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considering touring -- Need Help!

Old 03-17-08, 12:35 AM
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how bad does it get in mid-june?
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Old 03-17-08, 12:38 AM
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Originally Posted by cupcrazy4
how bad does it get in mid-june?
I can't imagine it's any better. From friends who live there I understand it's always very windy.

Did you read the link I posted? It's about touring in Iceland in June. Check out what he says about the wind; he was only blown off the road once!
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Old 03-17-08, 01:07 AM
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I saw the 'submission date' was Feb 11 and assumed it was then... crap. Maybe I'll try and convince my friends to tour central europe instead--Icelandic weather sounds windy, cold, and rainy (not how I want to spend my summer vacation...) The countryside does sound spectacular, though.
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Old 03-17-08, 01:23 AM
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I am vicariously enjoying your planning. I am preparing myself for a summer in eastern Europe.

Now that I know you are 17 ... in late adolescence you are at that perfect stage in life to develop lifelong benefits of exercise. You are strong and fast, but you may not yet have that aerobic capacity. I remember running my first marathon at 19 and having some 50-year-olds pass me, even though I started strong.

Don't worry about making mistakes in training, because you are so able to recover quickly. If you over-exert yourself, take a day off. Not sure why you need to be used to riding a loaded bike. What better place to get used to it than on the first day of your tour, on the empty roads of Iceland.

The wind is unbelievable at times on the polar and Atlantic fringes of western Europe, but it is often with you rather than against you. Bring a lightweight windbreaker shell. I have an orange, Goretex rain jacket that is longer in the back, for cycling. Other than that, you really don't need to worry a lot about having the right gear. For biking, I like all synthetics, including underwear and sox, because they are easy to wash and dry.

I was similar in height and weight when i was 17 (now I weigh 180 lbs). Bike experts have always tried to sell me a bit shorter bike than I find comfortable. I know that I like a taller frame than I am supposed to, and perhaps a bit higher, to accommodate longer cranks or longer shoes. An advantage of buying a new bike is, at least you can buy to fit. For a standard touring bike like the Novara from REI (which would be a good one), you probably have 4 sizes to choose from, and you can pick the largest. I now own a bike that was fitted to me, for my preferences. I had them build me a frame as if I weighed more than I actually do, in order to get a stiffer frame, because that's just what I wanted. As a touring cyclist with long legs, you may need the tallest frame possible to have enough clearance between your heels and the panniers.

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Old 03-17-08, 01:32 AM
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Originally Posted by cupcrazy4
I saw the 'submission date' was Feb 11 and assumed it was then... crap. Maybe I'll try and convince my friends to tour central europe instead--Icelandic weather sounds windy, cold, and rainy (not how I want to spend my summer vacation...) The countryside does sound spectacular, though.
I can't speak firsthand about Iceland, but I have a friend who has been there. Iceland in June may still be windy and rainy, but it will be spectacular, and it will never really get dark.

Absolutely anywhere you go in Europe in the month of June will be worth your while! A bit rainier, but all the hostels and places to camp are open, without the crowds. I have been to the Lofoten Islands in Norway (https://www.lofoten-info.no/), which are very similar to Iceland.

Even in the summer, you may see patches of snow a few hundred meters up, but at sea level it is always about 50F (10C), and when the sun comes out and you sit in a sheltered spot, you feel like it is about 68F (20C). In Iceland there are a lot of hot springs and volcanic scenery.

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Old 03-17-08, 05:05 AM
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Originally Posted by xiaodidi
Bibs !?!?

Jeez. What is going on in here ?
I don't get that one either. Seems like bibs would be a PITA on tour.

I never bought into the bib thing for road riding and I think they are less likely to be the best answer for touring. I imagine they are great for guys with big bellies and guys that are too skinny to keep their shorts up

I don't recall seeing another rider on the TA wearing bibs and we met scores of riders. It is possible that I didn't notice or forgot one or two, but if there were any they were certainly in the minority.

Bottom line... bibs may be the choice for a few, but are not the norm on tour. If you find them a lot more comfortable, go for it, but don't get the idea that you need to.
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Old 03-17-08, 05:36 AM
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Cupcrazy4,

Whatever you do, don't let anyone discourage you from going! It sounds like a ball, and it definitely sounds like you have the resources to make it work. You can easily get a very worthy touring/all around bike for that kind of money. Just get the bike, get it fit up for you(that is veeeeery important), and ride it. Sure, the trip sounds like a challenge, but that's the fun! Especially when you're with a bunch of others. Not to cliche NIKE, but "JUST DO IT!".
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Old 03-17-08, 05:54 AM
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I have to be honest -I wanted to tour Iceland as well, but the weather did put me off plus a few reports of road conditions. Cycling in the rain/sleet/wind just isn't fun to me.

BUT: you do the research and find out what you think. I'd try to work out what would make a difference to you, e.g. weather, scenery, road conditions, conveniences, etc. and see if you can all come to a consensus as to what is the best place to tour. I'd definitely advocate checking things out on the web first to get an idea as to what you are going to expect.

I also have to say that the "worst" cycle tour for me was an abandoned Nova Scotia tour; it was really windy, rainy and sleety and we just gave up. But we did still have a good time doing it after all that ("God Bless Alexander Keith" became our favourite phrase of the evening) just that we didn't cycle more than 35 miles total which was disappointing.

Originally Posted by cupcrazy4
how bad does it get in mid-june?
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Old 03-17-08, 08:59 AM
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Bibs rule!!!

My waist is about average (34) and I still find elastic waist bands uncomfortable. One ride with bibs was all it took to convince me that they are the way to go. IMO the added comfort, especially for day-after-day of long rides, is worth the inconveniences.

By the way, if you saw me riding around you'd never know I was wearing bibs unless I took off my shirt. The idea is to wear the bib UNDER your shirt, although over a base layer.
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Old 03-17-08, 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe
Bibs rule!!!
I'm glad they work for you. I personally will stick with shorts, I don't find much difference in comfort and find bibs inconvenient. I am definitely not knocking bibs though, I just consider them to not be that common of a choice for touring and wouldn't particularly recommend them to a beginning tourist.

Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe
By the way, if you saw me riding around you'd never know I was wearing bibs unless I took off my shirt. The idea is to wear the bib UNDER your shirt, although over a base layer.
Actually I think that I would have often noticed if many of the folks we met were wearing them. Since it was 93-106F for much of the trip most riders would have only had a jersey on over them and they would show through. I do for example notice that a lot of the road racers around here do wear them as do a lot of the old fat guys on road bikes.

BTW: I am not knocking old fat guys on road bikes. By some people's standards I could maybe fall in that group
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Old 03-17-08, 09:27 AM
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I'm surprised that nobody has suggested a used 80's mountain bike. You can find them pretty inexpensively, and still have money for panniers, etc and any upgrades you want. (Probably new brake pads and a saddle.) And 26" knobby tires handle more varied terrain than a stock touring bike will. If you've never worked on a bike before, find a good bike shop. That actually might be your very first priority.

Don't skimp on the rack.I have a set of Tubus racks, but you can get good racks for much less money.

Ortleib pannniers are awesome. I've only had mine for a week, and ridden with them once, but they seem pretty durable, waterproof, and light.
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Old 03-17-08, 10:11 AM
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Hi,

if it's windy and raining - That's your perfect wheater for training then cycle 120 km against the wind.

The ring-road in Iceland is normally fine. Most is paved, or a very smooth gravel surface. It can only be difficult if a the road is under construktion. If you can't make the distance - no problem. There is a bus. you can hop on and off and pay it with credit card (no cash needed). So a "normal" touring bike should. It will be different if go to the Highland.

Regarding training in general. I made many tours totally untrained (>100km/day). More mental strength than physical strength is needed - specially in Iceland where the wheather can be unstable. It's important that you frequently cycle (2-3 times a week) and cycle 2-3 time longer as your average distance (I would recommend 150 km / 100 mi)

I don't care about wind - on some measurement station it a strength of 5-8 was displayed. And as always: from the head. But may be you have tail wind. Wind and Weather you can't be planned. So see my opening sentence...

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Old 03-17-08, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by neilfein
I'm surprised that nobody has suggested a used 80's mountain bike. You can find them pretty inexpensively, and still have money for panniers, etc and any upgrades you want. (Probably new brake pads and a saddle.) And 26" knobby tires handle more varied terrain than a stock touring bike will. If you've never worked on a bike before, find a good bike shop. That actually might be your very first priority.
Yeh, that's the truth for sure. I've got an old Raleigh mountain bike from the 80s that I ride in the winter. No suspension, steel frame, 26" wheels, mountain triple, fenders. If I didn't have my Trek 520 to tour on, I'd tour on that old Raleigh in a heartbeat. I've got it fit up perfectly for me. And I think I paid 100$ for it a few years back.
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Old 03-17-08, 01:12 PM
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I'll definitely shop around for some used bikes. I'm just realizing how much the camping gear is going to cost me, so a used bike might make more sense. I'm heading over to my LBS today to test drive their Surly LHT.

Do you think I need to invest in some hiking/cycling shoes, or are regular running shoes ok? And what about a water filter? Do you think I'll really need one...?

So I found out it'll cost me $200 to ship my bike there and back. For those with experience in flying bikes to a destination, what do you do when you get there? Our group plans on biking from the airport into Reykjavik (apparently 40km) but my bike will be in pieces... Where do you put it together? Do you just plop down in a corner somewhere in the airport and unpack and assemble?

thanks for all the great advice, I really appreciate it. Oh, and my friends just booked their tickets to Iceland today. I guess there's no talking them out of it.
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Old 03-17-08, 01:48 PM
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Hey CupCrazy, why don't you do a bit of research before you ask every question. Everything has been covered in the forums. In case it ain't enough, go to crazyguyonabike.com to read miliions of miles worth of touring.
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Old 03-17-08, 01:52 PM
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xiaodidi, you have a good point, but I think the OP is just getting past the point of figuring out what questions he needs to ask.

cupcrazy, if you're gonna stick with platform pedals (as opossed to clipless pedals), you can't beat a pair of hiking shoes for cycling. Sneakers are fine, but you don't have as good a grip on the pedals as you would with a shoe with some kind of tread on the front of the sole.

That said, you can cycle in work boots or sandals if you like, it's all in what works for you.
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Old 03-17-08, 04:05 PM
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Originally Posted by neilfein
I'm surprised that nobody has suggested a used 80's mountain bike. You can find them pretty inexpensively, and still have money for panniers, etc and any upgrades you want....
Y'know, last year I bought a used 80s road bike -- not for touring though. I've already put a fair amount of money and work into it -- new chain, new chainrings, upgrade from 6- to 7-speed freewheel, repack the BB -- only to find that the rims are not "hook" style and can't use folding tires. Many components are not easy to get, either -- e.g. almost no one has a 7-speed freewheel sitting around. At this point, I'm starting to conclude that I would've been better off spending the same amount of money on a brand-new bike with modern components.

So, are 80s MTB's the same way? Can you use modern and readily-available MTB parts, and things like folding tires, on the older bikes?
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Old 03-17-08, 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by xiaodidi
Hey CupCrazy, why don't you do a bit of research before you ask every question. Everything has been covered in the forums. In case it ain't enough, go to crazyguyonabike.com to read miliions of miles worth of touring.
xiaodidi,

I see your point here, but he's a kid, and we know who he is and where he is going now. There are plenty of us willing to answer these questions too, and Iceland is very unique as a place. A lot of us just wish our own children (or nieces, nephews, etc.) cared about this. You can slog through a lot of old forums, but you don't know where the riders were going, who the answers were from.

I'm all for "recovering" older bikes or frames and restoring them with parts. You end up with a great bike too, but I'm not sure it's the best way to get ready for a trip in a few months. At best, you might save a few hundred dollars. I prefer the recovered older bikes for day-to-day use around the city, because as long as you have a lock, the professional thieves are only after new-looking bikes they can quickly fence.

I would recommend the new bike on sale, a Novara Randonee, Trek 520, Surly LHT, or something like that. It will surely come in handy for many future trips. You will end up with something that doesn't break down on you, and that can fit all the tires and panniers you want to carry.

Sadly, the high cost of shipping a bike to Europe is new. In the 1980s, it was often free, a part of your luggage. But that increase in shipping has come at the same time as airlines have deregulated and become more competitive, and as ticket sales and pricing has moved from expensive brokerages to the Internet, so you may pay less now, adjusted for inflation, even with the higher cost of fuel.

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Old 03-17-08, 08:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe
Y'know, last year I bought a used 80s road bike -- not for touring though. I've already put a fair amount of money and work into it -- new chain, new chainrings, upgrade from 6- to 7-speed freewheel, repack the BB -- only to find that the rims are not "hook" style and can't use folding tires. Many components are not easy to get, either -- e.g. almost no one has a 7-speed freewheel sitting around. At this point, I'm starting to conclude that I would've been better off spending the same amount of money on a brand-new bike with modern components.

So, are 80s MTB's the same way? Can you use modern and readily-available MTB parts, and things like folding tires, on the older bikes?
Unfortunately, you're dead on with this. I'm looking to replace my drivetrain, and I'm facing the decision of whether to scrounge around for 6-speed components or upgrade to 7 and spend the extra $$$ for new shifters and a new deraileur. Bleagh.
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Old 03-18-08, 01:49 AM
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Hi,

a water filter is worldwide never needed (except to save some money to avoid paying for bottled water).
And especially not in Iceland. There is a lot of water and all is drinkable. Even so much that they transport it an US-american soft drink company with tankers

You'll arrive in Keflavik. There is a camping place close to the airport that even has a shuttle service.
There you can assemble your bike, store your packing material for bike, get gas and food from other travellers which leave the country.

I would recommend cycling shoe. The have a hard sole so they are good for hiking also.

I hope this helps a bit.

Thomas
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Old 03-18-08, 05:36 AM
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Hey Cupcrazy (OP), where do you live?
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Old 03-18-08, 05:52 AM
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Another reply to confirm that. It's sometimes very tempting to get that old 1980's/early 1990's bike, but if you look at it in terms of just being able to use the frame, things get very expensive very quickly (unless you have spare parts hanging around and you do your own mechanicking).

Whilst I love recycling old bikes, if someone with no tools or spare parts buys an old mtb with a worn out drivechain with an intent to tour, I'd say they should look very carefully at a Fuji Touring/Windsor Tourist as the price they'll pay for all the parts and the cost of installing them on that old mtb frame will be so close to the cost of the Fuji/Windsor bikes new.

Incidentally, Nashbar has a couple of 7-speed freewheels under $20.


Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe
Y'know, last year I bought a used 80s road bike -- not for touring though. I've already put a fair amount of money and work into it -- new chain, new chainrings, upgrade from 6- to 7-speed freewheel, repack the BB -- only to find that the rims are not "hook" style and can't use folding tires. Many components are not easy to get, either -- e.g. almost no one has a 7-speed freewheel sitting around. At this point, I'm starting to conclude that I would've been better off spending the same amount of money on a brand-new bike with modern components.

So, are 80s MTB's the same way? Can you use modern and readily-available MTB parts, and things like folding tires, on the older bikes?
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Old 03-18-08, 10:54 AM
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After a lot of online research, planning with my friends, and introspection I've decided I'm not going on the trip. What turned me off was really my friend's attitude-I thought they were serious about biking the whole way, but when I talked to them they'd already bought their tickets without any real planning or consideration for horrible weather or the fact that they had zero touring experience and were setting the bar very high. They also plan on turning around after the first few days if it's too hard and just chilling in Reykjavik for the rest of the time... Also, the potential trip expenses were starting to add up...

But this experience has really opened my eyes to touring and the possibilities it provides. I still plan on buying a touring bike (I'm going test drive the Trek520 and Surly LHT), training, and going on some local 4-5 day tours this summer.

I live in Toronto, Ontario and some books I've borrowed from the library suggest the Niagra Escarpment trail is beautiful.

I really do appreciate all the help and advice you guys have provided me. It's been valuable in my decision making process.
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Old 03-18-08, 01:05 PM
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cupcrazy4 this could be a blessing in disguise you could have gone on that tour and regretted every turn of the pedals for the reasons you stated ,but listen all is not lost plan your own tour or sus out some of the folks on this forum take a look at machka site's this woman is an expert when it comes to touring (sorry machka) and theres load's of other folk who are only to willing to help .i sencerly hope you get that touring bike and travel the planet good luck..
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Old 03-18-08, 02:04 PM
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Originally Posted by cupcrazy4
After a lot of online research, planning with my friends, and introspection I've decided I'm not going on the trip....
Sorry to hear it. It does sound like they are not exactly a forward-thinking bunch.

By the way, if it isn't too far out of your way, you can do the Adirondacks. Adventure Cycling has a map for a loop there, might take you 7-10 days: https://www.adventurecycling.org/rout...ckparkloop.cfm

Either way, have fun....
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