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instructional tour, Adv Cycling or others possible?

Old 04-26-05, 03:49 PM
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instructional tour, Adv Cycling or others possible?

Hi Folks.

I am new to touring and would like to get some education going on before setting out on my own for real. I am wondering if any of yall have taken Adventure Cycling's week long instructional course? I believe it's 3 days or so of training during which they teach you how to pack, camp, fix stuff, the whole deal, and 3 days of touring. The price tag is about 600 bucks which could still be worth it...? Or, does anyone know of other outfits that do similar things? (The dates for this summer's classes are not that good for me.)

Thanks!
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Old 04-26-05, 04:03 PM
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I wouldn't pay for a course, really. Not to dissuade you from what I'm sure is an excellent ACA offering, but I'd sooner take Park's bicycle repair course and learn the camping and adventuring part on my own...

I pretty much got most of my camping training from Boy Scouts. To this day, I consider the Boy Scout Handbook (that is, the 9th edition Green Bar Bill Hillcourt manual I own from the 1970s - I'm not sure if the modern manual is different) an excellent resource for a number of things related to this activity, from camping to mapping & compass use to civics to very simple naturalism. They also make a nice Field manual.

Ken Kifer's site overflows with information about this stuff too.
Jamie Noble's bicycletouring101 site is great as well.


I found a number of survival books handy, although I've never had to use anything in them. It's still nice to know. Gerald Durrell's books on naturalism have made me really appreciate ecology and wildlife study so much more than I did when I was just in it to camp.

As for the bike and consumer/product end of things, this very forum is surprisingly informative, and people are really quite nice and helpful, even with occasional minor disagreements. You should be able to distill what's right for you by reading the responses from people and being something of a Sherlock. There are people here who have done massive tours and regularly help others. Sheldon Brown's site and Park tools site are some of the best bike-related net resources. The Rivendell site has a lot of interesting stuff to read too, even if you don't buy one of their bikes.

Last edited by Alekhine; 04-27-05 at 10:00 AM.
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Old 04-26-05, 04:59 PM
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I was really lucky in that a friend taught me how to tour. If you are a novice at cycling, camping, map reading, bike repair, cooking, gear selection etc., and you don't have any buddies to teach you, the A.C. course looks good.

I believe REI has some bike tour instruction seminars. One of my local bike shops (The Bicycle Outifitter, Los Altos, CA) does a lecture presentation. Maybe you have some local resources?

Also... where do you live? Where do you want to tour? Maybe you could use craigslist or some other online resource (this one?) to find a "private instructor" / paid tour buddy for a short first tour.
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Old 04-26-05, 05:10 PM
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I taught myself and I'm unsure that I would take a course if I had to do it over again.

First off, You might learn the bad habits of your instructor. Further, from my experience there is no right or wrong, left or right, yes or no. You learn from your experiences. This is part of the fun of touring.

I've learned more from this forum than I have read in a book. Our members have thousands of years of experiences and they are usually willing to share them when you ask the right questions.

If you want to tour; bring your desire, add the knowledge you learn through reading and then ask the pointed questions.

Touring is the most fun you can have without laughing outloud, and sometimes I laugh outloud anyway. Enjoy it at the level you are comfortable with and grow from there.
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Old 04-26-05, 05:25 PM
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where are you located?
You might want to find some Van Supported group tours. THat way you could do a week long tour and not have to worry about carrying your stuff. You could see how you feel riding for a week, etc.

Just a thought.
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Old 04-26-05, 08:07 PM
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Originally Posted by bluebird79
Hi Folks.

I am new to touring and would like to get some education going on before setting out on my own for real. I am wondering if any of yall have taken Adventure Cycling's week long instructional course? I believe it's 3 days or so of training during which they teach you how to pack, camp, fix stuff, the whole deal, and 3 days of touring. The price tag is about 600 bucks which could still be worth it...? Or, does anyone know of other outfits that do similar things? (The dates for this summer's classes are not that good for me.)

Thanks!

Get a book on bike repair, or better yet, take a Park Tool class for maintenance. Then get this book: "The Essential Touring Cyclist: A Complete Guide for the Bicycle Traveler" by Richard A. Lovet.

If you do both of these things, you will be 100% ready. But if it helps, for my first tour, I didn't do any preparation, and look! I lived!

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Old 04-26-05, 11:23 PM
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too much money.
come to Bicycle Tour of Colorado this summer
$350.00 for a week long supported tour.
Bring your camping gear and panniers and you can shake down what you use, loose and abuse during the tour.
Or... load your gear (REI can help too) and ride one short day out to a hotel, ride a big circle the next day and back the third. Total mileage from home and rescue = <50 miles.

Adventure cycling is expensive, short or long. I may use them for a long tour, but 3 days... no way.
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Old 04-26-05, 11:42 PM
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That even seems extreme for touring.

People spend way too much time worrying about it, when they can just read a book and go. The main thing is that you should learn to adapt while you're on the road, be creative, and know how to fix the small stuff. This stuff with trying to micromanage your tour is a bit much. You don't need Adventure Cycling or Bicycle Tour of Colorado, or any tour company that claims to "teach you how to tour". Touring is just riding the bike for longer than normal and dragging along more than what you normally carry. The rest of the stuff is just good common sense.

The book I mentioned goes through everything, and it's entertaining reading. Get it on amazon.com cheaply and read through it. If you feel like after you've read the book that you still have questions, then you should maybe do a short tour for the weekend. I doubt you'll need something of a tour that offers "dry runs".

Really, you'll be ok. Common sense and a decent book will do you just fine.

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Old 04-27-05, 12:53 AM
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I just up and went on my first tour last Autumn... I had no idea what I was in for... but I made my own maps, plotted my own course and learned some valuable lessons that you're not going to learn at a camp...

Like, making sure a road is paved... Now, if I wonder, I email local businesses and ask them...

And taking a small baggie full of assorted nuts, bolts, etc... that saved my life.

I actually ran into Adventure Cycling's group doing a fully supported tour... They were VERY gracious in inviting me to eat and ride with them... but I don't know if I would have had as great an experience if I were part of their tour...

2 things to note on a fully supported tour: 1. You get a lot of sneers when your bike weighs 60lbs =) 2. At night, it's hard to find a place to lean your bike... well, except for mine... I had the only kickstand *hehe*

Go read about it:
www.strangerthanfact.com

Enjoy your tour =)
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Old 04-27-05, 04:39 AM
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You dont need to start in the deep end.
Just try a weekend hostel tour without camping, then maybe camp out in your back yard or a local campsite.
Any tourist would be well advised to do a small shakedown tour just to test their rig before setting off on a big adventure.
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Old 04-27-05, 08:52 AM
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Yeah, I'd suggest finding a campground that's about 40-50 miles from your house via secondary roads and take a weekend trip there, first, with your loaded bike.

Check to see if there is a local bike map available for your area to help plan your trip.

If you know how to camp, and how to boil water to make noodles, you're in pretty good shape. You should know how to maintain your bike (lube, etc.) and how to change a tube. A lot of LBS have classes for free or cheap than will go over minor bike maintenance.

I can't help but think that 600 bucks would go A LONG WAY on a tour for me, and to spend it on stuff that you can easily read up on via the internet and learn to do yourself seems to be a waste.
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Old 04-27-05, 09:47 AM
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I agree with everyone here who said to just learn on your own. Initially, the biggest trick is to learn which camping gear to buy, as prices and quality can be all over the map. If you don't know an experiened touring cyclist (or a backpacker) who can assist you, countless books have been written on the subject. The ones I read generally told me everything I needed to know.

Definitely do a few small shake-down tours with a fully loaded bike before going on a big one--even if the shakedown only lasts part of a day. You'll discover seemingly minor items that need to be adjusted, fixed, re-distributed on the bike, or just left at home.

It's also good to be prepared for any possibility. My rainy, cold tour of two years ago inspired me to buy additional gear, including a thin fleece cap for under the helmet, a helmet cover, and fleece lined/water proof booties. I also added fenders to the bike.

Going on a costly, commercial "learning tour" could be fun, but to me it's definitely overkill. Also, your instructor may recommend particular gear that you may not be happy about, as most opinions regarding gear, cycling styles, etc., are purely subjective.

David in PA
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Old 04-28-05, 01:05 PM
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Hi Everyone.

Thanks so much for the advice. And Koffee, I just got the Lovett book in the mail. Have read a few pages and the difference with this book compared to others that I have leafed through is pretty huge. It is so well-written and clear. And he writes as though he was reading my mind or something. I am in the Chicago burbs. In fact, I don't even have a bike yet but I am trying to work on that. I am a shorty (5'2) and I haven't found any touring bikes close by that I can even try out. Found a 50'' Volpe on sale right down the road but it was just a touch (darn!) too big.
Once I get my bike, various gear, learn how to fix it, it would be lovely if I could bike all the way out to Boston this summer. But, that may be a bit ambitious since I don't have jack save for my book and my desire so far.
Once again, I appreciate all your help.
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Old 04-29-05, 05:26 AM
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As a5'2" shorty, you are going to need a touring bike with 26" MTB wheels. There is no way that you can fit larger 700c wheels into a small frame, and no reason to try.
Surly do an excellent touring frame, the LHT, which uses MTB wheels in the smaller sizes.
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Old 04-29-05, 08:14 AM
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Have to disagree here - I'm 5'2" and happily riding a 17" Trek 520. Not a fan of the little wheels, myself.

Anna
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