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Bicycle tourist
Old 12-10-2006, 10:28 AM   #1
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Bicycle tourist

Since I retired, I've gotten into bicycle touring, which is very much like backpacking only on a bike. I typically carry 30-50 pounds of "stuff" on my bike and average about 50 miles/day.

This year I rode from Paso Robles, CA to Phoenix, AZ (down the coast to San Diego and then over to Phoenix) and my home in San Francisco to Carson City, NV (over 8574 foot Carson Pass). While I can't say it is fun (like, say, a trip to Disneyland), it is deeply satisfying. I also like travelling on deserted backroads and about 10 MPH. The best thing about bike touring is that you get to eat everything in sight and not gain weight. On tour, I have to consume an additional 1000 calories just to stay even. In fact, I often eat 5 meals a day and still lose weight! In addition, who cares how long it actually takes to get somewhere?

If you are interested in what this is like, my bike journals can be read here: http://www.myfacilitate.net/ray/.

Ray
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Re: Bicycle tourist
Old 12-10-2006, 06:13 PM   #2
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Re: Bicycle tourist

Ray,

This is just awesome. Thanks for documenting your trips!! After I retire, I have considered going from north San Diego County to San Jose. And then coming back by getting a ride via rideshare on craigslist. I really like how you use camping places to save some on money as motels can get expensive on this route. Maybe I could start out by getting a ride through LA.

I am still concerned about safety issues. And I need to learn more about bike maintenance issues first. And I wonder about getting serious butt-soreness half way through the ride!!! I guess that is what rest days are for . . . 8)

Can you comment on using paniers vs. pulling a trailer for long treks?

Thanks.
Kramer
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Re: Bicycle tourist
Old 12-10-2006, 07:11 PM   #3
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Re: Bicycle tourist

Kramer,

While there is no reason you can't ride from North San Diego to San Jose, I think it is better to ride north to south. First off, going south you are on the ocean side of Hwy 1. The view is stupendous; it wouldn't be so good on the other side of the road. Another key is that the wind generally blows north to south (except when it is raining). You could get the rideshare up to San Jose (Santa Cruz would be an excellent place to start from) and then ride south.

As for your other concerns, you must take care of your backside. Most bike tourists carry zinc oxide ointment for any rashs that develop and a good quality seat that you have become accustomed to is vital. I don't find safety an issue except when I am riding in certain car-heavy areas. There is a find bike path that goes through LA, which is quite nice, actually. The worst riding I've done on the coast is in Laguna Beach--cars use up all the asphalt! I do ride with a mirror on my helmet so I can see what is coming up behind.

As for panniers versus a trailer, I've never ridden with a trailer but I have used all 4 panniers on several tours. Since I own panniers, I use panniers. For me, not having another 10 feet behind my bike that I need to worry about is better. On the other hand, many people like trailers. My guess is that it mostly depends on what you already own.

Good questions,

Ray
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Re: Bicycle tourist
Old 12-10-2006, 08:01 PM   #4
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Re: Bicycle tourist

Some of my best vacations have been bike tours. One of the very best was from Portland to Seattle through the mountains and not along the coast. We travelled very light with only about 15 pounds of clothes and credit cards.

Hmmm, gotta start making plans. Thanks for the reminder!
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Re: Bicycle tourist
Old 12-10-2006, 08:39 PM   #5
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Re: Bicycle tourist

I rode bikes a lot when I was kid. I didn't ride as much after I got hit by a car. Be REALLLLLLL careful.
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Re: Bicycle tourist
Old 12-10-2006, 08:44 PM   #6
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Re: Bicycle tourist

Thanks, Ray. Actually, your suggestion about north (San Jose) to south (San Diego) makes a lot of sense. So that means I could do the ride share at the start of the trip from San Diego which is probably easier to plan, anyway.

Kramer
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Re: Bicycle tourist
Old 12-10-2006, 11:33 PM   #7
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Re: Bicycle tourist

Quote:
Originally Posted by kramer
After I retire, I have considered going from north San Diego County to San Jose.
I've heard of a group that does a yearly ride from San Jose to LA and then comes back on the train. Don't remember where. That could be an option for the return trip.

Kramer, IRRC you're in Silicon Valley. Look up the Almaden Cycle Touring Club. I think that they are probably the best resource for this sort of stuff in the Valley. They have a news letter that you can pick up in most bike shops.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kramer
I wonder about getting serious butt-soreness half way through the ride!!!
I did a week long organized tour a number of years ago. Before the tour I was riding about 2 times a week. Funny thing is I was sore for one and only one day but for that day I was really, really sore. It was either the third or fourth day. Luckily it was a short day, only 30 miles. I rode practically the whole distance standing because it was painful to sit in the saddle. I was fine the next day. DW didn't get sore at all.

MB
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Re: Bicycle tourist
Old 12-10-2006, 11:42 PM   #8
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Re: Bicycle tourist

If you are interested in bike touring you might want to check this out:

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/
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Re: Bicycle tourist
Old 12-11-2006, 12:01 AM   #9
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Re: Bicycle tourist

Welcome. Nice to see another cycle tourist on the board. I am Long Beach, CA based,
and have been touring since '83. My last few tours were LB -> Winnemucca NV,
LB -> Ridgecrest and back, LB -> Lompoc and back. I just retired 2 months ago, and
am also trying to get back into shape for more serious tours, now that I have the
time to do them.
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Re: Bicycle tourist
Old 12-11-2006, 07:06 AM   #10
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Re: Bicycle tourist

I haven't done a lot of biking - mainly just around DC in flat or near flat areas. I am going on a bike tour in Italy in May, but an easy ride on the Tuscan Coast. When I was in Ireland I saw hundreds of people on bikes in remote, hilly areas. It looked like it would be great fun but the idea of big hills seems daunting. I am curious about how difficult you found it to get in shape for hills/mountains. Also, zinc oxide for sore butts?
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Re: Bicycle tourist
Old 12-11-2006, 10:04 AM   #11
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Re: Bicycle tourist

There are two parts to bicycle touring: doing the distance and carrying the weight. Most organized tours have a SAG vehicle that will carry all your gear to the next stopping spot so that all you have to do is the distance.

Training to ride XX miles every day is building up to it. I use biking as one of my main aerobic exercises and try to get out twice a week for a 35 mile ride. Since I live in San Francisco, every ride I take has hills. That might be considered a base line of my fitness. In the winter, I often get out only once a week, or even less. As a tour approaches, I increase the number of times I ride and the distance. In addition, there is a long (2 mile) climb that I try to do to build up my leg strength. Right before the tour I try to do long day (50 - 60) rides and to do them two days in a row.

I like to do self-supported touring, which means I carry all my stuff myself. This means that, in addition, to the daily distance, I have to carry about 40 extra pounds on the bike. This effects both handling and endurance, expecially going up hill. I always carry about 15 pounds of equipment on my bike (tools, maps, extra food and clothes). When I start training for the tour (about 2 months ahead), I begin adding weight to the bike when I ride it. I use bottles of water (a pint a pound the world around) and eventually get up to all four panniers carrying the weight I expect to tour with.

The training takes away some of the joy of bike riding in the SF Bay Area but I think physical training always costs something. It is nice to be in shape to handle the mileage and the weight right off the bat. Some people try to "ride themselves into shape," and these people always have a miserable week at the beginning of a tour. Why do that to yourself?

As for sore butts, the biggest problem with one's rear end is a saddlesore, which makes biking very uncomfortable. The soreness of sitting on a narrow seat 6+ hours a day is something that you tolerate and greatly depends on the quality of the seat you have. It is like backpacking, where you feet are going to be a bit uncomfortable but good, broken-in shoes help alot. The zinc oxide is to combat any rash or skin abrasion that occurs.

Bike touring involves going uphill and downhill. Frankly, I don't mind the uphills as much as the downhills scare me. The worst accident I've had was going downhill too fast (I came off the bike going about 40 MPH!). While I always try to ride up every hill, some are simply too steep or too late in the day for me to do that, so I walk. Some people purposely walk some of the day just to get their riding muscles a rest for a bit. While no one likes to walk a loaded bike, it's all part of the tour.

It isn't the hills I mind, so much as a headwind. There is little to do against a headwind except to gear down and struggle.

In order to spend this much time bike riding, tt helps to be retired!

I hope this helps.

Ray
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Re: Bicycle tourist
Old 12-15-2006, 11:54 AM   #12
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Re: Bicycle tourist

I was in Death Valley in September and I saw two guys riding bikes cross country - one from San Franscio the other from Holland. It is a bit much for me. I like biking but like it better if someone carries the supplies. Best of all is a sag wagon for when you get tired and just want to watch the world go by!
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