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Touring Noobs here, a huge bag of questions...

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Touring Noobs here, a huge bag of questions...

Old 10-06-10, 10:32 AM
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Touring Noobs here, a huge bag of questions...

Howdy!
What a wonderful and knowledgeable forum! I'm so glad some one pointed me here.
Me and girlfriend are going to start our first major bike tour, starting from central Texas and ending at south Florida in about a month. We never ever done anything like that and are super excited about this. A week ago we bought a pair of 70's mirage motobecane bicycles.

We have a bunch of questions for the more experienced members here:

1. Are the adventure cycling maps really worth it?

2. Weight. I weigh 167 pounds and she weighs 154. How much weigh would be the limit
for average fitness person?

3. Panniers. Are the cheaper and simple panniers like this one:
https://www.amazon.com/Topeak-MTX-Tru...6382194&sr=8-5 would be sufficient?

What should we look for when we buy a pair of panniers?
Is it better to have medium size panniers back and front instead of one heavy on on the back?

4. Weather. It's going to be quite cold in early november. We got rain jackets and good sleeping bags. What else should we have in mind? Is it better stopping during heavy rain or should we just tough it up?

5. Budget. We think we are going to have a paltry 1000$ a piece for this adventure. Is that sum is feasible to reach south Florida?

6. Money making. Has anyone has success staying a few days in little towns and trying to make a bit of money? Day labors? Craigslist? Any other ideas?

7. Any other touring on a budget resources we could use? Any sites of tips and tricks of the trade?

8. Tools. What is the bare essential bike fixing tool kit you would advice taking a long?

9. Bike rack. Should it be some crazy heavy duty, tour designed rack or would a simple rack like this will suffice?
https://www.amazon.com/Topeak-6310703...6382574&sr=8-1

10. Is it feasible to eat well and cook most of your meals on the road? Are most people will succumb to fast food options after a few days? Soaking rice and lentils in bottles?

11. Any other logistics we should figure out?

Thank you so much for your time and have a most excellent day!
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Old 10-06-10, 12:22 PM
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There are excellent travel journals on crazyguyonabike.com with equipment lists. Once you have seen a few, you get a feel if what you want is what will do the job for the type of trip you are doing. Maybe you want to check that out first and then post specific questions here. A lot depends on your need for comfort and luxury. Prices go from 10 dollars a day for minimalist camping touring to the sky is the limit with credit card touring. A good place to get a simple intro is this site https://travellingtwo.com/resources/oneweek
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Old 10-06-10, 12:50 PM
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Answers to your questions:
1. I am an independent-minded traveller so I've been fine with regular maps. Many do appreciate their convenience.
2. The more weight you carry, the slower you go regardless of fitness. Your weight limit will depend on how much stuff you physically carry and what your older bikes can carry safely. For a general rule, don't carry more than half your weight in gear.
3. For trips like yours, sure. If you were spending years travelling in foreign countries, probably not. I personally use a hiking pack on top of a rear rack instead of panniers. It would be better to distribute your weight in front and rear pannier sets instead of just in the rear. Too much weight in the rear will lead to a poor handling bike and a high likelihood of rear wheel problems.
4. When I tour with a chance of cold rainy weather I also bring waterproof overmitts, waterproof socks, and rain pants. If you aren't on a tight schedule, waiting out bad weather is a fine strategy as well. If I'm looking at a rainy night I'll often ask to camp under a town park's picnic pavilion so I don't have to mess with wet gear.
5. If you cook your own food, never use motels, and rarely pay for lodging (stealth camping, warmshower hosts, etc.) you could get by at maybe $10 a day. I would realistically plan on $20 a day per person.
6. Search the forums on this topic. (and all your other topics) I have no experience here but it has been discussed.
7. Google "Bike touring." The top 3 sites, Crazyguyonabike, biketouring101, ken kifer, are all wonderful.
8. My toolkit: allen keys (for whatever you have on your bike), flat tire changing kit, adjustable wrench, spoke wrench, master link, leatherman multitool, zip ties, duct tape. Most folks bring a lot more.
9. Find out the weight limit. If your gear weighs more than the limit, then you need a stronger rack. Most cheap racks have a 30lb limit, though I've seen them carry far more.
10. In order: Yes. Not necessarily. Sure.
11. Some folks like to get a rigid plan in place, others like the feeling of winging it. Do you want to know where you will stop every day? Or not? If not, I recommend you be prepared and flexible gear wise and mentally for the unexpected.

There are as many ways to tour as there are cycle tourists. Learn from others but don't be afraid to do your own thing.
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Old 10-06-10, 01:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Salinger7
Howdy!
What a wonderful and knowledgeable forum! I'm so glad some one pointed me here.
Me and girlfriend are going to start our first major bike tour, starting from central Texas and ending at south Florida in about a month. We never ever done anything like that and are super excited about this. A week ago we bought a pair of 70's mirage motobecane bicycles.

We have a bunch of questions for the more experienced members here:

1. Are the adventure cycling maps really worth it?
I personally haven't used them yet but I go mostly on organized tours or well routed ones. Really depends on where you are going and how familiar you are with the areas. Since you are new to the touring, I think that it would be helpful.

Originally Posted by Salinger7
2. Weight. I weigh 167 pounds and she weighs 154. How much weigh would be the limit
for average fitness person?
Huh? How much load can each person cycle with, depends on the person and conditions.

Originally Posted by Salinger7
3. Panniers. Are the cheaper and simple panniers like this one:
https://www.amazon.com/Topeak-MTX-Tru...6382194&sr=8-5 would be sufficient?!
I don't think that this set of panniers will be good for a week. But that all depends on how light that you can travel and your riding equipment.

Originally Posted by Salinger7
What should we look for when we buy a pair of panniers?
Is it better to have medium size panniers back and front instead of one heavy on on the back?
I would look for size and ease of use.

Originally Posted by Salinger7
4. Weather. It's going to be quite cold in early november. We got rain jackets and good sleeping bags. What else should we have in mind? Is it better stopping during heavy rain or should we just tough it up?
How about a tent, I will ride unless I can't see or the driver can't see me. Be safe.

Originally Posted by Salinger7
5. Budget. We think we are going to have a paltry 1000$ a piece for this adventure. Is that sum is feasible to reach south Florida?
Certainly it is possible but you need to cook out, maybe do some stealth camping or find free camping. That's $16.66 per day, if you didn't pay for camping, you could each have 16 McDoubles each day!

Originally Posted by Salinger7
6. Money making. Has anyone has success staying a few days in little towns and trying to make a bit of money? Day labors? Craigslist? Any other ideas?
I never had to do this. I always had enough money to go on my trips.

Originally Posted by Salinger7
7. Any other touring on a budget resources we could use? Any sites of tips and tricks of the trade?
Search this forum there was a thread about this in the past few months.

Originally Posted by Salinger7
8. Tools. What is the bare essential bike fixing tool kit you would advice taking a long?
At bare minimum, spare tube, pump, patch kit, Minitool, spare spokes,

Originally Posted by Salinger7
9. Bike rack. Should it be some crazy heavy duty, tour designed rack or would a simple rack like this will suffice?
https://www.amazon.com/Topeak-6310703...6382574&sr=8-1
this rack should be fine

Originally Posted by Salinger7
10. Is it feasible to eat well and cook most of your meals on the road? Are most people will succumb to fast food options after a few days? Soaking rice and lentils in bottles?
I dine out, but bring a small pot and cook stove for when dining out is a major inconvenience.

Originally Posted by Salinger7
11. Any other logistics we should figure out?

Thank you so much for your time and have a most excellent day!
Have something for you to do on the boring days, cards, books, headlamps. Riding at night? lights. How far can you and your friend ride right now? Water, will there always be a good source of water or will you need a water filter? How much water will you carry on the bikes? Have enough money to stay at a motel one or two nights for moral purposes.

Last edited by cyclist2000; 10-06-10 at 01:26 PM.
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Old 10-06-10, 02:17 PM
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wow, This sounds a bit crazy to me! Please tell me you guys have at least been doing some cycling. You just picked up these bikes, make sure you get them overhauled and that they are in proper working order would be my first concern. My 2nd is that you guys are criminials on the lam after a heist!!!

other thoughts are that you said your touring from texas to south florida in november. Why do you think it will be cold? I go to florida every year in late october, it's always been 90* during the day. Cold is a relative term, if your from texas, yes it will be cooler than it has been but it should be far from cold.

Iwould never tell you not to do it because I love spontaneity, but you damn well better make sure that if **** hits the fan halfway from home that you have a contingency that consists of at least being able to get to some sort of hotel/motel for the night and at a max involves someone coming to pick you up.

Good luck and keep us posted on how it goes!
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Old 10-06-10, 03:03 PM
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1. ACA maps will likely pay for themselves just by helping you find free places to stay.
2. Keep your gear weight as light as possible. You can get by with remarkably few clothes. Wear the same ones every day. For cold weather, wear everything you have simultaneously--no need for heavy clothes. Definitely stay under 40 pounds each, under 30 pounds each would be better.
3. It is generally better, for many reasons, to split the weight front and back.
4. If the rain looks brief, wait it out. If it doesn't stop, then forge ahead.
5. I tour on less than $16 a day and I don't even cook. The trick is never to pay for lodging and eat out of grocery stores.
8. Bare minimum tools is enough to patch a flat. For all other problems, you can hitchhike.
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Old 10-06-10, 03:12 PM
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LOL. Well said cappuccino.

Make sure the bikes are in sound mechnical condition and the tires are in good condition. Know how to fix a flat. The rack is fine. Get yourselves some large panniers, cheap will do. A large stuff sack for what won't go in the panniers. Bungie cords to keep it all on the bikes. You'll want a burner of some sort to cook on. State maps to select your route, although the ACA maps will likely save you as much as they cost. With $2K for spending money, you should do fine on the road, and might still have enough left to get back to Texas. Figure on being gone 6 to 8 weeks. The weather will likely be fine 90% of the time. Wait out storms.

Search on here for journals relevant to your proposed ride. Good luck.
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Old 10-06-10, 04:15 PM
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a pair of 35yr old bikes. Most likely cad plated spokes and the rims are steel or aluminum? The biggest problem I'd see is if those spokes are corroded and you can't turn the nipples. If the bikes are brand spanking new or stored indoors they could be fine but I'd be concerned that they're corroded and the rims are wonky so that if they get loaded up for the first time in their life spokes start breaking and you're looking at 120mm rear wheel/freewheel replacement where most replacement wheels are 125-130mm cassettes. If the rear wheels are near new or have been replaced at some time you've taken care of most of the problems.
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Old 10-06-10, 06:37 PM
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Some links to help answer some of your questions:
Trip expenses Calculator https://books.stonebooks.com/cgi-bin/bike_calc.cgi

General information https://www.struck.us/CheckList/BicyclingChecklist.html <<<THE BEST!!!
https://www.bicycletouring101.com/TableOfContents.htm
https://www.cyclocamping.com/products.asp?cat=87
https://www.biketouringtips.com/


Maps: GPS routes for the ACA Southern Tier maps can be downloaded for free. Then load it into Google Maps to examine the route closely. FREE!!!
...Google Maps is your friend - especially if you want to deviate from the ACA route.
...State road maps (including bicycle routes identified by the State) are free and can often be ordered online. I got paper copies of all 48 contiguous states within 5 days of requesting each. Check the State DOT websites for Tx, La, Ms, Al, Fl (also Ga and Ark if you think you might veer North a bit).
...Other good bicycle routing places/links include mapmyride.com, ridewithgps.com and bikeroutetoaster.com Each has its strengths/limitations.

Cutting costs: Check eBay and craigslist daily for cost savings on equipment.
...PB&J is your friend.

General advice: Know generally where you are going to camp by noon - OR start looking for a stealth campsite at least an hour before sunset. Looking for a stealth campsite in the dark SUX!
...Get out daily and ride starting NOW!.
...Figure out what you want your daily average mileage while on the trip to be. ......Take at least 4 rides that long on weekends before you go. Refigure your daily average mileage based on your results/how you feel the next day. Remember, you need to be able to ride the next day.
...If it's windy on your training rides, all the better. It will suck while you are doing it, but you'll deal with the wind you encounter on the trip better knowing what you are facing.
...Plan on 1 rest day every 5-7 days. Your butt will thank you.
........If your attitudes both go downhill at the same time, take a rest day.
...Whatever your average mileage will be, take it 15-20% easier on the first couple days while you break in your seat, butt, legs, hands, equipment & attitudes.

If you both bring cell phones, only 1 needs to be on to receive calls at a time (saves batteries).
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Old 10-06-10, 08:57 PM
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There are a lot of threads on minimal tools here. The advice i give is to get real specific about your actual bike, what can you fix, what tools are required, then look at whether some of it is more likely than the rest. The other approach is to buy fancy non-specific equipment like multi tolls where the actual fit to your bike might only be the odd tool.

Otherwise keep it simple. Stay comfortable as priority one, keep moving, you will get there. So on your rain question, the tent is not a great place to be, but I dont try to do high mileage on a really nasty day. Stay comfortable, keep moving. Unless you have been training hard, not necesarry, try to keep your first two days about one third, then 2 thirds your target mileage. Let the weaker partner, speed wise, lead. You will pick up the pace quickly.
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Old 10-06-10, 09:06 PM
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Check the formentioned websites, they will answer all your questions and questions that you dont know to ask. Great resources, especially crazy guy and kenkifer.

I'm only 1 tour deep, i did it solo, 2 weeks. Some things i learned.
- Stealth Camp, lodging is mad mad expensive especially when you tour alone
- Get out on the road early and give yourself at least an hour to pack up
- Ask locals for lodging advise and or directions, they are great resources
- Invest in good rain gear, especially this time of year (depending where you are geographically)
- Make sure your bike fits, if it doesnt, knee pain will slowly creep up on you
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Old 10-06-10, 09:55 PM
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Those panniers look really bad -- too small, and the part on top makes it so you can't strap tent/sleeping back on top of the rack, so you have to put it inside, but there's no room. I would spend a little more on that particular bit of gear. Shop Performance bike and REI, also crazyguyonabike has classifieds, you might find some used bags.
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Old 10-06-10, 10:19 PM
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There's also this site: https://www.kenkifer.com/bikepages/touring/ All sorts of questions are answered there from food to tools.

Tools to start out with I like the Park MTB3 mini along with a small folding pliers leatherman.

You want invest in good gear but that doesn't mean you have to spend top dollar to do it. There are many good products priced in the middle of the road that will work great. The panniers your looking at are too small, try these instead: https://www.amazon.com/Avenir-Excursi...ef=pd_sbs_sg_4

You need to make sure that anything in the pannier you don't want to get wet is in zip lock bags.

Also racks you don't want to go cheap because these things are known to break, the best for the money is Blackburn.

You didn't mention if you had a tent. Liberty Mountain Eureka Apex 2 Person or: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B002Q3E1HC/...SIN=B002Q3E1HC

Adventure Cyclists maps are very well done, their the foremost leader in touring maps.

If you have the time, take a shake down ride where you go out for a short 3 day biking trip, that way you can get a feel for how things work, what you need and don't need.

Lodging isn't mad mad expensive. You can get all sorts of nightly deals at smaller places for under $38 a night, unless your riding through a high rent area; and if your a member of AAA you can get better deals. Also truck stops are pretty decent nowadays, and some will let you camp on the ground, but you can get showers for $9 TO 12. Just make sure you have a way to lock up your bikes.

Make real darn sure the bikes are gone through with a fine tooth comb to make sure their up to the task; tell your LBS that will work on them what you plan to do so they will be more aware of potential problems. Make sure you get very good tires like the Schwalbe Marathon Plus HS348, this will help eliminate a lot of tire problems. And make sure you carry 1 new folding tire as a spare just in case, along with 2 tubes, flat repair kit with a dozen patches and a pack of tire boot patches. Even though those Marathon tires are the best on the market for tourin and flat protection you don't want to risk it. Also carry two frame pumps in case one breaks like the Zefal HPX. And on the subject of tires, carry several fiber spokes, these are in case you break a spoke or two you can replace it with those.

But most important is to read read read, read all the posts given to you by myself and others here, and learn all you can.
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Old 10-07-10, 06:51 AM
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To add to what's already been said: People tour with all sorts of gear - from homemade to out-of-this-world-expensive. One website has a journal detailing a fellow's cross-country trip on a Walmart special bike. Don't get all wrapped up in gear, costs and/or route planning. ACA maps, while nice, are far from necessary (I suggested that earlier, but it bears repeating). Many people who tour have never heard of ACA, MSR, REI, Arkel, Ortleib, etc. There's a difference between inexpensive and cheap, just as there's a difference between "good enough" and expedition ready.

When you finally get your gear list together, look for dual/triple-use items. What clothes can be worn both on/off bike? When cold, layer - just add a shirt - are you still going to be comfortable or do you need to bring a big, bulky sweater for just one day?

Bulk and weight do not necessarily go hand in hand.
Inexpensive, lightweight, durable - pick any two.

Last edited by drmweaver2; 10-07-10 at 06:57 AM.
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Old 10-07-10, 07:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Salinger7
2. Weight. I weigh 167 pounds and she weighs 154. How much weigh would be the limit
for average fitness person?

3. Panniers. Are the cheaper and simple panniers like this one:
https://www.amazon.com/Topeak-MTX-Tru...6382194&sr=8-5 would be sufficient?

What should we look for when we buy a pair of panniers?
Is it better to have medium size panniers back and front instead of one heavy on on the back?

!
2. the less weight you carry the longer the rear wheel will last especially if it's a 35yr old rear wheel. And the less effort you'll expend climbing hills or lifting the bike over obstacles. So it's up to you, 20lbs, 30lbs, 40lbs, 50lbs. Lighter the better. Your biggest challenge will probably be not overstressing your body or the rear wheel.

3. those could be sufficient in volume for a light load but you're spending money on features that are irrelevant to you which is primarily waterproof panniers at lowest cost. The top trunk feature takes up rack space you'll use for tent/sleeping bag. If you don't get waterproof panniers get a box of kitchen garbage bags and double wrap all clothes and sleeping bag.

It's possible to load everything into a medium set of panniers and some configuration of small front load, I'd suggest med. panniers on front low riders then load up the rear rack on top. This will reduce the load on your rear wheel which is inherently weaker than the front. Sure you could get big rear panniers or two sets of medium panniers but it would make more sense to keep the load light than fill bags up. Yep, for wheels of uncertain durability get the load onto the front wheel.
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Old 10-07-10, 09:46 AM
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I think LeeG makes a lot of sense. Your riding older bikes with wheels that are not as strong as newer wheels for touring. I would not exceed 35 pounds on the rear put into medium size panniers; then get a set of small inexpensive front panniers and don't put more then 15 pounds in them, probably ideally 10 pounds in the panniers and 5 pounds in a small handle bar bag for fast excess to things you may need immediately without having to dig around in a pannier. Get a handle bar bag with a clear plastic top for map insertion so you can read it while riding, actually only one handle bar bag needs the map cover since only one needs a map. Most tourers don't carry more then 50 to 60 pounds anyways with modern equipment but those figures include carrying a tent, but because the two of you are sharing a tent only one needs to carry the tent, thus some of that equipment weight can go to the other bicycle without the tent. But your going to have to distribute your weight on the bike in such a manner that you come out with about 60% on the rear and 40% on the front. My calculations for 35 on the rear and 15 on the front is spot on. If you can reduce the weight further all the better in regards to reliability of the wheels.
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Old 10-07-10, 10:45 AM
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Those Topeak panniers use the MTX mount, a special Topeak system that is not particuarly suitable for heavy loads.
Get a pair of large standard panniers for each bike. For touring I prefer one large compartment, one external pocket, quick-release mount (not velcro or hook and elastic), good stiffening and a flap top or roll-top rather than zippers.
If the bag isnt waterproof you can get drybags, the cheap nylon ones are sufficient, you dont need the full canoe style ones.
If you still need extra room, get some smaller front panniers. Use a removable barbag for valuables and maps.
I kept my sleeping bag, foam-mat and tent on top of the rack, the bag inside a drybag.

I cooked every day solo for 8 weeks. Pick your fuel with care, make sure it is available on the road.
You need to carry some cooking essentials for a long trip, paring knife, flexi cutting board, small wooden spoon, salt/pepper grinder/herbs/spices. Oil is hard to carry, I use an olive oil spray. For a cookset, 2 pots, lid and kettle will be sufficient. One plate/bowl combo and a mug should be OK. I found a really neat plastic scouring cloth that also pads the cookwear for packing.
Rice, couscous, pasta (generally carry more than one type to avoid boredom). Quick noodles are good for lunch is nothing is open. Some instant pasta is good for cooking in the rain, but a tent with a large vestibule for cooking is better.

For riding in prolonged rain, waterproof top, rain pants if it is cool, overshoes, sealskinz socks or plastic bags. Cold wet feet turn bad after a few days.
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Old 10-07-10, 11:21 AM
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1. Are the adventure cycling maps really worth it?

I toured 5,500 miles using just a GPS. Didnt have any paper maps with me. Would I recommend doing it? Sure if you are fine with the possibility of it dying. I had back up battery power so I didnt mind.

2. Weight. I weigh 167 pounds and she weighs 154. How much weigh would be the limit
for average fitness person?

Weight is not an issue, once you load up all that changes.

3. Panniers. Are the cheaper and simple panniers like this one:
https://www.amazon.com/Topeak-MTX-Tru...6382194&sr=8-5 would be sufficient?

It took me about 2 weeks to ride from Pensacola to San Antonio, I was averaging 100 miles a day. I am a strong cyclist so I was able to handle it. I would say you guys should plan for 3-4 weeks. At that time frame, look into getting a set of rear panniers instead of the topeak trunkbag. I have that exact bag. I started my tour with it but had to send it home because I had problems with the front rack it was on. I liked it but I wouldnt use it as my only pannier set. Axiom has some that you can order on Amazon. Performance Bicycle has some too. The great thing about your trip is there are two of you so you can share the load. I was solo and carried all my stuff.

What should we look for when we buy a pair of panniers?
Is it better to have medium size panniers back and front instead of one heavy on on the back?

It depends on what you want to carry. I had large bags on the back and medium on the front with room to spare.

4. Weather. It's going to be quite cold in early november. We got rain jackets and good sleeping bags. What else should we have in mind? Is it better stopping during heavy rain or should we just tough it up?

Dress in layers. If it is raining and cold stop. Best not to get sick. If it is raining and hot, as long as it isnt heavy rain, ride through, it can be refreshing.

5. Budget. We think we are going to have a paltry 1000$ a piece for this adventure. Is that sum is feasible to reach south Florida?

I toured for 3 months on $3,000. I also stayed in St Louis, Louisville, DC, Hershey, Baltimore, Boston, NYC, Philadelphia, Durham, Atlanta, Pensacola, New Orleans, and Houston. Those were the major cities that I spent several days in and bought souvenirs for my family. It all depends on what you do and how much you are willing to spend. If I avoided the major cities Im sure I could have done this 3 month trip for $1800.

6. Money making. Has anyone has success staying a few days in little towns and trying to make a bit of money? Day labors? Craigslist? Any other ideas?

I have heard of cyclists becoming pedicab drivers while visiting a city. This might not work if you have time restrictions. Cities may regulate the pedicab industry and require certain things before you can ride.

If you can control yourself, you can also gamble in New Orleans and Biloxi. I didnt get the chance in Biloxi but I won $100 in NOLA. I actually could have won $200 but the first time I went gambling I put my winnings on red. Oh well, I walked away $100 richer anyway.


7. Any other touring on a budget resources we could use? Any sites of tips and tricks of the trade?

To save money try to find places to stay using warmshowers.org or Couchsurfing.org

8. Tools. What is the bare essential bike fixing tool kit you would advice taking a long?

I had a Leatherman multitool and a bike multitool. That was all I needed.

9. Bike rack. Should it be some crazy heavy duty, tour designed rack or would a simple rack like this will suffice?
https://www.amazon.com/Topeak-6310703...6382574&sr=8-1

That was almost the same rack I used. The only difference is mine had the spring on it. Mine was two years old and worked beautifully. I still have it but I kept it on my touring rig, I now ride a different bike daily.

10. Is it feasible to eat well and cook most of your meals on the road? Are most people will succumb to fast food options after a few days? Soaking rice and lentils in bottles?

You can cook on the road. The biggest problem is making sure you have enough water to cook/drink/clean for your meal.

11. Any other logistics we should figure out?
I would take at least one spare tire. Three tubes each. You can usually patch them but you dont want to be stuck in the middle of nowhere, out of patches, with a flat. I got a flat everyday I rode from Florida to San Antonio.

Get water every chance you get. Take lots of pictures. If you want to try something, try it so you have no regrets.

Mobile is tricky to navigate through. You will probably have to ride around the entire city. There is a river on the east bank and the only way into the city is by freeway or tunnel. I got lucky and caught a ride through the tunnel.

Thats all I can think of for now.

You can ride SR 190 to get out of Texas, that will lead you into New Orleans. From there just stay on Old Highway 90 or the Old Spanish Trail. Usually the same road, but they do separate sometimes.
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Old 10-07-10, 11:27 AM
  #19  
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If you take even a short 3 day shake-down tour many of the issues above will become perfectly clear.
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Old 10-07-10, 02:47 PM
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Wow!

Wow you guys! Thank you so much for all the wonderful input.

Some more info about the bikes: They are in a surprisingly good condition considering their age. I am pretty sure they were kept indoors because they are rust free and very much rideable. They have steel wheels and seem to have very few "hard miles" on them. We definitely plan to tune them up before we leave.

Thanks for all the extensive equipment recommendations! I liked those marathon tires and the pannier.
"Inexpensive, lightweight, durable - pick any two." I liked that...

We do plan on doing a few 2 days test trip to see how we fare.

About rain and wet feet, could you tie plastic bags around your shoes during heavy rains? Has anyone tried that?

About stealth camping. Have anyone had problems with the law doing that? Is it basically means sneaking to the woody part near highways and private fields?

warmshowers.org looks like a brilliant idea! We do know about Couchsurfing.com and hosted some people before. I plan checking out those other websites as well.

Thank you again for your time and input! Y'all rock.
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Old 10-07-10, 04:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Salinger7
Wow you guys! Thank you so much for all the wonderful input.

Some more info about the bikes: They are in a surprisingly good condition considering their age. I am pretty sure they were kept indoors because they are rust free and very much rideable. They have steel wheels and seem to have very few "hard miles" on them. We definitely plan to tune them up before we leave.

Thanks for all the extensive equipment recommendations! I liked those marathon tires and the pannier.
"Inexpensive, lightweight, durable - pick any two." I liked that...

We do plan on doing a few 2 days test trip to see how we fare.

About rain and wet feet, could you tie plastic bags around your shoes during heavy rains? Has anyone tried that?

About stealth camping. Have anyone had problems with the law doing that? Is it basically means sneaking to the woody part near highways and private fields?

warmshowers.org looks like a brilliant idea! We do know about Couchsurfing.com and hosted some people before. I plan checking out those other websites as well.

Thank you again for your time and input! Y'all rock.
You can tie plastic bags around your shoes as long as you don't use clip in pedals. It looks goofy but who cares?

Stealth camping I've haven't done yet. But you do have to be careful and get off far enough into the woods so that someone won't see you from the road. A lot of farmers will let you camp on their land if you ask and if you promise to leave it as you found it. Some schools, churches and fire stations will let you camp on their land if you ask and leave as you found it again thing. Don't forget if you need a shower and can't find one you can always go to truck stops.

::::CAUTION:::: You mention you have steel wheels, are you sure their steel and not aluminum? If steel you have to be very cautious about stopping in the wet, because you won't when the steel gets wet. If steel see if you can find some used AL rims somewhere. Another problem, if your wheels are steel your tire selection will be considerably less because more then likely you have 27" rims and not the standard 700c rims. Thus to find adequate touring tires for 27's may be impossible. It eliminated all the Schwalbe tires except for one the Marathon HS 368 which is too narrow of a tire for touring on even though they call it a touring tire, but that tire may be as wide as you can put on that rim anyways. So look at those if your running a 27" rim and don't want to spend the money for AL rims. If you have steel rims and don't want to replace them then set out the rain storms, DO NOT RIDE IN THE RAIN WITH STEEL RIMS.
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Old 10-07-10, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Salinger7
Some more info about the bikes: They are in a surprisingly good condition considering their age. I am pretty sure they were kept indoors because they are rust free and very much rideable. They have steel wheels and seem to have very few "hard miles" on them. We definitely plan to tune them up before we leave.

:
You can tour on steel wheels, but DON"T ride in the rain as you'll discover how long it takes for them to work. If there's no rust on the spokes at the nipples I'd suggest putting a drop of penetrating oil on the spoke just above the nipple, wiping the excess off and riding the bike with a full load around town for a week(ten hours maybe) THEN have them looked at by a mechanic if you're not familiar with truing wheels. What I discovered when I had my shop was that a lot of people started out on journeys with old bikes that never had wheel problems but once they loaded up the rear rack and rode more miles in a week than the bike got in a year things started happening. And the cheapest course is usually a whole new wheel, and the less cheap course is a new freewheel/cassette and chain. There are lots of cheap durable 27"x 1 1/4 tires. Remember, the more weight you put on the rear wheel the shorter the life of that wheel. When I was 15 I rode a 1967 26"x 1 3/8" steel wheeled bike on lots of 50 mile rides. I don't recall the quality of spokes on the Mirage but hopefully they aren't chromed. The common low cost cadmium plated ones were plenty strong but they could corrode with the nipples over time.
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Old 10-07-10, 06:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Salinger7
Wow you guys! Thank you so much for all the wonderful input.



About rain and wet feet, could you tie plastic bags around your shoes during heavy rains? Has anyone tried that?
I put the plastic bags on the inside of the shoes. My riding shoes may get wet, but my feet stay warm and dry. If it is cold, by wife uses neoprene diving socks. I would give them a try, but they don't seem to make them in size Bozo the Clown.
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I carry some handle bags for both the shoes and the leather seat. I wear the handle bags under my sandles, and they hold up real well.

Hard to argue about the points made on steel rims. All I can say is my first tourer a peugeot had them. My parents toured with them. My mom's bike had calipeer brakes even. They do eventually stop. Texas doesn't sound wet, but I guess the coast could surprise you.
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Old 10-08-10, 08:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Salinger7
Howdy!
What a wonderful and knowledgeable forum! I'm so glad some one pointed me here.
Me and girlfriend are going to start our first major bike tour, starting from central Texas and ending at south Florida in about a month. We never ever done anything like that and are super excited about this. A week ago we bought a pair of 70's mirage motobecane bicycles.
If I were you I'd considing trying to find a deal on aluminium wheels - though if you really don't have any money to spare steel ones will do fine. Just be aware of the limitations wrt wet braking.
Originally Posted by Salinger7
We have a bunch of questions for the more experienced members here:

1. Are the adventure cycling maps really worth it?
If you're tight on money don't buy maps. I take pictures of google maps, or print them out. Navigating is much easier if you use proper roads instead of trails/back roads. This means you might be riding with a lot of traffic so you need to learn how to behave in that situation.
https://www.kenkifer.com/bikepages/traffic/traffic.htm
(You might as well read his whole site)
Originally Posted by Salinger7
2. Weight. I weigh 167 pounds and she weighs 154. How much weigh would be the limit
for average fitness person?
I carried around 15kg on my last tour. I surfed couches, and occasionally stealth camped a few days between couches. I could fully support myself for weeks with just those 15kg, but mind that this was in the summer and it never really rained. If it were colder I'd have to bring proper rain gear. (The few hours of rain I got didn't bother me, just let myself go wet). I also didn't bring cooking gear, as I just ate raw vegetables and fruit combined with canned food like sardines and beans and the occasional chocolate.
Originally Posted by Salinger7
3. Panniers. Are the cheaper and simple panniers like this one:
https://www.amazon.com/Topeak-MTX-Tru...6382194&sr=8-5 would be sufficient?

What should we look for when we buy a pair of panniers?
Is it better to have medium size panniers back and front instead of one heavy on on the back?
Those panniers are awful, I'd suggest you make them yourself if you want to save money. Ken kifer wrote an article on making your own bags: https://www.kenkifer.com/bikepages/touring/bags.htm
Originally Posted by Salinger7
4. Weather. It's going to be quite cold in early november. We got rain jackets and good sleeping bags. What else should we have in mind? Is it better stopping during heavy rain or should we just tough it up?
Are your rain jackets well ventilated? If so you'll be okay, I think. For your feet just use plastic bags. If you have a roomy tent or a big tarp you can sit out the rain and rest a little.
A cheap way to have really good protection from the rain while riding is to use ponchos, possibly combined with a reflective belt to keep it together. You'll catch more wind but you won't heat up so much and your legs will be dry too.
Originally Posted by Salinger7
5. Budget. We think we are going to have a paltry 1000$ a piece for this adventure. Is that sum is feasible to reach south Florida?
That's certainly more than enough, I did 2000km on just 150, and that included buying better gear (sleeping bag and pump), a map, and eating out a few times on the way.
Originally Posted by Salinger7
6. Money making. Has anyone has success staying a few days in little towns and trying to make a bit of money? Day labors? Craigslist? Any other ideas?
You won't need this, but it'd be lovely to stay somewhere and work if the opportunity arises.
Originally Posted by Salinger7
7. Any other touring on a budget resources we could use? Any sites of tips and tricks of the trade?
You can go very cheap, just think outside the box and don't listen to people who say you need $50/day to have a great experience; you simply don't.
https://www.dirtragmag.com/printrag/d...f-bike-touring < is a nice article which might give you some ideas.
Originally Posted by Salinger7
8. Tools. What is the bare essential bike fixing tool kit you would advice taking a long?
https://sheldonbrown.com/beginners/index.html
Start reading
Look at your bicycle and if you don't know how a part works or how to fix it, read up on it. There's nothing like being able to fix your own bike on the road, it will give you a greater sense of security and confidence.
For tools and spares I carried a wrench for every nut on my bike (10mm and 15mm wrench and a few allen keys), spoke key and spare spokes, a chain tool and spare links, and of course tyre levers, patch kit and spare tubes.
Originally Posted by Salinger7
9. Bike rack. Should it be some crazy heavy duty, tour designed rack or would a simple rack like this will suffice?
https://www.amazon.com/Topeak-6310703...6382574&sr=8-1
That rack will probably do fine, but if you have access to such a place you might just as well look for a used steel rack in a used bike shop.
Originally Posted by Salinger7
10. Is it feasible to eat well and cook most of your meals on the road? Are most people will succumb to fast food options after a few days? Soaking rice and lentils in bottles?
Cooking on the road works fine, but you don't need it per se. Especially if you use couchsurfing.org you'll get to use the kitchen of your hosts. I haven't soaked rice or lentils, but I have eaten couscous by putting 50/50 couscous/water in a container and letting it soak. Tastes better if you add some sort of fat or oil to it (like from canned sardines).
Just remember to eat as much fat and proteines as possible if you're getting a big daily mileage. It's very hard to eat too much
Originally Posted by Salinger7
11. Any other logistics we should figure out?
With $2000 for the both of you and a tent you basically can figure it out on the road, should you run into problems. Be sure to make a few door-to-door trips to test everything out - even better is doing an overnighter with camping. However, I didn't even try my hammock and tarp setup properly before leaving and still did great. The first night wasn't too comfortable but you learn quickly!
Originally Posted by Salinger7
Thank you so much for your time and have a most excellent day!
You're welcome!
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