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First Time bike touring

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First Time bike touring

Hi all.

i am new to WS and fairly new to biking. I howevr have done a fiar amount of backpacking i various countries. I have gotten into biking for health reasons as I age ( I am almost 54). Backpacks I find are getting tough to haul around and therefore limit where I can travel off the beaten path. I was hoping that biking will help me some with that problem and also aid in exercise while I travel around. As I wouldn't consider myself an advid biker. I am wondering about how fit a person should be before going out on your own into other countries? As I said, this will not be my first rodeo as a traveller, but as a biker it will be.Any advise would be much apprciated.


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Hi Dale, It's great to travel

Hi Dale,

It's great to travel without a heavy backpack isn't it? No shoulder straps cutting into you! For cycling make sure you have a wide range of gears to tackle climbs and consider using SPD peddles to click into so you get a well balanced workout for your leg muscles. I would say comfort is more an issue in the beginning than fitness, so make sure you have a good saddle and a bike that fits!



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Hi Daniel Got it. Comfort

Hi Daniel

Got it. Comfort first, fitness will follow. Very sound advise, thank you so much my friend. I may have to ask you a few other questions along the way if you don't mind.



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First Time bike touring

Ride slow. Fitness will follow, then you (may) ride faster.

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Thanks Barry. Much

Thanks Barry. Much appreciated

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First time rider

Daniel left good advice; see his post. I would iterate the need for a good saddle. Many, if not most new(er) riders err on buying a saddle that is comfortable - in the bike shop. A very firm saddle will give you days and days of comfort whereas the super comfy saddle you sat on in the store will be miserable after an hour or two. I have heard that the saddle preferred by most bike tourists is the veritable Brooks B17 saddle. When you sit in a new Brooks saddle the first words out of your mouth will be, "No way!" Yet after a hundred miles or so, it will break into your butt and you will have a friend for life. Note: I reference the Brooks saddle, but there are many similarly firm saddles that are loved by tourers. One challenge with the Brooks is that it is just a big old piece of leather and as such, you need to keep it dry. If touring in wet areas, keeping the Brooks dry may be more trouble than what it is worth.

Besides the saddle, I would recommend breaking your butt in (yes, this is certainly related to the saddle). Few things make a day in the saddle more challenging that saddle sores.

As a hiker, you are probably already physically ready for a ride. Give iyourself hree or four days on the road and I think you will see your legs ready for more riding.

Enjoy your touring. Remember, it isn't a race. Enjoy your ride.

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Thank you David for your kind

Thank you David for your kind words. Also from what others are saying it seesm like comfort is the first thing and a good fitting saddle is key.

Hope to meet you on the road someday.


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Cycling newbie

Relevant comments all. As you're an experienced backpacker, you've got the gear stuff under control. Most new tourist way overpack.

Fit if First when selecting a bicycle to tour on. Get the size nailed as close as possible. Then ride a lot to figure out what needs tweaking to make it as comfortable as possible. Saddle to bar distance is critical. Your sit bones should contact the sweet spot on the saddle when in your most common riding position. Bar type(there are several)is important for multiple hand positions. I'm a fan of bull horn bars and aero bars, but that's just me. Treaking bars are popular. Standard drop bars are the most common in the US, flat bars with extensions in Europe. Another critical area is bar height. Most older tourist prefer it to be about level with the saddle. Saddle height should allow nearly full extension of the leg at the bottom of the down stroke.

A loaded touring bike needs low gearing for hill climbing. Shoot for a small front chain ring of no more than 26 teeth and a large rear cog of no less than 32 teeth.

Apologies if you already knew all my blah, blah, blah. The most important thing is to JUST DO IT.


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Wow Jerry . So informative.

Wow Jerry . So informative. Thanks so much for your info. Are you guys currently touring around? or have you done some in the past?


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Just me, not her

In spite of the profile showing me on a recumbent, I'm back to touring on my original upright. Nothing planned for now, but the next tour will probably be a Gone With the Wind ride. Get up each morning, check the wind direction, and head out with it at my back until I get homesick. That usually takes about 3 weeks.

Hope to see your ride journal on the CG site.


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Wow Thank you for ALL the


Thank you for ALL the replys, and so quickly!. This sounds like such a great site with so much help so quickly. I am already checking into a ew seat (saddle), and handlebar extention and will have them soon. Being new to biking I can already see that there will be many friends out there along the road. Very nice to see :)

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Just Do It!

Welcome to WS and greetings from lovely and way too hot Victoria, BC.

It's all pretty much been said in previous posts, but all I can say is "just do it".

I am also 53 years old and quite frankly have let myself go :-) Yet I still tour and just do what I can in a day. There is no shame in stopping 200 times while huffing and puffing up the Rogers Pass, or other suitably insane mountain pass.

Don't be intimidated by trip reports/blogs with 100km+ days. There are plenty of people who do much less than that per day. Any distance on a bike is a good distance. My shortest touring day was 12km's. In my travels I've met anything from lycra clad racer types, to entire families, to an 84 year old man to obese cyclists ...I guess I was looking into a mirror :-)

Since you mention an interest in European countries in your profile, the western part of Europe has some great bike routes/trails along rivers other words, flat. That would be a great way to start out, especially since most of those countries are relatively densely populated with services never too far apart.

I would also recommend one day just doing a ride up to Fort St John. You'll be on a major highway and a friend can always come out and pick you up if things go wrong. It'll be a test to see how you will fare, especially dipping down and climbing back out from the Peace River :-)

The main thing is to just do what YOU feel is right for YOU, and not try to live up to some round the world 150km/day epic adventure on some blog ;-)

Also, don't feel that you need a bunch of specialized high priced equipment. While much of it will make your rides/trips more efficient, etc you can tour on just about anything. I rode the Icefields Parkway from Jasper to Banff on a folding Dahon 8 speed bike ...albeit very slowly.


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Hi Michelle (and

Hi Michelle (and others)
Yours and the other posts have inspired me to take this “biking thing” a bit more serious. I have backpacked around the world in my late twenties and have never forgotten the great experiences I obtained from it. Over the years I have always said I would “get back at er’ someday”, and so now I have travelled again via backpack every year now over the last four years, albeit only for a month or so at time. I plan on making my trips longer and longer as I get closer to so-called “retirement”. I have found the experiences wonderful but have also found the heavy packback a bit of a burden at times. Due to an old leg injury I have turned to biking instead of running for exercise. I have since thought about putting the two things (backpack travelling & biking) together, hence my thoughts about bike touring around the world. Over the last four years I mostly have been travelling to Latin America and am slowly learning a bit of Spanish to increase my travel experience. I do however like your idea about first doing shorter trips around here to see how I do on the bike before venturing out into the world.
Last year I bought a Kona Dew bicycle (mid-priced), which is a cross between Mountain/Road bikes. It seems to do the trick around Dawson where I currently live, but honestly I’m not sure if it will be adequate for carrying heavy panniers loaded with “my stuff” around the world. Do you (or anyone else) have any ideas regarding this?
Thank you so much for the help and support while trying to get into my latest venture.

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There is no wrong bike

I don't know much about the Kona Dew, but just about any bike will do. Much of my touring over the last decade has been on a Specialized Hardrock mountain bike with front suspension and clamped on front rack ...along with a rear rack, of course :-) Not a very efficient bike but it's taken me down the Oregon Coast to San Francisco, it's been to Cuba twice, A short trip in Baja, Belize and Guatemala, and some local trips. I just recently put her out to pasture and bought a really sweet Surley Disc Trucker and I love her very much.

As long as you can put a rack on it and get someone to make sure it's set up as ergonomically as possible, you should be fine. Bar extenders are a great idea to give you more hand positions. Also don't be afraid to look into the possibility of smaller front chain rings for fully loaded climbs. Unless you have heaps of cash, and since you're just starting out, I'd recommend sticking with the bike you have, bite the bullet and just try a few trips. If you don't like the bike you can always trade up for a trekking/touring bike. At that point it would be important to know what type of touring you want to do and WHERE you want to do it. There are definitely some things to consider with hardcore expedition type touring ...hint, Europe is not hardcore ;-) neither is on road North America.

We hosted one young lad from Washington who arrived on a recycled road bike and two repurposed large square plastic buckets with lids for panniers.

You do mention "around the world". If by that you mean and actual trip around the world, then you may want to do heaps of research on "Trekking" or "Expedition" bikes. If on the other hand you're talking about shorter trips in North America and Europe least to start. You should be just fine on what you have. Pretty much any bike can be set up and modified/outfitted to make it into a touring machine.

Round the World expeditions is a whole different topic.

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