I have a friend that has bike toured all over the western US (SF to Denver, Seattle to San Diego, Vancouver to Taos, and numerous other smaller trips) for the last 20 years. The bike that has brought him on all these adventures is a thrift store schwinn collegiate: all stock, save for the 13" hi riser bars, squeak horn and a pletcher rack. Equipment is an ancient sleeping bag and even older tent, a can of beans, a block of tofu and whatever he can forage from farmers markets and kind locals that you always seem to meet on the road. No special cycling clothes or shoes. Rain gear is a gortons fishermans set of waders and a northface rain jacket. He rides in boots rain or shine.
So the message is use the bike you have- it will amaze you how far it will take you. Don't get wrapped up in the gear or gearing. Just hop on and explore. A rack is a good idea, and so are a couple of extra tubes. Spend a little time planning your route and be flexible and ready to stay put for a few days to wait out rain or the fun carnival.
> > 3. Has anyone on the list gone touring in the
> > 50s-70s, or more recently but on pre-1980 bikes?
> I did a few thousand serious cyclo-tourist miles in the '60s
> and '70s on an Armstrong "racing" bike and on the 1969 Atala
> Gran Prix that I've often mentioned on the list. Both machines
> were somewhat lacking as touring bicycles but even racing bikes
> in those days had relatively long chain stays, so I survived.
> Neither the rather flexible Pletcher carrier not the canvas
> American Youth Hostels panniers were too much of an impediment.
> The 14-28 freewheels and 52-42 cranksets were another story in
> the mountains. I would still be willing to tour on that Atala
> but would put a "triple-izer" on the cranks to get some lower
> gears - but then I might have to change out the Nuovo Record
> derailleurs... Still, my younger brother managed to climb the
> same Canadian and New England mountains on the latter Valentino
> equipped Gran Prix, despite the fact that those things barely
> shifted. So it can be done.
> In 1983 my wife and I took a year long tour on our 1979
> LeJeune tandem. That bike was geared right and had brazed-on
> fittings for decent racks but the frame - and even the TA
> crankset - were much too flexible.
> But... there were many decently designed touring bikes from
> that era that can still do the job and even a few "racing"
> frames that can be adapted well enough. By the way, other than
> on organized Youth Hostel tours, I never carried cooking
> equipment. I always managed to find inexpensive prepared food
> (well we ate a lot of French bread and cheese, too) and
> occasional restaurant meals. If you must have coffee in the
> morning this might be a problem but I always took juice.
> Fred Rednor - Arlington, Virginia
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