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  1. #1
    Ex-Clydesdale
    Reputation: Dwayne's Avatar
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    Commuter does double duty as a tourer, 368 miles in 3 days

    I thought I'd post this here in commuting since I spend more time here, and I used my commuter bike that makes a daily 33 mile round-trip during the week, so therefore it's commuting relevant

    I've been been wanting to go on an overnight bike trip for a long time, but somehow there was always something planned, something that needed fixing at the house, etc. With our nine-month old daughter, I figured it would be next to impossible... but you just have to look for opportunities. My wife's parents are visiting for two weeks from Germany, and we wanted to spend a week at the beach in Destin, FL. I suggested to my wife that I could leave a day earlier than their drive down, and arrive the day after they get there, using three days to go 368 miles and camp two nights.

    I mapped out a route that wasn't the shortest, but would take me through a couple of interesting points with overnight options at the right mileage points. I made a few changes to my commuter bike in the days before the trip:
    • switching out the flat bar with stubby bar-ends for a touring bar
    • adding two temporary bottle cages to the fork
    • Recently replaced an old XT derailleur and worn-out chain with a short cage 105 derailleur and a 32x11 (same as before) cassette on the 1x9 drivetrain, along with a nice stainless steel Surly 46T front ring. I couldn't get the shifting down for the life of me, which I finally found out was due to the range of the cassette being too big for the derailleur. I had a SRAM X-7 right shifter laying around, so I ordered an X-5 medium-cage derailleur, and the thing shifts flawlessly now.


    Bike setup:
    • 1x9, 46T front, 11x32 rear
    • Super Tourist rear rack, Ortlieb Classic panniers
    • Schwalbe 2.15" Big Apples, fenders stayed on
    • AirZound horn used once for a car, many times for dogs giving chase
    • Taillights: PDW DangerZone light on the helmet, PDF Red Planet on the rack, reflective material on the panniers, fender, rack, helmet, reflective vest
    • Headlights: Philips SafeRide with a "900 lumen" light as a backup and daylight "see me now?!" light


    The route:

    Statistics for the ride:

    • A to B: Marietta, GA to Blanton Creek Park, GA:
      15.92mph avg, 7:23:08 riding time, 117.59 miles
    • B to C: Blanton Creek Park, GA to Blue Springs State Park, AL:
      15.08mph avg, 8:35:18 riding time, 129.56 miles
    • C to D: Blue Springs State Park, AL to Miramar Beach, FL:
      16.32mph avg, 7:23:01 riding time, 120.54 miles


    The new cockpit:


    Most of the pictures are of the location and my bike. For some reason I feel like taking a picture of the bike is like taking a picture of me. Could be because I've had the bike (well, ok, the frame at this point, nothing else is remotely original) for 17 years now.

    Getting ready to head out:


    The first day of the trip would be 117 miles, the first half of that being a route I've done several times before to a friend's house. Had some yummy BBQ for lunch, and had a guy say, "ahh, you're going over The Hill" when I told him my route for the day entailed going through the Franklin D Roosevelt State Park. Since I had never been there, I wasn't sure what he was talking about, but figured it out later in the day when I went over a minor mountain in central GA.

    Ye Ol' Faithful Commuter Steed at the top of FDR State Park


    I arrived at the first campsite with a fair amount of daylight left and set up camp. Didn't sleep that great because when I awoke in the middle of the night to a lit tent, I realized my site was almost right under a light for the handful of parking spots right there, so I pulled my hat over my eyes and slept better until about 8am.


    The second day had me doing through Columbus, GA, through Fort Benning, and through Providence Canyon State Park, the "mini Grand Canyon of Georgia." I also rode past FDR's "Little White House" in Warm Springs, a town which also provided some yummy homemade peach ice cream as a snack.


    Time got away from me a little on the second day, so the last hour of the ride was in the dark, not a problem with my lights though, was actually peaceful and enjoyable. Nonetheless, I was very happy to arrive at the Blue Springs State Park campsite to set up camp after 130 miles.


    The third and final day took me through some very rural bits of Alabama (I hear banjos, pedal faster!) and into Florida. 121 miles of pretty countryside and relatively flat roads later I crossed the bridge over Choctawhatchee Bay and arrived at the condo a few miles later, with my wife, daughter, and in-laws awaiting my arrival at the condo parking lot entrance.


    The rest of the week was very relaxing, and I more than made up any weight loss from the trip by eating many donuts and fried, bacon-wrapped, crabmeat-stuffed shrimp, and spending lots of time with someone very precious to me.
    '94 RSBikes Stampede (commuter), '05 Prophet, '09 Scattante XRL Team, '10 Slice 4
    Retired: 97 C-DaleSuper-V, 05 C-Dale R5000

  2. #2
    I Ride for Donuts
    Reputation: CommuterBoy's Avatar
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    Excellent stuff. Thanks for sharing. That's big daily mileage! I hear you on sneaking in what you can with all the other family stuff. I was thinking of doing similar leave-a-day-early stuff with a couple short camping trips we have planned this summer.

    I did the oregon coast on my commuter with Big Apples... so plush.
    You have no excuse for driving to work
    (unless you don't have studded tires)
    (no excuse for that either)

  3. #3
    Ex-Clydesdale
    Reputation: Dwayne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommuterBoy View Post
    Excellent stuff. Thanks for sharing. That's big daily mileage! I hear you on sneaking in what you can with all the other family stuff. I was thinking of doing similar leave-a-day-early stuff with a couple short camping trips we have planned this summer.

    I did the oregon coast on my commuter with Big Apples... so plush.
    It was my first overnight trip, so being able to do this even with a new addition to the family... well, it's very encouraging and making me look forward to more Just funny how I never found time to do it before the little one, and made time for it now. Always though it would be the other way around.

    And yes, the Big Apples were absolutely perfect. They have about 4,300 miles on them now, and I've only had one very, very slow leaking flat (like pump up a little more once a week) in that time (picked up a fine metal splinter in the garage). They're 90% as fast as my roadie tires, but waaaay more comfy.
    '94 RSBikes Stampede (commuter), '05 Prophet, '09 Scattante XRL Team, '10 Slice 4
    Retired: 97 C-DaleSuper-V, 05 C-Dale R5000

  4. #4
    mtbr member
    Reputation: newfangled's Avatar
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    Great stuff!

  5. #5
    weirdo
    Reputation: rodar y rodar's Avatar
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    Awesome, Dwayne! I love the "candy corns" rocks- Providence Canyon, I take it? But I thought the SW had a momopoly on red and white formations!

    How did you like the route you chose? It looks like you got unbeatable scenery. Traffic go okay? Did the AirZound work well to discourage chasing dogs? And what frame is your old buddy of 17 years? In a few more, you`ll be able to take it to the bar with you.

    Yeah, combining bike trips with family vacations works really well sometimes. I`ve ridden home from the far end of a family trip once and gotten a drop-off part way way home on another occasion. It`s a nice way to avoid hassles of one way transport for you and your bike when you don`t have time to ride both ways. Looking forward to seeing more trip reports in the future
    Recalculating....

  6. #6
    Moderator Moderator
    Reputation: mtbxplorer's Avatar
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    Great ride and report! The cockpit is impressive as well as the mileage and scenery.

  7. #7
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    Awesome Dwayne. Great speed for that load/sail area. Thanks for the pics.

    BrianMc

  8. #8
    Ex-Clydesdale
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    Quote Originally Posted by rodar y rodar View Post
    Awesome, Dwayne! I love the "candy corns" rocks- Providence Canyon, I take it? But I thought the SW had a momopoly on red and white formations!

    How did you like the route you chose? It looks like you got unbeatable scenery. Traffic go okay? Did the AirZound work well to discourage chasing dogs? And what frame is your old buddy of 17 years? In a few more, you`ll be able to take it to the bar with you.

    Yeah, combining bike trips with family vacations works really well sometimes. I`ve ridden home from the far end of a family trip once and gotten a drop-off part way way home on another occasion. It`s a nice way to avoid hassles of one way transport for you and your bike when you don`t have time to ride both ways. Looking forward to seeing more trip reports in the future
    Yup, Providence Canyon! Been wanting to see it for a while now, but we usually don't go through that area, and it's a bit far to drive just for that. I think it's worth a weekend camping trip for the family though.

    I liked the route I chose, it worked out surprisingly well, and for the most part was relatively low traffic. The route going through Fort Benning was a divided 4 lane highway, and the shoulder was iffy a lot of times, so that ten mile stretch wasn't as enjoyable. Rerouting to the west would mean skipping Providence Canyon, rerouting t to the east would add on a fair number of miles, not sure it would be worth the trade-off. If I were to do it again, I'd probably pick a few more points of interest along the way and add mileage.

    99% of the traffic I encountered was very friendly, I got some thumbs-ups, lots of waves. There were only three instances that stuck in my head where someone really didn't give me much room as they passed, and each time was in a town/city area, not in the open. I think wearing the hi viz vest ($7 on Amazon, wear it every day I commute) makes a difference, maybe people give more space to someone who's conscious about how they look to other traffic, not sure. I also think people give more room to someone who's loaded down with gear rather than a regular roadie out for a ride.

    Regarding dogs and the AirZound, I would wait until they were about twenty feet away, then give it a good blast. Almost every time the dog(s) would stop, probably more confused than anything else. Only once did I have to use it twice and then pick up the speed (deaf dog?).

    My old companion is a '96 (I think....) RS Bikes (manufacturer) Stampede 3.0. It was my first serious MTB, I bought it while we were living in Germany and was around 13 at the time, so there's a lot of sentimental value with it. It sat unused for about the past six years or so while I had other bikes, and while I always meant to build it up, I never had the right motivation, up until I decided to use it as a commuter build last July. I've added about 4,500 miles to it since then, and to be honest, I couldn't even guess the mileage in total I have on that frame. Figure ten years of solid riding from when I bought it, make it a very conservative 3K miles a year, would be about 35,000 miles on it so far, probably more. We've been through thick and thin

    Quote Originally Posted by mtbxplorer View Post
    Great ride and report! The cockpit is impressive as well as the mileage and scenery.
    I forgot to mention in my post that I also changed out the brake levers right before the trip. I was using some old Shimano levers that I thought worked fairly well. Decided to switch to the Avid 7 levers as a test... holy cow, if I had known the difference they would make, I would have never have mounted the Shimano levers and thrown them in the trash instead. Oddly enough, I don't think I have that much more space on the touring bar than I did on my relatively short flat bar... and I haven't been able to fit my Ergon grips on the touring bar without cutting them or moving the controls inward, so that's a bummer.

    Quote Originally Posted by BrianMc View Post
    Awesome Dwayne. Great speed for that load/sail area. Thanks for the pics.

    BrianMc
    You're welcome! The speed was about what I had planned, it was fairly slow and steady pace with no cranking up the hills, just being mellow. Guess I'm a quick tortoise.
    '94 RSBikes Stampede (commuter), '05 Prophet, '09 Scattante XRL Team, '10 Slice 4
    Retired: 97 C-DaleSuper-V, 05 C-Dale R5000

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