Author Topic: Newbie to touring and trying to figure out my fitness level  (Read 2004 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline dbbcpa

Newbie to touring and trying to figure out my fitness level
« on: January 15, 2012, 09:23:50 pm »
Hello, I am new to adventure cycling but I think I am hooked. I want to do a tour this summer but I am not sure which one to do. I live in Tampa, FL and have been riding for about 10 months. I am a male age 52, over 200 lbs but fairly active. I run in addition to biking. On Saturdays I usually do a flat 42 mile ride at about 20 mph in a group. I have recently done my first Metric Century and Century. Both of these included at least half of the miles in hills (dont laugh). I have been riding in the hills for about three months now. I have a road bike and a mountain bike. I am new to mountain biking and have only done trails a few times.

I want to do a tour and if a friend decides to go, I was thinking the Tetons-Yellowstone Van tour. If my friend does not go, I was thinking of the Cycle Montana Divide or the Canada Great Divide trips. My friend would only do a road tour. I like the idea of an offroad tour and camping in the Divide.

I guess my question is can I do it physically? Is it something I can really train for in Florida? How tough are the climbs? Here some of our hills seem tough to me. I was thinking of a supported tour for the first time so I did not have to have the additional weight. I am game for anything, I just dont want to Bonk! Any suggestions or comments would be helpful. Even links to other sites or discussions on this subject would be appreciated.

Thanks in Advance for your help!!

Offline Moni

Re: Newbie to touring and trying to figure out my fitness level
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2012, 09:50:21 pm »
I have toured a lot.  But, I have real problems in the mountains.  Everyone has a different set of difficulties to conquer, and mine are altitude.  I suck in higher altitude.

Moni from Oklahoma

Offline yumadons

Re: Newbie to touring and trying to figure out my fitness level
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2012, 10:29:35 pm »
You could easily do any of  those trips! I'm a slow girl rider your age. My husband and I trained for this summer's TransAm in totally flat Yuma, AZ (laser planed for agricultural irrigation). I ride a mountain bike with the whole anti-flat 2" slimed, linered tire setup and go a whopping 8-12 mph most of the time. 3 mph up mountain passes, 14-15 with a tailwind  :-)

Our training ride was 50 miles, no hills. Don has COPD so we took a weekend trip up to 6,000 feet to see what would happen & he was fine (albeit on a Trek electric-assist bike, FX+).  I've also done AC's Northern Tier and its discontinued North Star (Missoula to Anchorage, AK, half dirt roads) with 50 mile training rides in Mesa, AZ with only one hill. Not ever having ridden with a club, I was totally unfamiliar with the concept of spinning as I hit my first ever mountains, the Cascades, on my first ever tour, the Northern Tier. The group leader took one look, told me to get down in my lowest gear (luckily a mountain bike has really low gears) and spin! I did and went right over the Cascades and Rockies. I don't think I've ever stood up climbing hills and have never (yet) walked one. Just make sure you get a bike with low gears!!

My understanding of high altitude disease is that it's random - fit people can suffer just like the unfit. I was afraid COPD husband would have trouble on Hoosier Pass (11,500') but it turned out to be no problem. Cycling apparently isn't as oxygen demanding as hiking because Don would have to stop and catch his breath once or twice on the ~  500' walk uphill from the Keystone convention center to our hotel room. It helped that we had gradually acclimated by cycling over progressively higher passes coming from the west coast. Since you will not have this luxury, here are 3 ideas. 1) several people in the ski town of Keystone, CO told us it helps to SLEEP at high elevation before exercising there, so maybe you could come a few days early. 2) we bought packets of a powdered Gatorade - type product that is supposed to prevent altitude sickness called Acli-Mate at the Grant Lodge store in Yellowstone  3) avoid caffeine on altitude days.

Offline johnsondasw

Re: Newbie to touring and trying to figure out my fitness level
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2012, 12:15:43 am »
It sounds to me like you are in great shape.  I'd go for it.  The daily mileges on the tours you mentioned are manageable, and some people go much slower than others so you can come in later than the others and that's OK.  It makes a huge difference if you are not carrying gear, so if you do a supported tour you should have no problems given your current level of fitness.
May the wind be at your back!

Offline pptouring

Re: Newbie to touring and trying to figure out my fitness level
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2012, 06:27:20 am »
Hello DBBCPA and welcome to the world of bike touring. There really isn't much you can do here (Florida) that will prepare you for the mountains; however, you can put 40-50lbs on your bike and go ride the San An loop and/or head over to Clermont and ride all the hills there. This is what we do starting a couple months before heading off on our next adventure. Sure the roadies getting ready to roll out from parking lot will look at you strange, but what do they know? ;-)

Not sure if you are interested, but we try and get out fairly often for an "overnighter" and others are always welcome to travel along. Shoot us an email if you'd like to go sometime.

 

Offline tonythomson

Re: Newbie to touring and trying to figure out my fitness level
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2012, 09:03:43 am »
Wish I was as fit as you and I have just finished crossing Australia after doing LEJOG to try out the bike.  Although there are no mountains on LEJOG the hills are some of the steepest I have ever encountered - not graded like the Rockies or Alps.
Go for it and you'll soon gain confidence on mountains stretches.  For me they are the best after all you don't have to pedal 50% of the time    ;)
One thing or sure you'll have a great time.

Just heading your way to escape the cold here in UK and ride some of the trails.
Just starting to record my trips  www.tonystravels.com

Offline dbbcpa

Re: Newbie to touring and trying to figure out my fitness level
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2012, 09:44:27 pm »
Thanks to all for the encouragement. I am trying to decide which trip to do. pptouring, I will probably contact you and try to hook-up to meet you. It was funny you mentioned San Ann and Clermont. Those are the hills I was talking about. Adding 50 lbs and doing them would be interesting. I may try that on my old road bike with a triple. Maybe even my mountain bike with different tires. I rode Clermont in the Horrible Hundred but on did 35. Should have done 70 with Sugarloaf, the 35 was a little easier than I expected.

I guess the net stage is figuring out what gear I need and if my current bikes will work in a supported trip. My roadie is a Trek Madone 5.2 while my mountain bike is a Felt Q620 all stock. Any opinions would be appreciated.

Offline pptouring

Re: Newbie to touring and trying to figure out my fitness level
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2012, 05:45:35 am »
Sounds good! Looking forward to hearing from you.  8)

Offline reed523

Re: Newbie to touring and trying to figure out my fitness level
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2012, 07:37:08 am »
Sounds like you are good to go on fitness and the Trek will do fine on a supported tour as long as the geometry works for you day after day.  For me (your age), going to a touring bike made a huge difference in comfort.  You might consider slipping over to Texas this winter and ride in the Davis Mountains to see how it goes.  Plenty of climbing, decent elevation, and spectacular scenery - road or mountain bike. 

Welcome to touring.  You are going to love it.


Offline litespeed

Re: Newbie to touring and trying to figure out my fitness level
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2012, 03:36:50 pm »
I used to drive up to the little league parking lot in San Antonio and ride around the hills of eastern Pasco County every Sunday morning for about a metric century (60-65 miles) but I got tired of the 39 mile drive up. Now I just head off from my house in Holiday and head for the Pinellas or Suncoast Parkway Trail.

When it comes time to tour I just load up Pete's Machine and head off. Only once did I ever have any trouble in the first few days (low fitness, very hot weather). Otherwise I have always knocked off the 100 mile days right off.

Perseverance matters more than fitness. You are clearly plenty fit - fitter than me. You'll do fine. I never trained on a loaded bike - just packed up and headed off.