Author Topic: Need advice for my trip this summer  (Read 3613 times)

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Offline John Nelson

Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
« Reply #15 on: December 06, 2013, 03:22:49 pm »
Tim, if finances are tight, pretty soon you'll want to start investigating the costs of getting your bikes to the start and home from the finish. It can be a sticker shock and a budget buster if you don't plan for it.

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
« Reply #16 on: December 06, 2013, 03:31:53 pm »
If we were to get used bikes, how old is too old. I have seen a ton of bikes from the 80s and early 90s on ebay and craigslist for $200-400. At what point would we have to upgrade too many parts/components that it would no longer be worth it. I guess I'm asking would an older bike's components work well or would we basically have to build a new bike?

I looked more into hybrids(thanks zzzz for the link) and they seem like they could work. If we were to go that route would the wheels work? I noticed that they have 32 spokes whereas most touring bikes have 36+ spokes. I don't want to be constantly changing spokes along the ride. Also would the upright seating position make it that much more difficult because of the wind? Are there any other pros/cons about hybrids?

It looks like I would have to change the gearing of a cyclocross bike whereas a hybrid should be ok where it is at. How much would it cost to make that change?

Early 90s bike would be OK.  It will have a 7 speed cassette.  These are still common.  I rode around Europe on a 1991 Trek 520.  And rode it many years later.  Bikes don't wear out.  The parts more or less last forever.  But all of the consumables, chains, cassette, cables, handlebar tape need replacing.  Adds up.  Then to get the bike to fit with new bars, new stem, saddle, tires, tubes.  Adds up.  Labor cost to do the servicing and parts change.  Adds up.  Buying a used bike may or may not save you money.  Unless you get really lucky (perfect fit, perfect maintenance) it will not save you very much.  Working under the assumption that a used bike will be 50% of new price.  Then add 25% of new price for new parts to make it fit and get it in working order.  So you are looking at a $1200 new bike or $900 used bike for ones that are pretty similar in the end.  Unless you are really lucky, used won't save you much money.  Used allows you to get an old bike that you always wanted and now you can.

I'm not a fan of hybrid or mountain bikes because of the seating position.  Upright.  And straight bars with no other hand positions.  Uncomfortable over long distances.  Drop handlebars have been used on road bikes for about 100 years now.  There is a good reason for that.

Changing gearing on a cyclocross bike?  Maybe long cage rear derailleur to handle the bigger cassette.  $50-80.  Bigger cassette.  11-34 or 11-32 teeth.  $30.  New chain.  $20.  Tools to break the chain and take the cassette off.  $30.

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
« Reply #17 on: December 06, 2013, 03:45:32 pm »
Not sure why that is amazing.  I met lots of folks who were on long tours that they started as non cyclists especially on the Trans America.  My two companions on the TA had almost no miles under their belt at the start and one was never a cyclist previous to the TA.  They both did great.  Being young and in generally good shape helps but even being older of somewhat sedentary doesn't mean someone can't start a coast to coast trip if they either train a bit of take it easy for the first 10 days to 2 weeks.
Read my second posting.  As to my first one, yes, what you describe can be done and has been done but that still doesn't make it a good idea.   

One difference is in your example, your non-cycling companions had you as a guide to both bike choice and riding.  Based strictly on the OP, these guys have absolutely no knowledge of bikes and anything related.  I'm sure they can and will learn but, at first blush, it really did sound like a poorly thought out idea.

I'll agree with DaveB.  This action of waking up one morning and deciding to ride across the US has been done many times and will be done many more times.  Probably most do OK.  But I still don't think its a good idea.  I don't climb mountains.  If I decided to climb Everest tomorrow I would need to be put away in a locked cell.  Maybe not quite the same, but its better to have experience at something before jumping into the deep end.  I'm pretty sure the US will be here for a few more years.  You can ride across the US 5-10-15 years from now.  What is wrong with riding your bike for five years and learning about bicycling before riding across the US?  Get some experience.  Whether you ride next summer or ten summers from now, it will still be memorable.

Offline CanvasAndSteel

Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
« Reply #18 on: December 06, 2013, 04:18:50 pm »
I am sorry that I made my first post unclear, I guess I did make myself sound pretty uninformed.

About the route, I will look into other routes like the TransAm. We decided on our route because we know some people along the way and we have all dreamed of some of the sights (Grand Canyon, Yosemite). I will discuss it with the other guys.

So more about bikes:

If we were to get used bikes, how old is too old. I have seen a ton of bikes from the 80s and early 90s on ebay and craigslist for $200-400. At what point would we have to upgrade too many parts/components that it would no longer be worth it. I guess I'm asking would an older bike's components work well or would we basically have to build a new bike?

I looked more into hybrids(thanks zzzz for the link) and they seem like they could work. If we were to go that route would the wheels work? I noticed that they have 32 spokes whereas most touring bikes have 36+ spokes. I don't want to be constantly changing spokes along the ride. Also would the upright seating position make it that much more difficult because of the wind? Are there any other pros/cons about hybrids?

It looks like I would have to change the gearing of a cyclocross bike whereas a hybrid should be ok where it is at. How much would it cost to make that change?

A few months ago I purchased a mint 1985 Miyata 610 for $150.  I'm repacking the headset, getting new tires and tubes and putting new tape on the bars. That's all it needs. In the end I will have $300 in a bike that in every way will be as capable a tourer as any new $1,500 bike. It doesn't have indexed shifting, bit I actually prefer suntour friction.

Today I picked up for a friend a 2008 Bianchi Volpe for $200. The Volpe, like the 610, has midfork mounts on the front fork for low rider panniers. It also has mounts for three bottle cages. The tires are in great shape. It needs new bar tape. That's it.

The point is, you can get a very good 1980s tourer for little money. You can find a fairly recently produced bike for very little because someone wants to unload it. Anyone who tells you that $1,000 is some kind of reasonable minimum just hasn't taken the time to shop around. Educate yourself on what's out there, stay away from the bikes that demand a name brand premium, or find a friend who is knowledgeable and is willing to do some looking for you, like I've done for the friend for whom I bought the Volpe.

This is a great time of year to buy a used bike.

Lastly, as others have said, make sure that whatever you buys fits. You'll be spending a lot of time on the thing.


Sent from my HTCONE using Tapatalk


Offline rondickinson

Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
« Reply #19 on: December 06, 2013, 06:32:39 pm »
Very entertaining read.
Tswhosonfirst might be young, but he came back with a very professional response to some obvious knee jerk reaction post.  Good Job.

You might have a lot to learn, but my guess is you will do just fine.

btw: I'm (age 54) doing the TransAm next summer with my son (age 23) for our first riding experience in excess of 7 days.  I have done a ton of research and can afford to buy good stuff, but if I had to bet, I would bet on you and your friends over me.

Offline jamawani

Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
« Reply #20 on: December 06, 2013, 08:02:25 pm »
Let's see here -
One person has more than 1000 posts on a whole range of subjects over 10 years -
And another has 14 posts and almost no experience.

Who's calling the other what??

Offline tonythomson

Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
« Reply #21 on: December 06, 2013, 09:40:37 pm »
Another thing you might like to do as part of your prep is to find any abandoned bikes - unclaimed etc - just old junk ones and learn your mechanics by pulling them to pieces and putting them back.  Cheap way to learn. 
Buy the bike you decide on asap and as far as possible have your co-rider get similar - then figure out what tools you need and can double up.  Although I always want to have a full set of my own because people do drop out.
Just starting to record my trips  www.tonystravels.com

Offline pptouring

Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
« Reply #22 on: December 08, 2013, 02:53:39 am »
...I'd suggest you postpone your cross country ride for a few years.  Buy a road bike now.  Ride it for a half dozen years.  Ride 5,000-10,000 miles a year for the next half dozen years.  Learn about bicycling.  Then ride across the country....

Thanks for writing this as you saved me a fair bit of typing.  My first reaction on reading the OP was incredulity.  These guys don't own bikes, don't know what type to buy, don't currently ride and don't say what, if any, charity they are trying to assist.   Amazing.

Well it's a good thing that these two did not ask for your advice. Dave and Loretta, with no cycling experience, bought bikes and gear and have been traveling for several years now.

Dave -> http://www.tiredofit.ca/
Loretta -> http://www.skalatitude.com/p/about.html

Offline pptouring

Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
« Reply #23 on: December 08, 2013, 04:04:27 am »
Hello everyone,

I have been hanging around this forum for a little while as I plan a cross-country bike trip with a couple friends. We are planning on going from Savanna to San Francisco this summer. This trip is going to be a charity ride. We are new to this so we are looking for all the help we can get.

With our route we are planning on hitting the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and a few other locations. Do any of you have any suggestions about this route?

Sounds like a fine plan to us. Enjoy and have fun.


We do not have bikes. Because this is a fundraiser and we are college students we do not have a lot of money to spend on bikes. We are trying to not spend over $800 on a bike but preferably less. Do you have any tips for getting a good bike in our price range? What would you recommend for a cheap touring bike, or would you recommend that we try a different type of bike. Could we get a hybrid or mountain bike to work well for this trip? We also heard that you could take a normal road bike if you pulled a trailer. Is that true? We could probably get a nice used road bike for cheap.

During our travels, we have come across all types of bikes and bike riders. We hosted a girl from Vienna that traveled from Vienna to Spain, then crossed the Atlantic on a sailboat, cycled Cuba for a couple months, then jumped on another sailboat to Florida. She then crossed the US on her MTB bike. After reaching California, she sent the bike back home to Vienna and then put together another bike, piece by piece and proceeded to cycle up to Canada and back down to LA on it. We also hosted a guy from Canada that flew to Florida with a backpack. He then decided he wanted to give bike touring a try, so he bought an inexpensive hybrid bike and toured across the US wearing a backpack. We met a British couple in Spain that decided to buy a pair of very used commuter/hybrid type bikes and tour around Europe. He wore a backpack and she had a pair of cheap panniers. In France, we met an English chap touring on a Specialized Roubix (road bike) wearing a backpack. We met a French guy traveling on a "Walmart" type bike dragging a homemade trailer. I guess what we are saying is that you can tour on just about anything and still have a good time. I would not wear and/or recommend the backpack route, but it can be done and they didn't seem to mind. They were all having a great time.

If a couple of the guys were to get mountain bikes while the others had touring or road bikes would the mountain bikes be able to keep up? Would it take a lot more work to stay with them or with smooth tires could they ride with the road bikes just fine?


You're bike touring, not racing, so the stronger rider(s) will have to adjust their speed to the weaker rider(s). We are touring on 26" wheels and we have no problem keeping up and/or dropping folks riding on 700c wheels. Smoother tires would not be a bad idea.

Have any of you done a fundraiser trip where you were able to partner with a LBS and they provided gear for you? We are hoping that we can get some good deals because it is a fundraiser but we are wondering what we should expect.

Can't help you here, but we have come across several other long distance tourists that have. They sent out sponsorship type letters telling the company what they were doing and asked for some help. In return, they agreed to advertise on their blog (company logo) and to do some sort of product review. In exchange, they either received the item for free or at a really good price. Remember though there are a lot of folks out there doing this, so have a good letter and good luck.

If you have any other tips or comments that would be awesome too. We are getting really excited about this trip but there is a lot to figure out. This forum has already been a lot of help and I am sure that I will be seeking more advice in the future.

To help with your budget, check out Warmshowers.org for lodging and support. Do a search on bicycle touring or something similar and reach out to individuals with blogs for help. Go over to crazyguyonabike.com and read through some of those travel experiences. Forums are ok, but many times you'll get responses from folks that have limited experience.

Oh and have at least enough money for a bus ticket home should all else fail. Get out and have a great tour.

Offline DaveB

Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
« Reply #24 on: December 08, 2013, 09:28:46 am »
[Well it's a good thing that these two did not ask for your advice. Dave and Loretta, with no cycling experience, bought bikes and gear and have been traveling for several years now.
This is not an analogous situation at all.  The OP and his group have limited time to tour and will have to maintain a fairly demanding schedule.  The couple you reference apparently has indefinite time, no other demands and can do 10 miles a day if they want. 

Also, those examples you guys give of people who have toured successfully starting with little to no cycling experience are cherry picking the "winners".  We haven't heard about the ones who tried the same thing and wound up way over their heads and abandoned the idea very quickly.  I think it's unfair and misleading to imply that because a few carefully selected examples succeeded that everyone can too.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
« Reply #25 on: December 08, 2013, 10:09:44 am »
This is not an analogous situation at all.
Maybe, but it is closer than your Everest comment.

Also, those examples you guys give of people who have toured successfully starting with little to no cycling experience are cherry picking the "winners".  We haven't heard about the ones who tried the same thing and wound up way over their heads and abandoned the idea very quickly.  I think it's unfair and misleading to imply that because a few carefully selected examples succeeded that everyone can too.
Well I can't avoid not mentioning those who bailed before I met them, but I met quite a few folks on the TA doing it as their first tour.  Some were previously cyclists and some not.  I personally had done a lot of biking, but it was my first tour as well.  I have to think that given the number I met there are probably thousands who have done the TA as a first tour since it started in 1976.

I only met one first time tourist doing the TA who bailed and he bailed due to a knee injury.  He was an avid cyclist before the trip but on his first tour.

I think that level of determination to finish is the primary predictor of success.  Resourcefulness comes next.  Some experience with packing for  and living with their gear on some form of extended travel (backpacking, canoe camping, etc.) is quite helpful, but not absolutely necessary.  Bicycling experience comes in at a distant fourth in my estimation.

BTW, even among those who tried a big first tour and failed to finish many probably had a positive experience.  What is the big danger, that they might have to pack up and go home without reaching the other coast?  That is not exactly the end of the world.

Offline pptouring

Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
« Reply #26 on: December 08, 2013, 11:36:13 am »

I think that level of determination to finish is the primary predictor of success.  Resourcefulness comes next.  Some experience with packing for  and living with their gear on some form of extended travel (backpacking, canoe camping, etc.) is quite helpful, but not absolutely necessary.  Bicycling experience comes in at a distant fourth in my estimation.

BTW, even among those who tried a big first tour and failed to finish many probably had a positive experience.  What is the big danger, that they might have to pack up and go home without reaching the other coast?  That is not exactly the end of the world.

Exactly!

BTW - DaveB I could list several more folks that we have met over the years that started out with absolutely no idea or very little of what they were getting into and still made it. You act as if they are heading down to cycle the Atacama Desert in Bolivia or something. They are crossing the US, they understand the language, they are a phone call away from help, they are young, and they sound as if they are in great shape. They'll be fine and who knows, maybe after they land in California, they'll either turn around and head home or cycle towards South America.  8)

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
« Reply #27 on: December 08, 2013, 11:52:12 am »
Old fart here; I've refrained from commenting for a while because I just don't "get" the fund-raising part of a bicycle tour.
Why should people sign up to give money or gear for you doing something many other people do for fun or for the experience?
Are you skimming the first X dollars of contributions to help pay for your expenses, or do you have money budgeted and set aside to pay for your own costs, and all money pledged will go to some charity of your choice?
Is your total budget on the order of $3,000 to pay for food, camping, and emergency shelter, and you figure you can do it with $2,000 and have about $800 to spend on a bike?  Does that $800 include racks, bags, tools, spare tubes and other parts, etc.?

Those questions aside, used might be an option if you have a friend who can check it out thoroughly (or room in the budget for a bike shop to go over it with a fine toothed comb).  I lean heavily to directing newbies to a local bike shop (LBS) otherwise.  A good LBS can help fit you, show you how to fix minor things like flats and shifting adjustments, take care of any unexpected problems that pop up in next spring's training, and give the bike another thorough once-over before you leave.

I think the Fuji is the only new touring bike close to the $800 bogey.   Slick tires on a mountain bike gets you about 80% of the benefit of a touring bike -- everything but multiple hand positions.  Hybrids are all over the place now; some are re-branded MTBs without offensively lugged tires, some are road bikes without drop bars.  So my non-Fuji recommendation would be to find a good LBS, get a solid MTB or hybrid without any suspension "features," preferably with low gearing and mounting points for racks, and start training ASAP.  Two or three weeks before you're ready to leave, take the bike in for a checkup or overhaul.  In between, collect something(s) to haul the gear.

And have fun, however you do it!

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
« Reply #28 on: December 08, 2013, 03:03:22 pm »
...I'd suggest you postpone your cross country ride for a few years.  Buy a road bike now.  Ride it for a half dozen years.  Ride 5,000-10,000 miles a year for the next half dozen years.  Learn about bicycling.  Then ride across the country....

Thanks for writing this as you saved me a fair bit of typing.  My first reaction on reading the OP was incredulity.  These guys don't own bikes, don't know what type to buy, don't currently ride and don't say what, if any, charity they are trying to assist.   Amazing.

Well it's a good thing that these two did not ask for your advice. Dave and Loretta, with no cycling experience, bought bikes and gear and have been traveling for several years now.

Dave -> http://www.tiredofit.ca/
Loretta -> http://www.skalatitude.com/p/about.html

I would have given them the same advice.  Get a bike and ride for a half dozen years.  The US and the rest of the world will still be there 6 years from now.  When you know what you are doing, then ride across the world.  It will be easier and more fun because you won't have as many problems.  You will know what you are doing.  Your advice reminds me of something.  People win the lottery about everyday.  You apparently would recommend the lottery as a retirement method and a way to accumulate wealth for a living.  Of course people who know how the world works, would not recommend the lottery as a financial strategy.  Lottery and waking up tomorrow and riding across the US with no experience.  Pretty similar to me.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
« Reply #29 on: December 08, 2013, 03:28:13 pm »
People win the lottery about everyday.  You apparently would recommend the lottery as a retirement method and a way to accumulate wealth for a living.  Of course people who know how the world works, would not recommend the lottery as a financial strategy.  Lottery and waking up tomorrow and riding across the US with no experience.  Pretty similar to me.

First...
As someone who successfully and happily rode across the US on my first tour, subsequently did a number of other long tours including another coast to coast one, and faithfully saved for my retirement that sounds downright silly to me.

Second...
They are not talking about tomorrow, they are talking about going 7 months or so from now.  That allows for a ton of research and learning before their tour.  Which sounds entirely reasonable to me.

And Third...
There really is pretty much no penalty, if they fail they just go home.  They get a real adventure and risk pretty much nothing.

Folks do it all the time as an after college fling before donning the chains of the work force.  It isn't rocket science, it doesn't require a lot of skill or specialized knowledge, and doesn't even require much athletic ability.  Mostly what it requires is determination and the desire to do it.  Part of the attraction may even be the adventure of not knowing what to expect.