Adventure Cycling Association Forum

Bicycle Travel => General Discussion => Topic started by: SilasTarr on March 22, 2011, 01:42:39 am

 
Title: Complete Newbie Considering Touring
Post by: SilasTarr on March 22, 2011, 01:42:39 am
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!   :)
Title: Re: Complete Newbie Considering Touring
Post by: whittierider on March 22, 2011, 03:03:40 am
http://www.adventurecycling.org/features/howto.cfm
Title: Re: Complete Newbie Considering Touring
Post by: Tandem4Rider on March 22, 2011, 06:54:08 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.
Title: Re: Complete Newbie Considering Touring
Post by: JimF on March 22, 2011, 09:30:53 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.
Title: Re: Complete Newbie Considering Touring
Post by: paddleboy17 on March 22, 2011, 12:35:10 pm
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.
Title: Re: Complete Newbie Considering Touring
Post by: SilasTarr on March 22, 2011, 03:06:11 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!
Title: Re: Complete Newbie Considering Touring
Post by: Shane on March 22, 2011, 04:31:42 pm
The bike touring basics guide from Travelingtwo (http://travellingtwo.com/) is well worth a look, lots of great tips there!!

Title: Re: Complete Newbie Considering Touring
Post by: csykes on March 24, 2011, 02:32:17 pm
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.
Title: Re: Complete Newbie Considering Touring
Post by: johnsondasw on March 26, 2011, 02:38:59 pm
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.
Title: Re: Complete Newbie Considering Touring
Post by: Westinghouse on March 31, 2011, 12:33:43 pm
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.
Title: Re: Complete Newbie Considering Touring
Post by: Stevenp on March 31, 2011, 09:09:46 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
Title: Re: Complete Newbie Considering Touring
Post by: SilasTarr on April 07, 2011, 01:34:28 am
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 (http://www.adventurecycling.org/features/howto.cfm) 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!
Title: Re: Complete Newbie Considering Touring
Post by: mucknort on April 07, 2011, 07:44:39 am
More to add to your reading list:

http://bicycletouring101.com/
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?o=RrzKj&doctype=article

Title: Re: Complete Newbie Considering Touring
Post by: geegee on April 07, 2011, 08:43:09 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.
Title: Re: Complete Newbie Considering Touring
Post by: Tourista829 on April 07, 2011, 09:07:49 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. 
Title: Re: Complete Newbie Considering Touring
Post by: mucknort on April 07, 2011, 09:43:55 am
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?
(http://i111.photobucket.com/albums/n148/mucknort/advcycling-1.jpg)
Some of us here have discovered that recumbent style bikes are extremely comfortable for touring. I can ride all day long and have no butt, wrist, hand, or neck discomfort. My wife rode a traditional style touring bike twice across the US in her twenties and swore she wouldn't do it again because of riding pains. She agreed to ride coast to coast on a recumbent in her 50's and couldn't believe how comfortable it was in comparison. She is 5'5" and rode on a Rans Stratus. Easy Racers makes touring recumbents that fit to under 5'.
You might want to give one a try.

http://www.bicycleman.com/recumbents/recumbent_faqs.htm
http://www.bicycleman.com/recumbents/recumbent_glossary.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recumbent_bicycle

Title: Re: Complete Newbie Considering Touring
Post by: paddleboy17 on April 08, 2011, 01:15:18 pm
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?

I am only an inch taller than you, but my height comes from my torso and not my legs.  You are probably looking at 48CM, 49CM, or 50CM frame.  Depending upon what bike you want, a competent bike shop should be able to get you a frame that size.

I might encourage you to look at the Surly Long Haul Trucker.  Their smaller frame are adapted to 26" in wheels instead of the more traditional 700C wheels.  The probably gives you the most options for getting a frame with the right top tube length and standover height.

If your budget has more cash in it, then Gunnar has a good history of making small frames that work for people.  I live in Michigan, and for unknown reasons, Gunnar has wrapped up the local Latino bike market, or so my local bike shop tells me.  Same bike shop says that most  Latinos are shorter than most gringos.

If you have an even bigger budget, there are lots of custom options.  I have a Waterford custom frame, but I have had stock frames fit me just fine.  I got the Waterford for stiffness reasons, and not because of my body proportions.
Title: Re: Complete Newbie Con<<sidering Touring
Post by: Bike Hermit on April 08, 2011, 08:01:25 pm
Hope it's OK to toot my own horn
http://www.biketouringnews.com
  
Title: Re: Complete Newbie Con<<sidering Touring
Post by: FredHiltz on April 08, 2011, 09:46:24 pm
Hope it's OK to toot my own horn

Yes, commercial links that are relevant to the topic at hand are welcome. Up front advertising is not. I'd guess you are referring to the article about bike size.

Fred
Title: Re: Complete Newbie Con<<sidering Touring
Post by: Bike Hermit on April 11, 2011, 06:34:28 pm
Hope it's OK to toot my own horn

Yes, commercial links that are relevant to the topic at hand are welcome. Up front advertising is not. I'd guess you are referring to the article about bike size.

Fred
Yep, thanks Fred
Title: Re: Complete Newbie Considering Touring
Post by: PeteJack on April 13, 2011, 06:14:39 pm
Talking of chain lubes my local REI guy said "It's like Coke and Pepsi". There's a lot of opinions out there, remember they are just that. What is the ultimate gizmo for one may be utter rubbish for another. Don't let the thought that you may get something people will laugh at paralyze you. The main thing is to get out there and do it. You are going to make mistakes. Learn from them. They make good war stories to share with your fellow tourists. You'll be delighted to find how many people have made the same mistake.

I do have one suggestion. When you start don't get too ambitious. As people have already suggested start with a single overnight trip. It's so much fun not having to end a ride where you started. And if you are not an experienced camper stay in a motel. This will give you a feel for what you can do
Title: Re: Complete Newbie Considering Touring
Post by: staehpj1 on April 13, 2011, 06:53:13 pm
I do have one suggestion. When you start don't get too ambitious. As people have already suggested start with a single overnight trip. It's so much fun not having to end a ride where you started. And if you are not an experienced camper stay in a motel. This will give you a feel for what you can do
Probably good advice, but three of us did the Trans America together as our first tour and it only made it more of an adventure.  We were all experienced at camping from backpacking and other outdoor pursuits though.
Title: Re: Complete Newbie Considering Touring
Post by: valygrl on April 13, 2011, 07:29:54 pm
I'm 5'2" tall and ride a 17" Trek 520.  The little LHTs would fit me too.
Title: Re: Complete Newbie Considering Touring
Post by: Westinghouse on April 19, 2011, 01:17:06 pm
I have never toured with a trailer of any kind, nor with the clip-in pedals, but I have read many articles written by those who have toured using both. Panniers or trailer, you are ok with either way of packing anf hauling necessary gear. The many comments I have read by people who used clip-in pedals were all quite favourable. Panniers do the job, and I have not figured out what the problem might be using them. A trailer might weigh more than panniers, and then you have two more wheels and two more tires. It's all in the way you want to do it. Either was is fine.