Newbies "touring" on the cheap

Kumquat

Active Member
This isn't a question as such, more a cry for help and advice.

Myself and 2 friends are inexperienced cyclists (in fact I am probably the most experienced....oh dear :laugh: ) who did our DofE awards together (walking, not cycling) and we were thinking of doing another hiking/camping trip(s) as the weather turns warmer, but now the talk has turned to possibly cycling instead of walking :wacko:

We are also lazy, so plan to avoid major hills (lol) and travel only short distances to allow plenty of stops and relaxation time in campsite. If this ever goes ahead, the first trip will certainly be local-ish and less than a week, probably just 3 or 4 days to see if we survive.

We already have mats, sleeping bags and one tent (need to buy another) and bikes- I believe my friends own very cheap (but not quite BSO) mountain bikes- presumably slick tyres are needed? Or maybe we could cycle on dirt paths instead of the road (might be more enjoyable)

I have never cycled more than 2.5 hours in my life and I don't think they have either. Knowledge of bike maintenance is zilch- can just about chance an inner tube on a good day (I'm planning on doing a basic course though) and we have no specific touring gear like panniers etc- ideally we'd like to spend as little money as possible on gear as this experiment might never be repeated!

1) Is even possible?
2) What's a roughly realistic distance for us to cover comfortably in a day?
3) Help me! This wasn't even my idea!
 

snorri

Legendary Member
1)yes
2)30 miles on the first day, rising to 60 after a week.
Slick(ish)tyres will help.
You would need to plan a bit if you want to cycle off road, there are not "dirt paths" to everywhere.
Perhaps you could just cycle to a friend or relative and back home next day for a trial run rather than buy panniers and a tent you may only use once. In fact you could stay in a B&B for less than the cost of a half decent tent.
 
OP
K

Kumquat

Active Member
1)yes
2)30 miles on the first day, rising to 60 after a week.
Slick(ish)tyres will help.
You would need to plan a bit if you want to cycle off road, there are not "dirt paths" to everywhere.
Perhaps you could just cycle to a friend or relative and back home next day for a trial run rather than buy panniers and a tent you may only use once. In fact you could stay in a B&B for less than the cost of a half decent tent.
Yeah, but part of the fun is the whole camping side of it, and we need to get a (cheap) tent anyway for other camping trips. Now you've said that though, I might try cycling for a day to their house (its 20 miles by motorway, so more than that by bike and easily extended) just to see if the legs will cope.
 
Location
London
Do your friends have a private lawn?

If so you could cycle there and camp on it as a compromise.

With a key for the door if you needed the lav during the night.

I have camped on my front London lawn to test a tent and sleeping bag - and it's not separated by any sort of wall from neighbours walking past.

Mind you they maybe think I'm mad :smile:
 

Cringles

Well-Known Member
Location
Northern Ireland
A test run with what ever gear you're carrying might be worth it. Say 20-30 miles. Though part of the excitement is just going and see what happens, which is what I done my first time out. I managed 55 miles my first time out. took about 9 hours though with a few tourist stops :P I wouldn't worry about hills too much, they soon become fun to challenge and you feel great when you overcome it. It's the wind that's the killer! Tail wind is a myth in these parts.

I'm off this weekend again for a 4 day 200 mile Easter extravaganza.
 
1)yes
2)30 miles on the first day, rising to 60 after a week.
Wot he said!

OK - 60 after a week may be a little far. But I used to take the kids "somewhere" by train - and cycle home. Like .... Derby to Leeds, via the peak district, and trans-pennine trail. We'd start with a 25 mile day, and build up to 40-45. No training. Some real b------------s of hills - we walked. Tents and sleeping bags on the bikes my bike (ah - a small flaw!).

But yes - definitely doable. Perhaps worth NOT planning too much - with a tent you can pretty well stop when and as you please? Where I like going, anyways.
 

vernon

Harder than Ronnie Pickering
Location
Meanwood, Leeds
Anything is possible if you are determined. I remember seeing a bunch of young folk at a ferry terminal with a whole range of bikes none of which could be called touring bikes or even mountain bikes. Some had handlebar baskets, none of them had racks, some had more attention paid to decorative elements than practicalities e.g. tinsel and bunches of flowers. The camping stuff was bungeed on to crossbars, handlebars and seat stems. I had a chat with them and it was their first adventure - a camping tour in France with a mileage target of 'whatever they can do each day'. I bet they had a lot of fun.
 

andym

Über Member
Probably a good idea to learn to change an inner tube. Panniers are also a good idea (unless you are planning on travelling very very light) although they don't have to be expensive (use builders' rubble bags to line them if they aren't waterproof).

Otherwise, there's nothing wrong with riding for say three hours then if you've had enough, just stop (OK assuming that in those three hours you've made it to another campsite).
 

MarkF

Legendary Member
Location
Yorkshire
Stop worrying, I went on a week long bender before an arduous tour for which I'd done zero training. I met a middle aged, pot bellied Spaniard in Saltaire last September he was doing Edinburgh to Malaga (via Liverpool and Stratford :wacko:), he was doing it on a too small 1990's bright yellow GT MTB, a womens model, a bike that you wouldn't rescue from a skip, his luggage in assorted sports bags. He'd just "decided" to do it for his holiday, he had no knowledge of cycle touring or equipment.

You get on, you pedal, wheels turn, you get there.
 
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OP
K

Kumquat

Active Member
Being lazy and wanting to avoid hills you might be better taking the train and staying in a B&B
Sorry, I should have made myself clearer: we are used to multiple day walks, including wild camping, but being new to long distance cycling (and it being a holiday after all!) I want to use the cycling as a relaxed transportation method from camp to camp rather than trying to go as far/fast as possible.
 
OP
K

Kumquat

Active Member
Thanks everyone for your advice, much appreciated.

Can anyone recommend panniers that are cheap but robust enough to do the job? Roughly how much should I be looking to spend for something of ok quality?
How much volume do you need? I generally take a 65l rucksack for a week walking, but I have no idea how that translates to panniers.
 

vernon

Harder than Ronnie Pickering
Location
Meanwood, Leeds
You'll get a variety of answers on the panniers. A pair of Halfords rear panniers will see you through two or three years worth of touring if you pack frugally. If you want front panniers There is the question of fitting racks. You might be lucky and have have threaded braze ons in the seat stays to mount the racks on. There are ways of getting round this if you don't have the braze ons. The same applies to the front end. You will need adaptors or MTB specific racks to fir the front. I have no experience of using non standard rack mounts so you'll need search the threads here to find the answers they are there if you look for them.

I've toured with 42 litres of storage in two rear panniers, 50+ litres of storage in two rear panniers and currently tour with four Carradice panniers with around 80 litres of storage but never set off with 80 litres of luggage I leave plenty of space to bring back alcohol and souvenirs.

Decent but not cheap brands - other folks views might differ:
Arkel
Carradice - cotton duck and Carradura
Vaude
Ortlieb

Mid priced
Altura

Cheaper
Halfords

Ignore at all costs - the mounting systems are crap and fail in days
Aldi
Lidle

FWIW. I have been happy with Halfords, Altura and Carradice cotton duck. I currently tour with Carradice and have a reserve set of Altura panniers that I've set aside for commuting when I get around to commuting.
 
The D of E scheme is all about personal development, so just go for it.

Start with a couple of longer trips on a loaded machine, then try an overnight locally, then again expand your trip as your confidence and skills develop.... don't forget to log all of this.

My wife's first "Tour" was the Bristol - Bath commuting route

We travelled to Bath by train, and camped. Then loaded up, cycled to Bristol, had lunch then cycled back to set up camp again

Within a year we had completed the C2C
 
Contact the local Cyclists Touring Club.....

They will be able to direct you to local facilities, training and may even be able to offer personal advice and training.

IF you are really lucky there may even be equipment you could borrow or buy cheaply
 
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