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2019 Tour Plans...A semi-retirement sabbatical

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2019 Tour Plans...A semi-retirement sabbatical

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Old 11-05-18, 12:45 PM
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5kdad
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2019 Tour Plans...A semi-retirement sabbatical

In December, I'll turn 62. After 40+ years of operating a portrait/event photography studio, my CPA has suggested I start drawing my social security. Wife (of 41 years) and I live a modest lifestyle, she works for the US postal service. She's the most supportive wife a guy could ask for, and supports my cycling goals. Last spring I had a medical checkup, that gave me a cancer scare. Came to the conclusion, if I'm ever going to do an "epic" bike tour, I better do it now.
I have no plans to fully retire, but if all goes as planned between now June 2019, I want to hop on my bike in my driveway, in NW Arkansas, and start pedaling in a general NW direction. I've long had the goal, of cycling from my driveway, to a beach. Ideally, I'd like to reach the west coast (NW Washington state), and cycle down the Pacific coast highway. I've done several cross-state tours with groups, but not a lot of solo touring/camping.
Based on the fact that I've never done much of a self-supported tour, I have no idea if I'll wimp out after a week or so and call it quits, or if I'll make it to the coast. It things go really great, I might want to continue on, and see just how far I could go. Would be great to see all 48 lower states.
I'm gathering info (most likely would follow the Adventure Cycling routes), and trying to decide what bike to buy for the trip.....Surly LHT, Salsa Marrakesh, or Trek 520. None of my current bikes would be suitable for such a long tour (road, mountain, tandem and recumbent trike).
As a photographer, I want to document the adventure, and do a couple of blogs. I enjoy meeting new people, and listening to their stories. I'm not a real fast rider, so I don't anticipate many 70-80 mile days. I did that on RAGBRAI on my road bike, with no problem, but will be a little different hauling gear. Plus it's not about getting from "point A to point B", but about "traveling at the speed of discovering".
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Old 11-05-18, 01:14 PM
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Go for it! My first tour was an ACA self-contained group tour at age 34. 12 people and the leader. I went that way because, while I had extensive riding experience, I had never camped a day in my life. In case it inspires you, the strongest person in our group was age 60. The weight he carried in a B.O.B. trailer would make many around here cringe. The oldest turned 77 during the trip, which ended in Bar Harbor, ME. He then started riding home to suburban Philadelphia. Somewhere in CT his wife said enough and picked him up. Another guy, age 65, rode home to Brooklyn from Bar Harbor. Two other people in the group were over 60.
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Old 11-05-18, 01:32 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Somewhere in CT his wife said enough and picked him up.
Good chance he would still be touring if she hadnít intervened.

Anyway, try a few shorter tours to get your packing list dialed in and make sure you are up for it. Thatís a long trip just to jump into, and youíll never know whether youíll like it or whether your fitness is up for it until you get out there. Maybe a ride to the beach on the East Coast or Gulf Coast would be nice as a short tour.
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Old 11-05-18, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post


Good chance he would still be touring if she hadnít intervened.
That was in 1999. He died on New Year's Eve of 2013 at the ripe old age of 90. He had been in the RCAF and spent 2.5 years in a German P.O.W. camp. But anyway...
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Old 11-05-18, 01:57 PM
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A few things:

If you want to ride to a beach on the Pacific coast, decide now that you ARE going to ride to a beach on the Pacific coast. That difference in mindset can carry you through some bad days. You will likely have at least a few bad days -- rain, heat, cold, headwind -- and if you just decide to ride until you don't want to ride any more, that day is likely to come sooner.

It would be a good idea to plan on riding yourself into shape crossing to central Colorado, because after that there's several stretches where you will be riding 60-70 mile days to get from one town (camping or lodging, food, water source) to the next. That's fairly consistent on the TransAm from northern Colorado to the Cascades.

A couple of blogs? I found it took me about an hour a day to do a decent job on one. That assumes you're going to do more than put a dozen or three pictures on a web page without labels. A good blog, IMHO, describes what you saw and what you experienced, with illustrations as possible, and is a joy to read. Without the text (which is half the battle, the other half being photo selection and presentation), after a couple years your blog will be like looking through grandmother's collection of Kodak snapshots -- and to anyone who isn't you, it will look like that now.
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Old 11-05-18, 02:18 PM
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As already suggested, go for it ... but with a few caveats.

1. Prepare physically. Being able to do 80 miles in a day doesn't mean one can do 50-60 miles per day repeatedly. You don't need to be in super shape as you'll get stronger on tour, but build up miles for 2-3 months prior.
2. Get a tent that will keep you dry and withstand wind ... and a sleeping bag/quilt for the coldest possible nights. Cold and/or wet is a quick way to ruin a tour.
3. Ride loaded and camp with your equipment prior to the tour. A couple fully loaded over night trips will do. Also, make sure you can pitch your tent in the dark because at some point you will need to.
4. Embrace everything ... the good, the bad, the easy, the difficult, the scary, etc. It will all be part of your story in the end. Your speed of discovery comment is spot on.
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Old 11-05-18, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post


Good chance he would still be touring if she hadnít intervened.

Anyway, try a few shorter tours to get your packing list dialed in and make sure you are up for it. Thatís a long trip just to jump into, and youíll never know whether youíll like it or whether your fitness is up for it until you get out there. Maybe a ride to the beach on the East Coast or Gulf Coast would be nice as a short tour.
I've biked off and on for the last 25 years or so. Trying now to ride a bit every day, even if it's only on my indoor Schwinn Airdyne during bad weather. Have done a few trips with friends (2-3 days), where we carried our gear. I have a busy spring schedule, so will be hard for me to get away until June. My thinking, start off slowly. Maybe only do 30 miles or so a day for the first week or two. I've thought about a ride to the Gulf, but that's at least 500 miles, east coast even farther. In a worst case scenario, I told my wife I might call her after a couple of weeks, to come and get me, if things got bad. She's ok with that. But I don't see that happening.
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Old 11-05-18, 03:05 PM
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Problem with heading south in June is that it's generally hotter down there.

And FWIW, I didn't do a shake-down tour before crossing the country. In fact, I only rode my bike fully loaded a week before I hopped the train to Seattle to start the trip. About 64 miles total. (Interestingly, I was nearly hit during that ride when a kid lost control of his car, clipped a telephone pole and flipped onto his roof maybe 100' behind me. Me and another motorist had to break a window with a Club lock because the car was filling up with smoke. Good thing I hadn't been a fraction slower.) The first night of the trip was the second time I set up my tent and the first time I slept in it. On the 6th day of riding we crossed the North Cascades Highway in the rain and snow. Close to 30 miles of climbing and two mountain passes then another 30+ miles to camp. Wouldn't recommend that approach, but that's the way things worked out.
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Old 11-05-18, 03:49 PM
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Well, you can do a couple overnighters as a shakedown and hope for the best. Not my recommendation for someone in his 60s with no self supported touring experience. A week long trip or two will do wonders for sorting out any issues. You may find your saddle is unbearable after a few days. Or may develop saddle sores. Or find your bike fit is leading to knee pain. Just to name a few. You could easily do a week trip to the Gulf Coast in the spring and gain valuable experience.
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Old 11-05-18, 06:03 PM
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Hey, man - I dodged Stage IV.
Ya never know how many stage calls you have left.
Do it. And, no, you will not wimp out.
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Old 11-05-18, 06:05 PM
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PS - Cape Flattery in Washington state is about as NW as you can go.
The Makah Museum is Neah Bay is really nice.
And the sea stacks at Shi Shi Beach are sublime.
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Old 11-05-18, 06:07 PM
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Originally Posted by jamawani View Post
PS - Cape Flattery in Washington state is about as NW as you can go.
The Makah Museum is Neah Bay is really nice.
And the sea stacks at Shi Shi Beach are sublime.
Interesting, I'll make a note on that. I have relatives in SE Washington state. Would like to drop in and see them while I'm in the state.
That's one reason I posted this, hoping to get suggestions of things to not miss.
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Old 11-05-18, 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
Well, you can do a couple overnighters as a shakedown and hope for the best. Not my recommendation for someone in his 60s with no self supported touring experience. A week long trip or two will do wonders for sorting out any issues. You may find your saddle is unbearable after a few days. Or may develop saddle sores. Or find your bike fit is leading to knee pain. Just to name a few. You could easily do a week trip to the Gulf Coast in the spring and gain valuable experience.
I was going to wait til my first SS check comes, to buy my touring bike. I understand that should be the first part of February. This winter and spring, will be riding as much as possible, just hadn't thought much about loading up the bike, and doing more than an overnight ride or two. Your point is well taken, will be thinking about a longer tour this spring.
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Old 11-05-18, 07:23 PM
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how much vacation time does mrs 5kdad get?


pick one of your bikes that can carry a light load. maybe you and the missus can take the amtrak someplace out west with scenery and less traffic. she can rent a small rv or pickup and drive between camping spots while you ride with minimal load. after a week or so, send her home, you can (or not) continue to some beach...
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Old 11-05-18, 07:34 PM
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Originally Posted by saddlesores View Post
how much vacation time does mrs 5kdad get?


pick one of your bikes that can carry a light load. maybe you and the missus can take the amtrak someplace out west with scenery and less traffic. she can rent a small rv or pickup and drive between camping spots while you ride with minimal load. after a week or so, send her home, you can (or not) continue to some beach...
We have sort of "been there, done that". I rode across Arkansas a few years ago with a friend. My wife drove, met us each day with a picnic lunch, and checked on us a couple times during the day. Picked us up the end of each day, and drove us to where we spent the night. She also went with me one year when I did RAGBRAI, with one of our daughters and son-in-law.
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Old 11-05-18, 07:56 PM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
A few things:

A couple of blogs? I found it took me about an hour a day to do a decent job on one. That assumes you're going to do more than put a dozen or three pictures on a web page without labels. A good blog, IMHO, describes what you saw and what you experienced, with illustrations as possible, and is a joy to read. Without the text (which is half the battle, the other half being photo selection and presentation), after a couple years your blog will be like looking through grandmother's collection of Kodak snapshots -- and to anyone who isn't you, it will look like that now.
I've done several blogs already from past rides. These were all done AFTER I returned home. I just made good notes and took lots of photos. I find if I don't write down what happened, no later than first thing the next morning, I'll forget things. Check the links at the bottom of my posts here, and you'll see links to 3 of my cycling blogs. I've always thought I'd like to write about the trip, and also about the interesting people you meet when cycling.
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Old 11-06-18, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by 5kdad View Post
I've biked off and on for the last 25 years or so. Trying now to ride a bit every day, even if it's only on my indoor Schwinn Airdyne during bad weather. Have done a few trips with friends (2-3 days), where we carried our gear. I have a busy spring schedule, so will be hard for me to get away until June. My thinking, start off slowly. Maybe only do 30 miles or so a day for the first week or two. I've thought about a ride to the Gulf, but that's at least 500 miles, east coast even farther. In a worst case scenario, I told my wife I might call her after a couple of weeks, to come and get me, if things got bad. She's ok with that. But I don't see that happening.
That's a common strategy ... Riding fewer miles with more rest to start allows for fresher legs later in the tour. Similarly, riding conservatively in the mornings allows for fresher legs near the end of the day.
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Old 11-06-18, 10:57 AM
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Originally Posted by 5kdad View Post
I have no idea if I'll wimp out after a week or so and call it quits...
Weather will be the biggest factor almost guaranteed. Overuse injuries will almost certainly turn up, and your ability and knowledge on caring for those will be key.

I've toured 90% solo across the USA five times. I have bailed on two long tours due to Spring flooding. It's not wimping out at all. If you aren't having fun and the trip turns into a survival mission, it only makes sense to punt. But then I am one of "those" guys who will quit a bike trip before accepting a ride in a motor vehicle, unless it's across water - like a ferry. I woun't even speak to a cyclist who has been hitchhiking. I don't want their energy infecting me. I certainly wouldn't hold anyone else to those standards. But if you want to CYCLE from your house to the beach, then you have already made that decision really. Catching a ride will only contaminate that dream.

All you can do is try! Your ability to handle discomfort will be tested but it is totally doable by even 90-year old cyclists.

Good luck! (Good weather!!)
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Old 11-06-18, 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by 5kdad View Post
I was going to wait til my first SS check comes, to buy my touring bike. I understand that should be the first part of February. This winter and spring, will be riding as much as possible, just hadn't thought much about loading up the bike, and doing more than an overnight ride or two. Your point is well taken, will be thinking about a longer tour this spring.
Were I you, I wouldn't worry so much about any overnights as making sure all the gear is suitable and dialed in. When you go out for rides, load up. For the last few months I have been acquiring and stress testing gear (commuting and some longer rides) for a 3,500 mile tour next summer. Just a few weeks ago I had an Ortlieb seatpost bag fail spectacularly, something that may not have happened with just with a weekender. If you have camped, you know you can camp. I've you've ridden 50, 80, 100 miles in a day, you know you can do that. It's really about the gear and dialing it all in.
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Old 11-06-18, 05:47 PM
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I did my first self supported tour at 62 with a much younger friend who also lacked any self-supported touring experience. We rode the first leg of the ACA Southern Tier from San Diego to El Paso in 13 continuous days of riding. Prior to starting we had ridden fully loaded once on a 60 mile day starting and finishing at my house. Neither of us had checked out our camping gear. The first two days climbing over the Sierra Nevada Mountains kicked my butt, but after that it was easy riding with 70-80 mile days being the norm. It turned out on that trip we only camped once because at that time, motels were almost as cheap as campgrounds. The biggest issues I had were chafing and sunburn; both were brought on because I didn't take the sun or my butt/saddle interface seriously. Live and learn.

I think you'll be fine although I do recommend at least one overnight ride to check out your camping gear and your ability to use it. Go for it!!!

Dan
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Old 11-08-18, 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by revcp View Post
Were I you, I wouldn't worry so much about any overnights as making sure all the gear is suitable and dialed in. When you go out for rides, load up. For the last few months I have been acquiring and stress testing gear (commuting and some longer rides) for a 3,500 mile tour next summer. Just a few weeks ago I had an Ortlieb seatpost bag fail spectacularly, something that may not have happened with just with a weekender. If you have camped, you know you can camp. I've you've ridden 50, 80, 100 miles in a day, you know you can do that. It's really about the gear and dialing it all in.
Yes, I've camped, only twice by myself, but a few more times with friends. I've done several 70-80 mile rides (my record is 110 in one day), but those were all on my road bike, with no gear. Good idea on "stress testing", hadn't thought of it in those terms. I'm waiting until about March to buy the tour bike, but will keep riding my other bikes until then.
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Old 11-08-18, 10:17 PM
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The KATY trail is not too far from you and would be a good week long trip with no traffic and lots of small towns to tweak your gear. I am planning on the Southern Tier in the next few years. I turn 50 in Feb. so at min 5 year to retirement. Look at the Kona Sutra bike (regular not LTD). Lewis and Clark sells them. IMO its the best looking touring set up. I will own one within a year. I currently have a highly modified Specialized Sirrus that works great as a commuter and touring. I want to do a week or two tour in the spring. I live in Russellville. PM if you would like to try a small one before you do your epic adventure.
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Old 11-09-18, 04:13 AM
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Originally Posted by b_young View Post
The KATY trail is not too far from you and would be a good week long trip with no traffic and lots of small towns to tweak your gear. I am planning on the Southern Tier in the next few years. I turn 50 in Feb. so at min 5 year to retirement. Look at the Kona Sutra bike (regular not LTD). Lewis and Clark sells them. IMO its the best looking touring set up. I will own one within a year. I currently have a highly modified Specialized Sirrus that works great as a commuter and touring. I want to do a week or two tour in the spring. I live in Russellville. PM if you would like to try a small one before you do your epic adventure.
Ah, the Katy Trail. Did that years ago, was my first solo bike adventure ( http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/2094 ). Loaded up, intending to stay some in hotels, some camping. But ended up leaving camping gear with friends after about 3 days. It was a nice adventure.
I've biked through your home town of Russellville. Friend and I biked across Arkansas a few years ago, Missouri to Louisiana. Biked down hwy 7 for several miles.
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Old 11-09-18, 08:28 PM
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The traffic north of 40 on hwy 7 scares me some. No shoulder. I am not sure I would want to try that. I have been from Russellville to Mena a few times and started going West to East on Hwy 64 but couldn't finish it. I will do that again soon. I have wanted to ride the Pig Trail up to Bentonville. My brother lives there.
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Old 11-09-18, 11:48 PM
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Originally Posted by b_young View Post
The traffic north of 40 on hwy 7 scares me some. No shoulder. I am not sure I would want to try that. I have been from Russellville to Mena a few times and started going West to East on Hwy 64 but couldn't finish it. I will do that again soon. I have wanted to ride the Pig Trail up to Bentonville. My brother lives there.
Actually, I thought 7 had a decent should from Harrison to Russellville. Where I ride in my area, we have NO shoulder in most places.
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