Author Topic: Complete Newbie Considering Touring  (Read 3610 times)

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Offline SilasTarr

Complete Newbie Considering Touring
« on: March 21, 2011, 10:42:39 pm »
Greetings!

My name is Silas, and I've recently begun to develop an interesting in touring the US on a bicycle.  I'm a complete newbie to the whole field of bicycling, though, so I'm looking for some advice to get me pointed in the right direction.

I apologize for asking for such general help over a large topic like this; it's typically my style to research a topic as much as possible on my own and only turning to forums like these when I get stuck on a specific point.  However, the wide range of options available and use of terms foreign to me makes my head swim!

Where can I learn the very basics of bicycling?  Once I've learned those, how should I best approach buying a touring bike?  What kind of physical fitness is needed for such an undertaking, even if I intend to take things slow?  Also, how can I find and put together the gear and supplies that I would need for an extended tour?

Thanks ahead of time for any help you are able to offer!   :)

Offline whittierider


Offline Tandem4Rider

Re: Complete Newbie Considering Touring
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2011, 03:54:08 am »
Excellent source already provided.  I would only add: http://www.amazon.com/Bicycling-Complete-Bicycle-Maintenance-Repair/dp/1579548830

You may not feel comfortable turning your own wrenches at first, but there is also a wealth of knowledge about how to take care of your ride, ways to diagnose a problem and many other features.  Also, there are fairly well detailed diagrams showing you what the parts of a bike are called.  I've found this very useful and hope you do, too.  Welcome to cycling and touring.  Enjoy it.

Offline JimF

Re: Complete Newbie Considering Touring
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2011, 06:30:53 am »
Silas:  Welcome to bicycle touring; you've started at the right place. After you've reviewed what ACA has to offer, check out "crazyguyonabike.com" for information and inspiration. Then, get out and ride. Good journey.

Offline paddleboy17

Re: Complete Newbie Considering Touring
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2011, 09:35:10 am »
Reading is a good placed to start.  For some hands on instruction, try a back packing class.  There is a lot of cross over with touring.  A good back packing class will teach you all about stoves, cooking, tents, camping, and what to wear.
Danno

Offline SilasTarr

Re: Complete Newbie Considering Touring
« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2011, 12:06:11 pm »
Thanks for the help so far, my friends!  Looks like some great resources, guides, tips, and advice to get me started.  I'll be sure to visit again in the near future if I run into any problems!

Offline Shane

Re: Complete Newbie Considering Touring
« Reply #6 on: March 22, 2011, 01:31:42 pm »
The bike touring basics guide from Travelingtwo is well worth a look, lots of great tips there!!


Offline csykes

Re: Complete Newbie Considering Touring
« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2011, 11:32:17 am »
Since you are new not just to touring but to cycling in general, I would suggest hooking up with a bike club or shop in your area.  Many shops offer beginners classes along with weekly rides. Bike clubs come in all sizes and varieties, and most welcome beginners. Climbing hills even without a load can be difficult for some newbies, so be sure to get a lot of miles in your legs before you head out for a tour.  I have learned a lot about the bikes to consider for touring just by searching within this forum.

Offline johnsondasw

Re: Complete Newbie Considering Touring
« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2011, 11:38:59 am »
Try going for an easy weekend tour and then longer ones as you get experience.  You will learn more doing it than you'll ever learn reading about it.  That's the way I've learned just about everything.
May the wind be at your back!

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Complete Newbie Considering Touring
« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2011, 09:33:43 am »
There are plenty of books dealing with the questions you ask. Unless someone has a copy-and-paste article for you, time might be better spent going to a library. That way you can get books and read them at your leisure. It's a hefty bit of information you are looking for. If you are going to tour long distance for extended distances and times, I'd recommend you get the bike intended for that kind of cycling. The Wally World bikes and Target specials are not what you are looking for. It does not have to be super expensive and new, but it has to be a "touring" bike IMO. After you have a suitable frame, it's all about wheels and components and tires and such. They do not have to be top dollar components to get you across the continent and farther with no mechanical problem, but they do have to be of some quality. In other words, a $25.00 Shimano deraileur will take you across with zero pproblems if you buy it new for the tour.

Offline Stevenp

Re: Complete Newbie Considering Touring
« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2011, 06:09:46 pm »
Silas,

I have been in your exact spot. Well, I say that because 3 months have passed now and I have been learning so much that I don't really feel as much like a newbie like I did when I first began. That said, I have never been a cyclist and have never known much about the cycling world, and it was in this state of being that I decided to take a cross country bicycling tour across the U.S.

For the past three months I have been an animal for information related to the tour and bicycles and everything related. This site you are on has been the number 1 site in educating me in SO much. ACA is truly awesome and the people here seem eager to help. I have also learned that there is absolutely no question that can not be answered online somewhere.

Just be yourself and ask every question that comes to mind, and then, start logging everything you learn and building your "Touring" folder which will build to be a wealth of information.

For instance, the question of whether to use panniers (which I had no idea what they were) or a bob sled. There will be several people who will tell you that the topic has been discussed umpteen times and that you should do a search, and then there will be a few who will feed you some great information. I can tell you that I am utterly convinced about using panniers, now that I know what that is. :) but that's just me.

I also did a ton of research about what bike to buy for a tour. My research once again, began with questions on these ACA forums. I bought a Surly LHT and it's perfect.

My point is that these forums are gold, so ask away and start learning.

Go ahead and message me if you want to learn a lot of what I have learned. The learning is a blast. It sounds like it's a whole new world to you, just as it was to me. It's a fun world, I can tell you that!

Contact me if you want to.

Have fun!

Stevenp

Offline SilasTarr

Re: Complete Newbie Considering Touring
« Reply #11 on: April 06, 2011, 10:34:28 pm »
Hello, everyone!

Just wanted to drop by and say "Thank you!" for all the helpful tips and advice I've received so far!  I've read all the way through ACA's How-To articles and have visited a few of my local bicycle and REI stores to start getting a tactile "feel" for the equipment I hope to be buying soon.

While my research is continuing, the biggest obstacles I currently face is sorting out all the options available to me and honing in on a bike, tent, and other gear I'll need to purchase.  If you guys are interested in helping me figure some of the details out, here's a specific question I have on this topic.  Since I'm a relatively short guy at 5'5" (165 cm), most of the bikes I've looked at in shops aren't a good size for me to use for long-term touring.  Any tips?

Thanks again, everyone!  I'll continue to visit here often!

Offline mucknort


Offline geegee

Re: Complete Newbie Considering Touring
« Reply #13 on: April 07, 2011, 05:43:09 am »
Since I'm a relatively short guy at 5'5" (165 cm), most of the bikes I've looked at in shops aren't a good size for me to use for long-term touring.  Any tips?

If you have been used to riding relatively upright on an urban/hybrid bike, it is normal to feel a little stretched out on a properly fitted touring bike as some of your upper body weight should rest on the handlebars. I suggest you try out a 50cm frame on a Trek 520 or a Surly LHT if you inseam is at least 30 inches and see how you like it, if not there are sizes smaller than that.

Offline Tourista829

Re: Complete Newbie Considering Touring
« Reply #14 on: April 07, 2011, 06:07:49 am »
I agree with StevenP the ACA Forum is a treasure of information to review and digest. It is an excellent way to learn what works and does not work from some very experienced cyclists. There is one book I like to reccomend to those who are first starting out. I believe you can still purchase it from the ACA store called "The Essenrial Touring Cyclist" by Richard A. Lovett. Two things to think about (among many) are to make sure, your bicycle fits you properly. The other, if you are weak on your bicycle maintenance skills, to brush up on them. If there isn't a clinic or class, in your area, a local bicycle store, may work with you after hours, to bring you up to speed.