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How do you plan a long distance bike ride?

by tom44 on April 8, 2013

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Question by doc2be: How do you plan a long distance bike ride?
I would like to go from carbondale Il to Memphis TN (about 250 miles). What factors do you use to determine how long the trip will take? Any good websites with information? Thanks in advance.

Best answer:

Answer by kennyboy

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3 thoughts on “How do you plan a long distance bike ride?

  1. Daniel H says:

    At that range, speed will rely mostly on your bike’s ability to conserve your power output rather than the usual.

    What is usual is that the more you pay for a bike, the more it facilitates high power output.
    For most people, that lasts about 75 miles or so, and then you have to stop.

    I’ve got some ideas here that increase efficiency, comfort, stamina (same).
    You also need safety and lightweight provisions.

    Distance and speeds vary considerably once past the 75 mile mark.

    This depends on your bike

    Could be zero, could be 13mph, could be hospital, could be breakdown, or it could be like a really enjoyable vacation.

    Let’s start with most important first. . .

    Comfort. Comfort facilitates stamina.
    Type of bike and fit of bike are very important.
    For examples of longer distance bike, you can test drive the following:
    Schwinn Super Sport
    Diamondback Winwood/Edgewood
    Specialized Roubaix
    Specialized Cirrus
    *These are all long distance bikes, and all with a cyclocross fit. Expect the proper fit to show a more-than-normal amount of seat post.

    Tire supplies
    Maps (in plastic bag or sleeve)
    Bike compass!! (usually comes with a small alloy bell, and is usually backwards of a car compass)
    Bit of tools and a couple extra screws

    Tires for 700c:
    Michelin “race trainer” (flat protect, bit of a rough ride, incredibly fast)
    Serfas Seca RS (flat protect, cushy, quick, corners secure)
    Panaracer T-serv (25mm) (flat protect, works in rain, cushy, above average speed)

    Tires for 26″:
    1) Kenda Kross Plus (“plus” has yellow label that goes on drive side, don’t get one without the yellow label, flat protected, quick on pavement, graceful on gravel).
    2) Schwinn Typhoon Cord (bit heavy on the hills super fast on the flat road, won’t slip, rolls easy, flat protected, use 60 pounds rear, 40 pounds front because the label states only minimums)
    3) Panaracer Pasela Folding Tourguard 26″ x 1.25″(flat protected, works only on 26″ XC narrow wheels and is a performance road bike tire–use the specialty smaller size inner tubes).

    These are all flat protected so that you don’t need an inner tube per 40 miles like the “free” tires that come with a bike.

    At this point, you’re on a bike that’s comfortable, running on fast flat-protected tires, have water, a frame pump, a spare inner tube, a multi-tool, and a good attitude because you’re comfortable and secure.

    Now, because it is going to get dark, you’ll also need a Serfas SL-400 Headlight. This gives a super wide beam (unlike Cateye) that is very bright from 8 leds, powered by 3 AAA batteries securely fit to a watertight drawer. That wide beam is quite remarkable. The light is barely bigger than a golf ball, shock resistant, and super light weight.

    While Serfas makes a wonderful red LED rear blinkie light that even blinks towards the sides, the Bell red triangle from Wal-Mart will also do a rather good job.

    What else could we want on such a trip?
    If you’re planning to stop halfway (see mileage), you’ll want a rack and pannier bags plus some backpacking sport supplies from REI, such as their wonderful lightweight tent. If backpackers can jam a several day outing into a backpack?. . .Then it will work with panniers.

    Profile Designs H20? What is it?
    It is a performance-centric riser stem, first of its kind. There are also commuter stems and adjustable stems.

    At the 75 mile mark, your stamina will start relying on your body position more than anything else.
    That’s when the new lightweight comfort bikes start passing the racing bikes.

    Yes, while a short, lightweight athlete on a small bike can clear that trip in 10 hours, this highest level of performance isn’t the norm.

    Extremely fast touring is about 13 mph, with the average at 9.5 mph.

    What would I do?
    Diamondback Winwood/Edgewood with 24 speed drivetrain upgraded to Sugino XD600 crankset (Pants 32″ inseam or longer? 175mm cranks for distance), Rol Road Wheels, Michelin racing version of flat protect tires, featherweight inner tubes, shoe strap pedals with an alloy (not resin!) core. Oh, yes, and Singer Sewing Machine oil onto the chain for loss-free efficiency that is also waterproof (don’t get it on the tires).
    For mountains, I would add Kool Stop Brake pads because those are waterproof and don’t eat up rims.
    Accessories of rear rack, small handlebar bag, larger rear panniers.
    Also, a handlebar/stem mounted water bottle is a very nice touch, and more water=more safety. Minoura makes a great little clamp dealie for this.
    I also pack a small cable lock to prevent ride-off theft. These will buy you about 45 minutes of safety. . . long enough for a restaruant.
    Otherwise, keep the bike with you.
    Recently, I have begun using a Eurobike flat bungee cord called a “luggage strap.” It keeps the panniers nicely under control, and provides extra capacity for my shopping spree. 😉
    Handlebars upgraded to either alloy North Road handlebars upside down and wrapped like drop bars (controls go across front like a moustache, classic club-racer–uses mountain stem) or Nashbar’s Trekking handlebars (same thing). Why? Exclusive feature of both comfort and areo is provided by the antique club racer style grips. Comfort for distance, areo for headwinds, no compromise on either.
    Seatpost possibly upgraded to a 400mm model if necessary for safety, because I would choose a small frame for its more efficient reach, lighter weight and upright riding position.
    The handlebars have a front grip and will give me relief from headwinds. . .otherwise the upright riding gives me distance.
    Body? Power bars, awful tasting water/gatorade mix, shoe waterproofing method, toilet paper, Bufferin, Campho Phenique, chapstick, Sunglasses, Eye drops, hand sanitizer (wound wash), extra shorts, extra socks, SUNBLOCK!!,
    and a trip to REI or other backpacking centric sporting goods store to ask them what I need to take care of my body for 3 days.

    I usually pack an extra screw for water bottle and an extra for rack (cut off so that it won’t stick out into the gears!), a multi-tool, an extra inner tube, an inner-tube patch kit (glue, patch, boot, sander–Bell is good), bit of cash and an unused phone card in the flat pack (under seat pack holds bike / machine suppies) and 2 biggie size zip ties. Last time I was touring, my water bottle came loose at the top, swivelled around and filled my shoe completely with blue gatorade.

    Now, go on a test drive of at least 50 miles to see if your stuff works.

    No matter what kind of bike you currently have, you can probably use some of the above ideas to adapt it for greater distance.

    Wheel care:
    If the bike has been in operation for some time or if the bike is new, I’d have the wheels set. A “set” is an extensive form of wheel truing where spoke tension is checked to make sure it is all even. A freshly set wheel will not break a spoke.
    Especially troublesome are new econo or middle grade wheels. Those spokes stretch and must be set in 30 days and again in 90 days. If this was never done when your bike was new, be sure to have your wheels set.

    To do (for your mind):
    Be sure to pack a camera in your small front handlebar bag (or fanny pack). You’ll need something to do. A pair of disposable cameras are pretty light, fairly weatherproof and up to the job. Pictures and mementos are priceless.

    If you go shopping or collect pet rocks, Kinkos, Office Depot and the Post Office can transport your goodies home.

    Different style:
    For trips over 100 miles, the road bike and mountain bike stay at home in favor of a tour-centric long-distance bike.
    I have 2. A fully geared aluminum beach cruiser for early summer tours and a homemade version of the Rivendell Atlantis (see their website).

    The Diamondback and others I mentioned are the few tourbikes to either keep up or pass me. In the case of the Diamondback, I couldn’t tell what model it was but the wheels were as big as the hurry it was in when it (they) went past like a shot. 😉

    So, go do some homework at the bike store. Test drive long-distance bikes and light weight comfort bikes (700c wheels, 24 speeds, ability to fit rear rack).

    After this homework of test driving to discover what is both speedy and comfy, you may be able to adjust your current bike for ergonomic advantage, and that means distance.

    Road bike:
    The road bike, can be helped along with a “mountain tail.” This is stock on pro road tourbikes.
    It reduces the stress on your body by decreasing joint pressure, plus makes a long trip faster.
    Shimano road bikes can use an LX Top Normal SGS M571 rear derailleur that works fine with the current shifter.
    Even though my road bike has a “road triple” it benefits greatly from not having to dance back and forth to the “grandma” gear for every hill.
    As a result, average speed is increased!
    The 9 speed rear uses an XT 11-32 cassette and the 8 speed rear (Sora) uses an SRAM PG850 11-32 cassette.
    Weight weenie alert! Both of the cassettes mentioned are Ultegra level weight (XT=Ultegra) and have race gearing in the center with downhill/uphill gears on each end.
    *It is also plug-n-play in about 10 minutes.
    *For highest efficiency, the 9 speed tail needs the super-strong Dura Ace/XTR chain,
    or the 8 speed tail needs the PC58 chain. Matching chain=faster hills.
    *In addition to this, the tires, stem options, and handlebar options here can make your racer go the distance.
    *Handlebar for your $ 1300 trainer? Nitto Albatross, areo 19″ wide, Road lever specific thickness, controls go across the front like a moustache, install onto long mountain riser/adjustable stem so that there are grips both nearer and farther than current, and install exactly like drop bars, “dropped” and with bar tape.

    Other resources are Academy, REI sporting goods (very good),, (Super Sport), (touring), for information on ergonomics, touring, and supplies.

  2. Plaidman says:

    Chat with folks at your local bicycle shop; Carbondale should have several. If you are in decent shape, expect it to take three days; if in fair shape expect a four-day trip. Pack light, eat well, and look for less-traveled roads. Enjoy

  3. Technotron says:

    You also missed my point. Although I have strong feelings. I would most definitely like to take STRONG ACTIONS.

    The only possible positive improvement would really be to get rid of you first line doctors and replace you with advanced artificial intelligence. One day it WILL happen and that day patients around the world will get respect and results.

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