What to do with tourer?

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What to do with tourer?

Postby Daneli » Tue Apr 24, 2012 9:08 pm

Hi all, sorry but this is another touring bike topic.

My wife and I have been slowly building some touring bikes from a couple of old Trek mtb's we have. I have tried to post pictures but unfortunately am technology challanged and can't work out how to do it. We have added Swalbe Marathon slick trires, racks, Brooks saddles, Ortlien panniers Ergon grips etc and the bikes are now quite comfortable to ride thanks to alot of advice from this forum.

We are training for a 500km 20 year anniversay tour in Europe which we leave in less than 3 weeks. It is our first tour and we are very excited and hope to do more in the future now the kids are a bit older. The tour will average 60-70 km a day so not big distances. Unfortunaley I have a bad knee and did a bit too much training over Easter and it has deteriorated further. After many physio visits and $$ it is back on track and while I probably won't ride too much before we go, I am confident I can make the distances without too much discomfort.

The physio has recommended a proper bike fit even though I have never had any pain on the bike. The problem is that my bike is a 4300 series, very basic grade and already 8 years old. I am reluctant to spend $350, the bike fit cost, on a bike that would be worth less than that. Our mechanic has advised that my chain and rear cluster is 3/4 worn and will be due for a major overhaul soon. The question is should I invest the $$ into the old bike with a major upgrade and bike fit or just get a new bike with a bike fit discounted in the price?

If I do get a new bike, I have been looking at a Surly Troll or Ogre. We like flat bar bikes and my wifes bike is quite high spec and in very good condition so ideally a bike to match hers is ideal as there is no need to replace hers (can't have a faster bike than her or it will be the last tour I get to do). I had a look at the Vivente, but that looks like a bike to tour the world and so different to what we have now. We are more light weight credit card tourers unlikely to do any camping and more interested in sightseeing than covering large distances. We may do a little off road riding, not single track but rail trails, fire tracks etc if the opportunity presents. I like the feel and comfort of the 26 inch MTB and the handling on bike paths plus they seem to pack down smaller etc but many are pushing us towards a road bike or a 29er at the least for the added momentum they bring. Will it make that much difference if we don't go that way.

I would appreciate anyones feedback. Thanks
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by BNA » Wed Apr 25, 2012 5:50 pm

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What to do with tourer?

Postby Max » Wed Apr 25, 2012 5:50 pm

Daneli wrote:I am reluctant to spend $350, the bike fit cost, on a bike that would be worth less than that.


It's not the bike you're spending that money on. It's your knees!

I wouldn't buy a new bike now if your trip is only three weeks away. That's not enough time for you and the bike to get used to each other. I suggest you go on your trip with your current bikes (perhaps after a revision of the fit). See how it goes. If you still think a new bike is the way to go, then you and the new bike will have plenty of time to get to know each other before your next trip.

Max



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Re: What to do with tourer?

Postby Vintagetourer » Wed Apr 25, 2012 6:58 pm

A few thoughts, questions:

If you do get a new bike, why not buy one over there? Cheaper, more variety, saves one flight hassle. This what I did for my first ever cycle tour. Bought an audax, light tourer bike off the shelf in London and rode it across Europe.

Or

If you really do like your current bike, why not bite the bullet, book it in to a good LBS and get it a full makeover? Less risk of a dud trip because of breakdowns.

And

Are you using SPD type pedals and cleats? Wrong pedals e.g. toe clips, or wrong set up can also cause knee probs. Foot float is critical.
Have you had a good podiatrist check your feet and leg length? Orthotics can make a big difference to knees and hips.
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Re: What to do with tourer?

Postby WestcoastPete » Thu Apr 26, 2012 12:07 am

Gudday

I am also one who is at risk of developing knee problems on a tour. It happened on my first ever tour and has happened to a lesser extent on each subsequent one. Except the last one. The extent wasn't lesser; it was worse. It only ever happens on tour. I have never had it doing any other activity.

Injuries such as this can really ruin a tour. I'm pretty confident that I know what's going on with mine and know how to handle it now, especially after neglecting to do the things that I knew I should do on my last tour. I suggest you do whatever you can to get your bike setup as best as you can to minimise the risk of developing pain, and also learn from your physio how you should deal with the pain if you get it. Will it result in more damage if you keep riding or will it just hurt? Should you strap it? Should you strap it prophylactically? Can you exercise it now?

There's probably nothing that can't be made right on your current bike (although, if you trust your mechanic, you should replace your chain/cassette/chainrings before you go). What do you get for your bike fit? Will the consider that you're touring and not racing? Either way, you should be able to adjust saddles/stems/pedals/cranks pretty easily. I'm assuming you're on 175mm cranks eh? 170mm might make a touch of difference - less stretch on the old knees.
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Re: What to do with tourer?

Postby J Quinton » Thu Apr 26, 2012 12:10 pm

For an overseas tour that short, I would rent a bike. Trust me, dragging bikes around in boxes/bags on planes/trains/taxis is not much fun. The amount of taxis that will ignore you will surprise you, especially in non-english speaking countries. I only had one bike, but if you have two, that means you have to take two taxis. If you have wheels on your bag it's not much compensation with all the cobbles and uneven roads in Europe.

I took my bike to Europe for 11 months last year. In the end I didnt even pack the bike properly I got so sick of taking it apart and putting it back together. One spoke was bent on the plane from Singapore back to Perth. It seems the best way to avoid the hassle of boxes/large bags is to buy an expensive box that off the top of my head sounds like is more expensive than the bike you have. I think there is a review of a bike box in the review section of these forums.

You could even take your own saddles if you're worried.

If you're doing 60-70km a day most B and B's will forward your luggage for you. Or just take your panniers and whack em on the hire bike.

You haven't mentioned where in Europe you're touring so cannot suggest places to hire. If you're planning on doing a loop, then hiring is ideal. Otherwise, just jump on a train/bus and return the bikes. Most trains in Europe are bike friendly, especially northern Europe.

Have you tried knee warmers? Tiger balm before. Ice pack after.

Could be the pedals you're using too. Try speedplays.

If you were doing a tour over 1000km I'd say take your own bike. The hassle of taking your own bike is not worth it. You sound like you know what you're doing so adapting a hire bike to your fit should be easy enough. My two cents.
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What to do with tourer?

Postby RonK » Thu Apr 26, 2012 12:49 pm

J Quinton wrote:For an overseas tour that short, I would rent a bike.

Yes, I was thinking just that. It would be a lot if a hassle for such a short tour. And depending on the airline it could cost more in excess baggage charges than the bike is worth.
If you are seriously considering a replacement, take the opportunity to save a load of $$$ by buying over there.
De Vacantfietser in Amsterdam specialises in this and is well-regarded on the various touring forums. They were very responsive to my email enquiries.
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Re: What to do with tourer?

Postby WestcoastPete » Thu Apr 26, 2012 1:32 pm

The OP's problem is to do with bike fit and mitigating the potential for developing/exacerbating knee pain while on tour. Hiring a bike would not help with this. If he can setup a bike that fits him well, he'd be better off putting up with the hassle of taking that bike with him than hiring one over there I reckon.

Whether that's a new bike or modifications to his current one is up to him, but I can't see why the current one can't be easily modified to fit well.
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Re: What to do with tourer?

Postby J Quinton » Thu Apr 26, 2012 3:13 pm

Without getting in to an argument, may be his current bike is giving him knee problems. Sounds like a heavy, slow bike.

In any case, he wants to have a good time with his wife, not deal with the stress of lugging two bikes to the other side of the road for 500km of riding. That small amount of riding could be done on a BMX.

One can not rule out the possibility that a new or hire bike will make the knee problems go away. Perhaps it will make it worse.

We need more info from the OP.
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Re: What to do with tourer?

Postby Meditator » Thu Apr 26, 2012 3:41 pm

Complicated posts sure do get you complicated range of answers. I'm going to just add a bit more to it.

You say your bikes are comfortable. Then i'd suggest the bike fit is probably fine or at least very close to it so hardly worth $350. You already have a bad knee and you just made it flare up by over training. You say your bikes are treks. Is a different sort of touring bike going to be very much lighter? Make sure the gain is worth it if that's the only reason you are buying new ones. I didn't notice much difference when i upgraded from a steel bike to my current giant mtb. A road bike is definitely lighter though and such a bike in france is totally fine except of course gravel roads.

You don't say how much riding you did over easter - kms, hills? , with full panniers? Do you spin or ride in a higher gear? and how this compares to how much your normally ride.

Anyway in my experience its mostly too much strain that is the cause of the knee damage but without knowing how much you rode, and the conditions, Its still a guess. But given you've already got a dodgy knee, i'm pretty sure the injury is caused by over training as you suggest and not bike fit.

You can get tips on how to make sure your bike is well set for you without having to fork out. I've toured on a bike that is too big and it is obviously uncomfortable. I would think its the same with a bike that's too small. Make sure you seat is horizontal - use a spirit level. There's clues around this forum and elsewhere how to get the right seat height. And no doubt other tips on making alterations to the bike to adjust for you. Also when you are on tour, you are likely to meet other bike tourers and if you have discomfort, someone will know more about bikes than you and can offer useful advice. that's been my experience on tour and in places where there are far fewer cyclists.

Assuming your injury is only tendon/ligament or muscle strain and inflammation...
Apart from checking the bike fit yourself, i would say you when you ride you will have to find ways to keep it easy on your knees eg
1. avoid hilly routes completely.
2. always ride in the lowest gear you can
3. take very frequent short breaks - that was how i cured my own knee strain on a tour - at least 2 an hour. I'd suggest 15 minutes every hour, 5 minutes every 30 minutes and a good hour long break halfway through your day's mileage. Adjsut according to the pain.
4.be strict about the amount of gear you are carrying. If you got your knee problem whilst riding without any weight behind you and in the right gear, i'd say you are in for a painful tour and you might as well abandon the idea now.
5. reduce your daily mileage. Maybe no more than 50km depending on how bad your knee is.

Certainly you will have to do all of these things if your knees flares up on tour.

All need not be lost if things are at their worst. Let your wife ride and you hire a car and be her support person. It will still be a bit like a cycling tour and i think would still be quite a lot of fun. So long as you can afford car hire but it sounds like you can.
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Re: What to do with tourer?

Postby WarrenH » Thu Apr 26, 2012 7:37 pm

(Just guessing OK).

Sore knees can be a sign of patellar tendonitis from having either a slow cadence (prematurity) brought on from pumping under load or from having the cranks too long. Having the correct bike fit, is absolutely essential for prolonging your riding and staying free from injury. Try to cycle, even when touring with a load, to the lowest weight bearing level possible. That comes from selecting the ratio that will allow you to spin the cranks relatively quickly.

Pedal with low resistance and keep the cadence well up, to at least 80-90 rpm. This allows your body to adjust again to riding ... and see if this gives you an improvement. When one has to ask, what can I get away with ... the rider really knows.(Again, I was just guessing, OK?)

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Re: What to do with tourer?

Postby Meditator » Thu Apr 26, 2012 8:30 pm

insightful (perhaps) information on cranks and possible knee pain. Do men's bikes usually have longer cranks than women's bikes. I never had knee pain on my first touring bike and often road 100kp day.It was a man's bike and too big for me, causing to me to have a lot of hand numbness as a result of leaning on my hands so much.

http://sheldonbrown.com/cranks.html

I hadn't heard of this notion about cranks so i looked it up and Sheldon Brown explains it and makes some interesting points. Worth reading. One being that if you have long bike cranks for your size then you may have knee problems. I don't know how long the cranks were on my original second hand bike because i never even knew they varied significantly in length. Anyway with the information in the link, you can check it all out and consider it for yourself. btw i am not a tall woman and i was riding a man's mountain bike so if its possible that the cranks were long for me unless to have them on your bike is uncommon.
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Re: What to do with tourer?

Postby Vintagetourer » Thu Apr 26, 2012 9:53 pm

Two articles which I found very helpful. Our very own Ron K's on pedals which I credit with giving my cycling legs back. (thanks Ron)
http://wheelswhisper.blogspot.com.au/p/ ... edals.html

And this helpful item from covers a wide range of factors
http://www.australiancyclist.com.au/art ... aeid=17857
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Re: What to do with tourer?

Postby RonK » Thu Apr 26, 2012 11:46 pm

Vintagetourer wrote:Two articles which I found very helpful. Our very own Ron K's on pedals which I credit with giving my cycling legs back. (thanks Ron)

A pleasure - I'm delighted that you found my article helpful.
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Re: What to do with tourer?

Postby Daneli » Sat Jun 02, 2012 8:06 am

Hi all,

I just want to thank everyone for their time and efforts in replying. We have just come back from our tour and it is was very successful. Actually absolutely fantastic, we spend 6 days cycling around Provence, France. Given that this was the first cycling trip we had done and my first overseas holiday, it is now a treasured lifelong memory.

We ended up hiring bikes as was suggested. They were Scott Hybrids and were very well maintained and didn't miss a beat (or gear) all week. We took our own peddles and saddles and the mechanic did a bike fit for us. They ended up being very comfortable. My only criticism was they would not allow us to put our own ergo hand grips and bar ends on so we were short on hand positions. A couple of longer days I got some tingles in my hands but in all it did not detract too much. Also, the brakes were on opposite sides of the handlebars but this just took a little getting used to as was riding on the wrong side of the road.

My knee held up fine. I felt comfortable on the bike and i managed the longer days with lots of stops for coffees and photos etc. In fact it was not an issue at all. I think our average speed was well down on what we do on our normal training rides as there was just so much to see.

We know have the confidence to start looking at longer self supported tours. We need to get more comfortable riding in the rain as we had 1 wet day but didnt have the right clothing and was a bit cold. I used the old trick I have read on CGOAB of the hotel shower cap over the bike helmet, and stopped at a chemist to get some rubber gloves which went over our riding gloves (this was an interesting convesration in French). These helped alot, but I think proper wet weather pants and shoe covers would have been a big help. Any recommendations here?

Thanks again.

Shane
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Re: What to do with tourer?

Postby Meditator » Sat Jun 02, 2012 2:13 pm

From all the conversations i've heard about this topic i think if you are riding in wet and cold conditions, then the solutions you mention are the ones that most people go with. They say that the full heavy jackets are not so great as the water just runs down inside so just a wind shell is best.

Can you please tell me the towns you went through in Provence. I am planning a trip to france but wasn't going to go to provence but would be interested in know what route you chose so i can look at it on my map. Name the big towns and a few of the smaller villages in between if you can remember their names.

How much did it cost to hire the bikes? Did you take them up any long climbs?
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Re: What to do with tourer?

Postby Daneli » Sun Jun 03, 2012 9:31 am

Hi,

Day 1 - 75km
Avignon, Pujaut, Roquemaure, Chateauneuf-du Pape, Orange,Serignan-du-Comat, Largarde-Pareol, Rochegude, Suze-la-Rousse, St-Resitut, St-Paul-Trois-Chateaux

Day 2 - 67km
St-Paul-Trois-Chateaux, Visan, Vaison la Romaine, Malaucene, Bedoin, Mazan.

Day 3 - 70km
Mazan, Bedoin, MONT VENTOUX, Bedoin, Mazan

Day 4 - 45km
Mazan, La Roque-sur-Pernes, Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, Cabrieres-d-Avignon, Gordes.

Day 5 - 53kmGordes, Les Ezyssariades, Cavaillon, Organ. Eygalieres, Molleges, St Remy de-Provonce

Day 6 - 80km
Saint Remy de-Provonce, St Etienne, Tarascon, Comps, Sernhac, Pont de-Gard, Valliguires, Rochefort-duGard, Avignon.

I was really happy with the route as we had a tour company plan it for us and it followed mostly quiet roads and took us past the most beautiful scenery and villages. The bikes were really cheap to hire, about 180 Euro for 7 days. The food was also really cheap, particulalry in the smaller villages. I would really recommend cycling in this area and will definately be back for a longer tour when time and money allows.
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