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Hard up to start touring

Old 04-04-10, 06:30 PM
  #1  
freefallkev
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Hard up to start touring

Well, spring is here and I filed my taxes today, and I decided to put the money towards a touring bike. I've had my eye on a Trek 520 for a few months now, and the return will be enough to cover the cost of one, plus a Brooks saddle and some panniers. I'm looking forward to getting to know everyone on the board and sharing my stories. What kind of tips do you have for a green bike tourer?
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Old 04-04-10, 06:59 PM
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Well I am still a green bike tourer too, but what I learned from my first trip is that if it can go wrong it will. Its not always going to smoothly and your going to have to keep a level head about everything. Choose an easy trip close to home to start out on. Do some overnighters to start out with. And most importantly, If you need advice or motivation come to this forum. They have helped me out tremendously and I wouldnt have ever done what I have already done without them.
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Old 04-04-10, 07:18 PM
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thanks for the advice! I'm pretty confident in my mechanical ability and dealing with murphy on my back I'm probably going to do 100 or so miles to a state park for the first one. I've done plenty of miles commuting and road biking, what I'm kinda clueless about is the touring related stuff, like where to camp, how to secure a bike when you're sleeping, what to pack and how to carry it best on a bike.... things like that.

@mthayer, I see you're in Texas. I'll be getting stationed there (San Antonio) this autumn. Any recommended routes out there?
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Old 04-04-10, 07:38 PM
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There is somewhat of bicycling scene in SA, a few clubs, groups that have some routes. If you like a more rural ride style, about an hour drive there is prime cycling country. Fredericksburg, Boerne, Comfort, Kerrville, have good routes associated with them. The Texas Hell Week is held out of Fredericksburg so for one week out of the year, there are hundreds of riders invading our roads.

I dont live close enough to San Antonio to get too familiar with its routes. Sorry for the lack of information about SA. Are you going to stationed?

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Old 04-04-10, 08:02 PM
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I suggest you do an overnight trip at first, simply so you start to figure out what you need to do, and what you should avoid.
 
Old 04-04-10, 08:18 PM
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Greetings,

A goo source of touring info can be found at:
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/


There is also a wealth of knowledge on this forum, and some "interesting reading"

Last edited by Doug64; 04-04-10 at 08:23 PM.
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Old 04-05-10, 05:40 AM
  #7  
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Originally Posted by freefallkev View Post
What kind of tips do you have for a green bike tourer?
Welcome to the touring world.

My tips:

Just get out and tour. In my opinion folks tend to make a way bigger deal over getting started than really makes sense, especially if you have some camping experience.

Nothing wrong with some shakedown cruises, and if they are what you want there is nothing wrong with continuing to do only short tours, but... It is also quite possible to do a more ambitious tour as a first tour especially if you are a fairly experienced camper. We did the full Trans America as our first tour and met quite a few others doing likewise. In general they all seemed to be doing fine.

Keep your gear weight down but do not get too into the gear hype that is so often rampant here. This goes for the bike as well as the camping gear. If you want to get real nice stuff that's fine, but it isn't necessary for success.

If you want to spend more on some items I'd suggest that they be the camping gear where that will save you weight by spending more (tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad come to mind). That said you can get by fine with inexpensive items, we did on the TA, but I have since upgraded items where there was a substantial weight savings for doing so.

What I personally would recommend avoiding like the plague are things that are both more expensive and heavier. Surly Nice Racks, and Arkel panniers come to mind as examples of that.

There is always a lot of talk about stealth camping here and on other forums. If that appeals to you that's great, but don't get the idea that it is the only way to go or even the only inexpensive way to go. I have found that it is easy enough to find cheap or free places to stay with no stealth required. I will stealth camp in the rare situation that I need to but I'd rather camp for free in plain sight. Where there are hiker biker sites or other reasonably priced camp sites I use them, the rest of the time I camp in town parks, someone's lawn, or a church yard (the latter two only with permission).
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Old 04-05-10, 01:40 PM
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My 2 cents are : Get to know your bike well first.
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Old 04-05-10, 06:43 PM
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I use, embrace, and recommend surly nice racks and arkel panniers.
PM me if you want more info.

I also recommend zip-lock bags.

get larger panniers than you need.....and resist the temptation to pack them too the brim.
you will be grateful for the extra room on the trip.

Cyril
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Old 04-05-10, 06:45 PM
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I use, embrace, and recommend surly nice racks and arkel panniers.
PM me if you want more info.

I also recommend zip-lock bags.

get larger panniers than you need.....and resist the temptation to pack them too the brim.
you will be grateful for the extra room on the trip.

Cyril


(i really hate this double post thingy)
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Old 04-05-10, 10:56 PM
  #11  
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I just got back from a week-long mini-tour around St. George, Utah, including two rest days in Zion National Park. It was great. I did what I always do. 1) I forgot some things that were on my packing list (bonehead! - I actually brought some winter riding gloves which would have been great, but left them in my truck!) 2) I brought some new things that were great to have. 3) I brought some things I could have done without. 4) There were also some things I should have brought, had I thought of them.

I did something else I always do: I brought my mp3 player which has a voice recorder feature, and I dictated notes to myself about all of the above, among other things. I'll be updating my packing list based on my notes.

My advice to new tourers is always to do as much research as you can/want, and then get out and try a tour. Write or dictate notes to yourself during the trip for things you'd do differently next time. I'd suggest some shorter tours at first until you get your packing list and techniques somewhat figured out (although I don't think I'll ever arrive at the perfect packing list!)

Here are a couple of samples from my notes about this tour:

Positive: I brought a Cane Creek collapsible chair and it was wonderful! It was so nice to have a comfortable chair to sit in, read, nap, stare into space, etc. It's very light, was cheap, and I absolutely love it!

Negative: My sleeping bag may have been adequate for cold weather years ago, but no more. It got down below freezing at Zion and I froze! I put on everything I had inside my sleeping bag and it was barely tolerable. I made some definite notes about future packing list for cold-weather touring, and a new sleeping bag is on the list!
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Old 04-13-10, 09:15 PM
  #12  
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Hey BigBlue Toe,

Can you recommend and nice spots for some stealth camping around St. George? I'm headed there in a couple of weeks.
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Old 04-14-10, 03:49 AM
  #13  
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Originally Posted by freefallkev View Post
thanks for the advice! I'm pretty confident in my mechanical ability and dealing with murphy on my back I'm probably going to do 100 or so miles to a state park for the first one. I've done plenty of miles commuting and road biking, what I'm kinda clueless about is the touring related stuff, like where to camp, how to secure a bike when you're sleeping, what to pack and how to carry it best on a bike.... things like that.

@mthayer, I see you're in Texas. I'll be getting stationed there (San Antonio) this autumn. Any recommended routes out there?
Which state park? I live not far from you there are several hidden gems within a 60 mile radius.

Aaron
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Old 04-14-10, 07:59 AM
  #14  
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Originally Posted by lithiumselenium View Post
Hey BigBlue Toe,

Can you recommend and nice spots for some stealth camping around St. George? I'm headed there in a couple of weeks.
Sorry. I'm not that familiar with the area, and I stayed in campgrounds. However, once you get out of the urban sprawl (St. George has really grown in the last 20 years!) there is lots of open country.
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Old 04-14-10, 09:16 AM
  #15  
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Newbie here too I'm few weeks away from my first tour. I built my own bike though.

My advice is to read as much as you can here and on Crazy Guy on a Bike. Tons and tons of touring knowledge. But don't limit yourself to the Touring forum. I found that Utility Cycling and Car Free forums have some relevant information too, and the Commuting forum

Other good sources of knowledge:

http://kenkifer.com/bikepages/ (Sadly Ken was killed several years ago by a drunk driver)
http://www.biketouringtips.com/

Touring journals, besides CGOAB, reading touring journals gives you a lot of information and insight from actual tourers on the road:

http://pathlesspedaled.com/
http://www.downtheroad.org/
http://www.ridingthespine.com/
http://www.cycling-adventurer.net/ (BF member)
http://www.machka.net/ (BF member)

Here is my journal that documents my preparations:

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/AdamsFirstTour
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Old 04-14-10, 09:27 AM
  #16  
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Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
Which state park? I live not far from you there are several hidden gems within a 60 mile radius.

Aaron
Raven Rock state park, which others would you recommend?
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Old 04-14-10, 10:02 AM
  #17  
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Quite in line with what others have already said, but I'll chime in anyhow.

First thing: Take your bike completely apart and put it back together again. Use the info pages at Park Tools and make sure you get the necessary tools to do this properly. Fixing something on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere is not a fun exercise if you have never done it before.

Second thing: Take many small day trips and a couple overnighters and adjust the bike for fit and comfort over the course of a month or so.

Third thing: Make a list of everything you think you will WANT to take on tour. Realize how heavy and unpleasant it will be to carry. Take out all the stuff except what you will NEED. Make another list. Take a weekend trip, say 100-125 or so miles round trip. Revise list again when you get back.

Fourth thing: After putting a few hundred miles on the bike, thoroughly tune up everything, check cable and spoke tension, wheel trueness, brake adjustments, etc.

NOW you are ready to tour. You've got to be able to trust your equipment with your life, fix it if/when necessary, and have what you need on the road. Don't be in a hurry... things may go fine, they may not.

Fifth thing: Have tons of fun touring! Now that you know your gear and your capabilities, you can focus on the ride and enjoy.
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Old 04-14-10, 12:19 PM
  #18  
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
Just get out and tour. In my opinion folks tend to make a way bigger deal over getting started than really makes sense, especially if you have some camping experience.

Nothing wrong with some shakedown cruises, and if they are what you want there is nothing wrong with continuing to do only short tours, but... It is also quite possible to do a more ambitious tour as a first tour especially if you are a fairly experienced camper. We did the full Trans America as our first tour and met quite a few others doing likewise. In general they all seemed to be doing fine.
Agreed. My first loaded tour was Seattle-Bar Harbor, ME-Philadelphia, PA-Ocean City, NJ. The sum total of my loaded riding preparation consisted of one short, flat ride with empty panniers, one medium length ride with semi-loaded panniers and one hilly 62 mile ride fully loaded. The sum total of my camping experience was test pitching my tent once in my living room.

I too do a lot of road riding and commuting. Getting used to handling of a loaded bke was easy. I went with a group, so I had the luxury of learning camping tips from experienced people. Some prior camping experience would have been helpful had I been alone.
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Old 04-14-10, 07:29 PM
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Originally Posted by freefallkev View Post
Raven Rock state park, which others would you recommend?

Jones Lake State Park in Bladen County near Elizabethtown, Cliffs of the Neuse in Wayne County near Seven Springs or if you do a park and ride Jordan Lake SRA in Chatham County near Siler City is very doable. IIRC at Raven Rock you have to hike a couple of miles in to the campsites. Shoot me a PM with contact info if you want, I am way out of shape but would love to hit an overnight or two this year if I can fit it into my schedule. I have one tour bike on the ground ready to roll and am working on building up an expedition tour bike out of an old Giant Iguana.

There is also Little Pee Dee River State Park down near Dillion, SC

Aaron

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Old 04-14-10, 07:43 PM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by lithiumselenium View Post

Can you recommend and nice spots for some stealth camping around St. George? I'm headed there in a couple of weeks.

We are going to be touring through St George in a couple of weeks also.....
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Old 04-15-10, 08:18 PM
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Here's another site that's strong on info for new tourists:

http://www.biketoledo.net
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Old 04-16-10, 01:13 AM
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Hi,

it not a tip but: Nobody said that bicycle touring is easy. Just keep in mind when problems occur.

Thomas
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Old 04-16-10, 07:12 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnyW View Post
Hi,

it not a tip but: Nobody said that bicycle touring is easy. Just keep in mind when problems occur.

Thomas
eh, as long as I'm not getting shot it it won't be my worst day
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Old 04-16-10, 07:13 PM
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Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
Jones Lake State Park in Bladen County near Elizabethtown, Cliffs of the Neuse in Wayne County near Seven Springs or if you do a park and ride Jordan Lake SRA in Chatham County near Siler City is very doable. IIRC at Raven Rock you have to hike a couple of miles in to the campsites. Shoot me a PM with contact info if you want, I am way out of shape but would love to hit an overnight or two this year if I can fit it into my schedule. I have one tour bike on the ground ready to roll and am working on building up an expedition tour bike out of an old Giant Iguana.

There is also Little Pee Dee River State Park down near Dillion, SC

Aaron
Thanks, I'll check some of those places out!
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