Robin on the Road in Trerice Cornwall, UK

Robin on the Road in Trerice Cornwall, UK
Robin on the Road in Trerice Cornwall, UK

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Thoughts on choosing a Bicycle

Bicycle Park, train station Cambridge, England

    Thoughts on choosing a bike for touring or just long days in the saddle:

    About me: I am a relatively small, older but fit woman.

    Good frame fit. If it's too big it's a little dangerous, too small it's uncomfortable. Drop bars or uprights? My first tour was 1000 miles across the Midwest into Colorado where I live. I went faster with drop bars and it's possible I got more bang for my buck with each pedal stroke. Drop bars create less wind resistance. But I did not see as much and it wasn't very comfortable. Not miserable but it hurt my shoulders a little. I've since discovered that the bars were probably too wide for my narrow shoulders. I've gone to a more upright position. More comfortable and I see more. But it puts more pressure on my butt and my saddle is a simple Brooks B-17 with no padding. I don't advise that for new riders.  Maybe I go slower, but I also have 2" tires for riding dirt, gravel and some single track. Less wide tires go faster and are lighter. But racing tires won't hold up. Find the middle.
    That first bike was geared more for racing than touring. So crossing the Midwest east to west was fine. Then I hit Colorado and the Rockies. That was like hitting a brick wall. I've since gone to mountain bike gearing. I'd rather spin than lug my way up the mountain. Slower on the downhill but easier on the uphill. Without extra weight it may not matter. I usually travel self contained, my friends think I'm a lunatic but I stop wherever I want. Maybe I'm a little nuts..... 
    You could consider weight. My bike is steel and weighs a lot, A LOT (I name my bikes and my current bike's name is "Tank". It goes anywhere....Slowly). Aluminum is lighter, carbon fiber lighter still but maybe not so durable on the myriad surfaces one discovers while touring.
    Also, is it in good working order? If it's used take it to a shop. Or look for chain wear, ring wear, check the cables, true the wheels...
    Train on it!!!!!! The best training is probably hours and miles in the saddle. A little aerobic cross training is useful. Strength training is very helpful for endurance if you have the time.

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