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Alabama to Colorado,need serious advice.

Old 10-02-19, 03:33 PM
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RH Clark
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Alabama to Colorado,need serious advice.

I have about lost my ever loving mind apparently. I have become a biking advocate and all around pain to most of my family. I have been riding only about 8 months but have gone through an incredible transformation in the last 13 months. I have lost 160 lbs,now weigh only 170 and bike 50-75 miles a week and do 20-30 mile runs on the week ends. All this is mostly dirt roads and mountain trails and cow pastures on a 2017 Trek Marlin 5. I know I have a long way to go in training but I have done much more and gone farther now than anyone thought so I do think I can achieve this goal.

My intention is to bike from Alabama to Colorado next spring if I can train enough to make the attempt. I want one good bike that can do my rough rocky dirt roads and old logging roads but still go across country. I can really only afford one bike and right now it looks like the Surly Troll is in the top for consideration. I am a newby but it seems like the Troll could do it all with just the change of tire size.

Do you folks think the Troll is a good choice.and do you think there is a better choice?
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Old 10-02-19, 03:59 PM
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Big fan of 29ers, I'm a bigger guy too. Look at how much weight you plan to carry, what size tires you plan to run and if you want drop bars? Look at something that with take a 29er with say 2" slick tires. That's my take anyway.
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Old 10-02-19, 06:33 PM
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My plan is to do several bikepacking shorter trips first. I'm about to start on this 19.5 inch Trek Marlin 5 2017 model. It's a 29er and it fits me well but I'm constantly having mechanical issues. Nothing major but enough to see that I want a more dependable bike. I am new to the whole culture but constantly watch youtube bike shows I think I want an Troll with a Jones bar and an internal rear gear hub, mechanical disc brakes. I want a 29er but not sure on tire width. I need to do lots of loose gravel roads with fist sized rocks and ruts for my main biking but be able to hit the Natchez Trace for 100 miles if I want.

The Troll attracted me because I saw it set up so many different ways on youtube. I am new enough that I may want to experiment a little but I want a bike to ride and train with that will be an upgrade to my Trek. Right now I wouldn't ride my Marlin on a 2-3 day trip because of all the issues I've had lately. I just want something set up to last and go with as little maintance as possible.
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Old 10-02-19, 06:42 PM
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You have a great story. Congrats. This is a bit dated so there are likely other bike choices but it might give you a few thoughts mountain biker looking to go on a tour

Also, since you are new to touring, you may want to look around crazyguyonabike. You may find some helpful info. there.
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Old 10-02-19, 06:47 PM
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You have a lot of learning to do before embarking on such a journey, and not just simple servicing of your bike and gear, but the different cultures you're going to encounter along the way. I like the Troll too, even though it doesn't have any front suspension, which is something I would need on a long trek. Here's a link to one that has the carriers and a few other things on it that look good.
https://bikepacking.com/plog/gear-stuff-mikes-bike/

Good luck,
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Old 10-02-19, 07:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Bigbus View Post
You have a lot of learning to do before embarking on such a journey, and not just simple servicing of your bike and gear, but the different cultures you're going to encounter along the way. I like the Troll too, even though it doesn't have any front suspension, which is something I would need on a long trek. Here's a link to one that has the carriers and a few other things on it that look good.
https://bikepacking.com/plog/gear-stuff-mikes-bike/

Good luck,
Thanks,and I do know I have a lot of learning to do. I've started hanging out with some cyclists from a local non profit shop. Just getting started but I'm not a young dumb kid either. I am 51 years young and wanting to live a little before I die. I do have extensive knowledge of camping very minimalistic, and won't be on a time frame when I leave. Even if I only travel a couple states on the first attempt, I'll try again the next year. Destination isn't as important to me as the trip.

PS
I'm 6'1 and 170 lbs with a 32" inseam. I now wear 30-32 jeans. 13 months ago I wore 48-32 jeans and weighed in excess of 330.

Just telling my size to help suggestions on a bike and my old size to say that I know I have a long ways to go but I can do it. I really do have the drive and determination.

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Old 10-02-19, 07:38 PM
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1. great story. wishing you the very best.
2. we have 2 Trolls and 1 LHT. Arguably (and lots of people like to argue), the LHT/DT is the reference touring bike. The Troll is more versatile however. Either (and many other brands) are excellent choices. Now, we've purchased the frames and built from there. On XT/trekking groupset and decent components (Thomson, Brooks, Saint, Wippermann, Tubus, Ortlieb, etc.). XT is a sure bet, seatpost, saddle, stem, handlebars, pedals -- we've been through a few iterations. Matter of personal tastes. WRT frame size, nothing beats a visit to your LBS. You'll probably get a 56 cm LHT or a Large Troll. But I remember reading that in doubt you are better off with smaller rather than larger. Still -- try to find a LBS that sells Surly. Frame only, or ready to roll; the latter is probably wiser cost wise. Frame + components gives you the bike that you want. Since you'll spend quite some time in the saddle, you could say that it's worth building custom.
3. Unless you are attempting to establish some kind of record, no need to train -- you'll adjust. This will be a great adventure.

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Old 10-03-19, 06:38 AM
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Great lifestyle change, congratulations.

I love my troll, but what "constant problems" are you having with your present bike?
A bike is a bike, so without knowing more specifics of your problems, there is no guaranty a troll will eliminate issues if the problems come from how you ride or how you shift etc.

That said, a troll is a great, tough bike, as is the 29er ogre.

Given your projected plans, I would highly recommend getting more bike mechanic experience to be able to recognize the beginnings of mechanical issues before they become bigger, and how to deal with small things that can happen on your own on an isolated dirt chunkymonkey stoned road.

My derailleured troll has been extremely reliable and a stock troll comes with very sturdy wheels.
The troll and ogres are good, solid bikes that are indeed very versatile.

Gaining mechanic experience is like anything, it's a process and doesn't happen overnight.
Same with learning to be a mechanically sympathetic rider. Some people can be bull in a chinashop types and don't change, not good if you are in an isolated area alone.
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Old 10-03-19, 06:53 AM
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Don't overthink this.

Three big factors to keep in mind:

(1) Make sure the bike has the gearing you want. If you're not sure, just make sure the gearing is wide ranging. That isn't much of an issue on most newer bikes designed for the kind of riding you want to do but it is something to keep in mind. Personally I'd avoid the 1 by gearing for the kind of riding you are talking about.

(2) Flat bars or drops? The salsa fargo for example is an alternative to the troll you might want to consider. Personally I'd lean towards an mtb style bike with drops when doing long days in the saddle on and off road.

(3) Tire width. Again not much of an issue given the kinds of bikes you are thinking of but tire width matters in terms of the kinds of terrain you can ride on.

Just ride and learn some basic mechanical skills.
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Old 10-03-19, 07:49 AM
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Don't get something with front suspension for road touring. You'll regret it.
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Old 10-03-19, 12:47 PM
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Looks like I was confused before. It's the Ogre that seems to fit my wants and needs. I know I have to learn more mechanics. I am doing just that now. My current bike won't allow much more than a couple days trip and I would like to do a few longer before I try to do across the US.

I've sort of reached the limits of my current bike's capabilities and need help deciding if the Ogre should be at the top of my list of bikes to research and ride before buying. I want something that I can change tires and or wheels and ride everything from asphalt to rough dirt or just cow pastures.
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Old 10-03-19, 01:33 PM
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Originally Posted by RH Clark View Post
Looks like I was confused before. It's the Ogre that seems to fit my wants and needs. I know I have to learn more mechanics. I am doing just that now. My current bike won't allow much more than a couple days trip and I would like to do a few longer before I try to do across the US.
Honestly, if your current bike will do 2 days, it can do 3. If it can do 3 days of riding, it can do a week. If it can do a week, it can do a trip around the world. The bike isn't the limit. For the most part, if you can carry 2 to 3 days of clothing and food in addition to what you carry for shelter, you really don't need anything more.


Originally Posted by RH Clark View Post
I've sort of reached the limits of my current bike's capabilities and need help deciding if the Ogre should be at the top of my list of bikes to research and ride before buying. I want something that I can change tires and or wheels and ride everything from asphalt to rough dirt or just cow pastures.
I'm the last person to tell someone to not buy a new bike...I have 8 myself...but the current bike you have is only limited by a so-so fork. Change out the fork for suspension corrected rigid fork and the bike would be just about like the Ogre. Your bike has a few other warts...the derailers are pretty bad...but they can all be corrected. Check Fleabay and you can often find deals.

One final thing, there is no bike that "will do it all". A bike that is optimized for road will do poorly on the dirt and a bike that is optimized for dirt will likely do poorly on the road. A bike that is optimized for dirt will fair better on the road than a bike optimized for road will fair on dirt. The former will be slow but the latter will be slower because crashing really has an impact on your overall speed.
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Old 10-03-19, 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Honestly, if your current bike will do 2 days, it can do 3. If it can do 3 days of riding, it can do a week. If it can do a week, it can do a trip around the world. The bike isn't the limit. For the most part, if you can carry 2 to 3 days of clothing and food in addition to what you carry for shelter, you really don't need anything more.




I'm the last person to tell someone to not buy a new bike...I have 8 myself...but the current bike you have is only limited by a so-so fork. Change out the fork for suspension corrected rigid fork and the bike would be just about like the Ogre. Your bike has a few other warts...the derailers are pretty bad...but they can all be corrected. Check Fleabay and you can often find deals.

One final thing, there is no bike that "will do it all". A bike that is optimized for road will do poorly on the dirt and a bike that is optimized for dirt will likely do poorly on the road. A bike that is optimized for dirt will fair better on the road than a bike optimized for road will fair on dirt. The former will be slow but the latter will be slower because crashing really has an impact on your overall speed.

That's good info. I am attaching a rear rack on my current bike and I ride it with the fork locked down most times. I've asked several bike guys about just getting the mechanicals of my bike better but so far was discouraged to spend any money on it. I only have $200 in it though the rear rim has been trued to about 90% perfect and the derailleurs sometimes work and sometimes not so well. I was going to try to replace the derailleurs and wheel set and get started bikepacking on shorter trips.
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Old 10-03-19, 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by RH Clark View Post
That's good info. I am attaching a rear rack on my current bike and I ride it with the fork locked down most times. I've asked several bike guys about just getting the mechanicals of my bike better but so far was discouraged to spend any money on it. I only have $200 in it though the rear rim has been trued to about 90% perfect and the derailleurs sometimes work and sometimes not so well. I was going to try to replace the derailleurs and wheel set and get started bikepacking on shorter trips.
The bike you have is a good platform for upgrades. It may not be the best touring bike...it's too short...but it can be made to do the job without a huge outlay of money.

It wouldn't take much to get better derailers on the bike. You could change to an Acera which is one step up but it's a very, very large step. A rear derailer will cost around $20 but it will shift 10 times better than the Tourney. A new front derailer is about the same cost. I'd go with this Altus. Changing them out is a bit futzy but it's easier than it looks. Park Tools has instructions for both the rear and front.

Changing to a different fork would probably be the greatest expense. Fork aren't that cheap but it's still might be with the cost. Changing them is somewhat trivial. Again, Park Tools can help. Since your fork is lockable, you may not even need to change it. I bike pack with a shock because Colorado's "gravel" is more rock then gravel. Mine locks out (although it is lighter than yours) and works fine on the road. You can mount cages to the legs of the shock and get some extra carrying capacity. This is mine on a recent trip

Untitled by Stuart Black, on Flickr
Untitled by Stuart Black, on Flickr

The cages on the fork legs are Topeak Versacages with Salsa Anything bags.


Wheels would be a good thing to spend money on as well. Try to get some 36 spoke ones. I could go off on a whole tangent about spokes but just getting more of them would go a long way towards a stronger wheel.

The crank is a little problematic. It is likely a riveted one so that means lower gears aren't available. You can't simply change out the inner ring. You'd need a new crank but used square tapers are relative cheap and abundant on Fleabay. Look for Deore and Deore XT. They should just bolt to your bottom bracket without any modifications.
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Old 10-03-19, 04:21 PM
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re bike components, at some point, it might be worth getting a better quality bike. Going from a Tourney level bike to a deore level bike and much better wheels may be worth it.
As you are new to biking and biking parts, an Ogre or whatever will be a good stock bike that will work great. For as long as Ive been into biking and getting better bikes, lets say a bit less than 30 years, spending more and getting a better bike is worth it because the parts last longer, and are better made so they work better and longer. As cycco says, deore level is a good level to use as a benchmark.

man--I just looked at ogres, and they too have gone the lighter wheelset route, and 1x route too....sheesh.

i guess they figure their market are young folks wanting to do bike packing, and triple and front derailleurs are so passť now......

put a load of stuff on a bike and triples still are the best, but nope, the marketing folks have won on this one......

oh well.

I mean really, 1x..?? at least the doubles along with a (now) bog standard 11-42 work pretty damn well....
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Old 10-04-19, 05:04 AM
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A few suggestions...

Don't get too quick to choose a particular bike for a couple reasons.

The best bike choice will depend on many factors depending on gear and route choices. Also, the ideal bike really isn't the make or break thing on a bike tour. Most bikes can be made to suffice for a given tour. A tour really isn't all about the bike itself. The bike is important, but before, during and after a tour I never really think all that much about the bike itself. The ride, the people, and the places are what it is about.

There may be an ideal bike for you and for your touring style, but picking the bike too early in the process is likely to result in the wrong choice. I'd suggest either stick with what you have or wait until you have some other things sorted out before choosing the bike.

With that in mind the process you might consider something like this:
  1. Choose your touring style. Motel, heavier camping, ultralight camping, etc...
  2. Decide on and gather the gear for the style you choose. Give a lot of thought to what you carry and minimize the list.
  3. Considering the gear choices and the route, decide on the baggage type that will carry the gear. Bikepacking bags, panniers, some alternate style...
  4. Choose a bike considering all of that.
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Old 10-04-19, 06:00 AM
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Lots of good advice so far. I have no intention to rush out and just buy something. My main focus has been in becoming a stronger cyclist. I like to really mull things over and research to the max before any purchase.

When I am out riding, I enjoy every minute nuance of the trip. I'm not really focused on getting anywhere except up the next hill. The way I think about everything has changed remarkably in the last year.
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Old 10-04-19, 06:32 AM
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Originally Posted by RH Clark View Post
Lots of good advice so far. I have no intention to rush out and just buy something. My main focus has been in becoming a stronger cyclist. I like to really mull things over and research to the max before any purchase.

When I am out riding, I enjoy every minute nuance of the trip. I'm not really focused on getting anywhere except up the next hill. The way I think about everything has changed remarkably in the last year.
Good way to look at it.

By the way, while it is advisable to be in as good of shape as possible for a tour, or for life in general for that matter, there really isn't the level of training required that some folks seem to indicate. I have seen others ride themselves into shape on tour and done it myself on some tours. I never felt that I needed to be riding the expected tour mileage during training rides. I also never trained with a loaded bike. I prefer to keep training fun and to me a loaded bike isn't part of that. I train unloaded and tour as lightly loaded as I can.

Better to start off in at least decent shape, but if you have the time starting off taking it easy and building effort as you go is possible. In fact it is best to take it a little easy the first week to 10 days on a long tour in any case IMO. Even when I am road hardened a bit I try to keep effort at a level where I never really need rest days. If I have a day that I can't ride I figure I overdid it. I might take short or half days or take a day for some other fun activity (hiking, whitewater rafting, etc.).

My advice is to keep riding, ride a lot, but keep it fun before your tour. No need to call it training or to set specific goals to train for a tour. Just be in good general shape. It isn't a race, keep it fun. That is true even if you plan to do long mileage.
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Old 10-04-19, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
Good way to look at it.

By the way, while it is advisable to be in as good of shape as possible for a tour, or for life in general for that matter, there really isn't the level of training required that some folks seem to indicate. I have seen others ride themselves into shape on tour and done it myself on some tours. I never felt that I needed to be riding the expected tour mileage during training rides. I also never trained with a loaded bike. I prefer to keep training fun and to me a loaded bike isn't part of that. I train unloaded and tour as lightly loaded as I can.

Better to start off in at least decent shape, but if you have the time starting off taking it easy and building effort as you go is possible. In fact it is best to take it a little easy the first week to 10 days on a long tour in any case IMO. Even when I am road hardened a bit I try to keep effort at a level where I never really need rest days. If I have a day that I can't ride I figure I overdid it. I might take short or half days or take a day for some other fun activity (hiking, whitewater rafting, etc.).

My advice is to keep riding, ride a lot, but keep it fun before your tour. No need to call it training or to set specific goals to train for a tour. Just be in good general shape. It isn't a race, keep it fun. That is true even if you plan to do long mileage.
That's exactly the way I look at it. I'll be headed out soon on a 2-3 day short trip. I don't really know how far I could go in a day yet and it isn't a specific goal other than to see if I could realistically travel from Alabama to Colorado in a spring-summer trip. I have huge planning to do and this coming year may even be an unrealistic goal but I am becoming an advocate of both nutrition and health and a cyclist all at once. I was a young hippy once who became a fat redneck middle aged conservative. Then I discovered a little thing called TRUTH which awakened me to who and what I was,so I radically changed starting at 50 years old.

I got off 4 Norco 10's Opiates a day prescribed by my ortho doctor who told me that I had to stand the pain until I was old enough to only need one set of knee replacements. I got the pain pills from him and 4 steroid shots every 3 months in my knees and back. I was also 160 lbs heavier just 13 months ago and on 3 blood pressure meds. I am now off all meds and feel younger and better than I did at 20,just one year later. In the last 13 months I have consumed no sugar of any kind or white bread or white rice. I am moving to a whole foods plant based diet and constantly trying to learn what is the truth about what is the best diet for humans.

I am also just now more free from financial concerns than I have ever been because I am flat broke at 51 and about to file bankruptcy. I can actually now see how great life can be without all the stuff weighing us down. It would be nice to be able to somehow make money off what has happened to me and inspire people at the same time. No matter what though I feel like I finally have the chance just to live now at 51. I am sorry I wasted so much before but I am determined to enjoy every moment I can from now on.
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Old 10-04-19, 01:40 PM
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Congratulations on the fitness and weight loss.
If it were Spring, you could do the trip now.
In my mind, the five most important features for a touring bike are Fit, Fit, Fit, Components, Frame material.
Going for a few overnights first is a great idea, you learn where you like to keep stuff on the bike.
Please keep us posted.
Good luck
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Old 10-04-19, 03:11 PM
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I have a Troll with an internal gear hub. I am a big fan of the bike, and I think it'll do what you want. The Ogre is a very similar bike, but I think the Troll is more versatile if you are thinking that you can swap wheels for different kinds of riding. My impression of the Ogre is that it will always want 29" wheels, so if you alternate between wide and narrow tires, you will alter the bottom bracket height. With a Troll, you can run Plus size 26" tires and road-friendly 700c tires and keep the bike at about the same height. Although, to be fair, I've run my Troll with 26 x 2 to 26 x 3" tires as well as 700c x 38, and I never noticed the changes in tire diameter making a huge difference. Still, if I were to start over, I would consider the Ogre, but I suspect I'd still end up on the Troll because I've enjoyed my 3" tires, which don't seem to quite fit on the Ogre.
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Old 10-07-19, 04:39 PM
  #22  
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Great job on your mental and physical transitions!

When it's all said and done you'll push off on the ride and realize that it's just you and the bike. No more planning and thinking - just ride!! Exciting.

I like to do S240s (sub-24 hour overnighters) and trips of 3-7 days to get a feel for the gear that I need and don't need. Those trips are fun.
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Old 10-09-19, 10:16 AM
  #23  
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I cannot begin to tell you how much joy it brings me to see RH Clark planning on doing the trip. I know him from the 24hourcampfire shooting and hunting forum. It seems like not too long ago he posted there asking advice on bikes so that he could launch his weight loss journey.

What an incredible health accomplishment you have made brother!

I really think you should read a book called The Art Of Cycling. You don't have a lot of experience on the road. The book provides solid advice for mingling with traffic. https://www.amazon.com/Art-Cycling-B.../dp/0762743166

The Troll has comparatively short chainstays for touring. The Ogre has longer chainstays that are more common on dedicated touring bikes. I like the idea of mechanical disc brakes as well.
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Old 10-10-19, 03:37 AM
  #24  
ricrunner
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I am just giving you some advice, as to training. I came back to cycling a 57, for touring and camping exploits. I trained for about 3 months, mainly to get use to being back in the saddle. Then took off on a 5000km trip. I realised then, that I really did not need to train as hard as I had been doing in those 3 months. You just get better and better, each day on the road. I would if I was you, to get out and do some smaller tours, overnighters, and maybe a week here and there, just to get use to doing day rides back to back. That is what helps you the most on big tours.

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Old 10-10-19, 06:45 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by ricrunner View Post
I am just giving you some advice, as to training. I came back to cycling a 57, for touring and camping exploits. I trained for about 3 months, mainly to get use to being back in the saddle. Then took off on a 5000km trip. I realised then, that I really did not need to train as hard as I had been doing in those 3 months. You just get better and better, each day on the road. I would if I was you, to get out and do some smaller tours, overnighters, and maybe a week here and there, just to get use to doing day rides back to back. That is what helps you the most on big tours.
very sound advice

and even decades ago, I realized it was great to plan short days for the first few days, makes it nice to ease into it.

and yes, regular riding as much as you can, not necessarily long days, is fantastic to get your body accustomed to riding, your muscles used to to, and refining positional changes like seat height, angle, this that and the other thing.
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