Author Topic: First Bike Tour  (Read 737 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline arzeller

First Bike Tour
« on: March 20, 2014, 11:58:43 am »
Looking for some advice on training for a bike tour that I'm planning to do with a few friends over the summer.

Three friends and I (2 relatively experienced bikers, 1 similar to me) are planning on a cross-country trip, leaving from Boston and heading almost directly west, then down from Washington to LA. Leaving 7/1, and I myself will only be going for a month and a half or so, as I have to start school in the end of August. I live in San Diego and am in pretty good shape... do a lot of running, tennis, yoga, and hiking, but I'm not a totally experienced biker. I have a bike that I ride to work, and sometimes to school, but I've never gone for a ride longer than about 25 miles (though that's not too bad for me when I've done it).

Anyway, we're going to be camping along the way, and though we won't have a strict schedule to adhere to, we'll aim at about 60 miles/day. I'd like to make April/May my main training months, since I'll be visiting family and friends throughout June before the trip. Any advice on how to realistically train would be greatly helpful and appreciated. Thanks!

Adam

Offline RussSeaton

Re: First Bike Tour
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2014, 01:04:15 pm »
Assume you already have a touring bike and panniers and gear.  If not, then you have more troubles.

2-3-4-5-6 times during May and June, go on test campouts on the weekend.  Load up the bike.  Leave Friday after school, work and ride 40 miles or so to a park for camping.  Get up Saturday morning and pack up all your stuff on the bike. Go ride 60 miles to another camping spot.  Set up camp.  Get up Sunday morning and load up the bike.  Ride 60 miles back home.  All of this will get you in shape and get you used to riding and prepare you for camping.

Offline staehpj1

Re: First Bike Tour
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2014, 05:05:15 pm »
Just get some saddle time in.  You can go with no training at all, but being used to doing longish time on the saddle will help a lot.  Whether you train or not you will be in the groove after about 10 days, or two weeks at most, so train as much or as little as you want so long as you at least have your bottom fairly well conditioned to the saddle.  The longer the tour, up to a point, the less important training is because you have time to take it easy and build daily mileage as you go.

As far as the short shakedown tours...  I never found them necessary, but I have done a good bit of backpacking and canoe camping for many years before my first tour so the camping part was second nature.  If you do not have a lot of camping experience not including car camping, then some shakedown tours are probably highly recommended.

My first tour was the Trans America and my shortest tours were 9 days or so.  I have never done a shakedown tour and never regretted it.

In any case I recommend taking it a little easy the first week of the tour if in doubt at all.  I say a good rule is to never ride so far in a day that you are not ready to ride the next day, especially in the first week or so.  I try to avoid needing days spent trying to recover and save my rest days if any for doing something fun like whitewater rafting, hiking, or doing tourist stuff.
« Last Edit: March 20, 2014, 05:08:58 pm by staehpj1 »

Offline John Nelson

Re: First Bike Tour
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2014, 10:18:30 am »
I understand Pete's comments about shakedown tours, but I advise taking at least one or two anyway. The drill of riding a fully loaded bike, setting up camp, cleaning up, eating, sleeping and breaking camp has a way of letting you know if your gear list is appropriate, and if your bike handles well under load.

Getting in saddle time is important, not so much to make sure your legs can handle it, but to make sure your butt, arms, neck and back can handle it. I recommend riding your target daily distance (60 miles you say) on at least two consecutive days.

You will encounter hills as you ride across the country--lots and lots of hills. It is important that your training include some fully-loaded hilly days. Don't just ride flats all the time.

Since you're on a schedule of 60 miles per day, you need to hit the ground running from the start. Although many people can afford to get into shape during the tour, perhaps you don't have this luxury. Training is pretty simple--put in the miles. I'd advise you to get in as many miles as your schedule allows. Train seven (or at least six) days a week if possible. Ride every day, starting today--not tomorrow. Include hills several times a week. Include some long days, usually on weekends.

Have fun!

Offline BikePacker

Re: First Bike Tour
« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2014, 08:49:42 pm »
Any advice on how to realistically train would be greatly helpful and appreciated. Thanks!
Adam - For me, I have found that doing saddle time/distance in advance of a 60 mile anticipated day, I'd train as follows 3 times per week over terrain similar to that which I would be touring the first few days:
6-3 wks. out - 10 mi. (e.g./i.e., three 10 mile rides each of said weeks); 2 wks. out - 15 mi.; the last week - 20 mi. One thing I have noticed that has happened with me consistently is that the last week before the tour typically gets a little hectic and I do not always get in all 3 of the planned rides for that last week/simply fyi on what happens in my own case.
All of the above distances is not with a fully loaded bike.... only I and the water bottles  :).
Somewhere in your mix of testing out all of your gear, etc., you will want to, of course, do some fully loaded test riding to acclimate to the whole new way your rig is, of course, going to feel/ride.

Offline Jambi

Re: First Bike Tour
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2014, 04:54:54 pm »
Your best bet is to get time in the saddle. It's really easy to do a 60 mile day if you put the hours in. You're better off putting the miles in early morning when the weather is calmer and your not worrying about finding somewhere to camp when it's getting dark .

If there is a group of you make sure you are happy to go separate ways if it gets sketchy, nothing sucks more than feeling obligated to stick with people when tempers are running high. Beware mornings after a hefty day, arguments can ensue .

Knowing his to fix your bike is really important as well. Simple stuff like replacing links in a chain can really make a difference and you will have to put a lot of maintenance along the way. My first tour was when I was 19 (San Francisco. - DC). And I knew little about repairing my bike. I had some uncertain times with my bike and was my biggest regret.

Talking to strangers is a big part of it so make sure at least one of you has a bit of charisma to smooth talk the locals, it can really help out.

Hope this helps,

Jake

Offline DaveB

Re: First Bike Tour
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2014, 09:34:19 am »
Knowing his to fix your bike is really important as well. Simple stuff like replacing links in a chain can really make a difference and you will have to put a lot of maintenance along the way. My first tour was when I was 19 (San Francisco. - DC). And I knew little about repairing my bike. I had some uncertain times with my bike and was my biggest regret.
A good quality bike in well maintained condition should not require a lot of maintenance even over a 4000 mile tour.  Chain lubing and tire pressure should be the only routine items with wearing out or damaging a tire as a possibility.  If you start with the components in good shape cables, shifters, brake pads, chains, wheels, etc. should last the duration of the trip with no problems.  The operative term is "good quality" and X-Mart level bikes don't qualify.

However, that's not to say bad things can't happen even to good bikes so knowing how to do your own repairs and having a few essential tools (Allen wrenches, chain tool, tire levers, etc.) and spare parts (shift and brake cable, brake pads, tubes, chain master link or joining pins) should be considered essential as is the ability to use them.   

Offline staehpj1

Re: First Bike Tour
« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2014, 10:20:07 am »
A good quality bike in well maintained condition should not require a lot of maintenance even over a 4000 mile tour.  Chain lubing and tire pressure should be the only routine items with wearing out or damaging a tire as a possibility.

Generally true and I agree in principle.  That said, depending on the load, route, and other factors the chain and brake pads may not make the duration of a coast to coast type of trip.  For me chains have always lasted the duration and a lot more, but I have worn out tires and brake pads in a single long tour.

Bike repair and maintenance is pretty easy, but for someone who always has a bike shop do their maintenance there is no reason they can' t continue that practice on tour.  Worst case they might need to hitch a ride.  It the US that is pretty easy.  I have done it and others I was with have as well and it was never a problem to get a ride to a town with a bike shop.  No one I am aware of ever waited more than 20 minutes for a ride that was even true in the desert where the cars were very infrequent.  In that case most of the cars will stop for a loaded bicycle that is obviously broken down.

Offline DaveB

Re: First Bike Tour
« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2014, 12:37:29 pm »
Sure, as I said, bad things can happen even to a well maintained bike but I was responding to Jambi's statement that; "you will have to put a lot of maintenance along the way".  Its not by any means a certainty if you do your homework first and start with decent equipment.