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My 1st Tour - What's 1 tip you wish you'd been given before your 1st tour?

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My 1st Tour - What's 1 tip you wish you'd been given before your 1st tour?

Old 05-11-21, 02:09 PM
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stassy
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My 1st Tour - What's 1 tip you wish you'd been given before your 1st tour?

I recently acquired a 1988 Terry-style Miyata 615 light touring bike and (assuming all goes well with a safety check at my LBS today) plan to take it on my first ever bike tour this weekend!

It'll be a self-supported 2-night camping trip sharing gear with my partner, in a Pacific Northwest park that has a permanent fire ban so stove cooking only. I've done a couple of multi-day backpacking and canoe trips so have most of the gear. I'm currently planning to pack a pair of Ortlieb back-roller classics and strap a dry bag to my rear rack.

I'm curious - what's one tip that you wish you had been given before your own first tour?

Thanks in advance
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Old 05-11-21, 02:14 PM
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Having a low low gear so I didn't have to walk up a hill.
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Old 05-11-21, 02:20 PM
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Wool bike knickers double up as long johns during camping and wool long sleeve bike shirt could be the top to sleep in. This way you can take bike shorts, bike knickers, 2 bike tops and 2 pairs of socks and you are covered.
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Old 05-11-21, 03:00 PM
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Working brakes are more important than you think...

First tour was in college. Overall plan was to cycle from Boston to tip of Cape Cod and take the ferry back. I was the leader in that I had organized this for half a dozen college friends.

I had a 10-speed that I had bought earlier as a teenager. The brakes didn't work well, but I could typically slow myself down some before putting down my feet to stop. All was well until ~10 miles in when Claire Saltenstall Bikeway went through a small park on a path. The route went down a small hill and then around a bend. I went down the hill fine, but going too fast, rode off the side on the curve. My bike stopped. I didn't. I went flying over the handlebars and somersaulted to land flat on my bike. My backpack took the brunt of the impact as I landed mostly flat on my back. However a sharp rock had stuck into my lower right side and created a pretty big gash.

A sensible mature thing to do would have been to turn back, have my wound taken care of and scratch the trip. However, I was 19, male and invincible. Besides, I was the leader. So my friends and I found a pharmacy and were able to buy some large bandages and tape up the wound. That worked fairly well, though by afternoon as we neared the bridges to Cape Cod, it was warm and I was sweating some into the wound. That was painful. I was also fairly tired. A stop, eating a banana and sight of the bridges together pepped me up. That evening we looked for a spot to camp and came by a church in Barnstable, struck up a conversation and they were willing to have us camp on the lawn as long as we were out before services the next morning. We didn't pitch tents because it was going to be dry. It was painful as my friends changed dressing on my wound.

Next morning we got up early and cycled the remainder to reach P-town. We had some time to spare and wander briefly through town. After that boarding the ferry and a relaxing ride back to Boston. It was Sunday afternoon and traffic was light. Felt like conquering heroes cycling back through middle of town - and having accomplished the trip. Glad I went through with it overall.

However, advice (and if I'd listened) to have working brakes would have made for a more pleasant trip...
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Old 05-11-21, 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by stassy View Post
I'm curious - what's one tip that you wish you had been given before your own first tour?
dont overpack. its easy to prepare for anything and everything, and its tough to accept the odds arent good that you will need all that stuff.
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Old 05-11-21, 03:31 PM
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My first tour was the Trans America. I wish I had been taught all about goat head thorns, Where they grow, what the plants look like, how to avoid them.
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Old 05-11-21, 03:46 PM
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Have a great time!

Bring more than one spare tube. Bring what you need to boot a tire. You can improvise with most mechanical issues, but you're going nowhere fast without air in the tires.

Last edited by bikemig; 05-11-21 at 03:52 PM.
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Old 05-11-21, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
My first tour was the Trans America. I wish I had been taught all about goat head thorns, Where they grow, what the plants look like, how to avoid them.
Everywhere! Harmless! Tubeless!
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Old 05-11-21, 05:57 PM
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Make sure your wheels are up to the task of carrying your load.

The two pieces of very helpful advice I got re: issues I did not consider were bring a warm hat and a good flashlight.
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Old 05-11-21, 06:02 PM
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Excellent question. I'm sure the responses will be well thought out and all over the place.

My 2 cents....Keep your daily mileages reasonable, error on the low side at first. Just because you've ridden a century on your lean and mean road bike doesn't equate to riding when fully loaded. This and the fact that you're going to have to ride tomorrow and then the next day and so on..... pace yourself and leave a little in the tank for the next day.
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Old 05-12-21, 04:34 AM
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Originally Posted by boomhauer View Post
Having a low low gear so I didn't have to walk up a hill.
take.
less.
stuff.

you're only gonna be gone for two days, so you can probably get by with
about half of what you've got laid out on the couch.

the ride is longer than you thought, there's more wind than you expected,
the hills are taller and steeper than indicated on the elevation profile, and
you ignored boomhauer's advice.

and mine. you still packed too much stuff.

so one last bit of advice. don't set off with NEW gear.
especially your shoes.

is gonna suck pushing up that loooooong, steep hill with sore feets.
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Old 05-12-21, 06:22 AM
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1) Pack for the trip you want to go on. If you like camping, pack a lot of camping gear. If you like cycling, pack less camping gear and the cycling part will be more fun.

2) All the clothing you pack should be able to be worn all at once as part of a coordinated layering system.

3) It's possible to enjoy a bike tour without cooking.

4) Trust the random kindness of strangers.

I was already a decent mechanic, knew how to read a map, had cycled a lot, and had camped a lot before my first tour. Make sure all those skills are in your toolbox.
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Old 05-12-21, 06:25 AM
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Originally Posted by robow View Post
Excellent question. I'm sure the responses will be well thought out and all over the place.

My 2 cents....Keep your daily mileages reasonable, error on the low side at first. Just because you've ridden a century on your lean and mean road bike doesn't equate to riding when fully loaded. This and the fact that you're going to have to ride tomorrow and then the next day and so on..... pace yourself and leave a little in the tank for the next day.
Reminds me of my first short solo tour last november. The first day I wanted to get some mileage in and planned nearly 130km (80 miles) of riding.

That day turned out to be hilly, wet, with a constant headwind and closed down bars, shops and even some supermarkets in all the towns in between. The last 30km (20 miles) were miserable. In the days after I only managed to get 70 km (45 miles) in each day and just changed my course back towards a train station taking me home.
Next time I start with a short 60km (40 miles) day and increase my distance each day until I am adjusted to the long days in the saddle.

Same story with some friends of mine that went hiking in Scotland. They planned 25-30 km (15-20 miles) a day in very rough terrain with a big backpack. Even the fittest of the two of them didn't manage to do that. A lesson was learned that day.

Oh and I too brought way to much stuff. One of my panniers wasn't even opened by the end.
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Old 05-12-21, 06:41 AM
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Lay your stuff out on the carpet. Ask yourself if you will use an item every day. If not, is it a safety or repair/maintenance item? If no to both, ditch it.
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Old 05-12-21, 06:45 AM
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Originally Posted by stassy View Post
I recently acquired a 1988 Terry-style Miyata 615 light touring bike and (assuming all goes well with a safety check at my LBS today) plan to take it on my first ever bike tour this weekend!

It'll be a self-supported 2-night camping trip sharing gear with my partner, in a Pacific Northwest park that has a permanent fire ban so stove cooking only. I've done a couple of multi-day backpacking and canoe trips so have most of the gear. I'm currently planning to pack a pair of Ortlieb back-roller classics and strap a dry bag to my rear rack.

I'm curious - what's one tip that you wish you had been given before your own first tour?

Thanks in advance
Nothing really, bring stuff to have fun. Good to start as you are on a short trip to figure things out. My 1st tour was on a similar bike in late '70s. 2 years ago, we did a long tour in Pacific NW. Many fond memories, especially on Lopez Island. On chance, meet a yearly large native american gathering, what fun, they gave us a ride in large canoes and we learned about them. Random interesting stuff on tours, meeting friendly helpful people...just another day on tour
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Old 05-12-21, 07:00 AM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
Lay your stuff out on the carpet. Ask yourself if you will use an item every day. If not, is it a safety or repair/maintenance item? If no to both, ditch it.
Define “safety.” For example, is rain gear within your definition? I may not use mine every day, but it’s sure nice to have for rainy days.
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Old 05-12-21, 07:11 AM
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Just two nights, have fun. (Take chocolate!)

Longer than that, figure out where the post offices are on your route that'll have boxes. You can load a lot of stuff into a large priority mail box after you figure out what you didn't need to bring.
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Old 05-12-21, 07:26 AM
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My first trip was on a 12 speed (6 gears at back) with a double crank, your '88 bike is probably a 5 speed, but probably has a triple, so maybe less walking up hills, so hey it will work, even if you have to walk a bit.

given that you've done backpacking and canoeing (as I had) you should have the common sense to not take too much stuff, so have fun, plain and simple.

make sure you have snacks, eat when hungry, and as already mentioned, plan very doable distances. Riding with weight on bike is a lot harder than unloaded.
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Old 05-12-21, 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by IPassGas View Post
bring stuff to have fun.
I am curious what you would include in that category. It isn't something that comes to mind for me when packing. Anything I ever took that fit that category either got sent home or was probably unused for the whole trip unless you consider reading or listening to music be in the fun category. I have taken stuff like a deck of cards and games and mailed them home the first time I sent a batch of stuff home.

2 years ago, we did a long tour in Pacific NW. Many fond memories, especially on Lopez Island. On chance, meet a yearly large native american gathering, what fun, they gave us a ride in large canoes and we learned about them. Random interesting stuff on tours, meeting friendly helpful people...just another day on tour
That is the kind of thing that is the real joy of touring. Meeting the folks that live on the land you pass through is great. Meeting the local folks, seeing their culture, sampling their food, and so on is often the best part of touring.
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Old 05-12-21, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by stassy View Post
I recently acquired a 1988 Terry-style Miyata 615 light touring bike and (assuming all goes well with a safety check at my LBS today) plan to take it on my first ever bike tour this weekend!

It'll be a self-supported 2-night camping trip sharing gear with my partner, in a Pacific Northwest park that has a permanent fire ban so stove cooking only. I've done a couple of multi-day backpacking and canoe trips so have most of the gear. I'm currently planning to pack a pair of Ortlieb back-roller classics and strap a dry bag to my rear rack.

I'm curious - what's one tip that you wish you had been given before your own first tour?
Thanks in advance
this may go without saying, but given that you are leaving in a few days, on a new to you bike, that a bike store has quote "checked over", it would be wise to pack your panniers, stick them on and ride around for a few hours, or more, and make sure that the rack stays on, your spokes arent breaking etc etc.
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Old 05-12-21, 09:28 AM
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If I only get one tip, I will re-state a recurring statement: Don't overpack. The most important items to take are ones that you can't get on the road.... glasses, prescriptions, CC's/ID, etc. I now take about 1/3 of the clothing than when I started. I also suffer from "food insecurity," and had to parse down my groceries over time also.

Honorable mentions:
Test ride the bike with the load you intend to carry for a considerable distance to ensure gearing is low enough, and that the bike is stable.
Keep the distance reasonable until you get a feel for touring. It is far better to get to camp thinking I could have easily done more, than to get there dogged-dizzy-tired and/or injured.
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Old 05-12-21, 09:46 AM
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In my case, it would have been: "Despite the forecast, the weather will do what it will do." My first tour was three days and the weather was predicted to be absolutely perfect even the night I left, with mid 70's temperatures, low humidity, and dry conditions. It rained for a day and half. Adjust your clothing accordingly.
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Old 05-12-21, 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Define “safety.” For example, is rain gear within your definition? I may not use mine every day, but it’s sure nice to have for rainy days.
Our daughter once got onset hypothermia (uncontrolled shivering) during what was supposed to be a benign ride back to base camp, in the middle of July somewhere in Western Europe -- heavy downpour when a cold front crossed our route. We always carry a reasonable rain shell in our handlebar bags, but forgot to check hers when leaving in the morning.

More generally, being able to communicate is a great insurance policy for a wide range of problems. A cell phone is enough in many cases. We carry a PLB or satellite phone for situations where cell coverage is spotty and traffic less than one vehicle per day or so.
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Old 05-12-21, 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Define “safety.” For example, is rain gear within your definition? I may not use mine every day, but it’s sure nice to have for rainy days.
Come on, define it yourself. I was just trying to help someone who obviously is very green.

People bring stupid junk that they never use.

I took a nasty fall recently backpacking in 38F with heavy rain and 30-40 mph wind. I am sitting here with my ankle in a brace for the past three weeks. When I fell, my first and immediate concern was whether my raingear was ripped. So, there is your answer. I always have a rain jacket with me on my bike, I don't care if the ride is 10 miles. If someone lives in the desert SW, they would be nuts to "always" have a rain jacket. Each person has to make a decision based on their particular needs.
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Old 05-12-21, 10:36 AM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
Come on, define it yourself. I was just trying to help someone who obviously is very green.
You made the comment. How can I define what you meant?

Someone green might not consider rain gear, which one might not use every day, as something safety-related. Having become hypothermic myself when I had to descend a long way from 7,300' in a very cold rain with a crappy shell because I got the weight weenie flu just before I left for the trip, I would consider good rain gear safety-related on a trip in similar environs and will take it even if I end up never using it.
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