Author Topic: First timer -tough decision  (Read 10332 times)

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Offline ride29

First timer -tough decision
« on: February 19, 2007, 09:47:59 pm »
I'm in the early planning stages of my first tour. I am an experienced mountain and road biker, with several centuries under my belt, as well as camping, but no overnight touring (although I'm very confident). I'm going solo, I plan to rough camp, and prepare my own food. I can live cheap!

As for bike choice, I'm planning on riding my Gary Fisher Paragon 29er - very comfortable ride, can handle all road conditions, great gearing, tough tires with low rolling resistance (for a mountain bike) WTB Nanoraptors.

I want to do a loop to Glacier NP, then Yellowstone/Grand Tetons. The route I am planning takes me from my home in mid-Michigan, through the Upper Peninsula, Wisconsin, Minnesota, ND, and into Montana. The south to Wyoming, and back home through SD, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and then ferry across Lake Michigan to home. Mileage is ~4500, and I have roughly 60 days. This comes out to 75 miles per day average.

My problem is I don't want to rush the trip, but I definitely want to get to the Rockies. I don't want to do an out and back, I prefer a loop. I would like to have time for side-trips, cool towns, meeting locals, etc. Am I asking for too much? Am I comprimising the experience for the destination?

Thanks!
Daryl Bernard

Offline oldgroundhog

First timer -tough decision
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2007, 11:27:42 pm »
Wow... take a breath dude!

I've taken two cross-country tours of 4,500 and 4,700 miles, along with a half dozen short tours of ~1,200 miles each.  Enjoy each day and savor the TOUR.  The destination is of no value when you get home and did nothing but ride all day.  Will your family and friends be impressed by a 90 mile/day average?  Not nearly so much as coming back with stories of meeting 'Lazy Louie', or 'Wolf River Bob'.  

My suggestion is whittle your first tour to a managable mile number in order to "meet the locals" along the way.  Go out of your way to talk with the waitress at the 'Corner Cafe'. You'll come home with amazing stories that will forever be imbedded in your memory bank.  ENJOY the ride!


Offline miles2go

First timer -tough decision
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2007, 11:58:09 pm »
Welcome to touring!  What a great trip you have in the works.

My concern is that you're figuring on 75 miles a day over 60 days.  That leads me to believe that you don't plan to take a day off for very foul weather, illness or possible mechanical issues.  If you were padding your trip, the daily mileage would be assumed to be higher.

It's possible that at some point you're just not going to want to get going in the morning because you aren't affording yourself an out.  Please keep in mind that it's the tendency of beginners in almost any activity to want more than they should.  I'm not claiming to know you enough to say this is the case but I'm going to be the guy to throw this out there for you, just in case.

Bicycle touring is the best way to see the country but what will you remember if you are miserable out there?

I have a pal that got caught up with two other guys in a planned crossing of the US at 100 miles per day, fully self-sufficient.  All of these guys had completed several 200 mile road races (lotoja) and have been cycling a long time.  I didn't tell my bud that this trip was impossible because it is possible.  What I did do was bug him to tour for a week at this pace in preparation. He finally did and had no fun at all. He dropped from the planned tour because his partners wouldn't listen to him about changing their approach.  Their tour fell apart after the second week and that's after they scaled the mileage back and mailed gear home.

The bottom line is that if you want to have fun seeing these places then do yourself the favor of finding out where that threshold rests for you.

Lastly, WTB Nano Raptors are fine for dirt but they don't have the puncture protection and wear rate that you'll want for this tour.  It's not uncommon for true touring tires to last from 3-5K miles without a single flat.  
Here's a tire with a proven loaded touring history:
http://schwalbetires.com/node/166/ok
and another:
http://schwalbetires.com/node/120/ok

Tailwinds,

Ron
www.fullyloadedtouring.com

This message was edited by miles2go on 2-19-07 @ 7:58 PM

Offline wanderingwheel

First timer -tough decision
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2007, 01:38:09 am »
My tours often come out at around your expected daily mileage, but like the others I'm concerned that you may be a little ambitious.  I also count all sidetrips into my mileage total, and they often come out to 10% or more of my total mileage.  Assuming your an average rider and not an ex-pro racer, I would plan a route of no more than 3500 or 4000 miles for your 60 days.  This will give you plenty of time to explore or to stay in extra day in that nice town you've found yourself in.

Sean


Offline DaveB

First timer -tough decision
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2007, 08:17:14 am »
I agree that you've set a much too ambitious schedule unless the riding is the only thing you want to accomplish and the scenery, etc. is of little interest.  You have left yourself no slack at all and no time to see anything or make any local contacts.  How many 150 mile days can you do to free up some sight-seeing days?

A planned 75 miles/day isn't too bad on an unladen bike but I've done enough credit card touring with a load of only 20 pounds or so to realize the added weigh really cuts into your average, particularly if it's at all hilly.  

If you are going self-contained, you will be carying a minimum of 35 and possibly 40 or more pounds and you are riding a less than high-performance bike.  Those factors will have a big effect on what you can comfortably handle as a daily average.  

Also, I've been to Glacier and Yellowstone and had a bike with me.  Trust me, you do NOT want to blaze through these parks at your 75 mile/day average.  You want to tour them slowly and allow a minimum of two or three days each to see them properly.  

Bottom line:  Either reduce your trip's length or allow significantly more time.  


Offline biker_james

First timer -tough decision
« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2007, 08:46:53 am »
I agree that you will regret it if you don't allow some off days to sight see or just rest up. Doing 75 miles, then doing laundry, making dinner etc. makes for a long day. It makes for really long days when you get behind schedule and need to make up extra miles. The idea is to get away from schedules as much as possible-you are doing this for enjoyment, not part of your work, right? Loaded bikes aren't fast-so you will be screwed if you find that you prefer riding only 65 miles a day. Can you do it-probably. Will it be the holiday you are imagining? Probably not.


Offline ride29

First timer -tough decision
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2007, 09:15:06 am »
Thanks for all the advice and suggestions. I had a feeling that was a bit much, but I'm a flatlander that really wants to get to the mountains. While I love North and South Dakota, but I've never been to Montana or western Wyoming, and was hoping to make it that far.

I'm in very good condition physically, but I really don't want to just ride. We'll see. Maybe I'll just head to Yellowstone/Tetons and skip Montana for now...

miles2go - thanks for the heads up on the tires. I love my NanoRaptors, both on the trail and gravel, and on road rides, but I guess I never considered how they might stand up to 4000+ miles of pavement. In regards to your suggestions, the 166 ($66) is double the cost of the 120 ($33) - is it twice the tire? Is the tire quality worth the price differantial?

Thanks again to all!
Daryl Bernard

Offline RussellSeaton

First timer -tough decision
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2007, 01:17:01 pm »
I toured Europe in the summer of 1992.  Loaded.  About 4,000 miles and 100 days.  On the days I rode, I covered 70-80 or so miles.  Very scenic, wonderful riding usually.  But what I remember most almost 15 years later are the days/weeks I did not ride.  The days/weeks I spent living with people I met along the ride or arranged to stay with before the trip.

I spent considerable time before the ride plannig out the route.  Exxactly calculating the mileage between towns I was to stop in each night.  Making sure it was the appropriate mileage, 70 or so miles.  Not too short, not too long.  This was all enjoyable preparation.

If I had it to do over again, and I guess I could tour Europe again if I took an entire summer off or did multiple 2 week tours, I might do it differently.  Spend fewer days riding, more days not riding.  Focus on a smaller area of Europe.  Really see that part of Europe up close instead of going from Rome to Brussels via a slightly round about route.  Spend several days each week located in one town and do day rides out and back.  Or just general tourist things maybe.  Sit on the beach, go to museums, sleep and eat all day.  Not be in a hurry to get to the next town.

On the 1992 trip covering miles was sort of the goal.  I accomplished that goal.  At that time in my life it was OK.  If I had covered fewer miles and looked at things closer then, I might now be regretting not covering lots of miles.  Either method works.  Just plan on doing the other method later in life.

My next European rides will be a combination of both, miles and in depth coverage.  Ultra light credit card tours in a small area.  Travel fast and light over long miles.  But no real planned route other than a few specific places to see.  Just ride as much or not as much as I like.  Stop or not stop as much as I like.  Maybe add some train transport to another area if I feel like it rather than feel compelled to ride everywhere.


Offline Sailariel

First timer -tough decision
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2007, 02:53:08 pm »
As I`m reading the touring plans in this forum, I see a lot of similarities to the nomadic existance my wife and I led for 14 years cruising in our sailboat. Russell`s emphasis on becoming part of your environment is the key to enjoying touring---otherwise the whole trip is a checking off of places just for the sake of being able to say you have been there. We were always asked " How long does it take to sail from Maine to Florida?" Our answer was always "As long as it takes" We saw the world at 6MPH and have made countless friends. We never sailed on a schedule and never pushed to get to a destination. We plan on using the same tactic in our bicycle touring. I plan on making rough plans. On some days I would do 70 miles, on others, 10 or none. There is a lot out there to see and there is really no hurry.


Offline RussellSeaton

First timer -tough decision
« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2007, 12:32:57 pm »
"becoming part of your environment is the key to enjoying touring---otherwise the whole trip is a checking off of places just for the sake of being able to say you have been there."

This summarizes pretty well what you probably should not do on a tour.  The checking off a list of places.  In the various touring articles in Adventure Cycling, the best are always ones where the author spends time experiencing the environment.  Willie Weir's articles are always good to read because they are not really about biking.  They are about seeing things and meeting people.  I am reading a Joe Kurmaskie, Metal Cowboy, book now.  He talks about biking and that is interesting since I am a biker.  But he also talks about the people and experiences he has.  And how it affects his life, or how I see things relative to my life too.  And that is probably why people buy his books.  The articles in Adventure Cycling by the woman and her husband and their two duaghters on tandems are always good because they are not about biking but about all of the joys and hardships they experience because biking is their mode of transportation.  Biking is secondary.  I recall an article about touring the Normandy coast in Adventure Cycling.  The biking was somewhat irrelevant.  But I want to go ride the Normandy coast because of that article.  And hopefully I will be smart enough to not ride too much.  A sort of recent story about a rider who wrote a book about touring and saw the world and was featured in a Browning bike advertisement many years ago sticks with me.  He died fairly recently and this was mentioned in Adventure Cycling.  The article about him was about his first tour of India when he learned to ride less and see more.  A person he happened to come across asked him to come meet his family and said it would not delay him too long.  The rider/author wrote with chagrin that it was not a delay.  He says the more he rode over the decades the more he learned to think of 40 miles as too far too ride in a day.  One of the more meorable days for me on my loaded tour of Europe back in 1992 was riding from a town near Pisa to Florence.  It was a Sunday morning and that was the day many Italian men ride their bikes.  I came across and rode with several single riders and groups.  And talked to them while I rode.  That was a memorable day because of the other riders I happened to come across.  Not for the miles covered or the scenery I saw or any plans ahead of time.

This message was edited by RussellSeaton on 2-21-07 @ 9:00 AM

Offline cfessler

First timer -tough decision
« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2007, 11:01:29 pm »
Hey!  One other fellow and I are doing the Northern Tier this coming summer. I am flying out to meet him in Seattle May 20th and hopefully we'll depart on May 22nd and we want to finish the tour in early August. This works out to be about 60 to 70 miles a day. I'm 23 and I think he's 31 or 32.  If your interested in joining us then, email me at ThePerfect496@aol.com


Offline miles2go

First timer -tough decision
« Reply #11 on: February 23, 2007, 02:49:59 am »
$33 is a great bargain for the new Marathon HS.  In most cases the XR isn't going to be worth twice as much but it does have a bit of fire road traction. This might come in handy if you were descending a loose set of twisties on a loaded bike.  Most going across the US won't find themselves in such a situation.  If I were you I'd probably be picking up two or three of the Marathon HS tires.

Cheers,

Ron
www.fullyloadedtouring.com

---------------------
miles2go - thanks for the heads up on the tires. I love my NanoRaptors, both on the trail and gravel, and on road rides, but I guess I never considered how they might stand up to 4000+ miles of pavement. In regards to your suggestions, the 166 ($66) is double the cost of the 120 ($33) - is it twice the tire? Is the tire quality worth the price differantial?

This message was edited by miles2go on 2-22-07 @ 10:51 PM

Offline ride29

First timer -tough decision
« Reply #12 on: February 23, 2007, 11:34:16 am »
Thanks for the offer. Actually, I won't be doing the northern tier after all. I've planned a route from my door, to Ludington, Michigan, across to Wisconsin (ferry), then ride through Wisc, Minn, SD, and to western Wyoming and the Grand Tetons. I plan on tooling around the Tetons and Yellowstone for a week or so, then riding into Montana, and back through ND, Minn, Wisc, Michigan's UP, and south across the Mighty Mac back home. None of my route is actually on the northern tier route.

Comes out to about 3600 miles in 55 days, plus 5-7 days around western Wyoming (not counted in mileage total).

Have fun!



cfessler wrote:

Hey!  One other fellow and I are doing the Northern Tier this coming summer. I am flying out to meet him in Seattle May 20th and hopefully we'll depart on May 22nd and we want to finish the tour in early August. This works out to be about 60 to 70 miles a day. I'm 23 and I think he's 31 or 32.  If your interested in joining us then, email me at ThePerfect496@aol.com

Daryl Bernard

Offline upslim

First timer -tough decision
« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2007, 10:09:05 pm »
Hey ride 29. That sounds like a great ride. I'm a rider from Munising, Mi. If you make it this way let me know.We'll treat you to a home cooked meal and you can camp in the yard if you're in need of a place. My friend and I are  riding the Northern Tier in the summer of 08 for breast cancer awareness and I'd be interested to hear your experiences and help you out if you need any. Good luck!!


Offline ride29

First timer -tough decision
« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2007, 01:59:04 pm »
upslim - I will definitely take you up on your offer, as I will be coming back through the UP - and the Munising area, about August 7 (or so). How can I get a hold of you as I approach your area?

e-mail me at dfbernar@stcs.org

Thanks!

upslim wrote:

"Hey ride 29. That sounds like a great ride. I'm a rider from Munising, Mi. If you make it this way let me know.We'll treat you to a home cooked meal and you can camp in the yard if you're in need of a place. My friend and I are  riding the Northern Tier in the summer of 08 for breast cancer awareness and I'd be interested to hear your experiences and help you out if you need any. Good luck!!"
Daryl Bernard