Author Topic: Introduction, a plan, and some questions. :)  (Read 274 times)

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Offline riverdrifter

Introduction, a plan, and some questions. :)
« on: April 24, 2019, 02:22:51 pm »
Hello everyone! I just found this website and forum, and signed up right away. I hope to make some friends and learn lots of cool stuff here!

Short story... I'm planning my first family bike tour for this fall 2019.

Longer story... It's me, my wife, and 2 kids. Ages 48, 38, 8, and 3. I've biked my whole life, until recently. I just bought a new Jamis steel road bike to get back into it. Prior to that, well I've biked constantly, daily year-round commuting, and a couple extended car-free stints, until about 5 years ago. I switched to an out of town job, longer hours, and just quit riding. That job is done now, we just paid off our house, and we are ready to start a new chapter in our lives. We are putting our house up for sale and moving back to Illinois, closer to family. In the interim we want to take a bike tour.

I've never toured, or ridden long-distance at all. My wife is fit, but has never been a cyclist. She had a bike for a while as an adult, but never rode much, not since she was a kid. She does not own a bike now. My 8 year old son rides his single speed BMX bike constantly, everywhere, and anytime he can. I pulled him everywhere in a Nashbar trailer when he was younger. I never liked that trailer, it was uncomfortable for him. I decided this time to get a Burley Solo for the 3 year old. With the better seating, and suspension, I think she'll be more comfortable.

So that's what I've got. My Jamis steel road bike pulling a Burley Solo. We need a bike for my wife, and a new bike for our son. My wife does not want a drop bar bike, she wants an upright, step through. She likes the look of the Raleigh Alysa. My budget is only about $500 for her bike, and my son's. Used is fine, I've always done my own bike maintenance. I saw a Novara Portal on ebay that is listed as a 24" wheel bike, it's got rear rack mounts. All the other 24" bikes I see do not have rack mounts. Also most of them have cheap suspension forks, and I'd rather him have a solid fork for this adventure.

We have not decided on a route, but we are thinking southern states. We are avid campers, so we have backpacking gear, tents, bags, cookware, etc.

I guess I'm just looking for some general input on our plans. Any advice you all can give would be tremendously appreciated! Thanks so much!

Offline John Nelson

Re: Introduction, a plan, and some questions. :)
« Reply #1 on: April 24, 2019, 04:27:06 pm »
How long do you have for this trip? A week, a month, a season?

I suspect that with the kids and a non-cycling wife, you'll want to keep the daily distances short, maybe about 20 miles. With short distances, you'll want to look for an area with lots of closely-spaced services, and some interesting things to keep the kids entertained.

And you might want to stay away from the really big hills. A loop course has the simplest logistics, but maybe you're thinking of a point-to-point?

Offline riverdrifter

Re: Introduction, a plan, and some questions. :)
« Reply #2 on: April 24, 2019, 05:16:12 pm »
Thanks for the input John! We have some flexibility regarding timing, but we are looking at about 1 month in length.

We're all committed to putting on the miles this summer. We live a few blocks from a 3 mile bike path that ends at a federal campground. So that will work for some shakedown overnighters. We also have a paved, rural 20 mile loop one direction, and a 65 miler the other way.

Not sure if we'll look for a loop or a point to point.

Offline riverdrifter

Re: Introduction, a plan, and some questions. :)
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2019, 10:32:57 am »
I'd love some input on possible routes. We are thinking southwest or south USA. Relatively flat, easy and family friendly. Thanks!

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Introduction, a plan, and some questions. :)
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2019, 11:13:22 am »
Thinking out loud, as it were...

First, look into the back issues of Adventure Cyclist magazine; they've had several articles about touring with children over the years.

I think John has the right idea to limit daily mileage to 20, maybe 25, miles.  You'll get your workout pulling the trailer, your wife will get hers sitting on the bike that long, and your 8 year old will be working hard.  I'd suggest starting with a one week trip, and you can see how that goes before planning a month.

Perhaps an out-and-back route would be easiest.  The southern part of the Natchez Trace might work, or the same-ness might limit the appeal with the low daily mileage.  Which leads me to think . . .

Yorktown, VA to Richmond along the Capital Trail might work.  I'm not sure about camping, though, and even though Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown would be two good places to spend an afternoon with children, I'm not sure about the Jamestown to Richmond stretch.  You get to end the trip with a long day in the saddle to ride back and pick up the car.

October, leaf seasons, something besides a green tunnel to look at?  C&O Canal might work, if they get the trail rebuilt by fall.  No, better plan on the GAP trail.  AMTRAK between Pittsburgh and Cumberland, again send one parent to pick up the car while the rest of the family stays in camp.

You might combine 3-4 days on the New River Trail (out and back?) and 2 days on the Virginia Creeper Trail in southwest Virginia.  There are interesting things to see and do (even if it's playing in the creek on the Creeper).   Camp near Damascus, one day to Whitetop and back down, the next day to Abingdon.

Chief Ladiga and Silver Comet in AL/GA?  Camping might be an issue.