A touring Amateur asks...

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
LondonBikeCommuter
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A touring Amateur asks...

Postby LondonBikeCommuter » 29 Jul 2013, 6:47pm

Having recently moved from Swindon I'm now cycle commuting from north London into the city 5 days a week. Over the past 18 months I've been on long days rides (about 100-120 miles) either on home to home loops or out, stay at a B&B then back home next day.

I'm now looking at taking it to the next level whereby I do a weeks trip, London to Paris and back in late September.

Firstly I want to say I'm never going to be a professional cycle tourer like a lot of people here who have the obligatory Dawes Galaxy whatever, Leather saddle and USB dynamo etc.

I have a bike thats been designed as a cyclocross bike. I know nothing about frames but its listed as "LDA Triple Butted 7005 Aluminium" with "LDC High Modulus Carbon forks" the brakes are "BB7 Road Disc" with "American Classic Hurricane" wheels the groupset is "Shimano Ultegra compact". Does that sound suitable? I've had people reel in shock at disc brakes for road bikes as death traps!

I bought a rack yesterday along with some Ortlieb back roller plus panniers (loads of good reviews here)

Well thats as far as I am.

I'm 90% sure I'll get a Hilleberg Akto as my tent and use a Thermarest NeoAir mat. Sleeping bag not decided. I picked up a soto stove which I intend using with a GSI Dualist pot kit. Will buy most food out so only needing to do the morning brew and heating up soup etc.

Two areas I'm failing miserably at is CLOTHING and charging of electronics.
Have done multiple searches on touring clothing for cold and wet weather but very surprised to find pretty much nothing here!

As for charging a USB dynamo is a complete NO on cost grounds and it just won't get much use. I'll need to charge an Exposure headlight Diablo, Garmin Edge 810, Galaxy S4 and a Google Nexus 7. I suspect that there aren't many 'free' charging points along the Avenue Vert i.e. coffee shops etc. I'm thinking of large battery packs but they're heavy and expensive.

I'm also intending on blogging my trips (Nexus 7) so anyone with advice on doing that?

Would very much appreciate any thoughts tips advice recommendations on how to proceed with this trip from the perspective of an amateur on a fairly limited budget. Basically I don't want to buy loads of kit that gets used once a year if that.
Thanks

hufty
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Re: A touring Amateur asks...

Postby hufty » 29 Jul 2013, 9:20pm

I think everybody would agree that any bike will do as long as you are comfortable on it and it can carry the luggage you are taking. It's only when you start thinking of ways to improve things that the spending starts. But your post reads like you like a nice evening researching kit on google, so welcome to the fold! My advice would be to do a few laden miles to see what you want to change if anything about your bike, and do a few overnighters (or tours even) to see what you don't like about your camping set up.

Random comments to get this thread going...
If you are on a limited budget I wonder about the Akto. Undoubtedly a good tent but perfectly adequate cheaper ones are available that you can sit up in!
Clothing: I wear merino wool layers above the waist, lycra shorts and leg warmers below, baggies for modesty. Sandals with goretex and/or merino socks on my feet, buffalo mitts for the hands. All not too bad to put on when wet, merino doesn't smell after a few days without washing unlike most plastic clothing, although it's not as durable.
My main clothing tip would be to have a separate set of clothes (eg top, long johns, socks) in a dry bag for tent use only that are never allowed to get wet.
Charging stuff: that sounds like a lot of technology - do you need it all? I have tried the USB dynamo thing but now prefer to take spare batteries for camera and mobile, as I've yet to find somewhere where you can go more than a few days without access to mains electricity for a charging spree. But I use paper maps and a normal cycle computer not a GPS, and I only turn the phone on for a bit in the evenings to pick up texts. An eReader lasts a few weeks between charges. Having said that, if you want a USB dynamo setup it doesn't have to be expensive - loads of threads on this.
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phil parker
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Re: A touring Amateur asks...

Postby phil parker » 29 Jul 2013, 10:51pm

I have a bike thats been designed as a cyclocross bike.


I have a lightweight touring bike that I have abused to take cycle-camping - and a heavyweight expedition bike, which can handle it all, but is too robust and not as suitable for 75-mile+ riding days in UK. Therefore I built a medium-weight touring bike with a Genesis Croix de Fer frame and BB7 disk brakes - and it is perfect for cycle-camping touring. It does of course have Tubus rack and Ortlieb panniers!

I'm 90% sure I'll get a Hilleberg Akto as my tent and use a Thermarest NeoAir mat


Although I've recently upgraded I used the Akto and NeoAir for a few years and they are a very good choice!

I'll need to charge an Exposure headlight Diablo, Garmin Edge 810, Galaxy S4 and a Google Nexus 7. I suspect that there aren't many 'free' charging points along the Avenue Vert i.e. coffee shops etc.


I use a dyno hub and a few other gadgets, but it isn't really necessary in the UK/Western Europe. You would be surprised how a polite request will enable you to get your gadgets charged in pubs and cafes. I always take my iPad and in the evening I often eat out at pubs. I ask if they have WiFi (most do) and get the password from them and ask if they would mind if I plugged in for a while?! I've even had them accommodating enough to unplug standard lamps and other items for me. Meanwhile, I plug in my 4-USB port plug and charge my Garmin, my MiFi, my iPhone, My iPad etc. I understand being sat in a pub for an hour or two might not suit most. I stay at campsites and there are often plug sockets in the laundry room - often the site manager will take pity on cyclists and let you charge for free, but over many months of cycle touring over many years, I've never ran out of charging options!

LondonBikeCommuter
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Re: A touring Amateur asks...

Postby LondonBikeCommuter » 29 Jul 2013, 10:55pm

Thanks and apologies just wanted to be honest about where I was coming from, what touring stuff I've already got and my aspirations for my touring future so I could get some meaningful advice. Rereading my post I can see things could be misinterpreted.

I know that its possible to 'tour' on pretty much anything but my specific concerns were that I've not seen any touring bikes using carbon forks (I didn't get a carbon commuting bike because carbon doesn't like knocks). Also the wheels don't have many spokes so again was concerned that the additional weight of my gear might cause wheel damage. I've just seen that Dawes use disc brakes on one of there tourers so I guess its o.k. to have disc brakes.

My reasoning for getting an Akto apart from a friends 20% employee discount on it was that I want to get everything into the panniers to minimise hassle when off the bike like when in a supermarket. Its a lot easier to pick up 2 panniers rather than 2 panniers a separate tent sleeping bag etc. The Akto is also a good investment for the future that also holds its value if it turns out that I want to sell it.

I won the Edge 810 in a competition.... the Galaxy although expensive and a battery hog does double up as so much extra kit so no need to take a camera, video camera, music player, kindle etc. The nexus 7 is hardly an iPad cost wise and would be used for blogging and using as an entertainment device.

What I meant by limited budget was that I don't have loads of money to spend on stuff thats going to be used once or twice a year or is cycle touring specific things like low riders etc a good quality tent will give years usage.

I hope that clears things up!

Do you go for cycle specific clothing? should I be looking at a complete head to foot set of waterproof clothing inc. overshoes etc? Can anyone suggest a starting place to get some ideas on clothing are there any brands that have a good reputation.

My main concern is being either too hot (when riding) or too cold (when stopped) or just plain wet and miserable

Thanks will do a forum search on dynamo's

Thanks

LondonBikeCommuter
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Re: A touring Amateur asks...

Postby LondonBikeCommuter » 29 Jul 2013, 11:10pm

phil parker wrote:I use a dyno hub and a few other gadgets, but it isn't really necessary in the UK/Western Europe. You would be surprised how a polite request will enable you to get your gadgets charged in pubs and cafes. I always take my iPad and in the evening I often eat out at pubs. I ask if they have WiFi (most do) and get the password from them and ask if they would mind if I plugged in for a while?! I've even had them accommodating enough to unplug standard lamps and other items for me. Meanwhile, I plug in my 4-USB port plug and charge my Garmin, my MiFi, my iPhone, My iPad etc. I understand being sat in a pub for an hour or two might not suit most. I stay at campsites and there are often plug sockets in the laundry room - often the site manager will take pity on cyclists and let you charge for free, but over many months of cycle touring over many years, I've never ran out of charging options!


Thanks Phil thought I might have ended up on everyones ignore list after 80+ views and no replies!

My 10% reservation with the Akto is that the bike would have to stay outside and with the panniers in the vestibule would there be room for or to do anything else?

I guess that its the fear of the unknown. In the UK I have no problems getting charged up in McDonalds, coffee shops even the local library its just the concern of being alone in a foreign land with a near dead set of lights at dusk and not quite knowing where to to get charged up.

jags
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Re: A touring Amateur asks...

Postby jags » 30 Jul 2013, 12:53am

LBC you have PM. :wink:

LondonBikeCommuter
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Re: A touring Amateur asks...

Postby LondonBikeCommuter » 30 Jul 2013, 6:16am

jags wrote:LBC you have PM. :wink:

So do you!

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Cunobelin
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Re: A touring Amateur asks...

Postby Cunobelin » 30 Jul 2013, 6:24am

I use something called a PacSafe for touring and stops like Supemarkets

Leave the bike somewhere visible, public and preferably under CCTV

The PacSafe is designed for rucksacks

Image

However the largest size will envelop the rear of the bike including panniers and rack, cinching down to the rear frame and bottom bracket

LondonBikeCommuter
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Re: A touring Amateur asks...

Postby LondonBikeCommuter » 30 Jul 2013, 6:37am

That looks interesting. I'm guessing that my local outdoor shop should have further details.

boblo
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Re: A touring Amateur asks...

Postby boblo » 30 Jul 2013, 8:34am

You seem to be going for good quality stuff (man after my own heart) so I'll keep you on that track...

There's an almost religious debate about Akto's vs Laser Comps. They are very similar in form, function, size, quality and weight. The Laser costs a lot less however (more than the effect of your 20% staff discount) and I would suggest you look at these before jumping. Whichever you buy, the porches are ok for the size of tent but filled with panniers, there'll be just about enough room left to cook. These tents are not great to live in day after day particularly if you hit a multi day period of bad weather. On longer trips, I use a Big Agnes Seedhouse 2. Still very light (about the same as the Akto) but a bit bigger. Yankee designed so inner up first which may be an issue depending where you're camping/speed of putting up,

For decent sleeping bags, I'd go down (weight/compressed size). Just keep it dry. RAB, Mountain Equipment or PHD (The Rolls Royce option) are good UK brands. Don't go mad and get a 4 season bag for summer camping. You can get weight down to ~500g for a really light summer bag and you don't want to be carrying unnecessary insulation (I.e. weight). Alpkit are a budget alternative but are usually out of stock when I look.

Clothing. Have a look at the Gore website. Very good quality kit and lasts well. Not the cheapest (or dearest) but their range should have stuff to suit. I use lycra bib shorts and either a zip off sleeve medium weight top or really light 'technical' tee shirts for really hot climates. You might also need a mid weight fleece and/or Primaloft jacket and a lightweight waterproof (Goretex or similar). Some use over trousers, some not. I don't bother with overshoes but I do use Gore Tex socks if it's tipping down. As above, take a spare lightweight clothing set for evening use. The aim is to make all your kit work and not have anything left unused. I take two pairs of shorts so I can wash and wear at the same time. Don't forget lightweight flip flops for showers and slopping around off the bike.

The main things for me are weight and flexibility. If you're investing now, buy good quality lightweight kit and it'll make your ride more enjoyable when slogging up that 3000m pass.

Bike choice. Yes you can tour on anything but you have to ask why do people gravitate towards a few specific designs for touring? A CX bike may well be a good compromise and I wouldn't get too worked up about discs. If you carry spare pads and know how to fettle them, you should be fine. Low spoke count wheels might not help if you're heavily loaded particularly if they have weird spokes (you may struggle to get spares on tour).

If you want a dynamo front wheel, have a look on the Rose bike website. They do a decent 700c/Shimano hub front wheel for £70. I have one, its ace.

This is turning into an essay so enough for now.

nirakaro
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Re: A touring Amateur asks...

Postby nirakaro » 30 Jul 2013, 10:11am

Something like this - TeckNet® iEP392 12000mAH - from Amazon will keep you supplied with power for a good long while,and not break the bank. Not too flashy to leave in the campsite bathroom, and most campsites will happily charge it up overnight in the office, if you ask nicely.
Definitely worth getting lightweight head-to-toe waterproofs: quite likely you won't use them, but if it buckets down for the first twenty-four hours (as it did on me this year), you'll be miserable without them. I wouldn't go so far as overshoes however: personally I wear sandals, which dry out fairly quickly.

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foxyrider
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Re: A touring Amateur asks...

Postby foxyrider » 30 Jul 2013, 12:51pm

nirakaro wrote:Definitely worth getting lightweight head-to-toe waterproofs: quite likely you won't use them, but if it buckets down for the first twenty-four hours (as it did on me this year), you'll be miserable without them. I wouldn't go so far as overshoes however: personally I wear sandals, which dry out fairly quickly.


I'd much sooner have dry feet than wet legs - forget waterproof legwear, concentrate your dosh on a decent lightweight waterproof jacket and get something like Gore spats to keep the moisture from your footwear. In the summer i'll be in shorts so as my legs are reasonably waterproof i'll keep the very absorbent footwear drier if i can! :D
Convention? what's that then?
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hufty
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Re: A touring Amateur asks...

Postby hufty » 31 Jul 2013, 11:28am

I think us sandal wearers are resigned to the idea that footwear will get sodden at some stage on a tour - even if it's through water running down your legs and filling your boots. A sandals/sealskinz combo is easier to dry out when camping than some other options. But it's just an option.

A few posts upthread you asked if people wear cycle specific clothing - I think that's down to personal preference. The key to not overheating in various weathers is to have a few thin layers rather than one thick one, then you can strip off or add layers to suit.

One other thing: I personally don't expect to do big daily mileages when on tour so unless you know it works for you I wouldn't have an inflexible itinerary based on 120 miles a day or whatever (not that you've said that's what you will do).
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newislander
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Re: A touring Amateur asks...

Postby newislander » 31 Jul 2013, 5:09pm

I see you've had a lot of input already but here's my take on your situation. I tour on a tight budget and a lower range giant bike. I camp wild when i can otherwise in france use municipal camping grounds which are less than 10 euros for a single person with tent and bike and have better bathrooms generally than the newer ones.

For a weeks trip, you should not be going out to buy a ton of expensive wet weather gear. And perhaps the reason why there is not much to be found in your research is because not much is needed. Just buy a minimum of stuff to stay warm. Its september. How likely is it to rain really? How cold is it really during the day? I just did two months in France starting late May from paris. I didn't actually get much rain at all in two months even though its was a much colder and wetter start to the year than usual according to what everyone told me. Of course it is colder and wetter in the stretch you want to travel between england and paris than where i went but i did start in paris and the weather was lovely for the most part during the day. For my trip, I had only a light and cheap wind jacket and a warm but not waterproof fleece jacket that i bought years ago and is still in great nick. it would have been nice to have a waterproof jacket. Just look for one that has a long backside and plenty of air vents. Make some if what you buy is lacking because you can get sweaty in these jackets. For coming down the mountain i had my polyester balaclava which was a godsend. I do recommend one and i have used it on almost every cycling trip i've done. They are great on a cold night in or out of bed. I like a scarf - silk is good because its warm and lightweight.

Definitely have two wool thermal tops, even for one week. Its nice to always have at least one that's clean. Wool is great because even when its wet, its warm and as mentioned before you can wear it for ages before it gets smelly. (but you've still got to wear deoderant) I got some nice glove liners from decathlon which cost me 2 euros (but normally they are 5) and these were great. I like full gloves that are not expensive because they keep the sun off my hands and when you are sweating its more comfortable holding the grips than bear hands. And then if i lose them as i am inclined to do with the ones that cost m $50, then its no great loss. And of course they are warm. For trousers, you don't need waterproofs. Not for a week in September. I didn't need them. I don't even think you need longs. Just bike shorts will be fine. Take two pair - take one short and one longer if you are concerned. Your feet shouldn't get cold even if they get wet. Mine didn't. They will only get cold if you are cold all over. Keep your core warm and you head covered and then you will still have blood flowing to your extremities. Blood flow will keep them warm.
To cut it short, just buy an absolute minimum of warm and wet weather stuff. Have a good sleeping bag at night. But if you don't, just wear your clothes to bed and make a hot water bottle of one of your drink bottles. Don't make it too hot as it will bugger up the rubber seal and make sure you wrap it in a sock or something. A hot water bottle like that makes a huge difference when its needed. This time i bought a metal bottle for that purpose but it was never cold enough to use.

I take it you are wild camping? Is that right? If not you won't have any trouble charging stuff up at campsites. Seek out municpal campgrounds as your first choice if you are staying in camping grounds. Minimise the stuff that needs charging but you are only going for a week so you shouldn't have too much to charge anyway.

If you are wild camping buy a "kitchen sink". Its great for bathing, washing your stuff but completely unnecessary for washing your dishes.

About the tent, it looks small. Its ok for shorter trips if that's all you are going to do. I have a small tent and its all right but i'm due to replace it and i'm going to buy something bigger. Its so nice to be able to sit in your tent and eat if its raining. In your small tent, you will have to evacuate and find some other shelter. That tent is very similar in shape to mine on the outside which is a macpac. You can only really sit up underneath the hoop. I think tents with two hoops might be better, the tunnel type tent. I do like the higher foot ends on yours though. How do you think you'd go getting changed into your knicks in it? I also like having two doorways on my tent. But maybe in cooler climate like europe it doesn't matter. If you intend doing hot summer camping or going to hotter countries two doors is better.

I think that tent would be great if you had to carry it on your back or for one week tours in fine weather but for touring or wet weather i think you can do better. If you've got a rainy day, its going to be so tough coming back to your tent to get changed and get into bed without wetting everything.

is this the stove you bought.?
http://geartrekker.typepad.com/geartrek ... eriod.html

Before you start using it, consider how easily you can buy gas refills in other countries you are going to. I was persuaded by the guy at decathlon to buy the cute little primus cooker similar to this soto and then had to buy a camping gaz stove because i couldn't get refills except in the cities where there was a decathlon shop. Also that stove is very expensive. About twice as much as the primus and camping gas ones. And it looks about the same in weight and size.

andymiller
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Re: A touring Amateur asks...

Postby andymiller » 2 Aug 2013, 8:49pm

For clothing go to the Ground Effect website.

For changing stuff: most campsites have pitches with electrical outlets. You need something with an EU-standard three-phase plug. I had a guy on eBay make me a short cable, but you can get simple adapters. I also have a Tecknet battery pack for times when I don't have access to an electrical outlet.

LondonBikeCommuter wrote:That looks interesting. I'm guessing that my local outdoor shop should have further details.


Yes but while they maybe reassuring they are also very heavy.