Adventure Cycling Association Forum

Bicycle Travel => General Discussion => Topic started by: Crescendo on September 02, 2005, 10:45:04 am

 
Title: I got halfway there when...
Post by: Crescendo 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
Title: I got halfway there when...
Post by: OmahaNeb 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.  
Title: I got halfway there when...
Post by: Crescendo 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

Title: I got halfway there when...
Post by: DaveB 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?  

Title: I got halfway there when...
Post by: Crescendo 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.  ;)

Title: I got halfway there when...
Post by: DaveB 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.



Title: I got halfway there when...
Post by: Crescendo 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!

Title: I got halfway there when...
Post by: driftlessregion 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.

Title: I got halfway there when...
Post by: FredHiltz 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

Title: I got halfway there when...
Post by: DaveB 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.    


Title: I got halfway there when...
Post by: Crescendo 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
Title: I got halfway there when...
Post by: ptaylor 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.

Title: I got halfway there when...
Post by: DaveB 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
Title: I got halfway there when...
Post by: ptaylor 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
Title: I got halfway there when...
Post by: driftlessregion 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.


Title: I got halfway there when...
Post by: JimF on September 12, 2005, 10:57:38 am
I recently ended my first long-distance, loaded tour (3000+ miles). One bit of advice: consider finding companions. The right folks can make the trip more memorable. And, if you have a major problem, they can make the difference between disaster and managing a successful solution.

Title: I got halfway there when...
Post by: dfege on September 12, 2005, 07:54:55 pm
Crescendo, just read the thread of e-mails and you have already received a ton of great advice.  Let me confirm some and add some.  I have done many self-contained tours in the U.S., Europe and New Zealand.  Here are some of the things I have learned.

1.  I agree with the comment about a mirror.  I can't believe that more people don't recommend it. In my mind, a mirror is seoncd only to a helmet as it concerns safety. You can especially see situations occuring before they happen, like a semi coming from behind and an RV coming in front of you, and little space for you on the road in this scenario.  I have gotten off the road several times to let things pass.

2. Cycling in the rain.  Staying warm is the most important in the rain.  Gore Tex is the best I have found in a cold rain. In a heavy downpour I have found my state of mind to be my worst enemy, just thinking about all my gear getting wet, and sleeping in a wet tent in a damp sleeping bag.  When this happens, I just resolve to pay to stay in a motel where I can get a warm shower, and know that I will be warm.  It makes such a difference during the ride knowing I will be completely dry in a few hours.  And I agree with the comment about fenders. It can make a big difference in an all-day drizzle.

3.  For repairs, first take duck tape.  That can fix a lot of problems in the short run.  Second, I cut out relevant chapters from bicycle repair books, because I am such a klutz at bicycle repair.  I obviously can change a flat, but I can never change a spoke without refering to the book.  Also, take extra spokes and make sure you have the right lengths.  And tools, including a chain link remover.  Check with your bike store for a suggested list of tools.

4.  No one has talked about gear.  You ususally get what you pay for, so I think this is one place to spend the money.  You can go to other forums for ideas and opinions about panneirs.  REI and Adventure Cycling have good deals on high-quality panneirs, but they don't have a full selection.  Also make sure that you have high quality racks in the front and back.  Nothing like a rack bending and breaking in the middle of nowhere.

5.  And you didn't mention the kind of bike you're cycling. For what you're planning, I would defintely buy a touring bike, although others may have different opinions.  REI has a decent low price touring bike at aboub $600-700.  At about $1000-$1200, Trek, Cannondale have good bikes.  I have a Trek520 and it is an awesome touring bike.  At about $2500 you move into another class.  Waterford, for example, has a fabulous touring bike at this price.

Sorry to be so long-winded.  Hope this helps.

Title: I got halfway there when...
Post by: Crescendo on September 15, 2005, 10:47:50 am
Thank you all for your great advice. I did mention my bike in a previous post--it's a Specialized Sirrus Sport (http://www.specialized.com/bc/SBCBkModel.jsp?spid=9618). I really like the bike, but I'm not sure how it rates as a touring bike. I've been told that the disc brakes mean I'll only be able to use a seatpost rack that will support about 40 lbs, and I don't know if that's going to cut it. Would I be better off with a trailer? I can travel pretty light, but in general, how much does your gear weigh? What would I have to do to the bike to make it more tour ready? Will I have to get different rims to better support the additional weight? I'd rather not have to go out and buy another bike if I can avoid it.

Title: I got halfway there when...
Post by: JohnLee on September 15, 2005, 02:30:11 pm
Channing makes first class racks... First class customer service.
Not cheap, but you'll get more than you pay for.

http://www.oldmanmountain.com/index.htm


Title: I got halfway there when...
Post by: dfege on September 15, 2005, 05:46:00 pm
You're right.  Sorry I missed what type of bike you have.  I dont' know enough about the Sirrus Sport and whether and what kinds of racks it can support. In addition, you'll need to check what panniers that racks support.  Not all panniers fit all racks.  You'll just have to check with your bike store, and see what they say.  I would also check if the bike can take a front rack. Front racks really helps to balance the weight...I have never weighed the gear I take on a self-contained bike trip, but I have always suspected it was between 30 and 40 pounds.  Others travel much lighter, but I don't know how they do it.  If you e-mail at dfege@aol.com, I will send you a list of what my wife and I pack on our tours.  Hope this helps.

Title: I got halfway there when...
Post by: dfege on September 15, 2005, 05:48:48 pm
Sorry, I forgot to say anything about trailers.  I have never tried a trailer, but I certainly see enough of them on the road.  I would again check with the bike store about trailers.  That may a a better option for the Cirrus Sport.  Tourist can debate for days about the pros and cons of panniers vs. trialers. They both seem to work.

Title: I got halfway there when...
Post by: OmahaNeb on September 16, 2005, 02:07:27 pm
I have both a trailer and front and rear panniers.  I seem to like the set-up that I am not currently touring with.  If I am touring with the trailer, I like the panniers better.  If I am touring with the panniers, I like the trailer better.

Title: I got halfway there when...
Post by: Crescendo on September 16, 2005, 08:29:58 pm
"I seem to like the set-up that I am not currently touring with."


That is exactly what will happen to me!  :p

Title: I got halfway there when...
Post by: back-of-thepack on September 22, 2005, 11:11:19 pm
aside from the already mentioned mult-use tools, mirror, shorts etc.. . .I would add a "candle lantern" to the list.  It requires no batteries  and  it provides just enough light at your camp-site for writing in your journal and/or exploring the area.  It weighs next to nothing & takes up very little space.  I wouldn't travel without it.

Title: I got halfway there when...
Post by: ATSFfan on September 23, 2005, 01:12:58 pm
I would also add to the comment made about the mindset in doing a solo tour. I've done three (two short ones, and last year did the Southern Tier (3,100 miles)) - the first few days psychologically require a real change, esp. if you're camping. You lose the nice bed, well-stocked kitchen and change that to a tent, sleeping bag, and a few cans of soup and fruit. Once you get over that though, days on the road and nights under the stars become a long-remembered experience. I sit here at work typing this and wish I was out in the middle of nowhere enjoying the scenery at 12MPH.

Title: I got halfway there when...
Post by: fifthdown on October 09, 2005, 02:41:18 am
Experience! You need it. Do a number of 2 to 4 hundred mile trips before you do the big one. Every small tour has taught me lessons about biking and about me.  I find out what I like, what I need, what I can do, and also, how to survive. There is a big difference between: miserable conditions knowing that your trip is coming to a close soon vs. miserable conditions knowing you have 2700 miles to go. You need many experiences to be able to know how to handle and enjoy your ride.  This forum can be helpfull but you need to have experience.

Title: I got halfway there when...
Post by: bengarland on September 30, 2006, 06:05:30 pm
I would also recommend looking at getting an Xtracycle add-on for your bike. I just ordered mine, so don't have any direct experience yet (but will add to the forum once I get some miles with it)... but from everything I have read, including NOT ONE single bad review, they are amazing and 100 times better than using a trailer.

It seems like if you're touring around the country, a trailer would be just one more thing to break. Plus it seems like it would be annoying to have it bouncing around behind you. With an Xtracycle conversion, it's all part of your bike.

Check it out:

http://www.xtracycle.com/


Ben

Title: I got halfway there when...
Post by: bicyclerider on September 30, 2006, 10:25:41 pm
I live in Sarasota florida. I've ridden solo across the southern tier and I'm planning a tour with aca in 2007 across the southern tier again.
I'm traing with a bob trailer. so email me.
Jean Andre Vallery

Jean Andre Vallery
www.bicyclejournals.net
Sarasota Florida
Title: I got halfway there when...
Post by: DaveB on October 01, 2006, 12:04:50 pm
I would also recommend looking at getting an Xtracycle add-on for your bike. I just ordered mine, so don't have any direct experience yet (but will add to the forum once I get some miles with it)... but from everything I have read, including NOT ONE single bad review, they are amazing and 100 times better than using a trailer.

I looked at the web site you referenced and would have serious reservations about either product. Other than the manufacturer's site, where did you read the favorable reviews?  Any place that's really independent?

The "Xtracycle" seems to be a tandem with the stoker's seat and bars deleted and the space used for cargo.  It's got to be very heavy and awkward.

The add-on "FreeRadical" seems both heavy and awkward and, more important, looks like a broken frame looking for a place to happen. It will cantilever the load and rear wheel way out beyond the original wheelbase and the stress on the frame will be greatly magnified.  

I'll be very interested in your experience once you get some miles and time on yours.   I'll also have to trust that you have no interest in this company other than as a customer.

This message was edited by DaveB on 10-1-06 @ 8:05 AM
Title: I got halfway there when...
Post by: TheDaltonBoys on October 03, 2006, 09:18:24 am
There are a few Xtracycles here in Austin, TX. so I've seen them around and they are to me just another different item with its own peculiarities. Not bad, not good, just different. I like what Dave B said in an earlier reply this thread...when I'm with the trailer I prefer the panniers and when with panniers, prefer the trailer...maybe the Xtracycle WITH a trailer, you sag for other riders, they cook set up camp....just a thought. Enjoy the Voyage....Mark of the Dalton Boys   PS - Haven't heard of any complaints with the Xtracycle other than undesirable, loaded, low speed handling & the fact that turning that long thing can be different.

Title: I got halfway there when...
Post by: TheDaltonBoys on October 03, 2006, 02:54:01 pm
sorry Dave B...its what OmahaNeb said, sorry for the misquote all.  Mark of the Dalton Boys

Title: I got halfway there when...
Post by: DaveB on October 03, 2006, 05:08:53 pm
Quote
sorry Dave B...its what OmahaNeb said, sorry for the misquote all.  Mark of the Dalton Boys


No problem.  Actually it's a pretty good comment and I wish I'd thought to say it. :)



Title: I got halfway there when...
Post by: Sailariel on October 04, 2006, 10:03:20 pm
You got some great advice from all your respondents. Knowing your gear is super important. My wife and I cruised on a sailboat for 80,000 miles in 14 years. There is very little we can`t fix on the boat--there is no AAA in the middle of the ocean. I have been a serious roadie for two years--since we moved ashore. Fortunately a good friend owns the local bike shop and has taken me under his wing teaching me. I have a complete shop at this point and am still learning. So far I have built 6 bikes--mostly classics--great practice. You can find some great bikes real cheap at garage sales and in swap sheets. I`ve given away four bikes and kept two. I have also accumulated some spare parts. Like everything-practice is where it`s at. Good luck. you are on the right track. For raingear, I wear a windbreaker and get wet--windbreakers dry fast. A shower cap like the ones they give you in hotels work great over your helmet. Alex

Title: I got halfway there when...
Post by: DaveB on October 05, 2006, 10:06:12 pm
Returning briefly to the Xtracycle discussion a few postings ago.  Sheldon Brown's write-up from the Las Vegas Interbike show had a paragraph about them as seen at the Surly display.  I think it's interesting.

The big deal this year was their dedicated Xtracycle frame. This is a long-wheelbase frame designed to act as an Xtracycle, using all of the Xtracycle rack attachments, but on a purpose-built frame. It is reputedly lighter and stiffer than an Xtracycle attachment on a standard mountain bike frame. This item is currently in the prototype stage, but was well received, and should be a fairly popular item. The biggest issue with it is shipping, because there is now way it is UPS-able due to its length.



Title: I got halfway there when...
Post by: Mentor58 on October 12, 2006, 02:36:12 pm
Lots of good advice here.  

I have to second the one about a mirror.  I can identify with the "Semi behind you and RV coming at you" comment.  Sometimes a nice controlled bail off of the road is a good option.  

Along with all the good advice about taking training rides, shorter tours to build up your experence and confidence, I have to say one of the most important things is to "KNOW YOUR BIKE"

I would go so far as to recommend that over the winter (oh wait, Florida, never mind  :) ) to get some basic bike tools and a good book, I recommend "Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintence" or just the Park Tools Web site.  Learn how to take the bike apart, understand how the parts work, what is likely to go wrong.  That way, when the derailler starts to chatter, or a brake starts to drag, you are comfortable getting things back into spec.  Once you learn how to tune and adjust your bike to get it in top order (and no, they don't always come from the shop that way I'm afraid) you'll be amazed at how quiet and smooth operating it is compared to most of the ones you'll hear coming up on you.  

FWIW, I have a "Gumby" doll that mounts on my handlebars when touring.  It reminds me that I always have to be flexible when touring, that myh plans can and will change during the ride, that as long as I remember that the reason I'm riding for the Ride, then all is good.  

Steve W.
Who often asks "WWGD?" (What Whould Gumby Do?)

ps As for hills, the Spinervals "Uphill Grind" training DVD might be useful, as is just riding into the wind, the hill that never ends.

Title: I got halfway there when...
Post by: Kelly on October 17, 2006, 11:12:29 pm
My husband's first good bike was a Specialized Sirrus. He put many a mile on that bike and really enjoyed riding it. I wonder if it's the big brother to your bike? On our first loaded tour (camping, no cooking) Jacinto had multiple flats the first day and started breaking spokes the second day. We limped in to a bike shop. The mechanic said his bike was a great club bike, but the tires weren't wide enough nor the wheel strong enough to support the weight on the rear rack. I would suggest checking with your local bike shop about the wheels/tires.

No one has mentioned gearing. My mantra is that you cannot go low enough. I only have one set of knees and I'd like to keep them happy! I don't worry about the high end of gearing as I know gravity will take me down the hills. I do want to be able to ride up anything in front of me. No matter how slowly I climb, it's much easier to ride my bike than to push it fully loaded.

I agreed with the suggestions for fenders and mirrors. For added visibility I wear brightly colored clothes. I wear lightweight EMS orange gloves at all times. The hope being that drivers will see me signal.

Taking a 2-3 day 'shake down' tour is an excellent suggestion. It's much easier to make a change in gear while you're still at home!

Have fun,

Kelly