Thursday, October 27, 2011

Which Bike for Long Rides?

Randonneur Flying, Hanscom AFB
After I wrote about completing my first 100 mile ride on an upright bicycle with an internally geared hub, I've received emails from readers asking to elaborate on the difference between doing long rides on a roadbike versus an upright bike. Previously, I had written that I prefer to ride a bicycle with drop bars for rides longer than 30 miles, and that I prefer to wear cycling clothing on long rides. Yet here I was riding 100 miles on a city bike wearing street clothing. Did I change my mind? Am I saying that roadbikes are unnecessary after all?

The short answer is that I think it's all a matter of context. I never did - and still don't - claim that one type of bike is categorically "better" than another. Instead, I think that any cyclist would benefit from considering their specific set of circumstances, preferences and abilities - and planning accordingly. Here are just a few factors that I think are worth taking into account:

Terrain
Having experienced both, I cannot stress enough how different it is to cycle on hilly versus flat terrain. There is a reason why I did not attempt a 100 mile ride on an upright IGH bike in Boston (and don't plan to), but was comfortable doing so in Vienna: With Vienna as the starting point, it is possible to choose a fairly flat route along the Danube River. Starting from Boston, there is no direction I could possibly go in where I would not encounter hills. Based on past experience, I know that to cycle in hilly New England, I prefer to be on a derailleur-geared roadbike with drop handlebars, and to wear cycling-specific clothing. And based on past experience, I know that the same degree of cycling-specific preparation is not necessary for the flat Danube cycling path. In fact, I regularly encounter cyclists there who are in the middle of a cross-country tour, riding upright bikes laden with panniers. It works for them, as long as they do not deviate from the river trail. On the other hand, I almost never encounter cyclists riding anything other than roadbikes in the hilly areas outside Boston.

Of course, your definition of flat vs hilly could be different from mine. After all, there are those who complete Paris-Brest-Paris on upright bikes. Essentially, only you can know whether you would be comfortable tackling a particular route on an upright bike - bearing in mind that climbing one hill on the way home from work is not the same as climbing hill after hill over the course of a long ride.

Pace 
Not all cycling is the same, and a "100 mile ride" does not really describe anything other than milage. Do you prefer to ride fast or slow? Do you have a time limit in mind? Do you plan to take frequent breaks, or to cycle with as few interruptions as you can manage? On the upright bike, I did my 100 mile ride in 10 hours including breaks (8.5 hours not including breaks). Had I been training for a randonneuring event or even taking part in a charity ride, that kind of timing would be unacceptable. I knew that I had all day and was fine with cycling at a leisurely pace, so none of that mattered. But had I wanted to cycle faster, I would have chosen a roadbike even on flat terrain.

At least for me, speed also informs my clothing choice. When I cycle fast and in a roadbike position, I tend to get overheated quickly. For that and other reasons (fluttering, chafing), I prefer to do fast rides wearing cycling clothing, whereas for slower rides street clothing is fine. Again, your experience here may differ.

Companions
If you plan to cycle in a group, large or small, it is worth taking into consideration what types of bikes the others will be riding. If everyone else will be riding a roadbike, chances are that you will not be able to keep up on an upright bike. If everyone else will be riding an upright bike, it is an entirely different story. I did my 100 mile ride alone, so there was no issue of keeping up with others.

Comfort
Everyone's idea of "comfort" is different. Some have back, neck or shoulder issues that make it difficult to ride a roadbike. Others report being in extreme discomfort after too much time on an upright bike, finding that their weight is not distributed sufficiently, or else the handlebars don't allow for enough hand positions. To a great extent, these things also depend on a specific bicycle's geometry. That is why it is also important to build up to longer rides - so that you have some warning at what point a particular bike becomes uncomfortable. I knew that I could ride a Bella Ciao bike for 30+ miles without discomfort, and I decided to take the chance. After 100 miles, I did find the limited hand position insufficient and tried to wiggle my hands around as much as possible to compensate - which more or less worked, but was not ideal. Less weight on my butt would have made me more comfortable as well, though lowering the handlebars helped.

Preferences
I know that many of my readers simply do not like roadbikes and do not like the idea of riding in cycling-specific clothing - so they want to hear that it's possible to complete long rides on an upright bike while dressed "normally." If that is your situation, that's fine. Simply start with that premise and take it from there. If you live in a hilly area but aren't a strong enough cyclist to tackle the hills on an upright bike, then it could be worthwhile to travel to a flatter region in order to complete the ride: Do some research and then take the train or drive to a suitable location, if that's what it takes. Why not?

I love all kinds of bicycles and am excited by the myriad of possibilities out there for different cyclists, different types of terrain, and different riding styles. From relaxed family touring along river valleys on upright bikes to pacelining up mountains on aggressive roadbikes, anything is possible. And I think that's great. If you have any tips based on your own experience, please do contribute. What is the longest ride you've ever done, and on what bike?

42 comments:

  1. I think the main thing, as you noted, is to be comfortable on the bike you've chosen for the given ride. My favorite ride was a 6 day tour down the Oregon Coast with my wife. Our bikes have a fairly upright riding position but a decent range of gears. And there is nothing wrong with walking when you need to. I've also done big distances on fixies, singlespeeds and folders and had fun on all those rides.

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  2. This is going to sound really lame, but I think that my longest so far is only about 20 miles! BUT, it was done on my old Hercules 3-speed upright through the mountains in Cherokee National forest. I did it again this summer on the Fuji mixte, which is set up to be fairly upright too. Not about to try it on the Pashley! I'd love to haul the Fuji out somewhere flatter and try for a longer ride. I take it out every Sunday to the Greenbelt in Kingsport, which is flat (for for around here) which is around 16 miles and I hardly notice it. So I think that it would be a fine bike for attempting 100 miles.

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  3. Dutch tt hand positions, stretch. Click up a few gears and stand, click down and sit and spin. Use every inch of your bars.
    Get off the bike and stretch, eat. Periodic stops just because.
    Change your focal point periodically. Twist with your lower spine, then try raising the fulcrum up til it reaches your neck. Close your eyes, blink hard.
    Drink regularly. Limit alcohol though.
    Eat again.
    If you have soreness the next day, figure out what's due to fatigue and what's structural. Adjust bike set up accordingly.
    Lay down on a picnic table and take a nap.
    Know the route and food/lodging options.
    Know the route and it's traffic volume, shoulder width.
    Tell someone what you're doing if solo, have numbers and a cell.
    Emergency ID, blood type etc.
    Have appropriate storage.
    Check inflation for slow leaks.
    Might as well check the brakes and skewers too.
    Talk to locals.
    Don't touch anything in the john.
    Remember your cleats were in there.
    Clothes.
    Treat yourself.

    Avoid Kent Peterson as a nutritional food model, but pay attention otherwise.

    Longest ride: I'm on the cradle-to-grave program.

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  4. For some people (and for me), hands are a huge deal, but everyone is different. That's the main limit for me and bending over; my back will do it, but I start to get a really bad case of numb fingers very quickly.

    I think, if I did another century, I would do it on the cargo bike. #1, that is far and away the most comfortable bike, and #2, I can be sure of being able to carry enough food :-). I did the MassBike 50 on the Big Dummy last year, and with the mileage there and back, it was a metric century, and it was fine. I did, however, swap in cleats, instead of doing it in flip-flops, though I was sorely tempted.

    Obviously, I think concerns about bicycle weight are overrated. 30 extra pounds is only an 11-12% percent increase over me on a "normal" bike. If the whole ride were uphill, it would take me only 11% longer to complete. That would be a catastrophic loss in a race, but I'm not racing. Flappy clothes are probably a bigger deal; when I wear stretch clothing (tights, wool T-shirt) I go notably faster. Sitting up and putting my arms behind me also seems to be good for a quick additional 1mph (makes no sense, I know, but I can measure).

    Sitting up is also helpful for resting hands, if your butt can take it (apparently, mine can).

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  5. Great post! On a side note, are you planning a more detailed review of the bike itself? Does it differ much from your Corvo Citta Donna? And was the Neorealista you rode the lighter Columbus Thron tube set, by chance?

    I've been considering the Neorealista myself and would love to hear your thoughts!

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  6. Anon - The Neorealista is similar enough to the Corvo Citta & Superba not to warrant a separate review IMO. On the "100 mile" post a reader asked what I thought, so I'll paste my reply again here:

    October 24, 2011 5:57 AM

    Isobel said...
    I'm also curious to know what you think of the Neorealista

    Velouria said...
    Well, the way I understand it, what distinguishes the Neorealista from the regular Corvo Citta model is really just the colours and accessories, because it is available both in standard and in Columbus tubing.

    As far as colours and accessories, I like them. The "blue vetro" colour (this bike here) is more green in real life than it appears on their site; I actually like it better in person. It is metallic, which is very difficult to achieve with powdercoat, and overall impressive. The silver and chapmagne colours ("grigio tempesta" and "sabbia frizzante") are less striking, more subtle, not as shimmery.

    As far as ride quality, the bike with the kickback hub I rode earlier was the version with the standard cromoly tubing. It felt just like my revamped Corvo Citta bike at home. The bike shown here is made with Columbus Thron tubing and feels noticeably lighter, even with the heavy 7-speed hub.

    I may upgrade my own bike to the Columbus tubing version later; I prefer it. The Superba has the Columbus tubing as well.

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  7. Ah, I missed that review in the "100 Mile" thread! Thanks so much for re-posting! And great to know about the Superba. I tested it out at Flying Pigeon and was wondering if it was the lighter tubing -- because man, that thing is a feather compared to my Gazelle!

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  8. I think the Gazelle is around 45-50lb, the regular Bella Ciao is just over 30lb, and the Columbus is just under 30lb. There is not a huge difference between the regular cromoly and the Columbus Thron frames; but it's noticeable.

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  9. Awesome post! Very intersting and thought provoking.

    For me,my issues are spinal injuries from 10 years ago,so position on the bike is critical for longer rides (my longest ride to date,at least as an adult LOL,is a hair over 36 miles,done on a hardtail mountin bike on a hilly rural road).

    I have a cheap (note I didn't say "inexpensive" ;) ) cruiser bike which sees occasion short trips around the neighborhood,a 29"er SS mountin bike,29"er geared mountain bike (both front suspended),a 50-60 year old lightweight (rarely ridden) and a CX bike (which was designed more for everyday use than CX racing).

    The CX bike (Origin 8 700 CX frame,budget spec build except the shifters) tends to be my go-to bike to ride,now that we live in town,because it's lighter and faster than the mtn bikes. For rides up to about 20-25 miles,it's normally fine,but more than that (and sometimes less),it wears on my neck (where it was broken) and I long for more upright positioning,and I tend to favor certain positions when that happens,and ends up manifesting in numb or sore hands and shoulders.

    This is my first "drop bar bike" (ever),and I'm digging the extra hand positioning afforded there,it does help,and the bike is reasonably comfy and upright on top of the bars.

    I have great interest in riding a century (well,in mini-tours as well,especially with my son or both kids-my wife doesn't,nor does she have interest in biking). I had planned to try one this year,but between neck\back issues and a major move due to a house fire,the opportunity never materialized. As I'm currently enjoying a good spell with the spinal issues,I'm riding lots more,and am hopeful to try one in the Spring (if you don't mind the shameless plug,you can read about it on my blog at http://disabledcyclist.wordpress.com )

    Loved the post,or more specifically,"Lovely Post" :)

    Steve

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  10. My longest ride was a charity century ride on a hybrid. I finished, but it was uncomfortable for me-- my hands were numb maybe a third of the way during the ride, my butt and hips started hurting about halfway through. This was a fairly flat ride, too.

    I'm planning on doing a 200K soon, and am debating on whether to do this on my road bike or my cyclocross bike. My lower back favors a slightly more upright position than the road. I have ridden about 50 miles on the road, and 30 miles on the 'cross, so I'm not quite sure which to do yet.

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  11. So which bike would you choose for the next 100 mile ride?

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  12. You make some good points here. The bike must be comfortable. It obviously depends on route, time, etc.

    Maybe on that flat Danube path you would be even more comfortable on a recumbent bike?

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  13. My longest and most difficult ride was a self-imposed century on a Miyata touring bike around the hilly flanks of Mt. Saint Helens. I'd ridden a lot on the bike but never a century until one day I had to do it. I left a note for my husband to pick me up at 5 pm at a designated spot. When 6:30 pm rolled around at mile 97 I was still struggling to make it when he pulled up beside me. I made him wait down the road at the 100 mile mark. I did it in 12 hours.

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  14. Congratulations on your century! Not as imagined, but I could see myself doing that on a city bike-maybe without planning to. In fact, my old raleigh is far more comfortable on long rides even though it is limited in gearing etc..
    Road bike vs upright bike is a bit unclear, because some people do not have drop bars on road bikes, and some city bikes have drop bars. By road bike, do you mean meant for long fast rides with proper gearing, handling etc? And upright bike you mean city bike for short rides, errands, tooling around?
    My touring bike has upright bars-what does that make it? It is a bike meant for long distances, and I have to be fairly upright. Even a roadbike would have to be equipped with moustache bars or some sporty upright bar. I have a bad back and haven't ridden drop bars in years, but wonder if it might be okay. As it is upright my back starts screaming in pain after a few hours. I think upright bars on a road or touring bike can work depending on the set up, angle etc.. but have yet to find the magic bullet myself.

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  15. Velouria, I am still very impressed that you finished your first 100 mile ride on an upright bike. With the additional air resistance from the upright position, this ride was like a flat 130 mile ride on a roadbike, or like a very hill century.

    I'm sure you could do a 300 km ride on a roadbike, if you wanted to.

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  16. I just returned from a 200 mile trip spread over two and a half days. Highest mileage day was 80. I used my Bianchi Volpe- cromoly steel bike with drop bars, Brooks B-17 saddle and triple chain-ring for fairly low gearing and was very comfortable. I have ridden my upright IGH 7 speed bike on some 40 mile trips but if I had taken it on this latest trip I would have to walk it up some of the hills that my Bianchi climbs right over. It is nice to have different bikes to add variety to rides. The same route on a different bike is a whole new experience.

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  17. I have ridden up to about 70-80km (45-50mi) on my Gazelle, though if I were to attempt 160km (100mi) I think it would have to be in our Australian winter, or partly at night due to the heat, humidity and UV levels of the warmer months here. I don't have a road bike but I would choose the Gazelle over my other (mostly lighter) bikes as it is the most comfortable, also considering the excellent advice in this post.

    I have written an owner's review of the Gazelle recently that might better explain why, if any readers are interested, at :

    http://rustybikebell.wordpress.com/2011/10/26/bolt-upright-gazelle-toer-populair-2011-review/

    Peter

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  18. I think another concern is simply that, even if the terrain is absolutely flat or downhill, an upright bike is going to mean a much longer time in the saddle than a fast road bike.

    On my old road bike, I could ride at least 20mph or more for long stretches, assuming I had the open road for it. On my vintage Raleigh, I top out at 16mph on slightly flat downhills, and have to actually slow down on steep stretches as the bike isn't stable at speeds higher than that. So a 20 mile ride on the first bike takes an hour or so, and more like 1.5-2 hours on the second one. That's a big difference in saddle time, but it's also a big difference in effort. Pedaling any bike for another hour simply means I'm more tired, no matter what position I'm in. Now magnify that time difference over 100 miles and there's a clear issue there.

    Riding my vintage Raleigh, with it's 3 gears, is also more effort than riding an upright bike of the same weight with more gears over the same distance. I know this from the modern rental Raleigh I rode in Ireland. Those 21 gears just make longer rides easier, though the bike was less fun overall.

    All that said, I could never have ridden a road bike very far, due to hand and back issues, but I could probably ride the Raleigh that distance if I had a really flat trail that was long enough (I keep picturing myself riding the only flat trail around here 4 times to reach the 100 mile mark!), even though it would take me much longer. It's just one more thing to consider: more saddle time = more effort, no matter how you cut it. Though that effort might be worth it, as it is for me.

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  19. Amy, you aren't lame...Cherokee National Forest means serious hills. 20 miles there is LOT more anywhere else. You are a lot braver (read stronger!)than me!
    Peter

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  20. Greg - I would choose a roadbike of some sort, but it would have to have a setup I know I am comfortable with, particularly the handlebars.

    Joseph E - Thanks. That is what somervillain said, but to tell the truth it did not feel that way. The Vienna ride honestly felt easier than even a 60 mile ride outside of Boston. I don't know why, but even in the cold and with the flapping coattails it felt less strenuous. It could be because I cycled slower as well.

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  21. The longest ride I've done was 106 miles back when I owned a road bike. The longest ride I've done on my current bike (a "commuter" with 700c wheels and an 8-speed internally geared hub) is about 80-85 miles.

    I can say I definitely prefer the road bike for long rides, and wish I could afford to build one up again for longer distance, but it's entirely possible to do long, hilly rides on an upright bike (with a camera and mandolin in a basket no less).

    My longer rides over the summer, as well as my occasional 40-mile-round-trip commutes did, however, inspire me to swap out the handlebars on my commuter bike. It came with North Road style bars, which were fine for the first 10 miles over relatively level terrain, but only offered one hand position and kept my weight back on the seat. I swapped them for the Soma Moustache II bars, which are a moustach style bar sized to work with mtb/city bike brake and shift levers. These offer a couple different places to put my hands and get me in a (to me) more comfortable riding position with a bit more forward lean.

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  22. "I think another concern is simply that, even if the terrain is absolutely flat or downhill, an upright bike is going to mean a much longer time in the saddle than a fast road bike."

    Exactly. On the other hand, I was less tired than on a roadbike. I think the worst situation would be if the bike were both slower and more tiring to ride.

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  23. What is is the meaning of "fluttering" is the context of cycling? I have never observed "pacelining up mountains" in my 41 years as an adult cyclist and 20 years as an amateur/professional cycling race offical. Please explain. I'm always willing to learn something new.

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  24. Hmm okay.

    flutter = "to wave or vibrate rapidly and irregularly." As in "a flag flutetrs in the wind." I was wearing a long coat and the coat tails flapped open and fluttered as I cycled.

    Pacelining... You got me, it is probably difficult to to ride in an intact paceline up a mountain, if that's what you mean.

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  25. This is exactly why we all need more than one bike! :) I choose my Trek FX 2 bike when I am riding distance. It's a hybrid with flat bars and medium width tires. I have back problems too and find that riding slightly bent over is more comfortable than completely upright like on my cruiser or mountain bike. My max ride has been 25 miles. I ride mostly on bike paths with maybe a little road here and there. I commute to work sometimes -- 8-9 miles one way.

    My goal is to ramp up the mileage to do an 3-4 day tour next summer with 40-50 miles a day.

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  26. Over the years,thousands of miles of credit card trips in the levilish parts of the US West using real touring bikes. The pack of three or four leads and is followed miles back by a support bike carrying bike repair stuff, and a companion. We switch off between pack and support/companion duties each day. Most of the issues are human factors such as getting along for four days and nights.

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  27. I use to prefer a touring bike with drop bars for longer trips as I found that the most comfortable by far. Now I have severe neck problems and am developing hand problems. So I'm trying to dial-in a bike that will be comfortable for long rides - probably very upright.

    Drop bars, even with all their positions, don't seem to work with my wrists. Straight bars are the worst - immediate pain from the wrist angle.

    Whats the most"ergonomic" bar that you've found that migth work for longer rides?

    BTW - now that you've expanded from Dutch through road bikes, you realize at some point you're going to have to try short- and long-wheelbase recumbents and report on them? Your audience demands it :-)

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  28. My longest ride was 117 km on Surly LHT with trekking handlebars (hilly terrain). I also rode 80 km on a folding bike with straight handlebars in a hilly terrain. In both cases my back started to protest close to the end of the rides. When I ride longer rides, I stop every hour, lie down on my back for perhaps 15 minutes. It helps a lot, but not completely.
    For even longer rides a recumbent bike would be really helpful.
    I agree that it would be interesting to see what Velouria would write about riding a recumbent.

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  29. I did 340 miles in Vermont this summer in on a Rivendell Sam Hillborne. Obviously not in 1 day though, closer to 4.5 days.

    Longest ride in a single day might have been Meredith NH to the Maine coast on an 8 speed folder. Around 80 miles. Mostly downhill but notg as much fun as the Sam, even with the mountains.

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  30. Like an idiot, I once set out on my 57lb. cargo bike for my favorite bike shop 25 miles away. The purpose was to fetch a freshly built wheel and assorted other bike parts.

    Never mind that it was January, so the bike had studded tires, and that the return trip required the tire dynamo. I was exhausted that evening, yet the next day was full of energy.

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  31. 200k brevet on 26" Surly LHT with Nitto Noodles, SPD pedals and Keen Sandals. No equipment-related discomfort, a few cramps. I'm comfortable on this bike and use it for long rides every week and a Pacific Coast tour, so for me the only issue was proper nutrition.

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  32. My longest rides have all been on road bikes with drop bars. With them dialed in correctly, I have done metric centuries without any discomfort or fatigue (haven't done an imperial century yet... hopefully soon!). Even after the 74 miles of D2R2, I was in complete comfort (except for my fingers, but that's a separate story and unrelated to bike geometry).

    Recently I rode my Raleigh DL1 out to Concord and back, about 25-30 miles total. My butt and hands were a wreck! The first 10-15 miles were fine, but my hands really started to miss having multiple positions, and being used to pedaling hard to keep a steady 14-16mph, I felt my position was way too upright, and I was using my hands to pull my body forward to keep from flipping backwards (a consequence of hard pedaling). And all my weight was on my butt instead of my hands and pedals, so my butt really began to feel sore. My body has just gotten so used to riding a road bike for anything longer than 10 miles, that the roadster just wasn't cutting it. On my road bikes, I'm probably approaching close to even weight distribution between pedals/saddle/bars.

    Also, maybe my body's more adaptable than some, but I am not overly particular about the type of bar or bar position on my road bikes. I have several road bikes, each with different types of drop bars and different bar/saddle height differences. I'm comfy on all of them (except one, which still needs dialing in). I have my favorite bars, but that doesn't mean I need those on all my bikes to be comfortable.

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  33. That's interesting. I've ridden my DL-1 the 30 miles to Bedford and back multiple times and felt fine. I did make it a point to move my hands around, but not nearly as much as with drop bars,

    I admit that I feel a great deal of fatigue when I ride beyond 50 miles in the areas outside Boston. On a "good" bike I don't feel it immediately, but the next morning is hell. By contrast I was absolutely fine after my flat 100 mile ride. I wonder whether this means that I am especially weak at climbing hills, but strong in overall endurance.

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  34. My longest one-day ride so far has been 108 miles, and I don't foresee doing anything much longer. I'm out to look at the world when I do long rides, and I think a 65 miles day is ideal for that. (And leaves time for leisurely meals, which I dote on). The 108 mile day was on a moderately loaded Bridgestone RB-T light touring bike, basically a slightly beefed up road bike with drop bars, on the way home from a short tour. It involved numerous hills, some long and steep, and temps above 100F.

    I've done two or three centuries on my ancient Bottecchia stage racer reconfigured as a fixie with bullhorns (Nitto RB-018, which give almost as many hand positions as a drop bar, but are not as good in strong headwinds). I ride a hilly 65 to 70 miler once a month on that bike; it's really quite comfortable and climbs well, being very light.

    I don't find uprights appealing for rides of more than 3 or 4 miles but have ridden them for up to 30 miles several times. Wind resistance, weight distribution, and physiological efficiency all suffer in an upright position. I may still get one for local shopping, though most of our shopping (yes, in LA; our 'hood's WalkScore is 98) is within strolling distance.

    At the same time my roadish bikes are set up to keep my back at about 45 degrees, which I consider and ideal all-round position. Works in the city, on long country rambles, and while noodling around the neighborhood. I don't ride in the true flat-back roadie pose.

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  35. 120km on my Surly LHT (most out of character for me). My main problem is that I've found I "wriggle" like mad when cycling a reasonable distance. So my main requirement is the drop bars as I use most of the hand positions available. I find being limited to straight bars really frustrating. It's the same for my feet, I don't wear cleats as I'm constantly moving my feet, so I have wide BMX pedals with pins for touring (and commuting as it's all done on the same bike).

    I realise this shows my cycling style leaves a lot to be desired and is anything but 'effective'. But, what can I say? I'm generally feeling pretty dreamy whilst on the bike and enjoy wriggling around and watching the scenery pass me by and can very often be found munching on an apple or chocolate, rather than concentrating on my pedalling.

    As for clothes, the 120km was done in Cargos, a pair of Doc Martens and a T shirt. If it had been planned I would have dressed a little more sensibly. As it was the only concession made to cycling was stuffing my pant leg in my sock!

    It's been mentioned that your bike choice may depend on distance and terrain. I would like to add that I find the mood and intent of the trip can also effect bike choice. Are you fancying a lazy meander around country lanes until you suprise your self by the distance covered? Are you stopping to buy picnic ingredients and snapping photos along the way? Maybe an upright's the go. Are you being serious about reaching a destination or completing a set number of kms? Then maybe you literally want your head down and bum up.

    My LHT is the best of both worlds for me. With the bars level with the saddle I can have a relaxed posture, the frame is solid enough for me not to feel as though I need to race, the gears mean even I can get up the hills and the drop bars give me wriggling room.

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  36. Hm. Lots of good advice here. Not much to add. Don't bonk, and make sure you have proper clothing for conditions. Stop if there are ripe blackberries. Ensure you are comfortable on the bike for the type of riding you intend to do. Carry lights.

    My longest ride was a multi-day run with some school friends through Northern California's Trinity Alps region, and down the coast from there to Mill Valley. 420+ miles in 5 days. Elevation gain was in the tens of thousands.
    Bike was a 1970s Peugeot UO-8 with early Phil hubs and Weinmann rims laced up by the original Wheelsmith guys, Huret Duopar rear derailleur, 13-32 rear cog. Crankset was a Suntour double I cannot remember, but the small ring was probably a 38. Suntour bar end shifters.
    Saddle was a 1981 Avocet Touring II. The bike had been used in France, Italy, and Switzerland already before I got it- it was a real mountain goat. I still miss that old beast.

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  37. A very thoughtful post.
    I've come to the conclusion that I dont cycle if i'm not comfortable so for me cycling specific clothing and a lightweight (about 22lb) touring bike are my preferences.
    My longest ride was 375miles (600km Audax ride). I did 210miles in about 16 hours had a few hours rest and then did the next 165miles in about 14hrs.
    I rode it on an old 531 framed Claude Butler with relaxed geometry. Sadly the frame died a few years later and I took it to a frame builder and said - build me one of those but better. I now have a beautiful 653 fast touring bike - unfortunately I cant quite squeeze 28s under the mudguards so it gets limited to 100mile rides as anything beyond starts to hurt becuase of road vibrations.

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  38. Thanks for this marvelous post- I did my first Century this past summer on a road/touring bike (my Bridgestone BB1, which is the only bike I ride in the non-winter months as of right now) with drop bars and had a wonderful time. I blogged about it (http://spacetosimplify.wordpress.com/2011/08/29/i-would-ride-100-miles-and-i-would-ride-about-10-more/)
    and my main point was similar to yours: there isn't one right way to do a long ride, and (nearly) everyone can do it. Knowing one's physical preferences is essential, but otherwise it's almost all mental.

    ~Lauren

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  39. Thanks for the link Lauren, will check it out!

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  40. I don't know if anyone has brought this up, but I think you might enjoy longer distances more if you were not always in the drops, and instead got comfy on the hoods. Every pic I can remember of you on a bike with drop bars shows you in the drops.

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  41. elvis - Oh no, I'm mostly in the hoods. The pictures are incidental.

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