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Messages - xenotropic

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The Bicycle / Re: Is it ok to travel w/ 700 tires in South America?
« on: July 11, 2010, 10:14:15 PM »
Not a definitive answer as much as a data point, I was just biking around Ecuador for a few weeks and I'd say about 90% of the bikes I saw are 26" mountain bikes.  But I did see one or two road bikes that appeared to be 700s.  In Quito there are full-service bike shops with higher end road bikes.  In small towns, there are shops that seemed to be MTB parts only.

So I'd say not ideal if you were choosing a bike from the ground up.  But if you already have a tour bike that suits you with 700s, bring three or four extra spokes that match your wheel if you snap a spoke.  If you really wreck a 700c wheel and need a new rim, my hunch is you're probably putting your bike on a bus to head for the nearest metropolis.  With 26's you'd be putting your bike on the bus for the nearest medium-sized town where the bike shop would be able to hook you up.

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The Bicycle / Re: Converting MTB for touring
« on: July 11, 2010, 09:48:14 PM »
Dear no1spursfan,

You may be gone already, and looks like you have gotten good advice here.  I converted a MTB and spent a few weeks biking around the Loire valley in 2005.  A few other thoughts that come to mind:

(1) Get a good map or guidebook.  Lonely Planet has a specific Cycling France book.  The Michelin regional maps are very good, showing low-traffic scenic routes in green.  I used both.  More recently (and I didn't use so can't personally recommend) IGN has come out with specific Cycling France maps:  http://www.omnimap.com/catalog/new/10-june.htm#p6 (the OmniMap people are super-helpful, I used them recently getting maps for a bike trek in Ecuador).

(2) One minor elaboration on tires:  get tires that will go up to 70-80 PSI (there's the ones recommended earlier in this post, or I used $20 Ritchey Tom Slicks).  Bring a good high-pressure tire pump.  This makes a huuuuuuuuuge difference in how easy it is to pedal and so in how far you can go.

(3) I think 20 miles/day is a pretty good-but-conservative estimate, assuming you're in generally good shape but aren't training with long rides before you go.  This is based on two 7-10 day trips I've done with partners who were in shape but less into cycling that I was.  On a moderately-loaded

(4) Sounds like you have your route, but the Loire Valley (Orleans-Tours-Angers-Nantes) is quite nice.  Cheateaus,  a lot of bike paths along it, with a slow downhill slope.

(5) Many (most?) French towns have municipal campgrounds, which range from adequate to amazing.  The apparent goal being to provide a place for Dutch and German families on holiday to stay in their RVs.   
 
(6) I'd save cash on the rack, a $35 Topeak rack will do for now and buy a Tubus later when you have more money.  I found money to be better spent on a set of panniers, in particular a set of Ortlieb Backrollers, because they are stable, adjustable, and secure on a variety of racks; and more importantly, they keep your stuff dry.  I  bought a cheaper set of panniers originally and all my stuff got wet when I got rained on the first time, which was very bad.  I recently met a guy, Julian Bloomer (http://theslowwayhome.blogspot.com/) who's been bike touring for two years, and he estimated that 90% of the long-term bike tourers he's met are packing their stuff in Ortliebs. 

Cheers and bon voyage,

Joe Morris

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