Author Topic: Complete newb, TA in 2014  (Read 2855 times)

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Offline furtigan

Complete newb, TA in 2014
« on: August 11, 2013, 07:00:00 pm »
So I don't currently own a bike.  And I decided today I want to go cross-country next year.

I have some precedent for this; in 2006 I'd never been backpacking, and two years later I did the Appalachian Trail.  Been thinking about doing the Transamerica ever since.   Next summer I may be able to create window of time between the end of grad school and the start of a job adequate to do Transamerica.  (I hear 3 months, right?), and if I don't do it now, it may be years before I can get enough time off. 

I need to buy a bike and start riding in the next week or two.  I'd like to avoid spending huge money; is there a touring bike that will do the job for under $1000?   Recumbent or upright?

I've already started getting in shape, and I'm reading the journals on Crazy Guy on a Bike to learn.  Any guidance for a newb appreciated?

Offline John Nelson

Re: Complete newb, TA in 2014
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2013, 07:54:36 pm »
Three months is enough. Many riders do it in less time. Few take longer.

The ACA 2012 Touring Bike Buyer's Guide says, "Factory bicycles suited for fully-loaded touring can be had for roughly $1,000 to $2,000, with very few offered below the $1,000 mark. If you can’t afford that, a light touring bike might be had for $500."

http://www.adventurecycling.org/default/assets/File/AdventureCyclist/OnlineOnlyFeatures/BuyersGuide/201204_BuyersGuide_Wider.pdf

Below $1000, the guide includes:

Motobecane Gran Tourismo ($800)
Raleigh Bicycles Port Townsend ($850)
Novara Safari ($899)
Marioni Tourismo ($875/$1000); Tourismo Extreme ($925/$1050)

Keep in mind that you probably need to spend more on gear. From your AT hike, you probably already have most of the non-biking clothes and camping gear you need, but you probably need racks and panniers, some spare parts and tools and some biking-specific clothes, gloves, shoes and helmet. You'll also need to save some money for food and camping fees en route, and for transportation to the start and home from the finish.

Most bicycle tourists use upright bikes. Those that use recumbents, however, are passionate about them.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Complete newb, TA in 2014
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2013, 07:10:21 am »
The TA should be pretty easy compared to the AT IMO.

My advice is to decide what you want to carry first then pick the bike.

The $599 Windsor Touring is a decent bike for fairly heavy touring with a tight budget.  Go over the spoke tension or have someone do it for you though.  Then keep an eye on the wheels during the trip.

The lighter you pack the sportier of a bike you can ride.  I have found that I like to travel with less than 15 pounds of gear which allows riding a road race type bike.  I am still comfortable and have cooking and camping gear at that weight or even a good bit less.  If you backpacked ultralight this may make sense for you.

As you go heavier you need more of a touring bike or at least stouter wheels than a race bike typically has.  An older used race bike might have 32 or even 36 spoke wheels.  That goes a long way toward suitability.  You will also want low gears and if the bike you pick doesn't have them you will need to modify it.

Personally I wouldn't even consider a recumbent, but that is just my preference.  Your's may vary.

So I don't currently own a bike.  And I decided today I want to go cross-country next year.

I have some precedent for this; in 2006 I'd never been backpacking, and two years later I did the Appalachian Trail.  Been thinking about doing the Transamerica ever since.   Next summer I may be able to create window of time between the end of grad school and the start of a job adequate to do Transamerica.  (I hear 3 months, right?), and if I don't do it now, it may be years before I can get enough time off. 

I need to buy a bike and start riding in the next week or two.  I'd like to avoid spending huge money; is there a touring bike that will do the job for under $1000?   Recumbent or upright?

I've already started getting in shape, and I'm reading the journals on Crazy Guy on a Bike to learn.  Any guidance for a newb appreciated?

Offline furtigan

Re: Complete newb, TA in 2014
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2013, 12:16:45 pm »
After looking into it, I can accept that I need to spend $2000 on a decent bike, and that recumbant isn't the way to go for me.

I think my plan is going to be to buy a cheaper bike, ride it over the next few months, see what I like and don't, and then buy a better bike in spring.  More expensive that way, but better than spending $2k on a bike I don't like.   My local shop has a Jamis Coda 540 for under $600 that looks pretty good.  (Any thoughts on that?)

I can get set up with that and start biking on the trails around me; if things go well, I will have a week in October to try and do the Great Allegheny Passage/C&O towpath; if not, spring break.   

My base weight (ie no food or water) for hiking is about 15-18 pounds; I travel light, but not ultralight.  I can be tough on gear, and especially given that I haven't ridden a bike more than a couple miles at a time in years, I'm going to need a rugged touring bike. 

Getting excited about planning this.  Any general advice welcome.

Offline indyfabz

Re: Complete newb, TA in 2014
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2013, 01:12:44 pm »
Do you live near an REI store? They have a couple of reasonably priced touring bikes--the Safari and Randonee.

Offline furtigan

Re: Complete newb, TA in 2014
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2013, 01:50:54 pm »
I do.  I'll go check them out.  Do you have experience with either/both?

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Complete newb, TA in 2014
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2013, 03:52:33 pm »
For touring bikes the standard is:
Trek 520
Surly Long Haul Trucker
REI Novara Randonee

With distant second being
Nashbar steel touring bike
Bikes Direct Motobecane steel touring bike

The first set is $1200-1500 each.  Second set is $700-800 each.  Bike only.  These are not the only touring bikes.  There are others I am not aware of.  Second set will need a mechanic to inspect the bike and overhaul it.  First set comes from a bike shop so should be good to go.  All the bikes above will work perfectly.  Its just the second set will need more inspection and adjustment before starting out.  No racks or bags unless the bike happens to come with a rear rack.  I use the Nashbar mountain bike panniers and am happy with them.  $50 pair.  Nashbar front lowrider rack too.  No longer made.  Blackburn Expedition rear rack.  So you don't have to spend lots of money on bags and racks.  Or on a bike either.  If you are judicious you can put it all together for $1000.  You will want to change the front chainring to the smallest possible.  22 or 24 teeth.  And maybe change the rear cassette to a 34 or 32 big cog.  Get the lowest gears possible.

Offline Greg in MO

Re: Complete newb, TA in 2014
« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2013, 04:35:33 pm »
Since cost is obviously an issue, I recommend you hit Craigslist.  Go to the bikes section and then search for "touring" and see what comes up.  Often you can get a great deal on an older touring bike that will do a great job for you.  I see Trek 520's fairly often around here on CL for $400-$600.  They usually already have racks and everything.  Try to figure out what size you need to narrow things down.

Best of luck!

Greg

Offline furtigan

Re: Complete newb, TA in 2014
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2013, 05:03:06 pm »
D'oh!  I didn't even think about CL.  I see several usable bikes on there right now that should get me started  ...  Trek 420 for $200 sound reasonable?

Not for a TA bike -- for getting used to biking again, and for maybe doing 300 miles from Pittsburgh-DC.

Offline Greg in MO

Re: Complete newb, TA in 2014
« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2013, 01:58:00 pm »
The Trek 420 as I remember was a sport tourer/commuter bike.  I don't remember what level of components were on it (probably depended on the year).  I probably wouldn't pay $200 unless it was in really good shape or had upgrades to the components.  Does it come with a rack, pump, etc?  If you have some mechanic skills, you can tune/repair on your own, but if not you want to be sure you don't have to take it to the shop right away to get it working.

Take a good test ride, make sure everything works, and that it fits you size-wise.  Then haggle.  If you can get them down to $150 and is in good shape that would probably be a fine deal to get you started, and a bike like that could easily be used for short tours to test out your skills/equipment.

Greg

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Complete newb, TA in 2014
« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2013, 02:00:15 pm »
Get the best bike you can afford. Do not skimp or save on the tires because if you do, you are not really saving. Do your homework. Get really good tires. Don't get anything below a Schwalbe Marathon. Most any well made frame will get you there, but it must be built at correct angles, and it must be a good fit for you personally. Wheels and tires are extremely important. Get tires that will go all the way across. There are plenty of old used frames that can be had for very little. Minus a triple crank set, you can fit it out for under $200.00.

Offline iwstamp

Re: Complete newb, TA in 2014
« Reply #11 on: August 23, 2013, 04:21:13 am »
I second REI. I have a two year old Novara Safari, bought new with the REI members discount for $800. I upgraded the wheels ($400) and the rack ($50) and bought some nice panniers. Don't forget a light, maybe a GPS (I love my Garmin), So you can get a nice bike and accoutrements (not counting the GPS) for less than $1500. I have 2000 miles on the Safari...it is all the touring bike I need.

Offline furtigan

Re: Complete newb, TA in 2014
« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2013, 12:30:57 pm »
Hey, thanks all.  I just bought a very-lightly-used Novara Buzz for $150.  It's not my TA bike, but it's in great shape and will do for the next few months.   If the wife sees me riding that all Fall and Spring, she'll be a lot more comfortable about dropping $1000 on a Safari or Randonee.

Any recommendations on training?  I'm going to be very busy this fall, but this winter, I'll bring the bike inside, get a stand and try to do an hour a day 3-4 times a week.  Anyone have ideas on what training should look like.  I didn't train much for the AT, which wasn't a problem because there were plenty of stumps to stop and take a breath on while hiking.  I'm thinking I probably need to be in better shape for the TA. 

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Complete newb, TA in 2014
« Reply #13 on: August 23, 2013, 01:01:04 pm »
Any recommendations on training?  I'm going to be very busy this fall, but this winter, I'll bring the bike inside, get a stand and try to do an hour a day 3-4 times a week.  Anyone have ideas on what training should look like.  I didn't train much for the AT, which wasn't a problem because there were plenty of stumps to stop and take a breath on while hiking.  I'm thinking I probably need to be in better shape for the TA.

There's plenty of guardrails, picnic tables at parks, stools at fast food benches, and booths at slightly better eateries and convenience stores along the TA; so it is possible to ride yourself into shape in a couple of weeks.  If you take this approach, back your expectations down to 30-40 miles a day for those first two weeks.

A better approach is to ride lots.  You may be able to get the fast-twitch muscles and cardiovascular system into shape with a trainer.  But as soon as the roads thaw, start doing some long rides.  2-3 hours a day on clear weekend days to start, aim for 4-5 hour rides the month before you leave.  Those long rides get your saddle interface ready for long touring days.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Complete newb, TA in 2014
« Reply #14 on: August 23, 2013, 07:10:22 pm »
Since you have a generous 3 months to complete the trip, you can afford to start out without being in the best shape. As Patrick says, just scale back your mileage for the first few weeks while you ride into shape.

Having said that, I think you'll enjoy the trip more if you can find the time to start out in great shape. Patrick's advice of "ride lots" is the best advice. It's not rocket science. Ride as many miles as you have time for. Use your weekends for long rides, of at least several hours each. Work up to long rides on consecutive days (e.g., Saturday and Sunday). Start with the idea that you're going to ride seven days a week, and then don't worry about it if you miss a day now and then.

In my opinion, indoor riding on a trainer is of value, but that value is very limited. Get that bike outside as much as possible. Outdoor riding is much, much better training for your trip.