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How has your touring style evolved over time?

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How has your touring style evolved over time?

Old 06-27-13, 10:34 AM
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How has your touring style evolved over time?

Was thinking about this the other day, while going through all my gear in my bike area. Lots of panniers, racks, tires, handlebars.

When I first took a trip by bike, it was on a 1970 Motobecane Gran Touring. Great bike, it was thirty years old, 42/32 was the lowest gear. Cheap kenda knobby 27 inchers that flatted a lot. P clamps for the rack, cheap avenier bags, and a modified cooler for a bar bag. Wore my camelback for water. I had a nice time.

Then I started touring on a Maruishi Emperor frame I found in a shed, still had terrible gearing, but kept the load light. Got a real bar bag and started clamping water bottles all over the frame.

Later I had to have the touring frame with all the bosses, bottle cages, and lowrider fronts. Four Jandd mountaineering bags to carry all my stuff. I used a Miyata 1000 frame, though it was a bit small for me.(by the way, it really is an amazing bike, still looking for one in my size I can afford). Specialized armadillos sold me on flat resistant tires, though I have moved to Vittoria Randoneur Cross now.

At the same time I converted an old trek antelope to drop bar and used it for really rough canal path/fire road long distance touring. I have fond memories of washing pounds of mud and filth off of that bike in front of an Embassy Suites Hotel while other people looked on with a sort of fascinated horror. I was sunburnt to a crisp, had a lot of cuts all over my face from a hail/windstorm I had been caught in a couple days before and I think I was eating a roasted chicken like an apple while I was doing it. When I finished and wheeled it in I could hear the person at the desk telling someone that it was ok, I was a guest...

Univega Gran Turismo with front and rear racks, good gearing, Started using water bladders on the tops of the racks and lightening the load to one set of panniers.

Then I started making my own bags chasing the light weight bug. So I did not need a touring frame, just the most comfortable bike I had. Sometimes use a 1991 Schwinn 974 aluminum framed road bike with a(to me)horrible low gear of 46/26, but that's just for totally stripped down to just a hammock and one change of clothes. For long distance self supported with a stove, tent and hammock, and off bike threads, Its now this one, my 1981 Centurion with 700c wheels, all home made bags, two pads(Zrest and my favorite old thermarest)

I like this bike because its comfortable, stiff(champion #5 tubing is good for a heavy rider)and has a "classic" look. It has no rack mounts, but that's not an issue right now. Right now I am in a fenderless mode, but that might change back.

I am sure that things will continue to change, and I am hesitant to get rid of any of my gear, cause I might do a tour that calls for four heavy pannier and racks. But changing tastes in what I like to tour on got be wondering if anyone else did this. I glossed over a lot, all the stoves, the pads, tents, bags, tarps, and the like, but they all fed off of what I was wanting to ride and how I wanted to carry it, and vice versa.

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Old 06-27-13, 11:14 AM
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Much shorter touring career than you, about 9 years, but lots of miles. Only ride change has been from DF to bent. The DF did go through so many mods that the frame is all that's original. All I knew about bicycles 9 years ago was that if you kept pedaling you likely wouldn't fall over.

Of course, gear load has shrunk in half and cooking is now a rarity. The fun factor is as high as ever.
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Old 06-27-13, 11:19 AM
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My first tour was on a single speed Western Flyer with a medium sized front Wald basket. It was a long weekend tour. I did a trans-continental tour in 1977 on a slightly modified Motobecane Nomade. Now my tours are more likely to be S24O on whatever bike I want to use. I also do a fair number of spoke and hub type tours where we stay in a central location and take day rides out and back. I am also doing more B&B to B&B tours too.

I still have most of my touring equipment that I have purchased over the years, it is nice to be able to pick and choose what I want to use for a given tour.

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Old 06-27-13, 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by shipwreck
When I first took a trip by bike, it was on a 1970 Motobecane Gran Touring. Great bike, it was thirty years old, 42/32 was the lowest gear. Cheap kenda knobby 27 inchers that flatted a lot. P clamps for the rack, cheap avenier bags, and a modified cooler for a bar bag. Wore my camelback for water. I had a nice time.

At the same time I converted an old trek antelope to drop bar and used it for really rough canal path/fire road long distance touring. I have fond memories of washing pounds of mud and filth off of that bike in front of an Embassy Suites Hotel while other people looked on with a sort of fascinated horror. I was sunburnt to a crisp, had a lot of cuts all over my face from a hail/windstorm I had been caught in a couple days before and I think I was eating a roasted chicken like an apple while I was doing it. When I finished and wheeled it in I could hear the person at the desk telling someone that it was ok, I was a guest...
People are often pulled away from touring because they think they have to spend so much money on all the gear when in fact, as you have demonstrated, this is not true. I have a 30$ rear rack, old Cannondale panniers, a seat bag I found on a commute, water bottle holders from another bike, and unused tires that a friend graciously donated to me.

And about the drop bar conversion... OK-- that's just creepy. I have a Trek Antelope as well, which I am converting to drop bars TODAY.

Sunburnt to a crisp, I was. Went for a 40 mile practice ride last week in prep for my tour and forgot to put on sunscreen...

I think that you can tour on whatever the hell you want, wherever the hell you want, and whenever the hell you want, and STILL have a great time.

My touring style has gone from riding a hardtail MTB with flat bars, converted to a rigid, and then to a rigid road frame with (soon-to-be) drop bars.
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Old 06-27-13, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by jowilson
People are often pulled away from touring because they think they have to spend so much money on all the gear
I think that is true in some cases. In others I think the expensive gear is actually the attraction. For some of the latter group, they may actually find they don't like touring as much as they like the stuff associated with it.

BTW I agree that it is quite possible to tour, even for long tours with very little investment. An older bike and some inexpensive gear can have a very small price tag.
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Old 06-27-13, 01:08 PM
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My gear hasn't really changed, more the attitude. the first tour I took -- four days in central France -- I was all worried about this or that. Made B&B reservations. Did all sorts of planning.

My last tour -- central Europe -- I pretty much winged it. I had one or two destinations in mind but otherwise found whatever sleeping accommodations presented themselves. Ate wherever. Few worries. It's so easy, now.

I often chuckle at the 'newbie' touring threads -- not at the poster, but because I see some of myself in them. I'm sure after a few tours, many of them will come to wonder what made it so hard to jump into touring in the first place.
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Old 06-27-13, 01:09 PM
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My touring has changed a lot in packing style. I have trimmed down the packing list from 45 pounds of base gear weight to 10 or 12 pounds and figure I can go with less. I have not really eliminated any capability, just minimized excess junk and picked lighter alternatives in my gear choices. I can still cook and camp and am still fine going for weeks or months, but I am carrying a lot less stuff. That also means that I can ride a lighter sportier bike. I should note that with only a couple exceptions most of that reduction was done in a frugal manner, only really splurging on a few items like my sleeping pad and sleeping bag.
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Old 06-27-13, 01:33 PM
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I started touring as a child with my father and brother on a mountain bike. In my 20's I acquired a Bridgestone T500 which was well suited to my generally more aggressive riding at the time. I have now come full circle and am using a mid eighties Diamond Back "Mean Streak". Comfort is now more of a priority to me and the long wheel base, wider tires works great.
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Old 06-27-13, 01:51 PM
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That diamond back is such a classic design. I like the pedals, is that a do it yourself? I have an eighties KHS Expedition that has almost the same geometry.

Been using it as a Ute bike, and the other day snapped the chain coming up a hill with a load, so its in the stand waiting for a rebuild. It needs it. I have literally ridden its parts I put on last time into the ground. There is something so comforting about having to kick the front derailer to get it to downshift though The front bags are actually the same that I did my first several tours with!

There are so many things that one changes over time. I started with SPD pedals, went to platforms, now back into toeclips, though I may use the spds again for my next longer trip that will be more focused on speed.
One constant, is the champion flyer saddle. It goes onto whatever I am touring on at the moment.

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Old 06-27-13, 01:57 PM
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Possibly someday I will be doing this.

ultralight trailer camping. Snapped this pic while driving back from a trade show in my short wheelbase Ram van, in which I had camped for a week
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Old 06-27-13, 03:12 PM
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Hmmmm..... Back in '78, I rode from Cleveland OH to Madison WI and back with just one water bottle, my seat tool bag, $100 in cash and a canvas duffle bag bungied to my Pletcher rear rack. Stealth-camped in culverts and under bridges. Two changes of clothes and a windbreaker, some plastic garbage bags (for the duffle and for myself as a poncho). No tent, no food, no panniers. I ate at McDonald's or Burger King as I found them - back then two bucks got you three burgers, fries, apple pie and a coke! I think twice I stopped for a pizza... Two weeks on the road, and a week in Milwaukee/Madison. The time of my life!

The day I rode from Kenosha to Watertown, I stopped at a podunk bar in the middle of Nowhere WI, and when they heard where I came from and where I was going, they were so enthralled with my journey that they didn't even charge me for the lunch (or the beers!).

I only wish I could do that sort of care-free touring again! I'm much older and I want/need/like my comforts!!!

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Old 06-27-13, 08:37 PM
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I did a 1,500 mile tour of New England with about 15lbs of stuff. Here's a pic:


This year, I'm going to Canada. I'll be there in the fall, which means cold and even potentially snow. I will need layers, warm stuff, more than 3 hours worth of emergency food, and I want to bring a Macbook Air so I can work from the road. I will have a Revelate Tangle frame bag, a wider rear tire for snow traction, and a pair of Ortlieb Back-Rollers with the inside organizers gutted.

I still love going light, but last tour I made a lot of mistakes:

1) I was NOT visible. I'm lucky I had two friends, because I pulled off all my reflectors and wore all black, not thinking about visibility. Now, I don't even own black cycling stuff; I light up like a parakeet on the bike. I also covered both rims with reflective tape (Lightweights on the spokes) and I'm packing a tail-light. Will likely add a lot more reflective tape to the Ortliebs.

2) I will need to keep better track of my stuff. I lost three hammock straps, a pair of shades, a helmet, and a phone last tour.

3) I need to be capable of carrying more than base touring weight. I maxed out at 3 days worth of food and 1/2 a day worth of water, I want to double both (triple on the water)

So what have I learned? Go light, but don't go stupid light, keep the finnicky straps and dry-bags to a minimum to save time packing up camp, and bring a backpacking stove because hot meals are a dream.
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Old 06-28-13, 04:43 AM
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I started doing hub-and-spoke tours when I was a child ... my parents, brother, and I travelled quite a bit, and since we were all cyclists, the bicycles came with us. We'd stop in an area for a few days or a week or so, and cycle here, there, and everywhere.




And I still really enjoy hub-and-spoke tours. That's probably my favourite touring style for various reasons including ... I know where I'm sleeping that night and I can travel very light.


I've also done several supported tours which are nice too because I can travel light and things like meals etc. are all done for me. And I'd like to do more of them.


When I started doing non-supported, point-to-point tours I had been randonneuring for a couple years so I was used to travelling long distances without much stuff (a handlebar bag and a Carradice), and my touring partner at the time toured extremely ultralight, so those things influenced how I toured.

Once, I tried going with 4 panniers, but that only lasted for the first couple days of a 3-month tour of Australia, and then I put 2 of the panniers and about 10 lbs of stuff into storage.


However, there has been one item that has gone through an evolution ... my sleeping mat! In the beginning, I slept on the ground ... in a tent, but with nothing but an ultralight sleeping bag and the tent floor between me and the ground. That was COLD. Then I upgraded to a cut-down thin blue foam mat. Better, but still not very comfortable. Then I upgraded to a 3/4 length Thermarest. That seemed really comfy compared with my previous options. But on our recent RTW tour, we used thick full-length mats which were indeed comfortable.
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Old 06-28-13, 04:51 AM
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My style hasn't so much evolved as broadened. When I first started touring it was always a drop-bar touring bike with a couple of panniers, sometimes camping but more often hostels/B&Bs and for periods up to a week. Now my tours differ dramatically in length, from a very few days up to a couple of months. The longer and more adventurous ones will be on a rohloff-equipped expedition tourer with panniers front and back, the shorter ones on a road bike with a saddlebag.

I've never been able to fit "hub and spoke" into my personal definition of touring. If you're sleeping in the same place every night, to me that isn't a tour, it's taking the bike with you when going on vacation. But that's just me.
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Old 06-28-13, 06:35 AM
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When I started touring there was no Internet. So information was harder to come by and often I had to WRITE to request maps and brochures for each area of interest. Same for services. It was: stop at a phone booth, grab the Yellow Pages, look up addresses of local restaurants, markets and loging. Reservations were made by telephone and it was usually long distance. The Internet has made all that a piece of cake. And good information can deamatically decrease the amount you have to carry. The individual portions of pre-prepared food currently available at most supermarkets weren't available anywhere 40 years ago.

Overall there are more facilities and places to eat available today than 40 years ago and they're closer together and easier to find. Makes any kind of tour or excursion much less of a challenge and even more fun. I still prefer to travel outside tourist season regardless.
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Old 06-28-13, 06:43 AM
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I'm relatively new to self-supported tourning, just a couple of years. I did a fair amount of fully-self-contained backpacking in my youth. The hardest mental adaptation for me has been learning to take full advantage of redily availible resupply. I'm leaving at noon today (yes!) for a six day tour. None of my guestimated camp areas are more than 20 miles (two hours max) from a town with goroceries and restaurants. I'm still brining three dinners, three breakfasts, at least three luches, lots of snack food, and coffee for every morning.

Another adaptation has been learning to take advantage of dry camp sites. I always camped near water while backpacking. I usually cooked pasta or rice for dinner because their dry weight per calorie is very high. A little water for breakfast, to drink, and wash up dishes. It's a lot to carry. Cycle touring, I can easily cary enough water for the same routine, or even just eat before camp and later on the road in the morning. That opens up lots of opportunites. I especially like hill and mountain top sites. I love sunset and sunrise up high.
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Old 06-28-13, 10:06 AM
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The bike itself got heavier , to better handle on the road while carrying my home away from home.
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Old 06-28-13, 10:11 AM
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Used to carry everything and dress nice.....Now I carry nothing and look like a bum......Bike sure is light!.......That's evolution for ya!...Just call me Stylin Ernie....

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Old 06-30-13, 04:13 AM
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I started by jumping in at the deep end with a ride from Perth to Adelaide across the Nullarbor Plain on a hybrid equipped with stuff that I cobbled together -- four panniers fashioned from old light canvas backpacks, a cheap tent, a borrowed sleeping bag and a hefty propane stove.

I built a tiny business running half and full day bike tours, then got back into "proper" touring with a front-suspension MTB with front and rear panniers.

I got a "real" touring bike, a Fuji Touring, around 2001, and combined touring with an increasing interest in randonneuring, for which I took the original philosophy of fast touring.

Randonneuring taught me a lot. It took me overseas, and showed me how lightly someone can tour. I had great fun.

Now we do hub-and-spoke type tours which are as enjoyable as all the others. I've even done an overnighter with a trailer, and of course, we combined all forms with our RTW trip last year.

I would like to try some fast point-to-point touring again, although not necessarily randonneuring, and that may be from the most northerly tip of Australia to the most southerly.

I don't have a favourite form of cycle-touring. I've discovered new places, I have gone back several times to some of my favourites, and there are quite a few others that I intend to revisit.

It's all good as far as I am concerned.
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Old 06-30-13, 07:57 AM
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I started with racks and panniers about 35 years ago and have been doing more credit card tours in the last couple of years. No camping or cooking.
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Old 07-01-13, 12:55 AM
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Started with a extremely cheap-o asian MTB with extremely poor quality gear. Dumped the bike and built up my current Surly, which ended up with 4 panniers worth of too much room. Dumped half the panniers, and now slowly evolving into a hybrid pannier/backpacking setup. Liking it so far, but now I feel the Troll is too heavy duty for the amount of gear I carry. Feeling the urge to build a CF or at least AL roadie touring bike.
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Old 07-01-13, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by SparkyGA
Started with a extremely cheap-o asian MTB with extremely poor quality gear. Dumped the bike and built up my current Surly, which ended up with 4 panniers worth of too much room. Dumped half the panniers, and now slowly evolving into a hybrid pannier/backpacking setup. Liking it so far, but now I feel the Troll is too heavy duty for the amount of gear I carry. Feeling the urge to build a CF or at least AL roadie touring bike.
Sparky,

Why not steel? Just curious.
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Old 07-01-13, 08:34 AM
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Thirty years ago, I would ride most of the daylight hours and sleep in a plastic tube tent beside the road as it got dark.

Over time, the daily distances have decreased. More because of less hours in the saddle than because I am riding slower. I am carrying about the same amount of stuff but less likely to cook meals on the road. Carry a tent, but more likely to find a bed & shower when I can. Carry more spare parts.

As far as equipment goes, bike I first toured on didn't have fully functioning brakes and I've gone from that to cantilever brakes, v-brakes to sometimes disc brakes. Bikes themselves went from garage sale 10-speed to Lotus Odyssey (first real touring bike), to Cannondale T1000, to Trek 520 with touring on Trek 4500 (mountain bike) and Lightfoot Ranger (recumbent) as well. Have gone from owning one bike to owning five - and from owning one car to owning zero.

I've also broadened touring style with variety of self-supported, supported, event-rides, etc.
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Old 07-01-13, 11:26 AM
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@shipwreck: "That diamond back is such a classic design. I like the pedals, is that a do it yourself? I have an eighties KHS Expedition that has almost the same geometry."

Yes thank you, all of my bikes have some kind of DIY platform adaptors. They work great, the surface area is so large that there is almost no sensation of pressure on the foot when pedaling. The version in the above picture are a bit complicated dimensionally, but 1x1 material works fine. MKS pedals work best for this adaptation but there are plenty of other pedals that could be made to accept blocks of wood.

P.S. I like your rugged rig.
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Old 07-01-13, 04:30 PM
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Originally Posted by mdilthey
Sparky,

Why not steel? Just curious.
I have 2 steel framed bikes already Rather love them, but just day dreaming about a lightweight frame. Never really owned anything but steel frames.
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