Bills Epic Round the World Tour!

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
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Vantage
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Bills Epic Round the World Tour!

Postby Vantage » 31 Oct 2018, 4:00pm

Ok I lied...it was only 70 miles :p

Having joined the Camping & Caravanning Clubs Association of Lightweight Campers in August, my plan was to meet up with them in October at their Delamere Forest site meet. It would be my first successful mini bike tour. Failure was not an option.
So, on Friday 26 October at 9.30am I hit the road on my fully loaded Spa Touring bike.
I was met with cold, wet weather.
I tend to plan my rides on bikehike but trying out cycle.travel presented me with a route I was happy with although I chose a more direct escape from Bolton along main roads. The first of these being Chorley Old Road where I picked up some speed.
Shimmy. First time I've experienced it on a bike. On a touring bike no less. What's that all about Spa? Tsk Tsk.
I left Bolton via the Roe Green Loopline NCR55 into Trafford then onto the Bridgewater Canal. Here a swan almost killed me. Heading toward Barton Bridge I could see it getting ready to cross the path to join its friends in the water.
'Don't do it! Stay there!' thought I. But nooooooo. The bugger ran straight out in front of me and grabbing the brakes didn't really achieve much. Missed the feathery friend by mere inches.
"Fizz-buzzin bird!" I called out. I doubt it cared.

Something had been rattling on the bike since leaving home and was now getting on my nerves...my bike doesn't rattle...ever, so this needed sorting out. Checking everything I found the cause. I'd mounted the front panniers back to front and the bottom clamps weren't tight enough round the rack tubing. I also discovered that I hadn't tightened the top rail clamps property either. Doh!
After that I stopped for a Costa coffee and sammiches with Pam at Stretford Mall. Mmm. Yuck. It was warm at least and helped with the hypo that was dangling over me.
Back on the trail again and more mile munching in rain and some sunny spells.

20181026_123645.jpg


A little past Altrincham I was onto asphalt and going up a few climbs which I didn't really enjoy. They certainly sapped the life from my wussy legs.
An odd challenge was presented to me after passing Dunham Massey Park. The narrowest bridge on the entire planet is there. Getting across the River Bollin I had to reverse the bike by pushing from the front. There was maybe 2-3 inches between the panniers and the fencing. Tight. 2 chunky steps down from it awaited me. That'll be fun on the return trip!
On my first ever attempt at cycle touring I got as far as Great Budworth before technical glitches which in turn caused mental glitches (I just can't do this!) which lead to me bailing out and phoning Pam do come pick me up. Today, I rolled through the picturesque village slower than ever and care free. There was no turning back now.
Having reached Great Budworth in the past, I'd always wanted to push my boundaries and go to Acton Bridge. I had this idea that it would be another nice little village. Maybe it was the crash on the motorway that caused it but I soon regretted going there. Motorists were driving around like they were high on speed and short on patience. Maybe it's because I'm getting older but I don't think I've been so scared of traffic as I was there.
Thankfully it ended as I came to a narrow cycle lane a few miles from the site and I settled into a nice low gear.
On the final stretch of road to the campsite, a very long section was being dug up and when the temporary lights turned green, I raced to keep up with the traffic before rolling to a stop to catch my breath and turning into the site.
It was 4.30pm when I got off the bike and after being shown to my pitch I got the tent up and grabbed fish & chips from the van for dinner.

20181027_142718.jpg


Friday night was unbelievably cold. Despite 2 T shirts, a fleece top, cycling jacket, long johns, trousers, wooly socks, wooly hat and liner inside my down sleeping bag I couldn't stop shivering all night. The front door on the tent had a fairly thick layer of ice on it at around 3am. Brrrrrrrrr.
Saturday was spent chatting to the other campers in the group, a number of which were also inflicted with the cycling condition. Pam drove down to visit me which was nice. And she brought me a little bottle of chain oil as it had been washed off in Fridays rain. I think it's time to break out the White Lightning Wet Ride oil.
The bummer of the day was politely declining a trip to the pub with some of the others...didnt have enough money on me.
Saturday night was even colder. I found myself wrapped in just about every item of clothing I had with me and had the sleeping bags drawcords done up so tight that there was a little gap in the hood about the width of a tennis ball to breath out of. I was a sleeping bag ninja. I don't think I slept at all. Not from the cold, but because I couldn't get comfy. I think I need a bigger pillow and a thicker mat.
Up at 7am on Sunday and the whole tent was covered in frost. Scraping my hat covered head against the front door as I unzipped it caused a mountain of ice to fall off it and cover the porch floor. Awesome.

20181028_070735.jpg


Downed a coffee and porridge then changed into my cycling gear in the toilets as it was much warmer there.
Packing everything back into the panniers took forever...twice as long as everyone else. I've concluded I'm just packing too much crap. The tent carpet for example. Brought so the floor wouldn't be as cold. I didn't touch the floor in the tent once...2 person tent. Its not like I could walk around in it. Doh.
Said my goodbyes and rolled off the site taking great care to ride using as little energy as possible to avoid more hypos.
I pootled along the exact same route I used outbound but today's trip was sunnier, warmer...and much quieter. Lovely.
Within 15 mins I was pulled over by another cyclist wondering about my load. Where I'd been etc. He was surprised to hear I was just a weekender given how heavily laden the bike was. Told him I hadn't quite nailed lightweight camping but was working on it.

20181028_103404.jpg


My 'touring setup' now weighs about half what it did when I first tried.
I wanted to get a photo of my bike on the narrow bridge on my way to Dunham Massey but it was really busy and I doubt anyone would have appreciated me holding them more than I already was...it took ages to cross coz of the tight clearances. Oh well. Some other day.
Mum who was looking after the kids and from I heard from the kids, re-decorating the house told me to hurry back as she needed to be home soon due to Sunday bus timetables. Time again was my enemy.
As I got onto the Bridgewater Canal I phoned Pam to see if she fancied one of costa's crap coffees as I needed a break. I set the etrex to count down the miles till my turnoff and set off. The bloody thing was routing me off the canal path at every opportunity and shortly before reaching the offramp I wanted, it got its knickers in a twist and froze up. Typical. Removing then reinserting the batteries sorted that and when I reached said offramp at Stretford, the batteries died. I was only a few mins from my slurping stop so didn't bother replacing them.
Noticing how knackered I was and knowing my time constraints, Pam offered to drive me home. I had no problems getting into Bolton as it was mostly flat from here on, but the last few climbs to home I was sure would kill me...or at least cause a hypo. I chickened out and Pam dropped the bike and I off at home about 4.30pm.
Im a little disappointed in myself for wussing out but I think Boltons traffic and those last few climbs would have left a very negative memory on an otherwise nice little tour.
So, touring? Mini touring anyway?
Do it! If I can do it, anyone can. Literally.
Last edited by Graham on 31 Oct 2018, 5:23pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: an emotional trip, eh !
Bill


“Ride as much or as little, or as long or as short as you feel. But ride.” ~ Eddy Merckx
It's a rich man whos children run to him when his pockets are empty.

reohn2
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Re: Bills Epic Round the World Tour!

Postby reohn2 » 31 Oct 2018, 7:17pm

Bill
It all sounds a bit trying for you,I reckon your main problem is weight,you should be able to shed almost half of what you had on board,but alt least you did it :)
Good on you mate :D
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meic
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Re: Bills Epic Round the World Tour!

Postby meic » 31 Oct 2018, 7:25pm

A baptism by fire* though, doing the first run with a sub-zero overnight.

*the exact opposite but expressions are what they are.
Yma o Hyd

Jon Lucas
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Re: Bills Epic Round the World Tour!

Postby Jon Lucas » 31 Oct 2018, 7:36pm

That's an interesting coincidence. I've only ever visited Greater Manchester about half a dozen times and have never cycled in the western part until last Friday morning, when it looks like I would have almost crossed Vantage's path close to Barton Bridge. I was headed for the free ferry that crosses the ship canal at Urmston, about a mile away, which was running for the last time last weekend until next year.

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cycleruk
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Re: Bills Epic Round the World Tour!

Postby cycleruk » 31 Oct 2018, 8:31pm

Well done Vantage - braver man than me.
I wussed out of camping that weekend with the forecast of freezing temperatures.
A warm good nights sleep makes all the difference.

P.S. Is that a water carrier in the tent awning? Do you really need that when you have two bidons on the bike. :wink:
There's no such thing as a tailwind.
It's either a headwind, or you're going well.

Mike_Ayling
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Re: Bills Epic Round the World Tour!

Postby Mike_Ayling » 1 Nov 2018, 4:50am

Well done Vantage/Bill!

Now you have got your touring weight down it is time to increase it with the purchase of a good winter sleeping bag.

You won't regret this purchase if you intend to do winter camping/touring.

Mike

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Vantage
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Re: Bills Epic Round the World Tour!

Postby Vantage » 1 Nov 2018, 7:54am

Sorry about my 'colourful' language regarding the bird incident @Graham. I've gotten used to the slightly more relaxed rules on another forum. :?

Thanks @reohn2. Having a second look at my setup at home I've knocked off a good 2kg which in turn means I might be able to get away with losing the front bags and rack :D

I tend to cross at Irlam locks @Jon Lucas when going to my fiancé's. I'd forgotten about the free ferry. I'll have to try that next year.

Thanks @cycleruk. I think I'd have chickened out had I bothered to check the weather forecast.
That is indeed a water carrier. Weighs about 30g empty and saves endless trips to the water taps wherever they may be. Having said that...its not like there's a great deal to do on a campsite so a brisk walk every so often might be a good idea :)

Thanks @Mike_Ayling. No plans to go camping in those conditions again. Ever! :lol:
Bill


“Ride as much or as little, or as long or as short as you feel. But ride.” ~ Eddy Merckx
It's a rich man whos children run to him when his pockets are empty.

simonhill
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Re: Bills Epic Round the World Tour!

Postby simonhill » 1 Nov 2018, 8:54am

Yes, well done. Not being familiar with the geography in them thar parts, how far was the ride?

I'd be a bit worried about the shimmy. Don't ignore it. I've never ridden with front panniers, but I do find the positioning of my rear ones is very important. If they are not far forward enough, then the bike feels unstable and wobbles. I don't think it is true shimmy, but unpleasant nonetheless. Maybe try playing around with the fore and aft positioning of them.

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Re: Bills Epic Round the World Tour!

Postby philsknees » 1 Nov 2018, 11:34am

Interesting,Vantage, especially as you traversed the area between my previous & current homes. I'm intrigued by the narrow bridge. Was it the one over the Bollin below the weir behind the Swan with Two Nicks pub?
Re the shimmy. Don't blame Spa, it's definitely something to do with weight distribution. My 853 framed, much-modified Galaxy, which I consider to be pretty stiff, suddenly developed a shimmy in the middle of a 2 week camping tour in Scotland. I realised that while hurriedly packing in heavy rain that morning I'd departed from my normal loading procedure so after my lunch/tent drying stop I repacked correctly & had no further problems. I'd agree with simonhill that the position of the panniers is significant but also the weight distribution between them, both fore/aft & equal from side-to-side. I've always tried to stick to 40%/60% front/rear and it works for me. I'd suggest that the actual position of the rider may also be relevant as it is bound to affect weight distribution on the bike???
When light camping in wet/winter conditions I find a small supplementary mat in the tent protects me from condensation on the groundsheet. Placed alongside the airbed it's handy if I roll off during the night & also allows me to dress in the tent without fear of pocket zip pullers puncturing the airbed (it's happened twice to me!) I use this non absorbent foam to great effect:
https://www.needlesports.com/3463/produ ... ength.aspx
......., originally intended for use under the groundsheet when camping on snow/ice it's packable, being very thin & light, durable & it insulates well. A 20" square works fine for me, the minimum order of 1x1.5 metres should make enough mats to last a lifetime & the offcuts are great for packing into your cooking pots to stop them rattling.

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Re: Bills Epic Round the World Tour!

Postby mjr » 1 Nov 2018, 12:02pm

meic wrote:A baptism by fire* though, doing the first run with a sub-zero overnight.

*the exact opposite but expressions are what they are.

You owe me a new keyboard! :lol:

Thanks to Vantage for the detailed report. Good luck with the next one! Maybe this is a World Tour by stages?
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
All the above is CC-By-SA and no other implied copyright license to Cycle magazine.

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RickH
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Re: Bills Epic Round the World Tour!

Postby RickH » 1 Nov 2018, 1:02pm

Well done. You've done done it & lived to tell the tale!

That bridge over the Bollin is narrow - last time I was there, walking, there was a couple shuffling a tandem across.

I had hoped to get to the ALC weekend but it clashed with other commitments.

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Vantage
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Re: Bills Epic Round the World Tour!

Postby Vantage » 1 Nov 2018, 4:01pm

Thanks @simonhill. 45miles outbound and 28 back as I wussed out in Stretford.
It wasn't serious shimmy but a little unnerving considering what a nice ride the bike normally gives. It only raised its ugly head at speed and when a bit of wind was heading towards me so there may well be something in that.
Yourself and @Philsknees make good points about pannier position although I'll try to work on that next year. The current bag clips and racks don't leave much room for fore and aft movement. I'm certainly looking at getting smaller, lighter panniers which might help.

philsknees wrote:Interesting,Vantage, especially as you traversed the area between my previous & current homes. I'm intrigued by the narrow bridge. Was it the one over the Bollin below the weir behind the Swan with Two Nicks pub?


The very same :)
How does that foam tent mat take to being folded? I'm currently using a 6x4' tarp as a groundsheet which does little to keep the tent bottom dry and lacks any cushioning.

mjr wrote:
Thanks to Vantage for the detailed report. Good luck with the next one! Maybe this is a World Tour by stages?


Thanks mjr. The world being limited to the UK and Eire then possibly. I really don't fancy wandering off too far :)

Thanks @RickH. Count your lucky stars you missed the cold :) Theres a meet at Skipton next April although instead of doing the full 40 odd miles there in one day I'm thinking of stopping over at Jerusalem Farm site then carrying on from there.
Bill


“Ride as much or as little, or as long or as short as you feel. But ride.” ~ Eddy Merckx
It's a rich man whos children run to him when his pockets are empty.

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RickH
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Re: Bills Epic Round the World Tour!

Postby RickH » 1 Nov 2018, 4:34pm

Vantage wrote:I tend to plan my rides on bikehike but trying out cycle.travel presented me with a route I was happy with although I chose a more direct escape from Bolton along main roads. The first of these being Chorley Old Road where I picked up some speed.
Shimmy. First time I've experienced it on a bike. On a touring bike no less. What's that all about Spa? Tsk Tsk...

...Something had been rattling on the bike since leaving home and was now getting on my nerves...my bike doesn't rattle...ever, so this needed sorting out. Checking everything I found the cause. I'd mounted the front panniers back to front and the bottom clamps weren't tight enough round the rack tubing. I also discovered that I hadn't tightened the top rail clamps property either. Doh!

Re-reading your post these two may be connected! If the rack and/or panniers can swing around then funny things can happen. I learnt this early on (mid 70s) when carrying an 18" Stilson wrench, borrowed from a friend (or. more likely, their parent), home strapped on top of a springy 3 point carrier.

I only once had a bit of shimmy in around 8 years on my old bike (none at all on its replacement), & that wasn't heavily loaded. It must have just been the weight & resonant frequencies. It was trying to let rip down Smithills Dean at 40+mph. I've done that speed many times before & since (still not managed to quite top 50mph down there! :D ) without any problems (at least not from shimmy).

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Re: Bills Epic Round the World Tour!

Postby philsknees » 1 Nov 2018, 6:45pm

Hi Vantage. The closed cell foam is 3mm thick & like the standard thicker sleeping mats is better rolled than folded, though it will take a single fold. I originally bought (at some expense!) enough to lay under a one man tent in winter sufficient to protect the whole groundsheet and provide insulation over the full extent of the floor. It worked well, even on frozen snow, but it wasn't ideal because the multiple folds needed to pack it left it too bulky to easily fit alongside the other kit in my preferred lightweight mid-size rucksack (same applies to a 30 litre pannier). That's why I now just carry a 20" square to use inside the tent - it's small enough to fold twice & lie neatly flat against the side of the pannier and when in the tent I just slide it around to where I need it. It's pretty spartan & isn't really intended to provide enough insulation for sleeping on if used alone, except perhaps in high summer, but it does provide a warmish, dry area on your tent-floor on those winter nights when condensation is unavoidable.
If you've a few bob to spare this:
https://www.sportsshoes.com/product/omm ... lsrc=aw.ds
............. is a deluxe version intended for extreme mountain runners. It uses a similar type of foam but measures 32x18" and has 3 preformed hinge lines which make it much more compact to pack away. Seems to be generally in short supply at present but some are still available. RRP is £22 but appears available at £19.79. on the site above.

HobbesOnTour
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Re: Bills Epic Round the World Tour!

Postby HobbesOnTour » 2 Nov 2018, 11:16am

+ 1 on the congratulations for getting out there and getting another tour under your belt.

I'm with the poster above on a possible source for the shimmy being the loose front panniers.
Then investigate the weight distribution and position of the panniers.

Personally, I think it's important to have confidence in the bike. If it was me, I'd be looking to get to the bottom of that as a priority. If I understand correctly it was near the beginning, so maybe it's possible to go back and recreate the situation and then solve it?

You say that you don't intend doing any more cold weather camping :D Don't knock it! With the right gear it can be quite enjoyable and very satisfying. Just one point to make on the sleepless Saturday. If you were relatively inactive for the whole day (no mention of going for a ride), then it's conceivable that you were actually colder than you realised leading directly to the uncomfortable night. And following on from that my cold weather trips have been much improved when I added merino wool clothing to my wardrobe. Great stuff! On the bike and off.

There are frequent references to cutting weight. Nothing wrong with that, but there can be a trade-off with comfort.
I pack "heavy" because I like to be comfortable -physically as well as psychologically. In other words, I carry a chair, for example because I've learned that sitting on wet/cold ground is really not very nice. Similarly, so long as I have enough water I'm kitted out enough to stop pretty much anywhere in an emergency or simply because I want to. It removes a lot of stress knowing that I don't have to be somewhere (most of the time), I can be comfortable where I am.

I wouldn't be in a rush to drop the front panniers. Packing all the weight on the back is obviously adding to the stress on the back wheel. Personally, I prefer the overall "feel" of the bike when it's loaded front and back. It just feels more stable to me. I did start out a long tour with just back panniers having done previous tours with front and back. It seemed a logical thing to do to cut down on weight given that I was looking at more than 5k km and quite a few mountains! Within a week I'd stopped at a Decathlon and bought a couple of panniers to tide me over until I could have my original Ortliebs sent to me. I couldn't get used to how the bike felt.
Having said that, I've recently done a trip to Ireland & back with no front panniers - but that was with an ExtraWheel trailer, so I carried the front gear on the trailer. I did this because I wanted to do more off-road stuff and the front panniers are not the best for that.
In any case, what works for you, works for you. I'd just suggest testing out both scenarios to see what works best in different conditions before you find yourself miles away from home. What I have learned is that what can seem logical to me before I get on the bike can prove disastrous when I'm on the bike! :D :D

Can I ask why you went back the same way you went? I try to avoid that as much as possible. I find myself mentally marking off waypoints that I know from the first (or previous) legs and I lose my "exploration" attitude. The journey becomes more of a ticking off the miles rather than a tour, if you know what I mean.

And another question. Are you only interested in riding to meet-ups? Are you interested in going solo? Personally, I've no problem with heading off on my own. (Ain't nobody I know going to go off with me at this time of the year anyway :D ). Maybe look up Warmshowers for other cycle tourers in your area for possible trips. At least it's be a warmer place to stay :D .

Anyway, kudos to you for doing it! Well done!
And I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm looking forward to reading about your next tour.