New to touring - learning from scratch!

JamesRiley
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New to touring - learning from scratch!

Postby JamesRiley » Sat Dec 17, 2022 5:46 pm

Hi all,
My wife and I have a 12 month old daughter and want to start bike touring! Probably with our dog.
Prior to being parents we loved long distance hiking, completing the Bibbulmun, Larapinta and other multi-day hikes. We are finding that hiking with a baby is more difficult than expected, thus we are getting excited for bike touring adventures! We live in Victoria, so have plenty of rail trails to begin with, but would like to do longer journeys for a month or so, possibly starting in Tassie.
Our biking experience is not huge. My wife does well in triathlons but is not a long-distance cyclist. We both enjoy mountain biking but are both fairly average at it!
So I suppose to sum it up, we have good experience living out of our packs and covering long distances day in day out, but are by no means experienced cyclists.
I guess the first step to our journey is to setup some bikes and get out there!
We could use our entry level mountain bikes, but am hesitant to do that because we still want to MTB! And I don’t want to have to take things on and off all the time. My wife has an old alloy frame bike with gravel(ish) tyres on it and may be a good start for her. I think I would like to find an old steel framed mountain bike with no suspension. I like the idea of simple, sturdy bikes for touring.
I predict we will need a lot of storage space for our gear, baby gear and a dog.
I mocked up a bit of an idea of how my wife’s bike may be setup (image below). I was thinking of a rear pannier rack, with panniers and a milk crate on top. The milk crate would mean we can store items at the bottom of it (when overloaded from a resupply possibly) and strap a dry bag down ontop of those items. Can also strap items to the outside of the crate. We would also look to put on front fork bags and handle bar bags.

I am uploading this image for the experienced tourers to critique the setup. Is the weight too high? Too much over the rear tyre? The bags in the image are just for example, not the actual bags or mounts etc that we would use.

Image


For me, I was thinking a similar setup, but instead of the milk crate behind the seat have a platform for our dog (kelpie x collie). He runs well and can cover some serious km, but there will be times when he needs a ride. I would also have the child trailer – possibly a thule chariot or similar.

Is all this a ridiculous amount of weight? Is it achievable with correct gearing and lower km daily goals?

We look forward to starting this new challenge and learning new things!

Cheers,
Riley

thecaptn
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Re: New to touring - learning from scratch!

Postby thecaptn » Sat Dec 17, 2022 9:34 pm

It's easier to carry weight when cycle touring than hiking. I think your bike would work fine with the gears it has but as you say the milk crate looks a bit sketchy being up so high. I've toured with my dog back when she was young and used a couple of different trailers, the first was a cheap and cheerful pet trailer and it worked great because I could fit lots of gear in it and the dog (she's not very big) the second was a bob trailer I originally used for solo touring before setting up a couple of proper dedicated touring bikes with paniers and rack bags. The bob was surplus to requirements until I came up with the idea of modifying it to suit the dog and I had a really good motor trimmer make it up like a convertible car with a clear front screen that could be rolled up out of the way so she could stick her head out. It's a beauty. Sometimes touring bikes and bags come up for sale on Gumtree for cheap and the Ortlieb stuff is near on indestructible so second hand doesn't necessarily mean knackered.

JamesRiley
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Re: New to touring - learning from scratch!

Postby JamesRiley » Sun Dec 18, 2022 9:18 am

Thanks Captn,

The dog trailer of yours sounds like a good idea! And gives us something else to consider

I'll certainly keep an eye out for good 2nd hand gear

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RonK
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Re: New to touring - learning from scratch!

Postby RonK » Sun Dec 18, 2022 10:07 am

Your mockup looks very unwieldy and would be awkward to handle. I suggest you put some serious thought into this - if you get it wrong, you may put your wife off the idea forever. You know the old adage - happy wife, happy life.
Personally I think 12 months is a bit young to take a child touring, but no doubt it can be done with careful planning and the right equipment.
Since you will need to carry a lot of gear, I think it essential to invest in lightweight, packable equipment rather than trying to make do.
Also be aware that taking a dog will restrict your access to national parks and other locations where dogs are not permitted/accepted.
Have a look through the articles on the link below. There are quite a few about touring with children which may provide inspiration and insight.
Also look at the bikepacking 101 and gear sections - there is a wealth of information on this site.

https://bikepacking.com/?s=Children
Cycle touring blog and tour journals: whispering wheels...

JamesRiley
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Re: New to touring - learning from scratch!

Postby JamesRiley » Sun Dec 18, 2022 11:55 am

Thanks for the advice Ron, you're likely right re investing in a decent setup to make it more enjoyable for all of us really. And thanks for the link, I'll have a good look through there. For some reason I thought I had to pay to access bikepacking.com.

That's two people with a solid no for the milk crate, so will scratch that idea.

My personal concerns re the age of our daughter is dealing with traffic - but that's not a fear that will go away with age. We have done several vehicle based camping trips with our daughter starting at only a few weeks old, so am fairly confident we could pack in a way that its achievable on bikes. I do predict things will get easier with age though, which is what you may have meant. We also aren't planning remote trips at this stage. Start easy with the options of towns and hotels in inclement weather, but camp or even caravan parks when suitable.

thecaptn
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Re: New to touring - learning from scratch!

Postby thecaptn » Sun Dec 18, 2022 12:11 pm

Where are you in Victoria?
There's some good places to tour safely and easily there.

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WheelsOfChance
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Re: New to touring - learning from scratch!

Postby WheelsOfChance » Sun Dec 18, 2022 12:17 pm

May i suggest a short try-out run on one of the Victorian rail trails say Wangaratta to Beechworth* staying at hotels or caravan parks. That means you won't have to worry about traffic and your gear load will be lighter and the distances not too strenuous. That will show you what is working and what is not working.

I would definitely avoid having the gear load up high.

* Wangaratta to Beechworth is good because (a) it is paved and (b) there are rest stops at all the old stations which would be useful if you have a young child. On the other hand I don't know the condition after the recent flooding.
Tony

JamesRiley
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Re: New to touring - learning from scratch!

Postby JamesRiley » Sun Dec 18, 2022 1:02 pm

We are in Gippsland, so are flush with rail trail options! These will be our first ventures I'd say, but not so much the end goal as we would like to undertake some longer trips exploring new areas. Ideally I would like to setup as if going on an extended trip and trial that setup on shorter trips to see if it will all work.

Linking rail trails and dealing with roads in between might be a good option too.

Thanks for the wang>beechworth suggestion wheelsofchance! Will look into it.

JamesRiley
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Re: New to touring - learning from scratch!

Postby JamesRiley » Sun Dec 18, 2022 1:06 pm

Maybe carrying a cargo trailer on one bike, and a child trailer on the other could be a better option. We will already be limited by having the child trailer, so another cargo trailer shouldn't hinder us too much and could provide a better option for taking our dog depending on the trip

thecaptn
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Re: New to touring - learning from scratch!

Postby thecaptn » Sun Dec 18, 2022 1:24 pm

When I used to ride those trails Foster Caravan Park wouldn't allow dogs but Orbost would. I'm not sure about Bruthen but the caretaker was a bloke called Wally and if he was still there you'd probably be ok with a dog. KenGS and I used to use it as a jumping off point for trips into the Snowys and NSW but I didn't take my dog on those trips and you need gears for climbing. There's some great camping and cheap accommodation options up that way if you do get adventurous.

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WheelsOfChance
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Re: New to touring - learning from scratch!

Postby WheelsOfChance » Sun Dec 18, 2022 2:14 pm

Given your circumstances a child + cargo trailers might be the way to go as you suggest. You can combine this with additional storage with panniers on the bike. Bikepaking.com has an article including pics with this set up. Just remember they are an American site when looking at gear selection.

https://bikepacking.com/index/bikepacking-trailers/
Tony

JamesRiley
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Re: New to touring - learning from scratch!

Postby JamesRiley » Sun Dec 18, 2022 3:21 pm

Thanks Captn, the high country is a fantastic area and am very keen to explore more of it on a bicycle. I've had a look around some areas in a 4x4 and a motorbike. Some of the trips were a bit hairy on a motorbike and made for plenty of stacks and laughs. I wonder how a child trailer would go in some of those places - i imagine unclipping it and walking things across rivers and things. Would make for an adventure that's for sure!

Thanks for the link Tony, pretty much covers everything to do with trailers and covers all the trailer types I'd be looking at. Bikepacking.com really seems to be a great resource

LateStarter
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Re: New to touring - learning from scratch!

Postby LateStarter » Sun Dec 18, 2022 7:34 pm

As you know or will soon find out everything bike especially touring / camping can be expensive because weight minimisation is a prime objective but second hand can be a good option, One advantage of trailers is that you might be able to use with your mtbs rather than getting additional touring bikes.

Start off with short easy non complicated tours so you can determine what works and doesn't work for you and then extend from there, Victoria is pretty ideal for touring as the distance between towns is shorter and many are joined with civilised riding options on rail trails.

A few local stores have a range of trailers, as you see there is a range of costs for trailers that seem to be much the same?

eg https://www.pushys.com.au/accessories/trailers.html

Good luck
Bill (Long Distance Dreamer)
2008 Cannondale Touring 2, 2013 Vivente World Randonneur, 2015 Lynskey Sportive Disc

thecaptn
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Re: New to touring - learning from scratch!

Postby thecaptn » Sun Dec 18, 2022 9:40 pm

I assume the children's trailers are pricey because of safety standards?

The pet and basic cargo trailers are pretty easy to come by, I sold one each on Gumtree for $50. A second hand Bob trailer would be a good option if you can get one for cheap. Because they track behind the bike you're not hitting potholes and things as much, anything and anyone in it gets a much smoother ride than if they were in 2 wheeler.

JamesRiley
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Re: New to touring - learning from scratch!

Postby JamesRiley » Mon Dec 19, 2022 8:14 am

Thanks Bill, Thankfully we have some good quality hiking gear which means we should only be spending on the bikes and panniers etc now. Certainly looking at 2nd hand gear.

On that, I have put a deposit down on a bike - just need to travel to pickup
Image
Image

The guy seems to be genuine and know what he's talking about when he says its ready to go - but that i would likely want better tyres.

JamesRiley
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Re: New to touring - learning from scratch!

Postby JamesRiley » Mon Dec 19, 2022 8:18 am

There's actually a 2nd hand bob for sale, with bag and all for $450, but am thinking that might be a bit too much.

There are a lot of cheap child carriers, but we want one with decent suspension - which the higher end Thule's have but comes with a cost. But if we want to travel we need the little one to be happy to travel.

thecaptn
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Re: New to touring - learning from scratch!

Postby thecaptn » Mon Dec 19, 2022 9:47 am

$450 for a second hand bob trailer sounds expensive to me but I don't really know. I suppose you'd have to know which model it is, how old it is and what it would cost new.

The Repco looks good provided you don't intend to ever put racks on it but it'll tow a trailer no worries.
Pete

JamesRiley
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Re: New to touring - learning from scratch!

Postby JamesRiley » Mon Dec 19, 2022 12:58 pm

No racks because its not double butted?

Its a chromoly steel frame, but doesn't appear to be double butted.

LateStarter
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Re: New to touring - learning from scratch!

Postby LateStarter » Mon Dec 19, 2022 1:18 pm

thecaptn wrote:
Mon Dec 19, 2022 9:47 am
The Repco looks good provided you don't intend to ever put racks on it but it'll tow a trailer no worries.
Pete
The description for the repco says "can be equipped with panniers & bidons" and picture seems to have 2 sets of bottom eyelets (rack & mudguards?) so must (?) have top ones (can always be fixed with an appropriate saddle tube collar) , triple cranks a plus and the 6sp cassette is described as 14-30 ? I would prefer lower but know nothing re 6sp so maybe bigger is possible?

PS James the "double butted" is not relevant, just a way of saving a few grams of weight by shaping the tubes
Bill (Long Distance Dreamer)
2008 Cannondale Touring 2, 2013 Vivente World Randonneur, 2015 Lynskey Sportive Disc

JamesRiley
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Re: New to touring - learning from scratch!

Postby JamesRiley » Mon Dec 19, 2022 1:51 pm

Ah thanks for the info. I have no idea about gearing - as you might have guessed! Low would be good for me because I'm not planning on setting world records and would rather mozie up hills for longer days than cook myself and have shorter days. Atleast that's my inexperienced theory haha.

I saw double butted frames on a couple of youtube videos and figured it was to strengthen the weld points. Thanks for clearing that up

LateStarter
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Re: New to touring - learning from scratch!

Postby LateStarter » Mon Dec 19, 2022 5:27 pm

JamesRiley wrote:
Mon Dec 19, 2022 1:51 pm
I have no idea about gearing
For loaded touring and / or pulling a lot of weight, especially on hills, "gearing" is perhaps your only friend and well worth understanding (crank/chain set options double or triple, ie 2/3 speed, coupled with rear cog/cassette options) , you should acquire some knowledge regarding this as it will inform many of your decisions / options. Everyone has "their" preferred choices regarding gearing & components. A good starting point is a common ubiquitous component brand with a wide range of compatibility options, I personally think Shimano 9 speed was the golden era for touring components, all my bikes have 9 speed triple cranksets with 24, 36, 48 teeth and rear cassettes with 12-36 tooth cogs, I don't ever go very fast but if necessary I can go very slow up any slope. It is all to do with achieving mechanical advantage, turning a rotation of the crankset (pedals) into a varying number of turns (or partial turns) of the back wheel.
Bill (Long Distance Dreamer)
2008 Cannondale Touring 2, 2013 Vivente World Randonneur, 2015 Lynskey Sportive Disc

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WheelsOfChance
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Re: New to touring - learning from scratch!

Postby WheelsOfChance » Mon Dec 19, 2022 5:40 pm

Its a bit hard reading the spec but the small inner chain ring seems to be 26 teeth. The largest gear on the rear is 30 tooth. This gives a gear ratio of 21 inches. (Gear inches is an arcane way of measuring gear ratios.) A 21 inch low gear is quite respectable for the lowest gear for bicycle touring. I have 2 bikes I use for touring, both of which have about this low gear - one about 21 inches and one about 17 inches. (As a point of reference 17 inches is walking speed.)
Tony

JamesRiley
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Re: New to touring - learning from scratch!

Postby JamesRiley » Mon Dec 19, 2022 7:29 pm

These are some golden little nuggets of information! Thank you both.

Bill that's exactly what I am looking for. Slow and steady. For a few reasons - firstly to be safe with our daughter in trailer - i dont want to be careering down a hill and have the trailer hit a rock and bounce onto its side. Secondly, it should give a smoother ride for our daughter which hopefully means less drama from the trailer. And finally I'm a believer that slow and steady wins the race on long distance trips - Especially when you're an inexperienced bicyclist like me! I 100% agree that I need to build knowledge about gearing - and the rest of the bike. Unfortunately I'm more time poor than what I used to enjoy. I originally wanted to build a bike from the ground up to learn - but realistically that would severely delay any trips.

Tony that info on gear ratio is very helpful. I will look more into how to measure the gear ratios. It's good to know what it's coming with will get me out there. I'll measure to see what ratio's are on the bike, test, then work out what I might want to change for longer trips. I wouldn't be surprised if I wanted to get it down to 17 inches for crawling up hills.

JamesRiley
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Re: New to touring - learning from scratch!

Postby JamesRiley » Thu Jan 12, 2023 12:11 am

Have been getting the trailers sorted.

Got an old thule chariot, with the nice adjustable suspension, and made some modifications for better comfort and weather protection. It weighs 15.5kg

Got some sort of old trailer with some coil suspension and made it a flat bed for cargo. It weighs 10kg

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brumby33
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Re: New to touring - learning from scratch!

Postby brumby33 » Thu Jan 12, 2023 7:37 am

I'm in agreeance with RonK regarding daughter, I think she may be a bit too young to be touring behind a bicycle as she is still an infant at 12 Months old, her neck muscles would not yet be developed enough to handle the rigours of being jostled around. At least another year or two for her to grow before tackling anything really big like Multi days.
You should get a better idea how she'll go with half day and full day outings but for Multi days, I think she's too young still, but this is only my opinion and I'm not a Doctor.
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