foxyrider wrote:Having just completed a camping trip of some 570km using gearing of 50/34 x 12/29 without any undue stress I certainly wouldn't really bother looking for silly low gears. So okay, I admit to stopping on a couple of steep climbs but after a brief rest I rode the climbs in full - no pushing! (last year I did a three week tour without using the 34 chainring at all - it was along the North Sea route in Holland/Gwermany/Denmark, a ride in the Alps would be a different matter!) Touring isn't a race so who cares if you do walk/push?
More important than a couple of gear inches is making sure it all works, your load is balanced and you are happy with all your camping gear. It is harder with a load but once you've adapted to how the bike rides loaded it shouldn't slow your progress too much. Be realistic with daily distances, have multi night stops so you can explore unloaded, I always try to factor in at least one bricks and mortar night in every 7 - the break from the tent gives you a chance to get stuff dried, washed and relax a bit.
The main thing is to enjoy yourself - if it's a chore go home, regroup and start again.
Not having experience I wonder how much John's earlier comment about age is relevant. I've often seen youngsters on this forum say that it is not important to get fit before a tour as "your muscles adapt after a few days" - but I find it taken a long time for my muscles to adapt (long time to recover as well) - though I'm only 60.