Expert advice please- big challenege ahead!

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by Stehoyles, Aug 29, 2007.

  1. Stehoyles

    Stehoyles New Member

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    OK so here is the deal....

    I am a 24 year old Personal Trainer who has been invited to complete the John O'Groats to Lands End ride- in 5 days (around 180 miles per day). Given my job, I am more than clued up on training, nutrition etc, so that is no problem. I am also no stranger to endurance events (I have completed 2 marathons and the Tough Guy race 3 times).

    The problem I have is equipment.

    I have read the informative sticky regarding choosing a bike, but I am confused as to what bike would suit me best. I need to eat up the miles quickly- afterall I am trying to cycle the length of the UK in 5 days, yet I need the comfort and stability of a touring bike. Should I sacrifice comfort for speed?

    As for gears, I have been told by others that road bikes do not have the same gear set as a mountain bike, making them harder on the hills. Is it worth buying a second bike for the hilly stages? I am assuning the mountain bike is heavier, so would that negative the benefit of the better gears, as I am lugging more weight up the hills?

    My last question is reading- I want to have my technique solid so I dont waste energy. Are there any books out there that will advise me in terms of cycling tecnique?

    Although I am starting from a total-beginner point when it comes to the cycling, I am only doing the tour in July next year, so have plenty of time to learn!

    All of your help is very much appreciated!

    Thanks very much guys.
     
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  2. nerdag

    nerdag New Member

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    Road style touring bike sounds like it will fit the bill. Try something like the Kona Sutra, or the bikes from Surly if you have a bit more cash. There are others - not sure what you have available in the UK.

    No to both questions. Lower gears will allow you to lug more weight up longer hills. The difference in weight between
     
  3. dabac

    dabac Well-Known Member

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    Only you can judge how comfortable you'll be for several days running on different kinds of bikes. Try to contact a local bike club, see if the members would consider lending you bikes for test rides. Also remember that a lot can be done in set-up and adapting the bike for your needs. For someone as new to cycling as you I suspect the riding hours you'll be able to log and how well the bike fits you will be far more important to your speed than if you're on a tourer or a road bike.

    Main difference in that department would be that tourers and MTBs generally runs a triple front, when roadies run a double. The smallest front, the "granny gear" allows you to remain seated and to maintain a steady cadence where a roadie would have forced you to pedal standing. However it's fairly rare to have to drop down to the granny gear if you're riding unloaded on roads.
    A smaller difference is that road bike rear clusters usually have a smaller span(difference between smallest and largest) than MTBs.

    Keep in mind that there's a lot of interchangeability within the (Shimano) road family and the MTB family. Take a roadie, give it a MTB cassette and a long cage RD (splice on some links of chain) and you should be well equipped handle quite a lot of climbs.

    More bikes are always better :D But do you want to pay for it, have you got the time to train on both bikes, can your support team bring the bike to where you need it, can you store it securely between uses?

    It all depends on the hills and how much you're willing to pay for your MTB. On one hand there's always a possibility of finding a hill steep and long enough to make the rider wish for a granny gear. OTOH you can get a MTB below 9 kg, at which point the weight penalty compared to an average road bike isn't that big any longer.
     
  4. Eden

    Eden New Member

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    A book you might want to check into "The Long Distance Cyclist's Handbook" by Simon Doughty ISBN 1-58574-526-X

    I'm assuming this is a supported ride and you won't have to carry much with you during the day. What you probably want to look into is a "sport touring" style bike. Not as agressive as a race bike in position or handling, but not as heavy duty as a bike meant for loaded touring. I think in Britian they might be refered to as "audax" or "randonee" bikes.

    I wouldn't bother getting more than one bike. It sounds like you are a fit guy and I wouldn't expect you to have trouble up hills. You can always get lower gearing on a road bike, and though even most triple chainring bikes are not set up quite as low as mountain bikes, the greater weight of a mountain bike does off set those gearing changes. (In any case, you can make some modifications to a road bike so that it can accept lower gearing and some bikes meant for loaded touring come geared quite low). Of course you may find that you love cycling and need more than one bike for different purposes in the end.... its a bit of a disease like that, I have 5 right now......., but start with one.
     
  5. Stehoyles

    Stehoyles New Member

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    Thanks very much for the help so far guys!

    My understanding so far is this...

    Regarding the hills, although the MTB is more suited, the extra weight may erase any benefit I gain from the better gears, unless I spend a few quid on a really light bike.

    The touring road bike is likely to be my best option- it will have good gears, yet it will be both light and sturdy enough to allow me to pedal for days on end.

    A bit of extra info, if it helps....

    I weigh 84kg (185 lbs), but this is at 11% body fat, so I am pretty lean. I know I am perhaps too heavy for a cyclist, but as I focus on my bike training I will lose some muscle, making me lighter.

    The trip is going to be assisted- we will have a support van with us the whole way carrying all supplies. I will only be carrying myself and my water bottles. The van will have room to store an extra bike.

    Based on the info, can anyone recommend a particular brand and model of a bike, so I can take it to my local bike store and see if they can halp me out?

    Sorry for all of the questions guys!
     
  6. Dietmar

    Dietmar New Member

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    O.k., here's my take:

    First, on the MTB question, there may be a misunderstanding on your side: You don't need an MTB just because you will be riding in the mountains. You need an MTB if you are going off-road, which I understand is not the case for you. If I got that right, and you will be riding on decent roads, then don't bother thinking about getting an MTB.

    Second, a touring bike is useful if you need to carry loads with you. Since you say that this ride is fully supported, a standard road bike will work perfectly fine for you, and will typically be faster and lighter than a touring bike. If I were you, I would get a road bike. For the kind of average speed you need to ride 180 miles a day, a road bike would be a better choice, in my opinion. You may have noticed that none of the riders at the TdF was using a touring bike either... If the ride includes some very steep roads, you may opt for a triple chain ring, but I have a hunch that even that will not be necessary for your ride. Ask someone who has done the ride before for his/her opinion.

    Now, in addition to the above, for the significant time that you will spend on that bike, two things that you as a beginner may not be aware of are crucial: Get a perfectly fitting saddle, and get good bicycle shorts. Good bicycle shops will be able to fit you to a saddle, but be prepared to test ride several of them. You have time until that ride, so you can find out what kind of saddle works best for you.

    And don't skimp on the shorts, either. A good set of bibs or shorts may run you 150 bucks (US dollars, mind you), but that will be money well spent. A bad saddle sore after two days of riding can be the end of the trip for you, no matter how fit you are...

    Good luck!
     
  7. Yojimbo_

    Yojimbo_ Well-Known Member

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    I don't think you know what you are getting into.

    My advice is to start thinking now about how you are going to train for this. And don't forget winter is coming, so you'll probably have trouble putting in the thousands of miles of preparatory work you'll need to get properly ready.

    Best of luck though - I'd like to try that Johnny Groats ride myself sometime.
     
  8. dabac

    dabac Well-Known Member

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    There is more to a MTB than lower gearing and bigger weight.(usually) you sit more upright and it's a stronger frame, frequently you've got suspension elements too. The upright position won't hurt you during a climb, but if you're staying on the road you don't need the stronger frame and the suspension.

    You can't go much wrong with a touring bike, it would be geared to deal with serious climbs w/o the unnecessarry bulk of a MTB.
    You ARE a bit heavy for a cyclist, but you also claim to be very fit. Unless your opposition are all VERY dedicated riders I wouldn't worry about it. You might want to be a bit conservative in your choice of gear though, and don't gather too much inspiration from weightweenies.com


    I really doubt if you'll need a triple front then. A road bike with a MTB cassette (and long cage derailleur) would be enough to handle some pretty serious climbs.
     
  9. nerdag

    nerdag New Member

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    Disagree on that. A MTB triple (say 48/36/26) with a tightly geared road cassette (12-23) would be more suited to a tour, since you'll have a more tightly geared rear end to get your cadence under control.

    The MTB cassette on a road bike leaves big gaps in the gears, especially towards the low end of the cassette.

    n
     
  10. CAMPYBOB

    CAMPYBOB Well-Known Member

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  11. Halcyon1

    Halcyon1 New Member

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    Poor Stehoyles should be getting quite confused by now and I think I will compound the confusion.
    From what I read I think a road bike with a compact crankset would work well. I use a 12-27 cassette with a 34-50 crankset (Shimano R700) and love it. In races I spin up the hills whilst the other guys are standing on the pedals. Don't confuse the compact cranks with a compact frame Stehoyle...you will learn about that soon enough.
    Maybe have some spacers under the stem so as to make the body position a bit more relaxed (you won't have to lean as far) and be certain that wherever you buy the bike that they have an experienced person fit you to the bike - probably need 45 mins at least for this. Agree with all that was said re. saddle and knicks and in general you get what you pay for. Read the thread in 'Cycling Equipment' in this Forum on cycling gimmicks so you know what not to buy.
    Halcyon1
     
  12. dabac

    dabac Well-Known Member

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    ...but cassettes are cheaper to switch around than cranksets, if you can't buy the bike in the configuration you want...
     
  13. nerdag

    nerdag New Member

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    But when you're going to spend that much money on a decent bike for an extended tour, it pays to get it right because you're going to be spending long days in the saddle, and an extra 50 or 60GBP is money well invested.

    It doesn't cost much to buy say a Sugino Impel or XD300 with steel rings, and swap that with whatever the stock crankset is, and then put on a tighter cassette on.

    And you could get the bike shop to swap them out at the point of purchase, bringing down the cost a little bit.

    n
     
  14. Eden

    Eden New Member

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    Am I wrong in thinking that this also is not a race? but more of a supported charity type ride? So a fit guy, even a relatively big fit guy should be able to ride up hills without problems, he might just do it a little slower than a fit, small guy. If he's not racing a fit small guy to the top of a hill, no problem. Anyway, he'll smoke them all on the way down....
     
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