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I've got some questions about cycling and gear that I need! So I'm planning a route through North and Republic of Ireland in April, and the route will be about 430 miles. I don't cycle often, but I do some day rides once or twice a year. My last ride was about a year ago, and I was able to cycle for 35 miles that day, and I'm planning a similar route this weekend just to get back into cycling bit by bit.

I'm asking more about the gear I need, also because I've never cycled in cold weather before (Californian living in Scotland--help!)-I've got Viking Spirit Road bike, good Ulock, lights/reflectors, basic patch kit and pump, helmet and compass.

I know basic bike maintenance like patching a tire/tubing, removing and putting back a wheel/tire.

I'm planning to get gloves, padded shorts, a rack and side sacks.

Do you think this equipment will suffice for a 2-3 week bike trip? Also, what else do I need to know for a trip like this?

Any information is appreciated for this.

EDIT: as preparation I'm cycling this weekend for 110 miles over 3 days. And i'll be doing trips like that for the coming weeks before the 400 mile trip.

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    Your bike may or may not be reliable enough for such a tour. A short web search shows a price of about 200 to 300 pounds. Often such bikes are not very well built. The good side: You also need a lot of practice riding before you are ready for such a trip. Ride your bike hard while training and find out if it fails or is up to the task. Try to fix things yourself first, that way you learn the necessary repair skills for bike touring. – gschenk Feb 27 '17 at 20:47
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    THanks for your response @gschenk! I'll be looking at doing more long distance trips to test my bike-thanks for your support and not shutting down a beginners dreams in touring! – Lucine Garibian Feb 27 '17 at 20:59
  • Are you doing this solo or as part of a group? Theres a lot more resources if you're with someone else. – Criggie Feb 28 '17 at 1:24
  • How many days will this 700 km take? You can certainly do it. I've seen grandmothers do longer rides :-) – andy256 Feb 28 '17 at 12:10
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    @Criggie I am doing this solo, so far. Some friends have expressed interest but since they haven't confirmed I'm planning on doing this alone! – Lucine Garibian Feb 28 '17 at 15:30
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A further suggestion: before your last training ride but after most of your training miles, get the bike looked over by an expert. This probably means booking it in to a shop for a service (clean it first) but it could mean instructions and/or an knowledgeable friend. This would also be a good time to get some tough tyres put on if they're in the budget.

Also (things that have caught me out on long day-rides etc.):

  • Carry tubes as well as patches (which are a pain in the wet).
  • Test your pump from flat before you go.
  • Try out your clothing as well as your bike.
  • Figure out your navigation. For example I like a smartphone in a cheap top tube bag, displaying a route prepared in comfort but not turn-by-turn directions. There's free software that uses openstreetmap (also free). Others take different approaches. If your distance is a challenge to start with, getting lost really saps your willpower. But of course you may want to explore along the way.
  • Carry full finger gloves even if you don't think you need them; carry fingerless as well if you're prone to getting hot
  • Get on the bike as much as possible before then. Even if it's just going to the shop the day after a long ride.
  • That's all great thanks! I've purchased a small phone carrying case for navigation. And I've got a patched tube that I can bring with me. I'm planning to get long finger gloves because i tend to get a bit cold. As for the tune ups I'll definitely get it checked-thanks for that tip! – Lucine Garibian Feb 28 '17 at 15:26
  • +1 for openstreetmap for navigation, especially using the osmand mobile app :) – Tomislav Nakic-Alfirevic Feb 28 '17 at 20:18
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I plan on going on tour myself this Spring for a few weeks. It'll be warmer and dryer, but other than that:

  • the more expensive the bike, the better the ride, but a 300 Euro MTB or touring bike (shop price) can typically handle much more than a few weeks on the road, given the right maintenance
  • use at least a rear rack, buy at least a pair of (excellent) Ortlieb classic back roller panniers (100 Eur for a par): don't carry anything on your back
  • buy rain overpants (15-20 Eur), a light waterproof windstopper (15-20 Eur) and a helmet rain cover (5 Eur): it won't kill you to get caught out in a drizzle, but for more serious rain, it's really no fun riding wet and cold
  • a pump and patching kit complete with patches are mandatory, I heartily recommend spare inner tubes: you get a flat, patch it, put a fresh inner tube in and leave the patch to settle in your baggage; I also can't recommend enough Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires with robust puncture protection (2x25 Eur): it really is great when you can put the patch kit and pump at the bottom of your pannier time after time and take it out when you're done touring because you almost never get a flat any more
  • Osmand is great for general navigation (can work with screen off, works off-line, useful maps, free software)
  • don't go anywhere without good lights: that may mean spear batteries and/or lights; if you get caught on the road in the middle of nowhere at night with a bad light, that effectively means you're stuck - it's too dangerous to proceed
  • count on at least 10 minutes of extra time for every 100 meters of ascent: don't rush it
  • take regular brakes, drink, eat...don't wait till you're hungry
  • if you're sleeping outdoors, the lightest, smallest tent you can find, a sleeping bag or two (depending on weather and the bags)
  • a reserve cell phone battery may very much come in handy: it's useful to always be able to see where you are or call for help
  • a small first aid kit (patches, a pain killer, disinfectant...)
  • a good playlist does wonders for the trip ;)
  • I find that a small helmet- or steerer-mounted mirror makes me much more relaxed on the road because I see what's coming up behind me and how
  • misc: a pair of bungee cords can always come in handy, as can a Swiss knife
  • gloves and beanie - if it's cold, those are the first two items you'll sorely miss

Aaaand most importantly...enjoy the ride. ;) BTW, you might find my short write-up of my last short trip before winter came an interesting read as you prepare for your trip. ;) Good luck!

  • Osmand is an Android navigation app that is free and open source. It interfaces Open Street map data. As Tomislav said, it is indeed excellent. – gschenk Feb 28 '17 at 21:06
  • Wow-thanks to you both so much for this info! I just downloaded Osmand on my phone @gschenk – Lucine Garibian Mar 1 '17 at 0:41
  • And Tomislav Nakic-Alfirevic-all that information is so helpful thank you so much. I've been looking at which paniers to get and your recommendation is duly noted. As for the waterproof clothes-I need a bit more guidance on that. Most people I've spoken to recommend NOT to skimp on that and buy something that is waterproof and very breathable. Do you know what brand you're referencing when you say it'll be about 20 Euro for a jacket? – Lucine Garibian Mar 1 '17 at 0:43
  • @LucineGaribian You're welcome. :) I bought my rain overpants at Decathlon and the label inside says the vendor is "Oxylane". As for the jacket, truth be told, for winter cycling, I have an (excellent!) Solomon skiing jacket (150 Eur) which is both breathable and very water resistant, but for the rest of the year, I just use have cheap, no-name, very light/thin, non-breathable, waterproof jacket ready (e.g.: tinyurl.com/hd6jws4). No good for long distance cycling (not breathable), but will keep you dry until you reach a stop. Better options probably exist, but I don't know. – Tomislav Nakic-Alfirevic Mar 1 '17 at 8:49
  • What type of rain clothing is suitable for you will depend mostly on how much you sweat. For example, in a waterproof jacket I would get dishing wet within moments from my own sweat. I might go for very breathable material that still prevents wind chill when wet. For someone in my family who sweats hardly at all a non-breathable rain jacket from Aldi is perfect. – gschenk Mar 1 '17 at 12:21
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First off, practice a lot more. In bad weather, multiple days in a row, because it is what the trip will be at worst. I'd recommend at least the trip's length of base miles, other will probably suggest much more.

For equipment, you'll need more clothes. Ireland is rainy, you will need at least a rain jacket, if it's cold rain pants and shoe covers will also be nice. Multiple shorts and jerseys are recommended, unless you can be absolutely sure that you get to wash and dry clothes every night.

Viking looks like a seriously low quality bargain brand. I'd recommend to ride it for at least few hundred miles before the trip, just so that the parts that are going to break or wear out will fail before the trip and you learn to repair things. For touring, fenders are a nice addition.

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    thanks for your reply!! The trip this weekend will be about 110 miles over 3 days as a prep, and I'll be planning more in these next few weeks. I am on a budget so i'll have to see about the bike and maybe wear it out to get new parts before the big trip. As for the gear-the rainproof clothes is definitely a good call, thanks so much for that! – Lucine Garibian Feb 27 '17 at 20:56

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