Author Topic: I got halfway there when...  (Read 16165 times)

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Offline Crescendo

I got halfway there when...
« on: September 02, 2005, 10:45:04 am »
...(what happened?)

I'm new to touring. Actually, I've never ridden more than 20 miles at a time, but I'm planning to get the gear I need to make a solo, trans continental trek in the spring of '07. Maybe that seems like a long way off, but I know I have a lot to learn, and I want to be prepared, so here I am. I'm 100% determined to do it.

You know the saying, "you don't know what you don't know", so I'm not even sure of what questions to ask. "Expect the unexpected, and the unexpected will never happen." Please, help me expect it.

Have you ever been stranded between stops? Did you ever need to be rescued? Have you ever rescued someone else? Did you ever get lost? Afraid? Lonely? What was your most exhilarating experience on a tour? How has bad weather affected your plans? Did you have any really bad (or really good) experiences with people along the way? Do you have a favorite campsite? Was there ever anything you needed and didn't have? Is there piece of gear no one seems to remember to bring? Was there something you did and wished you hadn't? Something you didn't do, that you wished you had done?

I'd be very grateful if you would share any of your experience(s) with me. Thanks!   :)

This message was edited by Crescendo on 9-2-05 @ 10:00 AM

Offline OmahaNeb

I got halfway there when...
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2005, 01:47:49 pm »
My advice, learn how to maintain your bike.  Changing spokes on the drive side of the rear wheel takes more gear and knowledge.  Learn how to true a wheel, use a chain tool , adjust a head-set, adjust and change brake and derailure cables.  Knowing how to fix your broken bike, will allow you peace of mind when you are in the middle of no-where.  Also invest in good bike shorts.  

Offline Crescendo

I got halfway there when...
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2005, 02:39:32 pm »
Thank you for your reply.

Did you ever have to do anything like that out on the road? Did you ever have to "learn on the fly", so to speak?

Today, I was out for a 25 mile ride (my first!) and I learned that puddles may actually be pot holes overflowing, that "STOP" to a car driver really means "you may want to slow down a little, but maybe not", that "45 MPH" means "at least 50 MPH", that "55 MPH" means "at least 60 MPH", and that when a car passes you at 65, it seems like it's going 75 MPH.

here's a link I found that I found somewhat helpful.
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/tooltips/truing.html


Offline DaveB

I got halfway there when...
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2005, 07:14:56 pm »
OmahaNeb's advice is very good.  The more you know about repairing your bike, the better off you will be and the better your peace of mind.  This is not a small matter. At the absolute minimum, learn how to change a flat tire.  You WILL need that skill sooner or later.  Most likely sooner and in unfavorable conditions like rain and fading daylight.  Get good at it.    

Many bike shops or bike clubs have bike repair classes and seminars.  Attend one.  Also, get a good repair manual and read it thoroughly.  Bicycling Magazine publishes a pretty decent one and Park Tools web site (www.parktools.com) is a treasure trove of repair advice.

Get several books on bike touring and study them.  Learn from other people's experience but get enough opinions to develop your own.  

Ride, ride, ride.  A major tour is NOT the time or place to get in shape.  Also, learn to ride in traffic.  Your recent surprises with potholes and traffic speed are old hat to anyone who rides frequently.  

BTW, do you drive a car?  Why were you surprised that drivers don't religiously obey speed limits?  


Offline Crescendo

I got halfway there when...
« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2005, 12:11:53 am »
Just a newer and different perspective for me. It's not that I was unaware that speed limits aren't obeyed, as much as it was about being passed by cars going way faster than I'm accustomed to being passed. Most of my experience is riding around the local neighborhood, with very little traffic.  

The more I ride, the more I notice how bad drivers are at obeying traffic laws. Worse than that, many just aren't paying attention to...to anything. I honestly never realized how many people just blow through stop signs to get closer to the intersection.

I can change a flat (but truing a wheel is a different story). Still learnin' though.  ;)


Offline DaveB

I got halfway there when...
« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2005, 10:22:55 am »
You have one major advantage over a lot of ambitious but unschooled newbies.  You realize that "you don't know what you don't know" and seem willing to work to change that.  I think your probability of getting ready for and having a successful trip are quite high.  This is going to require some real effort so don't get discouraged.

A couple of more points:

Part of learning to ride in traffic is to look for roads with less of it.  There are times when major roads are unavoidable but there are often secondary roads that are a lot more fun to ride. Try to find them.  Unless you live in mid-town Manhattan, there should be some around you.  

Consider joining your local bike club. Many of them have scouted out pleasant, low traffic local routes and have both maps and cue sheets available.  Also, group riding will improve your skills and let you learn from more experienced riders. Most clubs have a spectrum of rides differing in length and expected speed so you don't have to worry about trying to keep up with the racers.  There may also be members who have toured extensively and can give you pointers about what worked and didn't for them.




Offline Crescendo

I got halfway there when...
« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2005, 11:19:41 am »
I've been checking out some local clubs and considering joining one (Honestly, I'm not the "joiner" type, but I'm not ruling it out). I was lucky to have found a really good bike shop from the beginning, when I bought my bicycle (a Specialized Sirrus Sport) a little over a year ago. The owner and his crew are very good about teaching me about the bike as well as when, where, and the finer details of how to ride. They're nice people and they've been a really big help.

I'm going to do what I can to prepare myself as much as possible regarding as many aspects as possible. I'm already in good physical condition, but not nearly good enough to go out and do 60-80 mile rides, fully loaded with gear, day after day. I'm not about to simply bite off more than I can chew, and that's why I'm giving myself adequate time ( I feel) to prepare and learn. Like you said, a trip like that is NOT the place to get into shape.

I live in FloriDUH (fairly recently relocated). I've learned that this state has the second highest fatality rate in the country regarding auto accidents, so you can guess it's pretty crazy on the more open roads. Lot's of roadkill in the bike lanes, and I don't want to become THAT. Floriduh is also relatively flat, so I have to find a way to train for the areas of the country with higher elevations.  

Thanks again for the advice! I appreciate it!


Offline driftlessregion

I got halfway there when...
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2005, 05:54:24 pm »
The best advice I have is to have your bike running 100% before leaving for the tour. I do much of my own maintenance but before anything more than a couple of days away I will have my shop make sure the bike is ready. Also, don't leave without a practice weekend ride with ALL of the weight you plan to carry for the tour. Nothing like weight to shake out the weak spots in a bike. Have a great tour and you are absolutely right for planning now.


Offline Fred Hiltz

I got halfway there when...
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2005, 08:10:55 pm »
Don't forget a good rear view mirror. Second to the helmet, it is the best safety feature you can buy. I prefer the kind that mounts on the temple of my sunglasses, but some folks prefer the handlebar mount.

Do browse the Adventure Cycling web site. They have a wealth of trustworthy information there.

Fred


Offline DaveB

I got halfway there when...
« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2005, 10:00:51 pm »
Floriduh is also relatively flat, so I have to find a way to train for the areas of the country with higher elevations.

"Relatively flat"?  How about DEAD LEVEL! :)  I've ridden in the Orlando and Gainesville areas quite a bit and there is no place much flatter.  

The only hill in the state I know of worth mentioning is Sugarloaf Mountain Road (a bit of an overstatement) near Mt. Dora.  It's better than nothing so if you are anywhere nearby try it as a training ride.

What you should be used to is wind.  With nothing to break it up, the wind can be relentless.    



Offline Crescendo

I got halfway there when...
« Reply #10 on: September 04, 2005, 01:30:47 pm »
The highest natural elevation in FL is Britton Hill which is 345 feet above sea level, and no where near where I live. 345 feet! I've worked in buildings that are more than twice that height! I'll have to transport my bicycle out of state to ride some decent hills.

The other day I was out, cruising along easily with a barely noticeable tailwind. Then I turned around and headed back towards home and WHAM! That breeze went from being barely noticeable to being something I had to contened with. Into the wind was definitely a whole 'nother story! (another new experience)

Incidentally, what do you do when you're out and it starts raining? I have foul weather gear for boating, but there's no way I can ride with it. Is there good rain gear specifically designed for cyclists, or do you just seek shelter? I imagine that sometimes you just have to keep going, as long as there's no thunderstorms.

This message was edited by Crescendo on 9-15-05 @ 6:54 AM

Offline ptaylor

I got halfway there when...
« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2005, 07:16:54 pm »
Sorry folks, but I havn't seen a post yet which deals with the most important factor - the rider's attitude and mindset.  It takes a special kind of mindset to wake up each morning for weeks on end, asking yourself  'What shall I do today? Oh - Guess I'll pack up, ride for several hours, and unpack."

Of course I oversimplify, but my point is that you must know yourself before undertaking a long tour.

I started out doing group SAG tours (camping, but all meals were supplied) - I loved them. Then I did a couple of solo credit card tours (hotels and restaurants.) Finally I graduated to a solo self contained tour. I did a 3 day triangle tour to two state parks: each leg was about 40 miles. I was close enough to home that my wife could bail me out if need be. As you may have guessed, she did not need to bail me out, and I have done lots of self contained touring since then.

My advice is this: start small, if you enjoy that, add days and miles. Keep adding days and miles (assuming of course that you enjoy it) until you can do the many days and miles of your trans continental trek. Good luck: make sure you have fun doing it.

Paul

Offline DaveB

I got halfway there when...
« Reply #12 on: September 05, 2005, 05:26:41 pm »
Incidentally, what do you do when you're out and it starts raining?

Get wet. :)

All kidding aside, there is little you can do to really stay dry.  Completely waterproof riding jackets and rain pants are available but waterproof works both ways.  Rain can't get in but sweat can't get out either. You wind up wet one way or the other.

A wind jacket can keep the rain from stinging and make you more comfortable.  A riding hat under your helmet will keep the rain from beating on your head through the vents and the brim will keep the direct rain off your face.  

As I said, you will get wet in heavy rain so learn to expect it.

One useful addition to any bike used in the rain is close fitting fenders.  These will do wonders for keeping your shoes and legs dryer (dryer, not dry) and will greatly reduce the grime and mud splashed on them.    

As to thunderstorms, find a safe place to hide but not under a tree!  There is no protection against lightening and you just have to wait it out.

This message was edited by DaveB on 9-5-05 @ 6:39 PM

Offline ptaylor

I got halfway there when...
« Reply #13 on: September 08, 2005, 06:58:29 pm »
I like your comments DaveB. When it rains, the object should not be to stay dry, but to stay warm, and not sweat too much.

I stopped carrying a rainsuit several years ago. Instead, I carry only a rain cape - the kind you can buy fromCampMore. It is much more versatile. AC's Cyclosource has a rain cape, but there is no head-hood for some weird reason.

The upside of riding in the rain: how wonderful it feels to crawl into a relatively dry tent at the end of the day, and listen to the harmless raindrops hitting your rain-fly, while you snuggle warm in your sleeping bag.

Gramps
Paul

Offline driftlessregion

I got halfway there when...
« Reply #14 on: September 09, 2005, 12:17:22 am »
The previous writer is correct that it is more important to stay warm than dry.  Lycra-rich leg warmers or tights keep me as warm as Gore-Tex pants and are much lighter. There are several light weight breathable jackets for not much money out there now. $.99 shower caps make great rain hats over your helmet and don't impede vision like attached hoods do.