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Am I biting off more than I can chew...

Old 03-17-08, 02:15 AM
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Am I biting off more than I can chew...

Well this is my first post here since stumbling on this wonderful wealth of information here. So Hi everyone!

I am thinking about planning about a 2,000+ mile tour, and I am worried I might be undertaking something too complicated for me being a first timer. I have not done a serious tour before, but I don't plan on going on this tour until early August (about 5 months) and am hoping I can gain the amount of knowledge I need before I attempt to set out.

Well, that brings me to my question. Is 2,000 mile tour, something a 1st timer can accomplish? Would creating my own route increase the difficultly out of my league? Would that 4-5 months of training give me enough experience to do this? What is (very rougly) the length of time I would be looking at?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 03-17-08, 02:30 AM
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Yes. I did my first-ever tour over 3,150km from Perth to Adelaide in Australia and lived to tell all about it. I had been riding bicycles for only four of five months beforehand. The distance you intend to travel is slightly longer than mine was, and it took me 37 days. So add another week or so, and you have a ballpark figure to work with. It also depends on two other factors -- your budget and how you intend to tour. With the latter, for example, do you intend to ride like hell every day with big distances in mind? Or do you want to stop a while and sample whatever takes your fancy?

I think it is fair to say that the internet has spoiled the discovery process for a lot of people. While research is good, and I do my own (I did a lot of research on the archives of a newspaper where I worked prior to my first big trip), the self-discovery aspect seems to be lost on many. That's why I and others suggest you get out there early in your planning and do a few weekend trips away with your bike, using the type of accommodation you plan on the big trip, and acquiring what you need as you discover what would make you trip more enjoyable.

So in a nutshell, if you have your wits about you, and the right attitude, you can be well equipped to handle most tours.

Disclaimer: There have been some start threads on here whose motivations for cycle-touring have been questionable from the outset, and their destinations, taking into account cycling experience, gender, ambition and maturity, have been patently inappropriate. So, if you are planning a cycle-touring trip into an area of significant conflict, or remoteness without the requisite knowledge and survival skills, then the answer would be... no.
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Old 03-17-08, 02:39 AM
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Originally Posted by hobotime
Well this is my first post here since stumbling on this wonderful wealth of information here. So Hi everyone!

I am thinking about planning about a 2,000+ mile tour, and I am worried I might be undertaking something too complicated for me being a first timer. I have not done a serious tour before, but I don't plan on going on this tour until early August (about 5 months) and am hoping I can gain the amount of knowledge I need before I attempt to set out.

Well, that brings me to my question. Is 2,000 mile tour, something a 1st timer can accomplish? Would creating my own route increase the difficultly out of my league? Would that 4-5 months of training give me enough experience to do this? What is (very rougly) the length of time I would be looking at?

Thanks in advance!
Why does the 2,000 miles necessarily have to be a first time effort?

I would have thought the 4-5 months of training would leave ample opportunity for a few weekend tours to ensure you have confidence in your equipment, your ability to handle the bike when fully loaded, and the knowledge of whether the touring experience suits you. Find a local campground, ride to it on a Saturday, then ride home via a different route on the Sunday, and try to replicate the daily distances you'll expect to do on the major tour. That in itself will teach you a lot.
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Old 03-17-08, 02:42 AM
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Yes, it is perfectly doable for a first timer. The only real difference between a 500 mile tour and a 2,000 mile one is you are on the road for longer. Training (just ride your bike as much as you can) and a 2-3 day shake down tour are all good ideas, but they are not that critical. You can just ride yourself fit over the first couple of weeks.
For 2,000 miles at a comfortable pace, with a few rest days, you are probably looking at around 6-7 weeks
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Old 03-17-08, 04:50 AM
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Three of us did a 4,244 mile self supported tour (TransAmerica) as our first tour last summer. We were all experienced campers and outdoor types, but I was the only one who had done any bike related camping and that was just a couple days on the C&O Canal towpath. Suffice it to say we did great and had a wonderful summer.

We started planning only several weeks before leaving and the training the other two did was VERY minimal. One wasn't even a cyclist, and did a handful of 20-31 mile rides in preparation. She was a runner so she was in pretty good shape though. Another had done more cycling, but not lately and she was not particularly in shape. I was a regular cyclist, but didn't do anything specific to train other than having some miles under my belt. We all did fine. in 10 days - 2 weeks the weakest of the group was kicking @ss.

I would say that shakedown cruises might be a good idea but we didn't do any. If you are not experienced at some other form of camping, like backpacking, canoe camping, or something similar you may find the shakedown more important.

As far as planning your own route. I see no reason you couldn't, but if your trip will be in the US, using Adventure Cycling maps simplifies the whole thing greatly. If you pick a popular route you have the advantage of meeting more other cyclists on the same route. Too me this is a big plus.

Where are you thinking of touring?
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Old 03-17-08, 05:04 AM
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Hi,

if you plan an own route it's good for the motivation because you choose your route, sights, spots you want to see. In general 80 km (50 mi) per day is a very good average distance on tour. 80 km you can cycle even without training (at least after the first week). And you have enough time to visit something, go for hike, etc.

Regarding the time: 2000/50 = 40 days

My first tour was with an average of 210 km/day that I could nowadays nobody recomment

Thomas
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Old 03-17-08, 06:37 AM
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You aren't planning on doing the 2000 mile tour till August .... go on a shorter tour or two or three before then. Try out your bicycle and equipment. Get comfortable with touring.
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Old 03-17-08, 06:43 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1

Where are you thinking of touring?
What have roughly decided is starting from my home location in Northwest Indiana and travel to the Chesapeake Bay area (if possible) and back. There really isn't anything specific for me to see in that area other than to see if I can accomplish a tour and visit some of my college buddies. If anyone knows of any sights to checkout on the way, I would appreciate the recommendation.

Thanks for the Adventure Cycling source. I looked at the site earlier, but couldn't make any heads or tails of exactly what was going on. But now I see I could hit up 2 of the bike routes on their map if I so choose.

and I am sorry to be uninformed and all, but what exactly is a shakedown tour? Is that just basically going on a short test run?

Thank you everyone for your input so far. It has really been helpful.
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Old 03-17-08, 06:53 AM
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Originally Posted by hobotime
What have roughly decided is starting from my home location in Northwest Indiana and travel to the Chesapeake Bay area (if possible) and back. There really isn't anything specific for me to see in that area other than to see if I can accomplish a tour and visit some of my college buddies. If anyone knows of any sights to checkout on the way, I would appreciate the recommendation.
If you get near Baltimore, Md let me know. Maybe we can put you up, take you out for a sail on the bay, feed you or something. PM me to exchange email addresses if you want.

Originally Posted by hobotime
and I am sorry to be uninformed and all, but what exactly is a shakedown tour? Is that just basically going on a short test run?
Yes.

Last edited by staehpj1; 03-17-08 at 07:29 AM.
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Old 03-17-08, 07:35 AM
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I just realized that no one mentioned reading journals on the Crazy Guy on a Bike website. It helps to get a feel for what to expect and also is entertaining. Most journals have packing lists and hints about what worked and what didn't.

I will plug mine as a starting point, but there are LOTS or great journals there.
https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/staehling2007
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Old 03-17-08, 10:56 AM
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Sounds like a good ride with the possible exception of the timing if you are camping. Hopefully humidity will be low.
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Old 03-17-08, 11:29 AM
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Without experience, I did trips of 1000 km and 2000 km one summer and then an 8000 km trip the following summer.

The main thing I learned from the first two trips was not to ride on narrow tires and rims (too many flats) and buy a good rack (the first one broke).
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Old 03-17-08, 12:34 PM
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It depends.

You haven't given us much info to go on.
A 2000-mile tour on dirt roads in the Yukon is different than a 2000-mile tour on the TransAm.
A tour in August in southern Arizona is different than a tour around the Great Lakes.
August in the East is hot and humid - but doable. (Saw your later post.)

Then there's you. Although age is not an absolute factor, it's easier if you are younger.
If you are 50+ and out of shape, then I would ask my doctor and/or trainer.
Also, NW Indiana doesn't give you much opportunity to practice climbing mountains.
(If there is a very windy day, practice riding INTO the wind.)

The biggest thing is to allow yourself plenty of time to do the trip.
Do not delude yourself into thinking that you can do a bunch of 100-mile days.
You may be able to do so, but if you don't, you end up playing catch-up -
And that's a bummer on a bike tour - plus it increases your risk of accidents.

I hope you know about the Allegheny Trail and the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal.
They make up an off-road route from Pittsburgh to Washington, DC.
Really sweet!
https://www.atatrail.org/

Then there is the Lincoln Highway -
The old sections across Indiana and Ohio are quite nice with lots of Americana.
https://www.lincolnhighwayoh.com/preface.html


Good luck! - J
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Old 03-17-08, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by hobotime
and I am sorry to be uninformed and all, but what exactly is a shakedown tour? Is that just basically going on a short test run?
Yes, a shakedown tour is heading out on a tour for a weekend or long weekend or something like that to test your equipment and set up.

In your case, you've got time to head out on a weekend tour soon, and then maybe a week-long tour later in the summer before you embark on your 2000 mile tour. You could save yourself a lot of trouble by doing these shorter tours in advance to the big one.
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Old 03-17-08, 05:29 PM
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You don't say anything about how old you are? I'll assume you are young (under 25, maybe even under 18). I passed through northwestern Indiana last summer on my way between Chicago and New York. I found that Indiana and Ohio were simple for routing. At times, you could ride 10-20 miles on back roads with very few cars passing you, through rural fields. Once I got to the Appalachians and Alleghenies, that changed. I didn't even buy a map for my trip. I used Google maps, printing them out from the Internet at the desired scale.

In Pennsylvania, there are statewide bicycle routes, but except for some stretches that are off-road rail trails, they are mostly on highways, including somewhat major highways like U.S. 6. I crossed the northern part of the state mostly on that route. I would rather be on my own track, but that's often not possible in the USA. Psychologically, it's nice to have those route signs next to you, because it tells the cars and SUVs that you have a right to be there.

I mostly encounter complete disbelief and amazement from people my own age, and even a lot younger. Most Americans have not the slightest notion that world travel on a bicycle is possible and that ordinary people can do it. Good luck on your trip.

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Old 03-18-08, 12:07 AM
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You don't say anything about how old you are?
I will be 22 years old when I hope to partake on the tour, so I will hopefully use my youth to rebound fast . Thanks for reminding me that Indiana and Ohio are pretty flat. Now I am getting a little anxious about how am I going to deal with a real mountain (crossing the Appalachians). I am sure when I get some time finally to check out some links here, they will offer some advice.

I have a couple concerns about camping. If you don't make it to a campsite and do not feel like biking all night, do you just find a nice empty spot and setup? Is that even a legal thing to do? That is one of my biggest concerns next to finding places to eat, but I guess that is what all the pre-planning is for.

Again, Thank you all for the words of wisdom and support.
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Old 03-18-08, 08:45 AM
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It's perfectly doable, my first tour was a 7,500 mile solo tour
Just make sure to do your homework before setting out
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Old 03-18-08, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by hobotime
I have a couple concerns about camping. If you don't make it to a campsite and do not feel like biking all night, do you just find a nice empty spot and setup? Is that even a legal thing to do? That is one of my biggest concerns next to finding places to eat, but I guess that is what all the pre-planning is for.
Search for the term "stealth camping". For instance, this thread
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Old 03-18-08, 10:46 AM
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just bloody go
you'll live
if you don't make it, you'll be a better man anyway.
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Old 03-18-08, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by hobotime
I will be 22 years old when I hope to partake on the tour, so I will hopefully use my youth to rebound fast . Thanks for reminding me that Indiana and Ohio are pretty flat. Now I am getting a little anxious about how am I going to deal with a real mountain (crossing the Appalachians). I am sure when I get some time finally to check out some links here, they will offer some advice.
You'll make it. The worst thing you could have to do is walk your bike up a hill. The rail trails in the area southeast of Pittsburgh, should you choose to take one of them, are graded with very gentle inclines, because the old steam engines that trains used to run on could not take the overheating that a steep incline would have required. I crossed Pennsylvania last summer (age 50) without having to walk the bike. If you ever make it to Europe on a bike, you may notice how graded their highways are. They have mountain passes, but cars use smaller and more efficient engines, so they don't force you into steep inclines. Furthermore, the older roads were built for horse-drawn carriages. So their mountain passes are very doable on a loaded bike.

Originally Posted by hobotime
I have a couple concerns about camping. If you don't make it to a campsite and do not feel like biking all night, do you just find a nice empty spot and setup? Is that even a legal thing to do? That is one of my biggest concerns next to finding places to eat, but I guess that is what all the pre-planning is for.
It's not legal, but you'll never get caught. Ask somebody for permission, if you can. Dogs and gun owners are more of a concern, to me, than the police. Think about not leaving a trace. (Even when you are camping legally, it's the right thing to do.) No fires, obviously.

The biggest problem in finding places to eat in the USA, I find, is finding food that I want to eat. In the USA, it's all wastefully packaged, processed food. I like finding the occasional "Mom's Cafe" along the roadsides. I bet West Virginia would be good for that kind of food.

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