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Road touring different from other touring?

Old 02-27-24, 05:38 PM
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Road touring different from other touring?

When I started thinking or learning about touring, the first things I saw were older bikes with narrower tires (not narrow like road bikes, but much narrower than newer bikes that say touring tires/bikes).

What I was looking for at the time was finding comfortable bikes to ride on rail trails and the like. The idea of riding out on the open road sounded boring and HOT and dangerous.

But is that what most people did in the earlier days of touring? or was it also on dirt trails? (though doesn't seem as easy with panniers and low hanging branches.

And then I started watching some videos of people touring and it seems that people use mostly wider tire/gravel type bikes because if you only have one tire with you, make sure it's one that works on gravel and dirt too?

Or are there just different types of touring people do and people just buy and use the bike that works for that tour? Like, let's say, I want to bike across the US on highways? Wouldn't a bike that can handle weight, but also be nimble and faster on the roads be a better bike that a gravel bike or bike with wider tires?

The reason I ask is that I have a couple bikes now for touring/bike-packing. I have a Surly Ogre, and I have a folder NWT by Bike Friday. Well, and I have a couple other bikes too but one is an electric cargo bike and the other lives on my trainer.

I plan to do Ragbrai next year (I hope - we'll see - taking care of a person with dementia) and almost everyone uses road bikes and few people carry their stuff. Of course, this all comes with a cost for the event to do that. So, I'm thinking of getting a road bike (secondhand) for that. Taking the Surly would be a lot of extra weight and beefiness. Maybe that would feel AWFUL?

I guess I've just always felt that if I were on gravel or crushed limestone, I would feel more secure on something like the Ogre. TBH, I don't have any idea how the NWT would feel on crushed limestone. I might hate it! In a few days I'm going to test that out. And I do have some daydreams of riding across the US - like riding down the West coast. or riding west to east across the whole way one time. And on that ride, I envision a bike that is more like a road bike than a mountain bike, but and I wrong?
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Old 02-27-24, 06:41 PM
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Originally Posted by mams99
When I started thinking or learning about touring, the first things I saw were older bikes with narrower tires (not narrow like road bikes, but much narrower than newer bikes that say touring tires/bikes).

What I was looking for at the time was finding comfortable bikes to ride on rail trails and the like. The idea of riding out on the open road sounded boring and HOT and dangerous.
Roads usually go where we clever monkeys want to go. There’s nothing wrong with riding on a paved road. I’ve ridden many including sections of Interstates. They aren’t particularly boring nor hot nor all that dangerous. Riding a road out in the middle of nowhere, you are more likely to stick out (and get noticed) than you are in a city. Less visual clutter.

Dirt roads can be ridden but they can have their own problems. Less maintenance. Sand, thick gravel, rocks, etc. are all prevalent on a dirt road. They can be fun to ride but they aren’t necessarily faster or less hot or more safe. If you are on a remote dirt road, you may not have access to help if you need it. Still fun but you have to consider that.

Look at the rides in my signature to see a number of different modes of touring.

But is that what most people did in the earlier days of touring? or was it also on dirt trails? (though doesn't seem as easy with panniers and low hanging branches.

And then I started watching some videos of people touring and it seems that people use mostly wider tire/gravel type bikes because if you only have one tire with you, make sure it's one that works on gravel and dirt too?
I’ve been touring since the late 70s. Most of the trips are pavement but a few have involved significant amounts of dirt roads. I usually pick my tires (and bike) depending on the terrain I’m expecting. Rail trails and gravel roads are fine with a wide (ish) touring tire with minimal tread. For example, I did 700 miles of gravel and 800 miles of pavement on this bike with Panaracer RibMos which aren’t really built for dirt.


When things get far more rugged, I reach for the mountain bike with full on knobs, however. This bike has been used for around 10 tours around Colorado. The trips are shorter…usually around 3 to 5 days… but harder to do. I could probably have done the trips on my road bike but why? Mountain bikes are built for this kind of terrain.




​​​​​​​Or are there just different types of touring people do and people just buy and use the bike that works for that tour? Like, let's say, I want to bike across the US on highways? Wouldn't a bike that can handle weight, but also be nimble and faster on the roads be a better bike that a gravel bike or bike with wider tires?

The reason I ask is that I have a couple bikes now for touring/bike-packing. I have a Surly Ogre, and I have a folder NWT by Bike Friday. Well, and I have a couple other bikes too but one is an electric cargo bike and the other lives on my trainer.
That’s a whole different kettle of fish. I’ve done tours on bikes with a more race oriented geometry and tours on bikes which are designed for loaded touring…stronger frame, relaxed geometry, longer wheelbase, etc. The Cannondale above is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of touring bike design. It’s long. It’s stiff…so stiff that it is a bit rough to ride unloaded. But loaded up, the ride is smooth and reassuring. I’ve had steel bikes that flexed so much under load that I could never ride them out of the saddle on climbs. Standing to do a climb is better than just sitting in the saddle and grinding to the top. The Cannondale can even be thrown from side-to-side on climbs (like the Pros do) and it doesn’t wander off into the next county.

For loaded touring, your Ogre would probably work fine. It’s a bit shorter than my Cannondale which may have some effect on handling. The short wheelbase makes for quicker handling which isn’t necessarily what you want on a touring bike. If your feet are even medium sized and you are using rear panniers, you might have some heel strike issues. Mounting the bags further back to avoid that problems introduces all kinds of new problems…thing “tail wagging the dog” problems.

It would handle rugged dirt roads better than the Cannondale would but it would be kind of slow on any pavement.

The Bike Friday would probably work as well, although it probably wouldn’t be all that great if the going gets rough. People do loaded tours on them.

​​​​​​​I plan to do Ragbrai next year (I hope - we'll see - taking care of a person with dementia) and almost everyone uses road bikes and few people carry their stuff. Of course, this all comes with a cost for the event to do that. So, I'm thinking of getting a road bike (secondhand) for that. Taking the Surly would be a lot of extra weight and beefiness. Maybe that would feel AWFUL?

I guess I've just always felt that if I were on gravel or crushed limestone, I would feel more secure on something like the Ogre. TBH, I don't have any idea how the NWT would feel on crushed limestone. I might hate it! In a few days I'm going to test that out. And I do have some daydreams of riding across the US - like riding down the West coast. or riding west to east across the whole way one time. And on that ride, I envision a bike that is more like a road bike than a mountain bike, but and I wrong?
Event rides like RAGBRAI are more “de France” than “Tour”. In other words, they are more about getting to the showers first than about spending time smelling the roses. If you are letting them carry the gear, take a bike that is fast and nimble.

If you are carrying the gear and don’t have to worry about racing the crowd to dinner, take something reliable and a bit slower but it will carry gear better.
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Old 02-27-24, 06:45 PM
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I expect there has always been a variety of "touring" that is done. For example:
- some on paved roads, some on gravel roads, some on trails, some on single-track
- some where you carry all your gear (self-supported), some where you gear gets carried
- some types of event rides similar to RAGBRAI and others solo endeavors and everywhere in between

I wouldn't get too hung up on the taxonomy and terms. I agree with your sense that wider tires similar to your Ogre can give a smoother ride than more of a road bike.

I've cycled across the US three times and mostly on paved routes. However, I've also cycled across Russia with ~1500km of gravel road. While people do ride across the US on a mountain bike, if it were me I would be more inclined to have slightly narrower tires and more hand positions. It is also important for me to have a way to carry my gear. So I have a bike with front and rear racks and put panniers on them to carry my stuff.

On your RAGBRAI ride you won't need to have panniers full with all your gear, so economize for that. As far as buying bikes goes - people have toured on most different types of bikes. My recommendation in just starting out is to start with the bike you have. That gets you some experience and you can also learn what you might want after that. I have four bikes and used them differently for different rides
- A Trek 4500 mountain bike that I cycled across Africa on a supported ride (TDA)
- A different Trek 4500 mountain bike that I cycled between Banff Canada and the tip of South America
- A Trek 520 touring bike that I cycled across Russia, this past summer across the US and a number of additional rides.
- A different Trek 520 touring bike I cycled across Ukraine and part of Southern Russia and a friend cycled with on the Pamir Highway.
So I've toured longer distances on both a Trek 4500 and Trek 520. The Trek 520 is slightly faster than the 4500 - but not enough that the engine (me) still makes more of the difference in my speed than my choice of bike.
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Old 02-27-24, 06:54 PM
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cyccommute This was extremely helpful - THANK YOU!!!!

I know (as an east coaster) much of what I will be riding will be crushed limestone. I would camp, but I would buy a meal in town, so not quite credit card touring, but close. It's what I've done so far and what I plan to do this year when I can only steal away a few days at a time.

But I do think if I ever actually tour that would involve streets/highways, I would want something like the Cannondale you showed. I cannot wait to have more freedom. I know I'll do it, because I did a 4 day jaunt a year or go and I was hungry for more and that was when I had a 35 year old bike and super heavy gear! Now I have some lighter stuff.

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Old 02-27-24, 07:51 PM
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Originally Posted by mev
I expect there has always been a variety of "touring" that is done. For example:
- some on paved roads, some on gravel roads, some on trails, some on single-track
- some where you carry all your gear (self-supported), some where you gear gets carried
- some types of event rides similar to RAGBRAI and others solo endeavors and everywhere in between

I wouldn't get too hung up on the taxonomy and terms. I agree with your sense that wider tires similar to your Ogre can give a smoother ride than more of a road bike.

I've cycled across the US three times and mostly on paved routes. However, I've also cycled across Russia with ~1500km of gravel road. While people do ride across the US on a mountain bike, if it were me I would be more inclined to have slightly narrower tires and more hand positions. It is also important for me to have a way to carry my gear. So I have a bike with front and rear racks and put panniers on them to carry my stuff.

On your RAGBRAI ride you won't need to have panniers full with all your gear, so economize for that. As far as buying bikes goes - people have toured on most different types of bikes. My recommendation in just starting out is to start with the bike you have. That gets you some experience and you can also learn what you might want after that. I have four bikes and used them differently for different rides
- A Trek 4500 mountain bike that I cycled across Africa on a supported ride (TDA)
- A different Trek 4500 mountain bike that I cycled between Banff Canada and the tip of South America
- A Trek 520 touring bike that I cycled across Russia, this past summer across the US and a number of additional rides.
- A different Trek 520 touring bike I cycled across Ukraine and part of Southern Russia and a friend cycled with on the Pamir Highway.
So I've toured longer distances on both a Trek 4500 and Trek 520. The Trek 520 is slightly faster than the 4500 - but not enough that the engine (me) still makes more of the difference in my speed than my choice of bike.
Just - WOW!!! The stories you must have!

I think one of the things I l really like about riding a bike is that it allows for all the starts and stops to smell the roses, etc. Now, to get that adventurous, I would have to worry more about food planning and making enough miles to not run out of water or food, but the chances of this 54 year old woman ever doing that is about nil!
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Old 02-27-24, 09:31 PM
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Originally Posted by mams99
but the chances of this 54 year old woman ever doing that is about nil!
Let me introduce you to the late Anne Mustoe whose books I recommend.

"When she resolved to cycle round the world, Mustoe was 54, somewhat overweight and unfit, and without any idea of how to mend a puncture. She had not ridden a bike for 30 years, wobbled when she tried again, and she hated camping, picnics and discomfort."

https://alastairhumphreys.com/rememb...world-cyclist/

To answer your original question here is my alround touring bike which has 40mm wide tyres and has taken me thousands of miles on all types of terrain from tarmac roads to the gnarliest trail, I do have a road touring bike but something like this will go most places on fairly narrow tyres, just ride accordingly.


.

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Old 02-27-24, 11:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Small cog
Let me introduce you to the late Anne Mustoe whose books I recommend.

"When she resolved to cycle round the world, Mustoe was 54, somewhat overweight and unfit, and without any idea of how to mend a puncture. She had not ridden a bike for 30 years, wobbled when she tried again, and she hated camping, picnics and discomfort."

https://alastairhumphreys.com/rememb...world-cyclist/

.
That is lovely. Could be about me - a year ago I was less overweight and more fit. And until a few years ago, I hadn't ridden at all since I was a teen. But I do like camping and picnics and that type of discomfort.

There's something about being middle aged and being knocked around by life, but you are still standing, that makes you really take a long think about what you want in life. Me? I want to see more of this world by bike. It will happen... I have to keep reminding myself of that while I help my teen (18) with autism with community college classes and take care of my mother in law 50% with my partner as she VERY slowly declines with dementia. Right now I feel like a prisoner.

I'll look into that book. Sounds like I need it.
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Old 02-28-24, 12:08 AM
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There are 3 advantages to wider tires:
-wider tires use lower pressure providing a somewhat more comfortable ride
-wider tires usually have a higher weight limit
-wider tires will provide more float when you are on a soft surface (gravel)
I'm sure fellow member may have some more, but that's my take
Now, if you get into bikepacking and riders who want to do 100+ miles a day on paved roads, the narrow tires offer lighter weight and higher pressure for less rolling resistance.
I'm a tourist traveller so I go as wide as my bike can handle
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Old 02-28-24, 04:39 AM
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Originally Posted by mams99
When I started thinking or learning about touring, the first things I saw were older bikes with narrower tires (not narrow like road bikes, but much narrower than newer bikes that say touring tires/bikes).

What I was looking for at the time was finding comfortable bikes to ride on rail trails and the like. The idea of riding out on the open road sounded boring and HOT and dangerous.

But is that what most people did in the earlier days of touring? or was it also on dirt trails? (though doesn't seem as easy with panniers and low hanging branches.
...
...
...
Touring is a broad term, that ranges from vehicle supported rides like Ragbrai where your luggage is hauled for you, but you are on your own for putting your tent up. I have done two trips in Europe that are even more towards the non-self-supported concept, those trips were on a bike that was provided, along with guide and provided indoor lodging. The business that did that called that touring, I refer to it as a trip.

On the other extreme I have done a couple trips where I had to carry more than a week of food because it was so remote, one of those trips I started out by carrying two and a half weeks of food on my bike.

So, you are asking about tires and type of bikes. I have three touring bikes that I use for tours that involve camping gear on the bike. I built up all three bikes from parts, but as a former bike mechanic I had the knowledge of how to do that, most people buy a touring bike off the rack:
.
  • Light touring bike has 35 or 37mm tires on it. I use that bike where almost the entire route is paved and grocery stores are frequent enough that I expect to never need to carry more than about five days of food. Lowest gear is 20.7 gear inches.
  • Medium touring bike, I use 40 or 50mm wide tires on this bike, works well on pavement but also works well on rail trails. Lowest gear is 19.3 gear inches.
  • Heavy touring bike, this is the bike I use for deeply remote areas, have always used 57mm wide tires on it. But the tires I use not only have big knobs, but they also roll well on pavement. Lowest gear 16.2 gear inches.
If I was going to do a credit card tour (no camping gear), it likely would all be on pavement. And with no camping gear, there is no reason to need a bike built to carry much weight. I would either use my randonneuring bike (32mm tires, lowest gear is 25.1 gear inches) or my road bike (28mm tires, lowest gear is 30.6 gear inches).

If I was going to do a fully supported trip like Ragbrai, I would use the rando bike or road bike since all I have to carry each day is lunch and water. The rando bike is built for endurance in all types of weather on pavement, has dyno powered lights and fenders, etc. The road bike is faster, I can fit temporary partial fenders to it and at this time it has dyno-powered lights, but most people think of a road bike as being built for speed without extras like fenders and if it has lights the lights are powered by batteries.

Don't get hung up on terminology, there is a range of bike capabilities, weights, etc. And as described above, my bikes for different purposes range from 28mm to 57mm tires. Decades ago I used a road bike with tubular tires, but that is for racers and I was not a racer. Thus, I consider 28mm tires to be skinny, but I know people that consider 28mm to be extra wide. My point is that it is not black or white, it is a wide range of grays.

When people think about touring in the old days, I assume they are talking about pre-internet, pre-GPS. Back then where you went was largely based on your navigation equipment (map and compass) and your map was probably a state highway map. Rail trails were either quite new or did not exist. Lots of gravel roads in rural farm country, but you rarely saw a bike on farm roads. And if there were bike trails, any information you could obtain on those trails was probably mailed to you, after you called someone and requested it on a phone that was wired to the wall.
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Old 02-28-24, 05:07 AM
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I tour mainly on paved roads on 32mm tires (gator hardshells). They do fine on canal towpaths, but not on stony offroad tacks.
I actually prefer a harsher ride, so I pump them to 7 bars.

I even toured for many years on 28mm tires.
I tried touring on Crete on 26 x 2,1 inch tires on an 80’s mountain bike. Same gear, but it felt like a tractor to be honest. I experimented with 4 panniers as well, just because, but nah, unless I need that extra volume someday, I prefer my drop bar set up.



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Old 02-28-24, 05:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN

When people think about touring in the old days, I assume they are talking about pre-internet, pre-GPS. Back then where you went was largely based on your navigation equipment (map and compass) and your map was probably a state highway
Great post T in Msn 👍
Yes, this is the way we used to do it. We could even stop and asked locals for directions!! 😳 IKR!

I’ve gone back to paper maps. I find even a 1:500 000 puts me on better roads than gps. But try telling that to them young ’uns!
Compass, yes, but often the sun was good enough.
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Old 02-28-24, 06:32 AM
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Originally Posted by imi
Great post T in Msn 👍
Yes, this is the way we used to do it. We could even stop and asked locals for directions!! 😳 IKR!

I’ve gone back to paper maps. I find even a 1:500 000 puts me on better roads than gps. But try telling that to them young ’uns!
Compass, yes, but often the sun was good enough.
I think GPS units use a government hierarchy in choosing roads. On my Canadian Maritimes tour, I was not following established bike routes, pretty much deciding where I wanted to go and going there. There were a few times that my GPS wanted me to do about 30km, bypassing a direct local road with good pavement that was half the distance. My phone mapping app agreed with my GPS. But my paper map was very clear, the local road looked best. But it was not a national highway or state highway, it was just a local road. I took the local road, saved me maybe an hour and the pavement was quite smooth.

There were a couple of other times on that tour where my GPS kept trying to put me on busier roads that had a greater distance. Somehow in the route choosing process it sometimes got it wrong. But it never tried to put me on a local road where a state or national highway was better, it appeared to avoid the local roads.

When I am out there and if I did not like a pre-planned route that I made at home, I still use the GPS first, but I always look at the paper map to see if that really makes sense. I am planning a tour for early summer, there is about 100 miles (150km) that is on roads, not a common bike route. There was nothing on Ride With GPS suggesting any routing. So I just picked out local roads that did not look too busy on Google maps and tried to create a GPS route to follow later. And if it does not look right when I am standing on the ground with a paper map in hand, I will do what makes sense at that moment.
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Old 02-28-24, 07:29 AM
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Originally Posted by mams99
That is lovely. Could be about me - a year ago I was less overweight and more fit. And until a few years ago, I hadn't ridden at all since I was a teen. But I do like camping and picnics and that type of discomfort.

I'll look into that book. Sounds like I need it.
I bought the book last night. It will be delivered in a week or so. Thanks!
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Old 02-28-24, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
Touring is a broad term, that ranges from vehicle supported rides like Ragbrai where your luggage is hauled for you, but you are on your own for putting your tent up. I have done two trips in Europe that are even more towards the non-self-supported concept, those trips were on a bike that was provided, along with guide and provided indoor lodging. The business that did that called that touring, I refer to it as a trip.

On the other extreme I have done a couple trips where I had to carry more than a week of food because it was so remote, one of those trips I started out by carrying two and a half weeks of food on my bike.

So, you are asking about tires and type of bikes. I have three touring bikes that I use for tours that involve camping gear on the bike. I built up all three bikes from parts, but as a former bike mechanic I had the knowledge of how to do that, most people buy a touring bike off the rack:
.
  • Light touring bike has 35 or 37mm tires on it. I use that bike where almost the entire route is paved and grocery stores are frequent enough that I expect to never need to carry more than about five days of food. Lowest gear is 20.7 gear inches.
  • Medium touring bike, I use 40 or 50mm wide tires on this bike, works well on pavement but also works well on rail trails. Lowest gear is 19.3 gear inches.
  • Heavy touring bike, this is the bike I use for deeply remote areas, have always used 57mm wide tires on it. But the tires I use not only have big knobs, but they also roll well on pavement. Lowest gear 16.2 gear inches.
If I was going to do a credit card tour (no camping gear), it likely would all be on pavement. And with no camping gear, there is no reason to need a bike built to carry much weight. I would either use my randonneuring bike (32mm tires, lowest gear is 25.1 gear inches) or my road bike (28mm tires, lowest gear is 30.6 gear inches).

If I was going to do a fully supported trip like Ragbrai, I would use the rando bike or road bike since all I have to carry each day is lunch and water. The rando bike is built for endurance in all types of weather on pavement, has dyno powered lights and fenders, etc. The road bike is faster, I can fit temporary partial fenders to it and at this time it has dyno-powered lights, but most people think of a road bike as being built for speed without extras like fenders and if it has lights the lights are powered by batteries.

Don't get hung up on terminology, there is a range of bike capabilities, weights, etc. And as described above, my bikes for different purposes range from 28mm to 57mm tires. Decades ago I used a road bike with tubular tires, but that is for racers and I was not a racer. Thus, I consider 28mm tires to be skinny, but I know people that consider 28mm to be extra wide. My point is that it is not black or white, it is a wide range of grays.

When people think about touring in the old days, I assume they are talking about pre-internet, pre-GPS. Back then where you went was largely based on your navigation equipment (map and compass) and your map was probably a state highway map. Rail trails were either quite new or did not exist. Lots of gravel roads in rural farm country, but you rarely saw a bike on farm roads. And if there were bike trails, any information you could obtain on those trails was probably mailed to you, after you called someone and requested it on a phone that was wired to the wall.
This was also incredibly helpful. And it does make sense that riding has changed A LOT over the last few decades - as have bikes.
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Old 02-28-24, 07:56 AM
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Originally Posted by imi
Great post T in Msn 👍
Yes, this is the way we used to do it. We could even stop and asked locals for directions!! 😳 IKR!

I’ve gone back to paper maps. I find even a 1:500 000 puts me on better roads than gps. But try telling that to them young ’uns!
Compass, yes, but often the sun was good enough.

I would want to have some paper maps for back up or even more info for the route. I love GPS, but it's a PITA for getting around even my small town in a sensible way sometimes.
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Old 02-28-24, 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
I think GPS units use a government hierarchy in choosing roads. On my Canadian Maritimes tour, I was not following established bike routes, pretty much deciding where I wanted to go and going there. There were a few times that my GPS wanted me to do about 30km, bypassing a direct local road with good pavement that was half the distance. My phone mapping app agreed with my GPS. But my paper map was very clear, the local road looked best. But it was not a national highway or state highway, it was just a local road. I took the local road, saved me maybe an hour and the pavement was quite smooth.
I think it’s more a “Google” hierarchy than a governmental one. In other words, the routing is dependent on the application that the GPS unit uses for its base maps and the algorithm that is used for determining “bicycle friendly” vs a vehicle route. Ride with GPS and Google Maps are well known for taking us cyclists on flights of fancy. My personal favorite was when Google Maps wanted to put me on a ridge line above the Delaware River when a perfectly nice “federal road” hugged the river bank. I could go ride up and down a hundred hills or just follow the water.

There were a couple of other times on that tour where my GPS kept trying to put me on busier roads that had a greater distance. Somehow in the route choosing process it sometimes got it wrong. But it never tried to put me on a local road where a state or national highway was better, it appeared to avoid the local roads.
I suspect that you have a setting wrong in the software. Car mode vs bicycle mode, perhaps?

​​​​​​​When I am out there and if I did not like a pre-planned route that I made at home, I still use the GPS first, but I always look at the paper map to see if that really makes sense. I am planning a tour for early summer, there is about 100 miles (150km) that is on roads, not a common bike route. There was nothing on Ride With GPS suggesting any routing. So I just picked out local roads that did not look too busy on Google maps and tried to create a GPS route to follow later. And if it does not look right when I am standing on the ground with a paper map in hand, I will do what makes sense at that moment.
I don’t bother with paper any more. Nor do I really “plan” a route other than having a general idea of where I’m going. I plan on a day to day basis based on where I’m staying for that particular night. The on-line maps are good enough to see what I roads are alternatives if I need one.

I actually have kind of the opposite problem with Ride With GPS as it keeps trying to send me off on to bike routes that are inappropriate. Had that problem in Michigan two years ago. The Ride With GPS kept wanting me to off onto the deeply sandy Trout Lake/St Ignace Trail in the UP. Three quarters of a mile of that was enough to make me follow the adjacent roadway.
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Old 02-28-24, 08:15 AM
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mams, all of the regulars who have chimed in here have lots of bike touring experience as you can see, and have given great advice.
Here is another similar opinion from another old guy and his wife who still like bike touring--we both have Surly Trolls, basically an Ogre but with smaller wheels. The great thing with your Ogre is that you can easily put on a nice rolling narrower tire and your bike will be great on pavement. Sure it weighs more than a road bike, but if you are comfortable on the bike and like my wife, enjoys the stableness and tough frame of a Troll/Ogre, then heck, just use it but with some different tires.

A good tire in the 40mm range will roll along really nicely, and not really be any slower than what you have in your head as a "skinny tire" bike.
Again, yes your Ogre will weigh more than a road bike, but it will also be more comfortable for you (IF your bike fits your well etc etc and you know from experience that you can ride it for 3, 4, 5 hrs with breaks in a day)
In the end, you need to put in the miles and hours riding to get "touring fit" or thereabouts.

what tires do you have on the Ogre presently?
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Old 02-28-24, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by djb
mams, all of the regulars who have chimed in here have lots of bike touring experience as you can see, and have given great advice.
Here is another similar opinion from another old guy and his wife who still like bike touring--we both have Surly Trolls, basically an Ogre but with smaller wheels. The great thing with your Ogre is that you can easily put on a nice rolling narrower tire and your bike will be great on pavement. Sure it weighs more than a road bike, but if you are comfortable on the bike and like my wife, enjoys the stableness and tough frame of a Troll/Ogre, then heck, just use it but with some different tires.

A good tire in the 40mm range will roll along really nicely, and not really be any slower than what you have in your head as a "skinny tire" bike.
Again, yes your Ogre will weigh more than a road bike, but it will also be more comfortable for you (IF your bike fits your well etc etc and you know from experience that you can ride it for 3, 4, 5 hrs with breaks in a day)
In the end, you need to put in the miles and hours riding to get "touring fit" or thereabouts.

what tires do you have on the Ogre presently?
What's on there is what came with the bike (bought secondhand). I'll try to find a photo of it. Per rec of here (for limestone trails) I was encouraged to get something different, so I bought these tires. I haven't put them on yet because I'm lazy (and I don't have a bike repair stand yet to make it an easier job - yes, I know how to change tires/tubes). I was suggested to get Schwabe Big Ben tires (but I just realized now I got the wrong Size!!!!! - I went back and looked at my order and I ordered 28s for my 29er bike! ACK!)

That would be a PITA to change the tube and tire every time I switch terrain... I suppose I could look into buying a new whole set of tires? (Afraid to look at how much that will cost me - but it's less than a whole new bike (And I suppose I could look secondhand).

Ok... the Surly Ogre as I bought it - (Size small):

Photo from seller

photo from seller

my photo from this fall

Last edited by mams99; 02-28-24 at 08:37 AM.
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Old 02-28-24, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by mams99
But is that what most people did in the earlier days of touring? or was it also on dirt trails?
Thomas Stevens - first person to cycle across the USA - rode about 1/3 on dirt roads, 1/3 on railway tracks (yep!) and pushed his bike on rough trails and through mud and sand about 1/3 of the way. Welcome to 1884!

I guess I've just always felt that if I were on gravel or crushed limestone, I would feel more secure on something like the Ogre.
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Old 02-28-24, 09:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Small cog
"When she resolved to cycle round the world, Mustoe was 54, somewhat overweight and unfit, and without any idea of how to mend a puncture. She had not ridden a bike for 30 years, wobbled when she tried again, and she hated camping, picnics and discomfort."
Here's a tip for anyone who wants to have their cycle travelogue published: start with "I hadn't ridden in XX years, I was out of shape, I had never ridden more than X miles/kilometers on a single ride, and I had no idea what I was doing." Publishers love that! Probably 2/3rds of the cycle travelogues I have begin exactly that way.
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Old 02-28-24, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by tcs
Here's a tip for anyone who wants to have their cycle travelogue published: start with "I hadn't ridden in XX years, I was out of shape, I had never ridden more than X miles/kilometers on a single ride, and I had no idea what I was doing." Publishers love that! Probably 2/3rds of the cycle travelogues I have begin exactly that way.
And it is never true?
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Old 02-28-24, 12:23 PM
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Of course ride the Ogre, that's as perfect as it gets for someone like Mams. The important thing is to DO MILES, like 60 at least on weekends. Wouldn't hurt to go smaller on the tires, but cranks might drag more. And rail trails are the most suited for beginner practice away from trucks.
IMO bush trails among trees and bugs would be so BORING and poor for getting food as well. Any road shoulder is better than none.
Me, I ride the opposite, all motels, big or small cities, big roads half the time. Cost was a bit much in 2018, now it's crazy. I stayed at relatives 7 nights. Some are adept at getting stays at free warm showers guest homes, I never tried. But I did accept one offer for supper, in a small town in BC, they just love talking to strangers. LOL. Vietnam is still fun and cheap. Last time I was in a tent was on car trips in 1986.
I went to several museums and actually like looking at homes, buildings, flower gardens, etc. Same as my car trips actually. I designed my bike to carry ALL the stuff in my suitcase as well.

As for touring in the earlier times like Centennial 1976, the vast majority were on skinny 27 x 1 1/8" tires on 10 speeds. I do fine on 700 x 36c, AVOIDING gravel. Both my bikes from 1973 had skinny tires, even the 3 speed CCM.
Now it seems like 60%+ prefer gravel on rides like the Great Divide and Baja, Thailand, Laos. Crunching and bouncing all day is torture, IMO. Utah is the place it would be great for scenery.
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Old 02-28-24, 01:13 PM
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Originally Posted by mams99
I plan to do Ragbrai next year (I hope - we'll see - taking care of a person with dementia) and almost everyone uses road bikes and few people carry their stuff. Of course, this all comes with a cost for the event to do that. So, I'm thinking of getting a road bike (secondhand) for that. Taking the Surly would be a lot of extra weight and beefiness. Maybe that would feel AWFUL?
RAGBRAI sees ALL types of bikes. People bring fat tires, full suspension mountain bikes, unicycles, roller blades, and all sorts of other things. My favorite (back in the day) were a pair of tadpole trikes that each had a mast and a sail. Wind-powered riding. Last year one guy rode the 500 miles facing backwards, looking over his shoulder. Another guy stacked a pair of frames vertically and rode 4' higher than everyone else.

If you're comfortable with your Surly, it will handle the ride just fine. It's not a speed race, it's a festival parade. Overall average is less than 7MPH, so a decent cyclist has a lot of leisure time hanging out and enjoying the many parties. My 8 year old rode every day last year and plans to ride again this year.

Bottom line - any bike you can comfortably ride 80 miles on within 12 hours is just fine for RAGBRAI.
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Old 02-28-24, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by mams99
What's on there is what came with the bike (bought secondhand). I'll try to find a photo of it. Per rec of here (for limestone trails) I was encouraged to get something different, so I bought these tires. I haven't put them on yet because I'm lazy (and I don't have a bike repair stand yet to make it an easier job - yes, I know how to change tires/tubes). I was suggested to get Schwabe Big Ben tires (but I just realized now I got the wrong Size!!!!! - I went back and looked at my order and I ordered 28s for my 29er bike! ACK!)
29" MTB and 28" road tires use the same rim diameter (622mm). Your 28" tires should fit just fine on that bike. If you got 28x2.00 (700x50 or 50-622), you probably won't even notice the 0.1" width difference compared to your existing 29x2.1 tires (though the way the tire rolls should feel quite a bit smoother). If you got a 28x1.50 (700x38 or 40-622), that's well within the range of common tire sizes for RAGBRAI. Either way, you would be fine.

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Old 02-28-24, 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by campfire
29" MTB and 28" road tires use the same rim diameter (622mm). Your 28" tires should fit just fine on that bike. If you got 28x2.00 (700x50 or 50-622), you probably won't even notice the 0.1" width difference compared to your existing 29x2.1 tires (though the way the tire rolls should feel quite a bit smoother). If you got a 28x1.50 (700x38 or 40-622), that's well within the range of common tire sizes for RAGBRAI. Either way, you would be fine.
Unless the order is for 28x1½ (635mm)!
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