Author Topic: First tour, No Experience  (Read 2071 times)

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Offline rcwright721

First tour, No Experience
« on: July 28, 2008, 05:18:25 pm »
Hey guys,

My husband and I are planning a trip next summer to ride along the entire California coastline.

Now, I know I must sound like an idiot for wanting to do this since we have no experience on bikes except for cruisers once in a while at the beach.

Here's my questions...

We are planning this trip to raise money for the International Justice Mission (IJM.org) and we don't have a lot of money to spend on the bikes+gear.
What would be a decent used bike to look for that would be as cheap as possible.

What should we consider to be the most important when picking a bike.

Lastly,
What kind of training schedule should we start once we have the bikes? This trip is going to be 1200 miles in less than 3 weeks so I know I need short-term goals in order to accomplish the long-term goal of completing the trip.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

-Cherish


Offline staehpj1

First tour, No Experience
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2008, 06:53:35 pm »
As far as training goes, lots of time in the saddle is the only requirement.  It isn't the miles so much as the hours in the saddle that get to you.

I would suggest reading some trip journals at:
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com  There are a bunch for the pacific coast.

Next I would suggest "Bicycling the Pacific Coast" by Spring and Kirkendall.


Sorry if the following is a bit blunt...
I have to say that I don't get the charity thing with regards to bike tours.  A bike tour is a pleasure trip and is supposed to be fun.  I don't see it as something to raise money.  Trips like the Coast of California are a dime a dozen.  Not that it isn't a great trip, but it isn't something unique.  Lots of folks consider it a vacation.  Hundreds of people probably do it every year.

To me it is kind of like saying "I am going to 5 national parks in my RV this Summer for charity" and expecting folks to donate money.

I hope that you are at least not using any of the donations to cover expenses.  Be forewarned that folks on the various touring forums tend to be hostile towards folks using donations to fund or partially fund tours.


Offline rcwright721

First tour, No Experience
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2008, 07:07:52 pm »
We are definitely not using any of the donations to cover expenses.

The reason why we picked the Pacfic Coast is because neither of us had any experience with riding a bike especially such a far distance. I guess we really just didn't want to set our goals too high.

Any input on this would be much appreciated.

Thanks.  


Offline staehpj1

First tour, No Experience
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2008, 08:51:04 pm »
Please don't take offense at my opinion regarding riding for charity.  I wish you the best of luck.  I think you will find the coast to be a great trip and will have a great time.

The charity ride thing is just something that I don't get.  I think that a trip is a joy and needs no cause.  Asking for donations makes it something that is to be endured so folks will donate money and it sends that message to the folks you meet.  I would rather the message of a trip (if there is any message), just be to promote cycling.  That is just one persons opinion though.  I hope your trip is a success in whatever way you choose to measure success.  If raising money is one of your goals I wish you luck with it.

On another topic...
Are you guys experienced campers?  If not I suggest that you do some getting up to speed on that.  If you are already experienced at backpacking or some other relatively light weight form of camping, the skills will transfer nicely.

One other thing definitely plan to ride from North to South.  It is MUCH easier due to the strong prevailing winds.


Offline bogiesan

First tour, No Experience
« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2008, 01:57:26 pm »
We are planning this trip to raise money for the International Justice
Mission (IJM.org) and we don't have a lot of money to spend on the
bikes+gear.
What would be a decent used bike to look for that would be as cheap
as possible.


Go to your nearest library and check out all of their bike touring books.  
Visit the AC store and buy one or two. Buy the map set for the route
you are considering.
Your budget must include everything you cannot borrow and the things
you can borrow are not going to appropriate for bicycle touring.  

What should we consider to be the most important when picking a
bike.


It's a list of items; a long list. Comfort, durability, reliability, ease of
field repair, weight, fit, rigging for racks, rigging for bottles, comfort,
comfort, comfort.

Lastly, What kind of training schedule should we start once we have
the bikes? This trip is going to be 1200 miles in less than 3 weeks so I
know I need short-term goals in order to accomplish the long-term
goal of completing the trip.


Let's see... how to put this? That schedule is ridiculous. That is not a
social issue awareness raising bike touring event. That is a death
march undertaken by tyros. Is sadomasochism necessary to make it a
valid trip?  

Plan on making this trip three years from now. Spend the next two
years learning how to do it without risk of failure.

david boise ID

go, ristretto, FCP/AE
"Read the manual."
I play go. I use Macintosh. Of course I ride a recumbent

Offline staehpj1

First tour, No Experience
« Reply #5 on: July 29, 2008, 03:28:55 pm »
Let's see... how to put this? That schedule is ridiculous. That is not a social issue awareness raising bike touring event. That is a death march undertaken by tyros. Is sadomasochism necessary to make it a valid trip?

I will have to strongly disagree with that.  We did the transamerica (4,244 miles) last year at a pace a bit faster than that and it was not a death march.  We all enjoyed it.  I am was 56 and my companions were 21 and 22 so they were near your ages.

Granted we started out a bit slow in the beginning, but one of the riders was not even a cyclist 8 weeks before we left.  She had a handful of rides in before the trip, but the longest was just a bit over 30 miles.  She was in pretty good shape being a runner.

My other companion had ridden a bit more in her life, but not for a long time and had the same 8 weeks to get ready.  She had been pretty sedentary that year (she is in great shape now).

They were both busy finishing their senior year of college and had very little time to train.  

The bottom line is that they did great.

For a shorter trip like yours you will need to be able to start at a decent pace because the length of the trip will not allow as much training as you go, but your planned pace really isn't that bad of a pace.  If you are used to riding all day it will be a reasonable pace.

All that said it is nice to have an open ended schedule.  If possible allow 4 weeks, just in case, but expect to actually only use 3.  You will be more relaxed and enjoy the trip more without a firm deadline.

BTW: My theory is that it is best to start out fairly easy and build as you go, riding at daily mileage that is manageable without days off.  Days off break your rhythm and are counterproductive.  If you need a rest take a 30-40 mile day, but only take full days off if there is something special that you want to do.  Never take a day and veg out in camp or a motel unless it is forced by illness or injury.


Offline whittierider

First tour, No Experience
« Reply #6 on: July 29, 2008, 04:25:05 pm »
I just re-read the original post and saw that you have a whole year before the tour, which is much better than I originally thought.

I expect it can be done, but you'll have a lot to learn and a lot of miles to put in between now and then.  I know you want the bike to be cheap, but you'll just end up discouraged if it's too cheap because you didn't take time to learn the importance of various aspects.  Whatever you have now, go ahead and start riding lots, and take time to educate yourself about what bike you'll want for the actual tour, instead of rushing to buy and then being sorry as you find out later that there were important considerations you missed in your hurry.  You may find that the new bike is still not a very big part of the overall cost when you count the other equipment, the camping, food, etc..

Even if you can't ride through the winter, riding a lot now will get you a head start for next spring and summer as you learn to become more efficient and handle the bike better.  That experience stays with you even if you get out of shape in the winter.

Hang around the forums and ask questions and learn.  If you get books like David suggested, be aware that bikes and equipment have changed substantially in the last decade or two, and more has been learned about fitness/nutrition/health on the bike.  IOW, if you get a book from 1980, don't exclude other materials just because you haven't finished digesting it yet.


Offline bktourer1

First tour, No Experience
« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2008, 05:54:51 pm »
Sign up with bikeforums.net.   This is a great site with lots of forums for cyclists

Ed


Offline driftlessregion

First tour, No Experience
« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2008, 11:29:13 pm »
Given your inexperience and lack of time to prepare, I advise buying a new bike not a used one. You need to have something that won't break down. You don't have to spend a lot, $1000 will get you a good Trek or Novara at REI, and a couple of others are in that price range. Buy it now and ride it so you can take it back to the shop and have any cable stretch taken care of. Make sure the shop adjusts it to fit you well! That is as important as the bike choice itself. Realistically, if you leave in less than 3 weeks you don't have time to get in good physical shape so don't push it. You will be getting in shape on the road. Your main task is in making sure your gear works.

You will get hot and sweaty, and there is no way to say this politely: smear some lube (many to chose from in bike shop or good old Vaseline which lasts longer but doesn't wash as easily) in your crotch and buttocks to prevent heat rash as well as chafing. Nothing ruins a tour like sores. Cycling clothes are beneficial but many people tour without them. Don't sweat the decisions about shoes and pedals now. Just get a bike and make sure it works! Finally, read the articles on touring on this website.  Good luck!