had been a couple (well, 2 to be exact) who did, but gee wiz, that's roughly 1babe/decade. Naw, I say, leave the hormones at home if you can. Don't expect to climb a 10,000 ft. pass on a fully loaded bike and expect a Playboy bunny to welcome you into her arms at the top.
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Old 05-02-05, 01:20 PM
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Given the distances involved and the small mileages achieved up to now ---do remember one thing. One boil on your backside and the trip can be over. It is the small things which rapidly become big things which can screw things up. So--invest in two good pairs of racing shorts, be scrupulous re personal cleanliness and make sure you wear a clean pair of shorts each morning. Using a barrier cream on your little nooks and crannies will help also re saddle soreness. The type used by nurses which provide a moisture barrier will stop sweat and therefore cut down on friction. Important if your backside is unused to the saddle.
Best of luck!
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Old 05-02-05, 06:13 PM
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Originally Posted by onbike 1939
Given the distances involved and the small mileages achieved up to now ---do remember one thing. One boil on your backside and the trip can be over. It is the small things which rapidly become big things which can screw things up. So--invest in two good pairs of racing shorts, be scrupulous re personal cleanliness and make sure you wear a clean pair of shorts each morning. Using a barrier cream on your little nooks and crannies will help also re saddle soreness. The type used by nurses which provide a moisture barrier will stop sweat and therefore cut down on friction. Important if your backside is unused to the saddle.
Best of luck!
A for myself, I use baby cream... good against blisters when hiking... good against rashes when going in hot climates.... good against soreness on your 'behind'
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Old 05-21-05, 06:57 PM
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What I did to be sure I could handle distance riding was first to do a weekend round trip and see how far I could go. I went 60 miles to and from. Then I went to Europe, did 60 miles a day for 1800 miles, and had a wonderful time. Then, with cycling now in my blood, I went from Seattle to Chicago in a month--across the Rockies, maxing at 136 miles in a day. This was all in the days before bicycling was popular. My lesson was not to put much faith in what people told me. My own experience was the greatest source of confidence.
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Old 05-22-05, 12:08 AM
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The Jamis Auroror has a good reputation as a tourer, but... the issue is more fit!!

The advice about using your MTB is sound enough, particularly if the bike fits you and you are comfortable on it. The danger in buying anything sight unseen ebay is that you don't have a clue if it truly fits you until you receive it. Then all bets are off.

If this is a single tour that you aren't likely to repeat, or at least take touring as a serious pastime, use the MTB. Weight is not a factor, you'll save your dollars for other fun, and you'll still have it for commuting and other stuff later.

If you do wish to take on touring seriously later, then you can use this experience and the MTB as the basis for your search for a touring bike that will suit your needs... and fit you.
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