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tour repair musts; poll: Austin to CHI or ATL

Old 12-20-05, 05:11 PM
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tour repair musts; poll: Austin to CHI or ATL

I am considering doing a self-supported tour from Austin to Chicago or Austin to Atlanta, solo. I have never toured before. I am wondering what minimum bike repair/maintenance I should really know how to do before setting off (example: fixing a flat).

Also, anyone have thoughts on which route (AUS-CHI or AUS-ATL) would be more interesting/forgiving?

Thanks!
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Old 12-20-05, 07:01 PM
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You can get by with just knowing how to fix a flat if you make sure your bike is thoroughly checked out beforehand. Make sure you have a good back rim with sufficient number of spokes for touring. New tires also are a good idea.

If you run into these problems here are some duct tape solutions.

1. Broke spoke - if only one, then you can let out the brake until you reach a bike shop, but remember you did this on any downhill sections. Also there is a fiber spoke kit that's pretty simple to use.

2. Snapped derailleur cable - if in the front, manually set the chain in the middle ring and use your rear derailleur - - if in the back (worse) you'll need to tie off the cable to maintain the tension to keep the chain in a middle position which will allow you three speeds based upon the front derailleur.

3. Split sidewall - sometimes even new tires have defects or your brakes rub under weight and the sidewall starts to give out. There's a sidewall kit out there, but a dollar bill folded over twice works just as well.

These are probably three of the most common problems you might encounter with temporary fixes that allow you to get to a bike shop in ten, twenty, or thirty miles. Remember that Performance Bike and other Nashbar can air express stuff to almost anywhere. You don't have to know how to replace a spoke or switch out a cable, but you sure need to know how to fix a flat.

Enjoy your ride.
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Old 12-21-05, 01:00 AM
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Originally Posted by jamawani
You can get by with just knowing how to fix a flat if you make sure your bike is thoroughly checked out beforehand. Make sure you have a good back rim with sufficient number of spokes for touring. New tires also are a good idea.

If you run into these problems here are some duct tape solutions.

1. Broke spoke - if only one, then you can let out the brake until you reach a bike shop, but remember you did this on any downhill sections. Also there is a fiber spoke kit that's pretty simple to use.

2. Snapped derailleur cable - if in the front, manually set the chain in the middle ring and use your rear derailleur - - if in the back (worse) you'll need to tie off the cable to maintain the tension to keep the chain in a middle position which will allow you three speeds based upon the front derailleur.

3. Split sidewall - sometimes even new tires have defects or your brakes rub under weight and the sidewall starts to give out. There's a sidewall kit out there, but a dollar bill folded over twice works just as well.

These are probably three of the most common problems you might encounter with temporary fixes that allow you to get to a bike shop in ten, twenty, or thirty miles. Remember that Performance Bike and other Nashbar can air express stuff to almost anywhere. You don't have to know how to replace a spoke or switch out a cable, but you sure need to know how to fix a flat.

Enjoy your ride.
Equip your bike with good quality handbuilt wheels with butted stainless steel spokes (DT or Wheelsmith) and the chances of a broken spoke will be drastically reduced. Equip the bike with the widest tires you can fit and keep your load as light as you can and the chances of a broken spoke will be reduced even further. Buy a spoke wrench and learn to tighten up loose spokes and true up a wheel and you can go years without a broken spoke.

Start the tour with premium quality stainless steel shifter and brake cables (Shimano XTR & Dura-Ace, Campagnolo) and good quality cable housing and snapped cables won't be an issue. Your brakes and shifters will work better, too. This is one area where spending top dollar just about always saves you money, IME.

Sidewall repair kits cost more than a dollar and don't work as well as dollar bills. Duct tape works well for this, too.

When I trashed a sidewall on my UK tour in 2000, the only US currency I had was $20 bills, so I ended up with a $40 sidewall patch. I was still able to spend the money when I got home, though, and the shopkeeper enjoyed my story about how the bills came to look that way.
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Old 12-21-05, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by bluebird79
Also, anyone have thoughts on which route (AUS-CHI or AUS-ATL) would be more interesting/forgiving?

Thanks!
If you live in Texas (assume so due to starting in Austin), you know the prevailing winds are mostly out of the south/southwest. Depending on the time of year, the wind can be a big help to push you through Texas and Oklahoma. Missouri is quite scenic and if you connect with the Katy Bike trail, it would be fairly flat.

There are several cross-Oklahoma routes due to the annual bike ride FreeWheel. If you come through Oklahoma, I would be happy to tell you areas to avoid (boring) or see (scenic, got to eat here, etc.).

Merry Christmas!
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Old 12-24-05, 07:14 AM
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I'm not sure what distance you are talking about. Anyway, I think you should know how to
- repair a flat/change tyres
- set up brakes/change brake pads
- replace brake- & shifting cables
- adjust shifting

For longer tours you also should learn how to
- recenter wheels
- change spokes
- brake (open/close) the chain

You're always better up to start with new and checked up parts. Good luck for your trip!
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