Author Topic: I Blame Adventure Cycling :)  (Read 475 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline joel.black

I Blame Adventure Cycling :)
« on: October 11, 2019, 07:04:50 am »
I can get wordy so I apologize in advance but I want to try and get everything out in the open.

My 2020 Tours Magazine arrived a few days ago and my wife has been picking out tours (yes, that's tours with an "s"). So, that got me looking at touring bikes. We both have mountain bikes and road bikes. My mountain bike is the Epic EVO, hers is a Cannondale Habit - both aluminum framed. My road bike is a CAAD 8 and hers is a Synapse - again, both aluminum. We enjoy mountain biking more than road biking mostly because of distracted drivers and I realize every area has that problem. From what I can find, neither bike we have is ideal but I also understand the "run what you brung" mentality especially when starting out.

We are involved in things related to cycling - we are both coaches for our local NICA team and we both enjoy triathlon. Since our NICA season is in the Spring, we can train for triathlon during that time participating in triathlon after NICA - one race (Xterra) in May, one off-road duathlon in June, and a road tri in September. We try to join a group road ride a couple of times a month and we'll go out to our local trails and ride for a couple of hours. Training for triathlon limits our group participation sometimes due to the training for a particular day.

Again, I have read what I can find online. I think I understand the difference between bike packing and bike touring - one is with strap-to-the-frame bags, the other uses racks and panniers. I don't understand all the terminology (i.e. lowriders  ???). Living in the SE US and having served in the Marines several years ago, I have no desire to tent camp in my area. Somewhere in the Western US with a dryer climate, yes; in the humid SE, absofreakinglutely not! My sinuses will not allow it. As a matter-of-fact, I told my wife, "If you want to pick a bike tour, pick something Inn-to-Inn." Again, I'm not opposed to it in a less humid climate - it is an option just not an option where we live.

I have not found (but I have not looked either) a local cycling group that is friendly to touring. Around here, it's either group rides or some form of racing. That's all well and good but I like "cycling." No one form is better than the other.

I don't understand why you'd want the complication of a 3x9 (I don't like my 2x11 on my CAAD) instead of a 1x11 with... say... 11-42 cassette and a 40T chainring. I'm sure there's a good reason, I just like the simplicity of a 1x system. I don't care about large gear jumps - it doesn't bother me on my mountain bike at all. What am I missing?

I have looked at everything from the Surly LHT to the DT to the MnS; the Salsa Marrakesh (rear rack only included? can get with Brooks saddle) and the Cutthroat. I have looked at the All-City Gorilla Monsoon (I read through the build-up at Adventure Cycling and Logan Watts' build over at bikepacking.com) and the G-Road; the Kona Sutra (racks included and Brooks saddle), the Specialized AWOL, and the Trek 520 (racks included). I am pretty sure I don't want a carbon bike and, unless it has suspension or bigger tires, I don't want an aluminum bike. I mention the Brooks saddle included on a couple of those bikes because it seems to be the holy grail of saddles - I do not know.

Another item of note - my wife is 5'0". I think she's a little shorter than that, but I'm going to give her the benefit of the doubt and tell her she's 5 ft. tall (that and to keep the peace). There are not a lot of touring bikes that are built for that height.

Oh, one other thing, we're both in our 50s and would like to eventually tour in Europe after we retire in a few years. No experience... Never been. We both like the idea of doing that. :)

Too much? I apologize but am thankful for critiques and advice.

Offline staehpj1

Re: I Blame Adventure Cycling :)
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2019, 08:52:57 am »
My advice is to get your feet wet by going on a tour before getting too caught up in a lot of the details of what you find in the touring forums.  Personally I like to get out and do my own thing, often using Adventure Cycling maps, but going on a group tour may be your thing.

Don't assume that you need to get caught up in all of the hype about what gear and methods others recommend.  A Brooks saddle for example may suit you, but it isn't a given.  I for one don't like them.  Any decent saddle that you are well acclimated to is fine.  If you are fine with a 11-42 cassette and a 40T chainring then go for it.

Btw, not everyone agrees on the distinctions between bike touring and bikepacking. To me the difference between bikepacking and bike touring are more about the where than the how.  Bikepacking is off road and bike touring tends to be on the road.  How things are carried does tend to be different, but that isn't what differentiates between the two in my mind.

The one thing I do recommend is that you pay careful attention to how you pack.  There is a strong tendency for people starting out to over pack.  In most cases you really need much less than you think you do and a lightly loaded bike is a joy to ride compared to a heavily loaded one.


Offline John Nettles

Re: I Blame Adventure Cycling :)
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2019, 10:24:14 am »
Can quite tell what, speficially, you are asking.  What king of new bike??? Perhaps a "gravel" bike might suite your off-pavement but road touring style.  Buy a decent used one for the same amount you would have spent on a new bike. Same goes for the equipment.

Low riders are racks that are over the front wheel that allow the bags to hang low, i.e., center of pack is by the hub, versus a regular rack where the top of the rack allows the bags to hang top of the rack, i.e. top of pack is at or higher than the top of the rack.  Low-riders huge advantage are they are more stable due to lower center of gravity but if riding in the bush, they hit the bushes making it difficult.

Try a variety of shorter tours, i.e. an inn to inn, a fully supported camping trip in Idaho or Montana, a self-guided but supported camping or inn to inn tour (someone designs a route, but you are on your own to guide yourself and you carry your own gear bu the overnights are already predetermined), a fully self-supported, self-guided tour.  You design (can buy pre-routed maps of course) but you carry everything.  See what kind(s) you like.  No style is best for everyone so pick the ones you enjoy (and can afford).

There are bikes out there for your wife.  My wife is 5' 2.75" and she has had several bikes over the years. 

As Pete says, carry less.  Do you absolute best to ensure each item doubles as a another item, i.e. clothes become a pillow when stuffed into the sleeping bag stuff sack.  Probably close to 100% of people going on a first-time long tour (4+ weeks), send stuff home as they packed too much.  You don't need enough tools to do a complete overall of the bike.  A tire tool, spoke wrench, and a bike multi-tool is plenty. Oh yea, add a small roll (15' max) of duct tape and a hose clamp or two.

The basically premise of having an extra chain ring is that you get more gears between the other chain ring's gears thus if you need a gear different between say 4 & 5, you now MIGHT have 4.5 gear so to speak.  This is more of a concerned when in really good shape and have a high cadence, typically racer types.

Other than that, enjoy the ride!  Tailwinds, John

Offline dkoloko

Re: I Blame Adventure Cycling :)
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2019, 11:17:29 am »
Address one issue, 3 chainrings are not just "complication" and closer gear ratios. Weight and range, particularly the low are factors. Weight: cogs, gears on the back, are steel; heavy. 2x and 1x  cogs are bigger and bigger.  Range: very difficult to get adequate low for loaded touring with 1x systems, easiest with 3x systems. Your projected 40x42 low is very high for fully loaded touring

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: I Blame Adventure Cycling :)
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2019, 11:25:09 am »
dkloko hit the point about gear range, but I'll elaborate a bit more.

Age, hills, and load all push you towards low gears; 20 gear inches has been the target for loaded touring for years.  What you can handle unloaded on a two hour ride is a lot more than you'll be able to ride up at the end of 6-8 hours of riding with a load.  Most road bikes are overgeared for touring in mountains, 27 gear inches being typical.  Mountain bikes are geared lower, usually, but still will leave you wishing for low gears on the last steep climb of a long day.  On the other hand, if you're on the road for most of your trip, you'll find why many people like smoother tires than the typical knobbies of a MTB.  That 3x9 system on many touring bikes you dis because it's so old is still available because it covers a wider range of gears, is reliable, and most people can learn to shift it.

If you haven't looked at it, get a copy of the touring bike buyers guide of Adventure Cyclist (I think it was the March issue) and peruse it carefully.

Offline joel.black

Re: I Blame Adventure Cycling :)
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2019, 08:09:32 pm »
Thanks for all the replies. I have gone back and found the article in March 2019 and am thinking about all you've told me.

Thanks again.

Offline staehpj1

Re: I Blame Adventure Cycling :)
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2019, 07:00:14 am »
Your projected 40x42 low is very high for fully loaded touring
I tend to agree, but figure that since it is on an existing bike and probably an easy fix that could be done even in the middle of a tour (most likely the crank will take a smaller ring) it might be best to let him figure out what works for himself on his own.  This especially true since we don't know much about what how he will pack or what kind of gearing he will prefer.

I have met a few folks who happily travelled very long distances with gearing that high and full loads and we don't know for sure whether Joel will even wind up doing fully loaded touring.  He might wind up credit card touring, van supported, or ultralight self supported so I am hesitant to push too hard in any particular direction.

On the other hand...  choosing a smaller ring with the 11-42 wouldn't be a crazy idea either.  Something that allowed for a very modest high gear.

I know that for example I did the Southern tier with and 88" high gear (and a 25" low gear about the same as he proposes) and was pretty happy with the set up.  The high gear would be fine regardless of the load.  That was with a very light load, but I think I could have managed with a moderate load and the same low end gearing.

Offline joel.black

Re: I Blame Adventure Cycling :)
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2019, 07:47:29 am »
Your projected 40x42 low is very high for fully loaded touring
I tend to agree, but figure that since it is on an existing bike and probably an easy fix that could be done even in the middle of a tour (most likely the crank will take a smaller ring) it might be best to let him figure out what works for himself on his own.  This especially true since we don't know much about what how he will pack or what kind of gearing he will prefer.
For comparison, my Epic EVO currently has a 32T chainring and 11-50 cassette. I will quickly spin out with that chainring on the road (yeah, I've done that on the way to gravel or to a trail) but it gives me 17.7" at the low end.

Ahh... I see what you're saying. Plugging what I proposed previously into a gear-inch calculator, I realize I'd have to get down to a 34T to get 20 gear-inches with a 1x (11-50). This would quickly lead to me running out of gears on the high end. So... Even with a 32/47 chainring, I'd only wind up with 25-1/2 gear inches at the low end using an 11-34T cassette (Niner RLT 9 configuration for comparison) whereas 26/36/48 would get me to 19.7 gear inches on the low end and 119.2 gear inches on the high end (Kona Sutra configuration for comparison). That is close to what I have on the CAAD 8 (34/50 and 11-28 cassette) at 119.9 gear inches.

I'm not saying any of this is what I'm actually going to do... I'm just trying to wrap my head around what you're telling me. I see the benefits of a 3x system and fully-loaded touring.

You know, I've watched videos and read reviews of bikes and kept hearing about changing out the chain rings for something else. Until I asked here and you gave me examples and I actually plugged numbers into a calculator, I never began to understand.

Thanks.

Offline staehpj1

Re: I Blame Adventure Cycling :)
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2019, 08:20:54 am »
For comparison, my Epic EVO currently has a 32T chainring and 11-50 cassette. I will quickly spin out with that chainring on the road (yeah, I've done that on the way to gravel or to a trail) but it gives me 17.7" at the low end.
Spinning out a not so high top gear isn't necessarily a big handicap on tour.  I ran that 88" gear on the ST and was riding with a strong young rider a lot of the way.  I never had trouble keeping up on the down hills, the flat country, or the rollers (my strong suit).  Climbing major passes was sometimes another matter, but that wasn't because of gearing :)

On down hills I just really spun it up at the top and then tucked in and coasted.  On the flats it was never a problem, sometimes I might have spun a higher cadence than I might otherwise have, but it wasn't a problem.  Basically the 88" high gear worked out fine even when riding with a pretty fast younger rider.  It wasn't like we were doing sprint training along the way.   It is touring after all.

With a 3X9 I remember noting on a 10 day tour that I never used the big ring.

Offline staehpj1

Re: I Blame Adventure Cycling :)
« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2019, 08:31:27 am »
By the way, none of what I said is intended to suggest that a 3x9 (or  other double or triple ring setups) isn't still a good way to go.  I just wouldn't rule out 1X11 setups.  Especially if you already have one.  Personally I'd seriously consider a 1X11 even if I was starting from scratch, but I pack very light.

Offline Old Guy New Hobby

Re: I Blame Adventure Cycling :)
« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2019, 08:35:54 am »
I'm with staehpj1. "Shut up and ride", as they say. When I was interested in getting started touring, I rode a few  organized weekend rides, choosing the longest route options. Typically, there was a 60 mile ride on Saturday and a 40 mile ride on Sunday. Then I found a 4-day charity ride on a rails to trails route. I did a lot of reading. I practiced riding up and down the hills in my area. I don't live in a particularly hilly area, but taking back roads to cross rivers offered decent challenges, including one hill that made me call out for my mother. ;-) Along the way I bought a better touring bike. After many 60-mile local rides, I decided I wanted some changes. In one respect it cost more to go back for a couple of upgrades. But on the other hand I paid only for the upgrades I wanted, without spending money on things that were important only to other people. Before I left on my first tour, I started packing as if I were on tour. My first tour, Baltimore to Maine, went without a hitch.

Offline staehpj1

Re: I Blame Adventure Cycling :)
« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2019, 09:03:49 am »
I'm with staehpj1. "Shut up and ride", as they say. When I was interested in getting started touring, I rode a few  organized weekend rides, choosing the longest route options. Typically, there was a 60 mile ride on Saturday and a 40 mile ride on Sunday. Then I found a 4-day charity ride on a rails to trails route. I did a lot of reading. I practiced riding up and down the hills in my area. I don't live in a particularly hilly area, but taking back roads to cross rivers offered decent challenges, including one hill that made me call out for my mother. ;-) Along the way I bought a better touring bike. After many 60-mile local rides, I decided I wanted some changes. In one respect it cost more to go back for a couple of upgrades. But on the other hand I paid only for the upgrades I wanted, without spending money on things that were important only to other people. Before I left on my first tour, I started packing as if I were on tour. My first tour, Baltimore to Maine, went without a hitch.
Some of what I'd recommend in getting started may depend on what experience a person has with other self supported travel.  Someone who has some experience backpacking or other travel (canoe, XC ski, kayak, etc.) that requires packing light and carrying their stuff should be able to figure out how to carry a light load and get by.  For them I really recommend just biting the bullet and getting their gear together and heading out on a tour.

Personally I wasn't interested in doing little overnight trips and started out on the Trans America as a first tour.  I think that is fine for someone who has some base miles in and has some outdoor experience in other self supported activities.  On a long trip you can always adjust as you go (mail stuff home, buy new gear, etc.).  Alternately with shorter trips you adjust between trips.  Either way the biggest pitfall IME is taking too much stuff.

People with different backgrounds and different desires will want different approaches.  For some the camping is a big hurdle, for some the riding will be.  Some will skip the camping and credit card tour.  Some will rely on a tour company to handle some or all of the logistics.