Touring Applecross on SA AW?

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
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Philip Benstead
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Touring Applecross on SA AW?

Postby Philip Benstead » 22 Dec 2020, 2:18pm

I have a friend age 65 who wish to tour Scotland camping on a bike with SA AW gear with 24 tooth cog and 42 tooth chainring..I calulate the bottom gear as 34 inche


He wishes to go over Applecross

s this wise?

I have toured Socotland but not over Applecross but have climbed many high passes in the French Alps Austrian Alpes..
Philip Benstead | Life Member Former CTC Councillor/Trustee
Organizing events and representing cyclist in southeast since 1988
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Paulatic
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Re: Touring Applecross on SA AW?

Postby Paulatic » 22 Dec 2020, 2:23pm

Loaded I foresee a lot of pushing. OK if enjoys walking.
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rotavator
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Re: Touring Applecross on SA AW?

Postby rotavator » 22 Dec 2020, 3:21pm

Suggest that he does the Applecross circuit without the camping gear! It also depends how fit he is, I have met some remarkably fit cyclists in their sixties who are pretty good at climbing big hills.

LollyKat
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Re: Touring Applecross on SA AW?

Postby LollyKat » 22 Dec 2020, 3:24pm

When I went over the Bealach a few years ago I had to do more walking than I expected because of high winds and torrential rain. Though my panniers were only medium size they made it a bit more awkward to push the bike, and one Achilles tendon ached a bit for a couple of months afterwards.

Dropping down into Applecross I sat up and hardly needed to brake at all - just a touch at the sharpest corners! :lol:

Brucey
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Re: Touring Applecross on SA AW?

Postby Brucey » 22 Dec 2020, 8:38pm

IIRC I went over applecross on about a 30" gear but I only had a saddlebag to carry and the wind may have been helping (on the way up). 34" is doable but best without a load and with thighs of brass, I'd have said.

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GrahamJ
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Re: Touring Applecross on SA AW?

Postby GrahamJ » 22 Dec 2020, 8:42pm

Philip Benstead wrote:s this wise?


No, it is not wise.

I think it is absolutely fine for a reasonably fit 65 year old to tour Scotland, including the Applecross peninsula, carrying camping gear.

The unwise bit is the 34" lowest gear, which is, in my opinion, flipping ridiculous. I was just reading about some people cycling the Alps on fixed-gear bikes, which gave me the same feeling. They seemed to enjoy themselves though, so perhaps I'm missing something.

(I'm 61, live in NW Scotland, have done a lot of cycling and camping on the N and W coasts.)

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Tigerbiten
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Re: Touring Applecross on SA AW?

Postby Tigerbiten » 23 Dec 2020, 1:06am

I've done the Bleach a couple of times now from the south while on tour.
It's mainly a long drag that steepens to around 20% up near the hairpins.
It's not only a question can you climb it easily in your first gear.
But it's also a question of can you restart on that slope after stopping in a passing place to let traffic through.

Luck ......... :D

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Navrig
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Re: Touring Applecross on SA AW?

Postby Navrig » 23 Dec 2020, 2:52am

The other point about that peninsula is the costal road north of Applecross can be harder than the Beallach itself. It follows the coast and includes numerous down and ups at burns/streams. Typically the bridge is on the apex of the U bend so you can't carry speed onto the uphill. It saps the legs quickly having to grind your way out of these dips and there is a lot of them. None are long or overly steep.

Best way to see them is Google maps with the Terrain setting and not zoomed in too close.

Bonefishblues
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Re: Touring Applecross on SA AW?

Postby Bonefishblues » 23 Dec 2020, 8:43am

Navrig wrote:The other point about that peninsula is the costal road north of Applecross can be harder than the Beallach itself. It follows the coast and includes numerous down and ups at burns/streams. Typically the bridge is on the apex of the U bend so you can't carry speed onto the uphill. It saps the legs quickly having to grind your way out of these dips and there is a lot of them. None are long or overly steep.

Best way to see them is Google maps with the Terrain setting and not zoomed in too close.

I agree - it's not the long grinds that get you, it's that kind of terrain.

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Mick F
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Re: Touring Applecross on SA AW?

Postby Mick F » 23 Dec 2020, 9:05am

I did it in 30/28 = 28"
Wasn't carrying anything much, but I had to stop to take in the views .......... well, it's a good excuse!
Mick F. Cornwall

Jon Lucas
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Re: Touring Applecross on SA AW?

Postby Jon Lucas » 23 Dec 2020, 9:15am

Navrig wrote:The other point about that peninsula is the costal road north of Applecross can be harder than the Beallach itself. It follows the coast and includes numerous down and ups at burns/streams. Typically the bridge is on the apex of the U bend so you can't carry speed onto the uphill. It saps the legs quickly having to grind your way out of these dips and there is a lot of them. None are long or overly steep.



I also agree. I found the coastal road a far harder ride than the Bealach itself. The Bealach is a steady climb all the way, so when you are in the right gear, it is just a matter of keeping going (which as has been noted, with having to give way to other drivers, can be a problem in itself). The coastal ride has lots of very steep, sudden climbs, and these get worse as you go round it from Applecross. Having said that, it is a fantastic ride.

I should add that I rode up the Bealach mainly in thick fog, which I suspect made it feel much easier, as i couldn't actually see it rising up ahead of me, and was quite surprised when the road did start finally leveling out.

jimlews
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Re: Touring Applecross on SA AW?

Postby jimlews » 23 Dec 2020, 11:21am

Is this wise?

Over that terrain it would be 'wise' to fit a double chainset; something like a 22t/34t. With a 22t rear sprocket on the SA. That should facilitate the ascent of most gradients found on UK roads. But a pair of good quality anti rotation washers would be essential. Otherwise, the SA axle will simply churn up the rear dropouts. A chain tensioner is also required. My favourite is the swing arm type that fits under the bottom bracket (Super Champion, Cyclo or Fix-Free.

However, it is entirely possible to cover that ground with an unadulterated AW. After all, every bicycle is equipped with a 24" gear (Two Feet).

mattsccm
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Re: Touring Applecross on SA AW?

Postby mattsccm » 23 Dec 2020, 12:22pm

Ignore the gloomy ones. Go for it. Worst that can happen is a bit of walking.
To my mind if the rider is happy with that gear and knows that there might be ways of making it easier then they are probably open minded enough to take the rough with the smooth.

Carlton green
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Re: Touring Applecross on SA AW?

Postby Carlton green » 23 Dec 2020, 2:47pm

I’ve been wondering about the wisdom or not of this journey for a while and asking myself to what degree it might overlap with Alpine touring experiences. IIRC Brucey did have an Alpine set-up for a SA 3 speed and I assume that that worked for him. I believe that this used to be a droving pathway in the past so the course must be suitable for cattle, pack animals and walking.

Getting off and pushing the bike plus camping gear looks like a certainty for parts of the ride and I note comments up the thread about how panniers get in the way when pushing a bike. I wonder how that can be got around, even a single wheel trailer will add weight and carrying more over the front wheel might not be an option. Someone somewhere will have already solved that problem for themselves and it’s just a case of finding out what they did.

Perhaps the ride is ill advised and it would be better to do something not quite so demanding first. If all goes well with the slightly easier rides then attempting something like Applecross ‘must’ surely then become a practical proposition; if a proposition that will have both cycling and walking in it and one that has little more than a reasonable chance of success - I’d be inclined to prepare very well and then, if it is feasible, give it a go.

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Re: Touring Applecross on SA AW?

Postby jimlews » 23 Dec 2020, 5:00pm

Remember, in the 1920s - 1930s the AW was the gear of choice for many tourists.
I don't doubt that some of those chaps (and chapesses) will have done that route armed with 'only' an AW (or its predecessor).

I used to read Cycling World back in the days when it was a proper riders journal. It contained many accounts by cyclists who wouldn't use anything but an AW for touring (the FW and SA five speeds were 'too delicate' and those Continental air-cooled jobbies were viewed with deepest suspicion). This would have been in the '80s-90s. Many routinely covered prodigious distances, as did their forbears; the clubmen of the inter war period.