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Hello all, I'm starting to prepare for my first cycle tour, which will be Sydney to Brisbane over 2 weeks. I have loads of questions, however I've two main ones that I need to determine for planning my trip:
1) How much is a reasonable amount to cycle in a day, with all of your gear? I'm a pretty fit guy, I've done loads of marathons, and quite a lot of day cycles (60+ km). However I've never cycled with all of my gear, so I don't know what to expect. For instance, one of my hopeful days is 110km, with a few hills, I'm not sure if that's too far. Most days are around 80km.
And the other one is a little off topic
2) Can anyone recommend a tent? It's one of the main things I need to purchase, however I'd love any recommendations from people with experience. Should I be looking at a Bivouac sack or a light weight tent? Any particular makes or models?
Any other advise that a first time tourer will likely overlook would be greatly appreciated as well.
Many thanks all.
This depends a lot on your prior riding and general pace of riding. Also the extent to which you want to 'smell the flowers' or 'crash through'. How much more than 60kms have you ridden in a day? If you haven't done day rides of over 100km then I'd probably plan to start off cycling ~60km per day, and build distance as you feel fit. After the first 3-4 days, and a rest day perhaps, you will be in much fitter condition. I rode from Sydney to Murwillumbah and mostly rode about 60-70kms but north of Coffs Harbour it was a good deal flatter on the Summerland Way and I was riding over 90kms per day. Many years ago friends of mine, in their early 20s at the time, and not interested in smelling the flowers, rode up north averaging 150-200km per day. They rode Sydney - Brisbane in 1 week
Go for the full tent. The first night you are caught out in rain, and have to get changed in the bivvysack, you'll regret it . I can recommend the Wilderness Equipment Second Arrow
A smallish two man tent, ideal for one plus gear. Not too heavy, very durable with a lot of special construction features that make it very weatherproof. Multi-pitch (put tent outer up first, outer on its own, or inner on its own), excellent ventilation, one peice very durable floor and 3 pegs will get it up in most conditions (a plus in rocky ground), 4 extra guys for very windy conditions. It is not a cheap tent however. The new silicon fly version is even lighter in weight.
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
lostkiwi, I love hearing the words cycle tour. Your questions are good ones. I've done a couple of long distance tours. The last was Melb to Bris via Syd in Oct 08. A tough ride but massively rewarding.
You sound pretty fit so working on 100km/day is pretty safe. Given that you have many hours in a day to do it even if you want to be making camp for the night by 4PM like I do.
Days of 60km will be half days, done by lunch if you're on the road by 8ish. 100km should be average and the odd day of 120km helps keep the kms ticking over. My first day was 152km and that was my biggest day. The adrenaline helps on day one!
Backing up day in and day out is the key so pace yourself and listen to your body (sounds like running). As far as carrying your gear, that becomes second nature and you'll be tackling hills even with the weight, just more slowly, but whats the rush??
As far as tents go I reckon this is a critical piece of kit. It MUST work and not let you down. If you can't sit up in it and LIVE in it you will get frustrated. Lightweight hikers and bivvy sacks will frustrate you. The extra kilo in weight for a good tent will pay dividends.
Buy the best you can afford. I've used a few and researched extensivly prior to my last tour. I bought a Vango Tornado 200 online from wildearth.com.au . Not cheap but an outstanding design with plenty of vestibule room to store gear. When you look forward to setting up your tent and getting in it you know you're on a good thing. The tent il padrone has recommended is similar in concept to mine and looks good. Mine is bush green. Its handy to be inconspicuous if not camping in a caravan park.
I have posted extensively about my tour and some of my gear and a search of my name will show those posts. Feel free to post any more questions though.
I use a Kathmandu two-man tent I bought in NZ. Before that I had a Eureka Bike'n'Hike which was a single-pole design and couldn't handle the wind. Much prefer the Kathmandu. A modern two-man tent is ideal on a solo cycle tour, because you want your panniers inside with you.
Speaking of which, do you plan to take front and rear panniers, or just rear? You can get away with just rear luggage on a two-week tour if you cull your clothing. A load on both front and rear balances out the bike's handling, but makes life harder in headwinds or crosswinds.
I like to classify things to pack into individual plastic bags inside my panniers, e.g. a bag of clean clothes, a bag of dirty clothes, a bag of papers/books/maps, a bag of food, etc. If you use bags from different shops, you can tell them apart and easily find what you're looking for.
I aimed for 80km a day on my first tour, and I think I did 50km on the first day but I wasn't as fit as you. As with any exercise, you go through some hard and exhausted times for the first few days/first week, then you get accustomed to it and your body starts craving 80+km if you don't cycle!
Your main two needs will be water (carry more than you need, drink before you're thirsty, top up bottles at early opportunities) and food (you'll develop new favourites, long-burning energy is better than fast burnout energy, eat before you're hungry). A compass is invaluable for helping to figure out where you are on a map, and to find your way if you're lost.
Lucky you, it's an awesome tour and great for a start. At least it is in civilised territory so you will be able to stock up on food and water every day and don't have to carry a huge supply. Also there are numerous beaches on the way, providing opportunities to dip in and also providing free showers if you need them. Camping is no problem either way, on campgrounds or just beside the road. It depends generally on your interests what's best to do. If you just follow Pacific Highway (=1000km) you probably just need a week. Most of the Highway is reasonable flat and provides a wide shoulder for riding. The traffic on the lanes next to you is quite disturbing though. If you bypass the Highway it's a lot more up and down but much nicer for sightseeing, heaps less traffic and more fun. I once did the tour from Brisbane to Sydney mostly on sideroads and cycled 1300km in 12 days, the 'busiest' day was over after 135km, the most relaxing day after only 52. Around the cities (Sydney, Gold Coast, Brisbane) you might do the longest day trips just to get out of the traffic.
A really useful piece of equipment is a 1.5l water bottle holder. Depending on your bike you can have 2 or 3 of them and so carry a lot of water outside your panniers.
Also the tent depends on how you feel about it. A one person tent is only around 1.5kg and provides room enough for one Person plus some gear but much of the gear will have to stay outside. I used one of those, was happy about the light weight and did not care much about the compromise in space inside (was sleeping anyway). A smaller tent is also easier to pitch or hide beside the road (especially if it's a natural color). Important is definitely the quality - the better it is the more you will enjoy it now and on future tours. Most good brands provide a high quality one or two person tent, some even a 1.5 person tent (e.g. VauDe), just shop around which one you like best. As a patriotic Kiwi 'MacPac' would be certainly a good choice for you.
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