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Too cowardly to do even a short tour

Old 03-27-09, 10:47 PM
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Too cowardly to do even a short tour

For a few years now I've been thinking of doing a week long tour. I live in Boston, MA, and I've never been to Vermont, so that seems like a good enough destination.

And since I live on the east coast, I have this sense of distance where even 150 miles seems far

I think I would really enjoy something like this... but what keeps me from actually doing it is the weather. I just know that if I go on such a tour I'm going to have at least one day where there's heavy thunderstorms with killer headwinds, and that's going to suck. I also hike a lot, and I've had my fill of days where it's 38 degrees F and raining. You get soaked to the bone and EVERYTHING gets wet and cold. The worst is when you set up camp for the night without really ever getting dry.

If I actually do this short tour, I'll do it in July or something when the temperatures (hopefully) will be pretty warm. It could be a really wonderful experience... Or I could wind up in a ditch on the side of the road, making repairs in a hail storm.

How much of this is just paranoia? I think I should just man up and frigging do it already. I love riding my bike. I love seeing new places. I love getting away from the city.

If I can trek across mountains alone for several days, I can surely ride from town to town without trouble, right? I don't know why I have such trepidation.
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Old 03-27-09, 11:02 PM
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Originally Posted by apricissimus
For a few years now I've been thinking of doing a week long tour. I live in Boston, MA, and I've never been to Vermont, so that seems like a good enough destination.

And since I live on the east coast, I have this sense of distance where even 150 miles seems far

I think I would really enjoy something like this... but what keeps me from actually doing it is the weather. I just know that if I go on such a tour I'm going to have at least one day where there's heavy thunderstorms with killer headwinds, and that's going to suck. I also hike a lot, and I've had my fill of days where it's 38 degrees F and raining. You get soaked to the bone and EVERYTHING gets wet and cold. The worst is when you set up camp for the night without really ever getting dry.

If I actually do this short tour, I'll do it in July or something when the temperatures (hopefully) will be pretty warm. It could be a really wonderful experience... Or I could wind up in a ditch on the side of the road, making repairs in a hail storm.

How much of this is just paranoia? I think I should just man up and frigging do it already. I love riding my bike. I love seeing new places. I love getting away from the city.

If I can trek across mountains alone for several days, I can surely ride from town to town without trouble, right? I don't know why I have such trepidation.
Fear is understandable but you have nothing to lose and a lifetime of fun to gain. If it doesn't work out, you can always pack it in and call home.

try it, you'll like it.
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Old 03-27-09, 11:08 PM
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Fear is so often much worse than the reality of the object of the fear.

Just do it.

Vermont is supposed to be a great place to bike tour, I know there are a lot of guided tours there.

Pick a location and season to minimize the chance of the weather you fear, bring some rain gear, and have enough time and money that if you have to get a hotel room and wait a day or two for bad weather to blow over, you can. One of the things that's so different about bike touring from backpacking is mostly you aren't in the wilderness, you're on a road. With towns, hotels, laundromats to dry your wet clothes, cars to hitch-hike if it's really bad, etc.

Chances are, you won't even have any bad weather, and if you do, it really is usually not as bad as you think.

The rewards really outweigh the hardship. I'd encourage you to give it a try.
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Old 03-27-09, 11:43 PM
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To make the first one easier, you might even plan a credit card weekend tour. Besides having a guaranteed place to warm up at the end of the day, you also have less to tote around, so a $20 rack with a gym bag tied on is about all you`d have to buy. That way, if you don`t like it you`re only out the money you spent for restaurants and rooms. Plus twenty bucks for a rack.
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Old 03-27-09, 11:52 PM
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You could start with a two day tour, or find a friend to go on tour with you. Get some quality rain gear too. There are tonnes of information about rain gear on these forums.
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Old 03-28-09, 12:39 AM
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You're in Boston and you haven't ever been to Vermont? I'm way over in Alberta, and I've been to both Boston and Vermont ... and a whole bunch of other places around there. Vermont is quite nice ... very cute.

How far do you normally cycle? If you build up to it, 150 miles can be a comfortable day ride, and definitely a nice distance for a long-weekend tour. Just start riding a little further every weekend ... explore your area, get comfortable on the bicycle. And commute to work by bicycle so that you end up riding in all sorts of weather, and get experience doing that.



Here's a club you might want to join ... one of their rides goes into Vermont.
https://www.bostonbrevets.com/
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Old 03-28-09, 12:51 AM
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I've ridden in plenty of rain storms and they're not all that bad.

At the end of a rainy day, there's nothing wrong with taking a motel room instead of setting up the tent. Since you're in a fairly urbanized area, you're probably not too far from a town with a motel or bed and breakfast. And if it's raining hard in the morning, feel free to take shelter in a covered bandshell, at a coffee shop or at the library and wait until conditions clear up a little.

If you're fighting a nasty headwind, then feel free to shorten out your day. Or stop for a while, take a break and then face the wind when you've got your energy back.

You can do whatever you want when you're on a tour. There's no rule that says you need to cover a certain distance. Just plan your route to give yourself one or two additional days for unforeseen delays. Then get out and have fun. You won't regret it.
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Old 03-28-09, 02:50 AM
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How about a credit card tour? I don;t know the area, and whether there are B&Bs or cheap hotels, or even hostels, but at least if the weather was bad you'd have somewhere warm and dry to sleep.
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Old 03-28-09, 05:33 AM
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nice day ride?

Originally Posted by Machka
You're in Boston and you haven't ever been to Vermont? I'm way over in Alberta, and I've been to both Boston and Vermont ... and a whole bunch of other places around there. Vermont is quite nice ... very cute.

How far do you normally cycle? If you build up to it, 150 miles can be a comfortable day ride, and definitely a nice distance for a long-weekend tour. Just start riding a little further every weekend ... explore your area, get comfortable on the bicycle. And commute to work by bicycle so that you end up riding in all sorts of weather, and get experience doing that.



Here's a club you might want to join ... one of their rides goes into Vermont.
https://www.bostonbrevets.com/
Whoa, whao, whoa. 150 miles a "nice day ride"?
Who do you think you are? Oh yeah, I forgot who you are.
For mortals there are plenty of 50, maaaaybe 100 mile rides that can fit into the description of "comfortable".

Comparing hiking to biking there is something about bike touring that is less risky to me. I guess if one gets wet and cold, you can bike and warm up while you are moving. Hiking too I guess, but in biking you can coast.

As already mentioned the real answer is risk and fear is based on what you know, competance and confidence.

I prefer to think of Vermont terrain as challenging and most > 5 hour rides as epic, worthy of hand waving stories at the coffee shop and posts on the bike forum. I guess it is a matter of perspective.
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Old 03-28-09, 07:09 AM
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I think she meant 150 miles as a single shot all day kind of ride. Of course it depends on the rider. Last summer I fit a 160 mile day into my tour to meet some friends in Portland. I would not describe it as "comfortable".
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Old 03-28-09, 07:18 AM
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Hi,
no problemo. You have a number of choices. One is to go with a fancy outfit like
Backroads. They go to Vermont, and most everywhere else. For your first time, this might be a good choice.

You can also do a trip just going from inn to inn in Maine or Vermont. This website is about walking Inn to Inn, but you can ride.
https://www.vermontinntoinnwalking.com/

We've done a bike trip in Vermont, and it was tough but nice. We rode around the lower half of Lake Champlain. I'd suggest doing your first solo trip in the Southern part of the state, the inns are closer together.

We usually go in August. It's warm, usually dry, my midmonth the bugs have settled down.
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Old 03-28-09, 08:05 AM
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+1 on starting with a credit card tour.

Here's one from Boston through VT

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/Montreal2008
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Old 03-28-09, 09:33 AM
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I've done tons of touring and lots of it in New England and if you want I can give you some nice route info for a ride to VT. I have a little house in the woods of Western MA, almost to NY state and not all that far from VT and do one day rides out there frequently during the summer months.

Regarding weather. Weather forecasting is getting pretty good these days and accurate enough to probably find a 3-day window of good weather with some reliability if your schedule is flexible. The problem in July is late afternoon thunderstorms. Best way to deal with these is to leave early in the am- right at sunrise and get the bulk of your riding day done by noon or at the latest 2pm.

If you've hiked a lot you've probably learned to read the sky fairly well. If not, or you need a brush up, pick up one of those cloud reading charts and learn to tell the difference between cirrus clouds, nimbus, stratus, and cumulus and what kinds of signs to look for when bad weather may be moving in. In New England it's going to tend to come in from the southwest. Watch for things like the leaves turning "inside out"- the pale underside of the leaves flipping up with the wind and take shelter when necessary. These afternoon storms tend to pass in less than an hour.

You could also bring a small weather radio or if you have an I-phone or Blackberry or any one of a number of handheld devices you could probably pull up the local radar- I'll often watch the radar before I do a ride in the summer months and can literally ride around a pretty bad weather cell and never get wet or caught in a thunderstorm.

Last edited by buzzman; 03-28-09 at 09:36 AM.
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Old 03-28-09, 10:14 AM
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There are some things to worry about, but there are solutions to all of them.

Headwinds - Headwinds suck, no getting around it, but you just shift down, slow down, and ride. You may want to shorten your day's ride. My philosophy is never to worry about shortening a day's ride. If I want to stop, I stop, even if I've only ridden 20 miles. (I've never quit after less than 20, but I would if I felt like it. Why not?)

Rain - Carry raingear. I always do, even though on most tours I rarely have to ride in it more than a day or two. If you have it, the rain isn't so bad. I have a jacket (with a hood for in camp), pants, helmet cover, and shoe covers. I also have waterproof winter gloves I bring if it looks like it might be both rainy and cold. I also have enough money in reserve to be able to get a motel room if the weather is too yucky. A dry room, a hot bath, a bed, excellent!

Mechanical Breakdowns - The worst problem I've had was broken spokes. I think it was a combination of a machine-laced wheel on a mail-order bike, carrying too much weight, and weighing too much myself (although I didn't break my first spoke until about 500 miles into the trip.) If you're worried about any of these, spend some money for a good rear wheel. Since I focused on this and spent some money for quality stuff, I've never broken another spoke. I would suggest learning basic maintanence: how to fix a flat, patch a tube, adjust your rear derailleur cable, and adjust your limiting screws on both derailleurs. I bring tire irons, a spare tube, a patch kit, a multi-tool with a chain tool and spoke wrench, and a frame pump. I also bring a cassette tool and some spare spokes, in case I ever break another spoke.

Traffic - My most important tool to deal with traffic is my rearview mirror. I have one with flat glass (not convex) that mounts on my brake hood, because to me that's the most convenient place to look. There are several options for mirrors. Find one that works for you. My other most important tool for dealing with traffic is patience. If I don't like a situation I pull off the road and wait for it to subside. If I'm on a road with no shoulder and see a car approaching from the rear that will pass me at the same time a car comes from the front (limiting the amount of room for the passing car to swing wide) I pull off the road. When I have to turn left on a busy road I'll often pull off on the right and wait for traffic to clear in both directions before crossing. Those stops slow me down, but if they keep me safe they're worth it.

Try a short tour to start - like a weekend with no more than 20 miles a day. Take notes on what works and what doesn't; what you wish you'd brought and what you should have left at home. Take a three day weekend with a rest day in the middle. Go someplace great. Have something to do when you get there. I like to read, but shopping, hiking, beach combing, sightseeing, etc. are also good.

Try it, you might like it. Then again, maybe you won't. Not everyone does. That's okay too.
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Old 03-28-09, 10:44 AM
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Thanks for the replies everyone! Addressing some individual points:

Originally Posted by Machka
You're in Boston and you haven't ever been to Vermont? I'm way over in Alberta, and I've been to both Boston and Vermont ... and a whole bunch of other places around there. Vermont is quite nice ... very cute.
Yeah, it's pretty strange that I've never been to Vermont. I've been to 28 states, but not to Vermont, which is practically next door.

Originally Posted by Machka
How far do you normally cycle? If you build up to it, 150 miles can be a comfortable day ride, and definitely a nice distance for a long-weekend tour. Just start riding a little further every weekend ... explore your area, get comfortable on the bicycle. And commute to work by bicycle so that you end up riding in all sorts of weather, and get experience doing that.
I do commute to work by bike, and I commute in all weather. I've missed exactly two days in the past two years due to bad weather. However, my commute can be very short if I want it to be: shortest route is only about 3.5 miles (though I often take the long way because it's more fun).

So even though I commute in all kind of nasty weather, I feel like it's short enough that I can put up with just about any amount of discomfort. I'm not sure how I'd handle it if I were out there for several hours.

The longest I've ever ridden in one go was 54 miles, which I know isn't a lot for the likes of you guys. I'm sure I can go longer than that... But, er, 150 miles? That's something I'll need to work up to, for sure.


Originally Posted by late
Hi,
no problemo. You have a number of choices. One is to go with a fancy outfit like
Backroads.
Originally Posted by Yan
You could start with a two day tour, or find a friend to go on tour with you.
If I do this thing, I think it would have to be solo because,

a) I really enjoy solitude, and
b) I don't know anyone who might be interested in this sort of thing!

Reason a) is actually the more important of the two.

Originally Posted by sherbornpeddler
I prefer to think of Vermont terrain as challenging and most > 5 hour rides as epic, worthy of hand waving stories at the coffee shop and posts on the bike forum. I guess it is a matter of perspective.
Yeah, the challenging terrain is a concern. I only ever ride around the Boston area, which is not notable for its epic hills. I imagine there will be some long sustained hills in Vermont, and along the way in Massachusetts too. Add to that the fact that I'll likely be carrying much more weight than I'm used to.

Originally Posted by buzzman
I've done tons of touring and lots of it in New England and if you want I can give you some nice route info for a ride to VT.
I would appreciate that, thanks. I did check out the Rubel maps of Eastern and Western MA, but the Central MA map is currently out of print, I think
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Old 03-28-09, 10:49 AM
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Touring is just a longer, more heavily stocked commute. Do an overnight trip to a friend's house. Or to a motel or campground. Then, if you like touring, do a longer one. Anything that can happen to you while riding on tour can happen to you on your commute. So it sounds as if there's really nothing to fear, is there?
 
Old 03-28-09, 11:38 AM
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With your experience, it should be a walk in the park. Ride early to avoid thunderstorms. Do 50-60 per day. Smell all the roses. It's not a race. Camp or motel stricly your preference. Most of all, just plan to have fun. Otherwise might as well as stay home.
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Old 03-28-09, 01:15 PM
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I just got through going through the same thing. Finally I did an overnight tour with camping. It went very well in spite of stong head winds the first day and twenty five degrees overnight. Fifty five miles into that wind was all I wanted, but not a major physical problem.
The second trip was for three days and two nights camping. I had learned quite a bit on the first trip and even more on the next. Had some rain on the second trip but lived through it.
As you are experiencing, the fear of the unknown was a significant problem. Just go.
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Old 03-28-09, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by apricissimus
...I think I would really enjoy something like this... but what keeps me from actually doing it is the weather. I just know that if I go on such a tour I'm going to have at least one day where there's heavy thunderstorms with killer headwinds, and that's going to suck. I also hike a lot, and I've had my fill of days where it's 38 degrees F and raining. You get soaked to the bone and EVERYTHING gets wet and cold. The worst is when you set up camp for the night without really ever getting dry.

If I actually do this short tour, I'll do it in July or something when the temperatures (hopefully) will be pretty warm. It could be a really wonderful experience... Or I could wind up in a ditch on the side of the road, making repairs in a hail storm.
Your memories of being wet and cold are playing a role in this, along with some other unpleasant thought-imagery. Substituting thoughts of victory (and preparing it) will restore testosterone levels to a functional and enjoyable level.
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Old 03-28-09, 03:07 PM
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go to the DESERT - problem solved
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Old 03-28-09, 03:54 PM
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Be flexible about which week you do your first tour. Weather.com is pretty accurate and you should know by Friday what the next week will be like. If it looks sunny for the upcoming week you'll more than likely be okay. Have everything ready to go so you don't need to go shopping and such. Then you can leave on Saturday. On the East Coast you'll likely be able to find cell phone signal once a day so you can call a friend and get the forecast. Have someone you trust able to pick you up if things go bad.

Also, if you are really concerned then get a SPOT device so you can signal for help if needed. With it you can actually signal your "family/friend" support crew to pick you up from your last known location. Just make sure to get the "tracking" feature subscription so you can leave "breadcrumbs" as to where you are.
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Old 03-28-09, 05:53 PM
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Originally Posted by apricissimus
Yeah, it's pretty strange that I've never been to Vermont. I've been to 28 states, but not to Vermont, which is practically next door.
That is often the way it is. I'll say to people here, "Have you ever been to the Markerville Ice Cream Museum" and they've all heard of it, but no one has gone. It's too close or something. But to counteract that, I've made a point of cycling to everything interesting I've heard of, and on all the paved roads, in about a 100 mile radius of where I live. After all, if I live in a particular area, I might as well get to know it.


Originally Posted by apricissimus
I do commute to work by bike, and I commute in all weather. I've missed exactly two days in the past two years due to bad weather. However, my commute can be very short if I want it to be: shortest route is only about 3.5 miles (though I often take the long way because it's more fun).

So even though I commute in all kind of nasty weather, I feel like it's short enough that I can put up with just about any amount of discomfort. I'm not sure how I'd handle it if I were out there for several hours.
Well ... just start deliberately going out for rides when it looks like rain is threatening ... or when it is raining. Do get kitted out with the appropriate gear first though.


Originally Posted by apricissimus
The longest I've ever ridden in one go was 54 miles, which I know isn't a lot for the likes of you guys. I'm sure I can go longer than that... But, er, 150 miles? That's something I'll need to work up to, for sure.
Yes, you would have to build up to it. Look for your local century ride. There's likely a club that holds a century in your area ... in fact, there are probably a few. Start riding longer and longer distances during your weekend rides, and then ride the century. After a few centuries, build up to the 200K distance (125 miles) ... one or two of those and you'll be set for 150 miles.


Originally Posted by apricissimus
If I do this thing, I think it would have to be solo because,

a) I really enjoy solitude, and
b) I don't know anyone who might be interested in this sort of thing!

Reason a) is actually the more important of the two.
You might find your local cycletouring club. I expect there is at least one in your area. I like the solitude of riding too, but I also like getting together with other cycletourists now and then.


Originally Posted by apricissimus
Yeah, the challenging terrain is a concern. I only ever ride around the Boston area, which is not notable for its epic hills. I imagine there will be some long sustained hills in Vermont, and along the way in Massachusetts too. Add to that the fact that I'll likely be carrying much more weight than I'm used to.
As you are building up your distances on the weekends, ride in different terrain, different weather conditions, and ride with your panniers etc. on the bicycle ... with something in them so you have some experience with the way a bicycle handles with weight on it.
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Old 03-28-09, 07:46 PM
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As a warmup, drive to VT, do some loop rides there. There are thousands of good ones. If you like it, then try the tour from Boston.
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Old 03-28-09, 08:26 PM
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Here are some nice maps for loop rides and connecting routes in northeast Vermont (the "Northeast Kingdom"): https://www.nvda.net/Transp/bikeped.html Scroll down to "Cycling the Kingdom".

You might be interested in the MassBikePike tour in early August: https://www.massbikepike.org/index.html This is a 4-day supported tour in western MA (not VT, sorry!), camping on school lawns, limited to 125 participants. Options for 30, 50, or 65 miles per day. I signed up early to commit myself, to make sure I would fit in at least one multi-day tour this summer. I hope to do an unsupported tour with my family as well.
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Old 03-29-09, 12:38 AM
  #25  
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apricissimus....im a "jump in with both feet sort of guy"...i say go for it....i dont think you would have even posted if it already wasnt in your power. youre not gonna melt.....its all mental attitude. do it. (if that is really what your heart is telling you to do.)

im not a gambling man...i dont stay long in vegas or hit the riverboats, unless a buffet of course, but just be smart...know your limitations....be informed....i love these new gps phones with navigation and constant weather feeds....maybe that could help? anyway nice to meet you...hope that helps.

Last edited by matcherbach; 03-29-09 at 12:54 AM.
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