Author Topic: Own Pace ~vs~ Shared Cooking Duties on ACA Self-Contained tours  (Read 1211 times)

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Joe B

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Own Pace ~vs~ Shared Cooking Duties on ACA Self-Contained tours
« on: January 16, 2012, 09:33:20 am »
This question came to me while reading other forums about the ACA tours. All of my previous trips ( half a dozen longer than a month, up to 6 months continuous on the road) have either been solo or traveling as a couple. I have been interested in doing a "structured" ride for the experience, and am curious how the shared cooking duties actually work out on the road.

I interpret the self contained tours literature to imply that each rider is free to travel at his/her own pace throughout the day. This includes side trips, photo ops, meeting the locals,  lunch etc...

In practice, is that a conflict when it's your time on "cooking/grocery" duty? Or is there more than enough time given a reasonable road pace, to still arrive at camp in time to prepare/feed/clean up (i.e. is dinner scheduled for near dark so you would be in camp anywho)

If you are "in charge" of breakfast and dinner on a particular day, Is there is less time to stop and smell the roses on those days? Are the breakfasts and dinners on a fixed schedule 7am & 7 pm for example?

Conversely, on days that you are not on cooking duty, I assume you can opt out of breakfast to get an early start, or  take a pass on dinner in order to pursue some other deviation. (being considerate by giving notice to the group of your intentions for the day of course)

I'm likely over thinking this, but with no organized tour experience to draw on it is hard for me to envision the dynamics at work here.

Offline indyfabz

Re: Own Pace ~vs~ Shared Cooking Duties on ACA Self-Contained tours
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2012, 10:34:38 am »
I did AC's self-contained Northern Tier trip back in '99. Most of the sutff works itself out without many/any hard and fast rules.

They way we worked, it, you were paired with another participant. When it was your turn to cook/clean, up, you and your partner shopped for snack and dinner stuff that evening and breakfast and lunch stuff for the next morning. Others would almost always help transport groceries, especially when there was no opportunity to set up camp before shopping. Nothing was on a fixed schedule (e.g., dinner at a set time each night). It could depend on how long a day it was. People might not get to camp until later in the day. Since we usually bought snacks (e.g. chips and salsa) to tide us over until dinner, there was usually sometthing to get you through to dinner.

After dinner, the two cookis were also responsible for washing the shared cooking equipment (e.g., pots, pans, cutting board, etc.) and disposing of any trash. Each participant was responsible for washing his/her own personal plate, bowl, etc. to lessen the chance of mass contamination. The next morning, the same two were responsible for having the breakfast stuff "ready." Rarely did we cook breakfast.  It was more like cold cereal.  So for practical purposes, there wasn't really much to do for the two cooks. Also, participants prepared their own lunches to take with them. Usually PB&J, cookies and fruit. The early birds among us could get up when they wanted to, get their own breakfast, pacl lunch and leave whenever. The two cooks were again responsible for washing any group gear used to prepare breakfast and lunches. If it was your turn to cook, you couldn't really sleep in as late as you wanted since the person who, for example, carried the cutting board and group knives might want to hit the road and could not until that gear had been cleaned.

In response to a few of your specific questions, we only at dinner in the dark once or twice. Being on the Northern Tier helped. It usually didn't get dark until late. You were never required to be present at any of the meals, but the courtesy you mention was expected, in part so the cooks didn't over-buy and the group wasn't waiting around for you to show up. One hard rule that we did come up with was that when you reached camp or the town where we would be camping, you were required to off-load the group cooking gear you were carrying before heading off to explore. This made it easier for the cooks to do their jobs.

Remember that if you go on a long trip with 14 people, you are only responsible for cooking once a week, so the chances of that getting in the way of things are slim. Also, the group will realize that people ride at different paces.  It's highly unlikely that you will miss dinner because people didn't feel like waiting for you to get into camp. Also, if it is your turn and there is something that you would really like to do that day, you can ask for a switch, either with the next pair or an individual.

As noted, everything usually works itself out with little problem. I took a lot of photos (about 100 rolls of film) during the trip and never felt rushed by cooking duties. And if an overnight sidetrip was desired, a person could usually get a sub to cook. The biggest propblem we had, on the meal front, anyway, was with one participant. He apprently felt that doing dishes was beneath him. On several occasions, he took a little bag of trash to the dumpster, considered his work done and jumped on his bike, leaving his partner to finish the morning's tasks. When we had to shop before reaching camp and then ride with groceries, he would rush to the shopping carts and grab the lightest items, such as the bread or nacho chips. Most of the time, we simply turned this into a source of amusement rather than get pissed off about it. That's probably the most important thing about a group tour:  You need to try to not sweat the small stuff. I know, however, that that is sometimes easier said than done.


Offline yumadons

Re: Own Pace ~vs~ Shared Cooking Duties on ACA Self-Contained tours
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2012, 11:34:46 am »
Don't forget that if you're carrying essental group cooking equipment, they can't start cooking til you get there. So if you're slow or like to screw around and get into camp late, carry the group tool kit. Heavy but works well because anyone who breaks down knows that you 'll eventually be along  ;)

Offline CyclesafeSr

Re: Own Pace ~vs~ Shared Cooking Duties on ACA Self-Contained tours
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2012, 08:38:36 pm »
I interpret the self contained tours literature to imply that each rider is free to travel at his/her own pace throughout the day. This includes side trips, photo ops, meeting the locals,  lunch etc...

In practice, is that a conflict when it's your time on "cooking/grocery" duty? Or is there more than enough time given a reasonable road pace, to still arrive at camp in time to prepare/feed/clean up (i.e. is dinner scheduled for near dark so you would be in camp anywho)

If you are "in charge" of breakfast and dinner on a particular day, Is there is less time to stop and smell the roses on those days? Are the breakfasts and dinners on a fixed schedule 7am & 7 pm for example?

Four ACA tour veteran here.  The answer, of course, is that it depends.  Often the cooks' day had to be structured so shopping and cooking would result in dinner at 1800.  Sometimes this was a big deal, sometimes it wasn't.  It was always a PITA.

Conversely, on days that you are not on cooking duty, I assume you can opt out of breakfast to get an early start, or  take a pass on dinner in order to pursue some other deviation. (being considerate by giving notice to the group of your intentions for the day of course)

As you might expect, you can do what you wish as long as it involves only you.

I'm likely over thinking this, but with no organized tour experience to draw on it is hard for me to envision the dynamics at work here.

Yes, shared group cooking is a major cause of conflict: declared food preferences are not honored, quality depends on cooks' preferences and culinary skill / willingness to make the effort, group gear needs to arrive in time and be ready to go when people want to leave, cooks need to wait around until late-risers have eaten (not!).  Sometimes, the group cooking thing falls apart and those who can afford it just pay to eat their meals at restaurants.  The latter make the very worst cooks.  Keep your standards low, your mind open, defuse conflict when it arises, and resign yourself to doing more than your fair share of hauling, cooking and cleaning and you'll be OK.

Offline webm8

Re: Own Pace ~vs~ Shared Cooking Duties on ACA Self-Contained tours
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2012, 08:29:07 am »
How about van-supported ACA tours?  I like cooking at home because I know the equipment I have in the kitchen and how it all works, not sure what we will have on the van-tour though.  Sounds like we are pretty free to do what we like when we like - within reason, which is good.  I really want to check out some of the restaurants mentioned in blogs I've read like Gertie's Country Store , E-Town restaurant, Jays Nest, Cooky’s Cafe, the-Split-Rock-Bar-and-Cafe  etc etc.