Author Topic: Advice needed!!!  (Read 4098 times)

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Offline bikeforhearthealth

Advice needed!!!
« on: October 31, 2012, 08:28:15 pm »
A friend and I with no experience are biking the trans am trail this summer starting on june10th. We are seniors in high school and find this very daunting but want to do it!!! Any advice???? our biggest fear is underpacking and maybe running out of water??? would this be an issue? Advice is appreciated!!! :)

Offline John Nelson

Re: Advice needed!!!
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2012, 10:01:07 pm »
This isn't as daunting as you might think. The ACA maps lay things out pretty well for you. Be sure to go over to crazyguyonabike.com and read a few TransAm journals so you can see how other people have dealt with the challenges. It will also give you confidence.

You say you have no experience. Well clearly you have some experience--you haven't gotten all the way through high school with no experience. If you have some camping experience, that will help. If not, I suggest you get some before your trip. Be sure to take at least one overnight trip before the TransAm to make sure you've got what you need and can carry it comfortably on your bike. Try to also take a three or four day trip if you can.

Running out of water isn't too much of a problem. In the East, there are plenty of opportunities to get water. Take at least two water bottles each (three would be better), and refill whenever one of them gets empty. There are a few places in the West where a bit more precautions are in order. The ACA maps clearly tell you where these places are. Just stop and buy a couple of bottles of Gatorade and/or water to get you over these spots.

2% of first-time bicycle tourists underpack, 10% pack just right, and 88% overpack. Don't worry too much about underpacking. Read some of the equipment lists over at crazyguyonabike.com and here on this site to get ideas.

You will need to occasionally be resourceful, but that's part of the fun. You can handle most difficulties with a credit card and a cell phone. And there are a lot of really nice people out there who will help you with everything else.

Starting with a bicycle in tip-top shape isn't absolute necessary, but it will help avoid a lot of problems.

Offline Blackbear

Re: Advice needed!!!
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2012, 09:31:32 am »
I haave done the Trans Am.  John Nelson is insightful, particularly teh 2-10-88 % packing and the "Resourceful" comment. Do it!  Blackbear

Online staehpj1

Re: Advice needed!!!
« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2012, 09:34:35 am »
John pretty much nailed the topic.

Under packing is almost never an issue.  Over packing often is.

There are a few ways to go with the packing...  My suggestions are as follows:
  • If you are inclined to want a bunch of in camp comforts at the cost of being excessively loaded down, I'd still recommend resisting anything over 40 pounds and drawing a absolute limit at 50 pounds.
  • For the average tourist, I'd recommend shooting for 30 pounds or less and drawing a absolute limit at 40 pounds.
  • If you are in to ultralight or minimalist packing I'd shoot for 10-15 pounds and set the upper limit at 20 or so.
Those recommended weights include bags, gear, and extra clothing.  They do not include the basic clothes you will always have on while riding, food, water, the tools and spares that are always on the bike even at home.

You will find that what you actually need is surprisingly little.  It is possible to go with a sub 10 pound gear weight if you are of the gram counting persuasion and 20 pounds can accommodate quite a few luxuries.  You do not need lots of changes of clothes or much food (buy daily).

You will usually not need to carry much water with a few exceptions that will be obvious on the AC maps.

BTW, remember that it is possible to adjust the load as you go.  If you find you are cold, buying an item or two of warmer clothing is an option as is having things sent from home.  If you wound up taking too much you can mail stuff home.  I think most first time TA riders wind up mailing gear and clothing home, I know that we did several times.  Having things mailed to you via general delivery is an option too.

It is really nice to have someone at home who has access to your stuff to send and receive mail for you.  Maybe lay out and label stuff you think you might need so they can find it.

I try to pick a town that you know you will be in of a size to have only one post office and have items mailed to myself care of "general delivery".  They will hold them for 30 days.  If you are not ready for the items or pass through the town when the post office is closed you can stop at any post office and make arrangements to have them forwarded to another post office further down the road.

You might consider whether you want different clothing and gear in the plains and east than in the Cascades and Rockies.  Somewhere around Pueblo would be a good time to get things from home or sent things home.

I have run the gamut of packing styles starting with 50 pounds on my first tour and less on each subsequent tour until I got to less than 15 pounds on my last couple tours.  I suspect that 20-30 pounds is probably a sweet spot for most tourists, but I have not felt deprived with 15 pounds and think that with a bit of higher tech choices could get to 8 pounds or so.

I have seen folks carrying 100 pounds or more.  Some were absolutely miserable and some seemed happy with their choices, but I suggest picking from the three categories above for the one that suits you best.

I have some trip journals and a couple articles on the crazy guy web site.  The articles on unencumbered touring and inexpensive touring may be of interest as may the one on our TA.  Check them out at:
https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/directory/?o=5v&user=staehpj1&v=u
« Last Edit: November 01, 2012, 09:37:58 am by staehpj1 »

Offline geegee

Re: Advice needed!!!
« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2012, 01:19:44 pm »
For water, I carry a collapsable bag such as the ones from MSR. I have the 4 litre version, and it along with two water bottles is enough for me to get through the hottest and driest stretches. I strap it on with bungie cords on top of the stuff on my back rack, and when there is plenty of water available I just roll it up and tuck it inside my pannier. For a night of camping in the wild, it holds enough water for cooking and a bit of washing up.

The nice thing with the MSR bags is that they hook up nicely with their filtration systems. I rode through the Yukon and Alaska where there weren't any taps for a hundred miles apart but lots of streams and rivers, and I was never short of clean water, nor did I have to carry too much of it. You definitely won't need a water filter on the TransAm though.

Online staehpj1

Re: Advice needed!!!
« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2012, 01:34:21 pm »
For water, I carry a collapsable bag such as the ones from MSR. I have the 4 litre version, and it along with two water bottles is enough for me to get through the hottest and driest stretches. I strap it on with bungie cords on top of the stuff on my back rack, and when there is plenty of water available I just roll it up and tuck it inside my pannier. For a night of camping in the wild, it holds enough water for cooking and a bit of washing up.

I like the Platypus 2+ liter one pretty well.  I like that it can stand up and I find the capacity about right for my needs.

FWIW extra capacity is easy to add in the form of recycled sport drink bottles or bottled water bottles.  The nice thing with those is that you carry them when you need them and discard them when you don't.

I also do not think a filter is needed on the TA, but for routes where one is, I really like the Sawyer Squeeze better than any others I have tried.

Offline scooper

Re: Advice needed!!!
« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2012, 11:58:47 am »

if you start west to east by the time you get out of colorado you'll be able to send home the heavy clothes home because if you're leaving june 10 by the time you get to ks. you'll be riding in 90's. might want to have something to block sun.

Offline indyfabz

Re: Advice needed!!!
« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2012, 10:55:01 am »
2% of first-time bicycle tourists underpack, 10% pack just right, and 88% overpack. Don't worry too much about underpacking. Read some of the equipment lists over at crazyguyonabike.com and here on this site to get ideas.

Heh. I might go even higher than 88%. Nearly everyone on my first tour (cross country with a group of 12) mailed something home within the first week. My favorite was the woman who mailed home her blow drier and her Sony Watchman TV.

There is also a "how-to" section on Adventure Cycling's web site.

Offline BikeFreak

Re: Advice needed!!!
« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2012, 08:01:59 pm »
Hi,

I did the Transam + Western Express this summer.
Water: People are different. I, for instance do not need a lot of water to keep going. For emergency, I brought a water bag, filled it a few times, but never used it. I relied on my 3 1 litre water bottles and rarely used the 3rd. I also bought plenty of Gatorade and Sodas along the way.

Packing: I myself don't like the cold - I'm more for warm climate. This means that I rather quickly start using a hat already in fall time when "normal" people don't. On this trip a brought a full set of merino wool underwear which I never used. Thus, I overpacked. Only out of fear I never sent the merino wool home because I believed it would get colder in the mountains: It never did. My down sleeping bag was only 650 grams and just perfect. Overall, the Transam passes through some of the warmer states unlike the Northern Tier.

On this trip I had 2 credit cards (emergency) and 1500 dollars at the beginning of the trip. That worked absolutely fine - I never had to worry about finding ATM machines. Using hard cash you are more in control of your spendings.

Contrary to many other ACA routes, the transam has many free camping possibilities. Especially many city parks in Kansas but also churches in the East. However, when you have to pay for a private campground such as KOA, it is daylight robbery. KOA campgrounds for instance a between 30 and 40 dollars with absolutely no discounts for cyclists. Remember that many motels offer rooms for 40 dollars which is perfect if you are two riding along.

Offline Bike Hermit

Re: Advice needed!!!
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2012, 11:29:35 am »
If you have no previous bike touring experience I would highly recommend doing one or more short trips, even if just overnight, to work out the details of how to pack and how to do things. And basically, the same stuff you take on a week long trip will suffice to ride across the country imho.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Advice needed!!!
« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2012, 06:02:31 am »
You will start the tour in highly populated areas where water is most always readily available. Keep track of how much water you use per day, or over so many hours. When you come to areas where services are fewer and farther between, apply what you have learned about your water needs for the times you will spend between services. The same for food. I know that if I buy 4.5 pounds of Cytomax in El Paso, Texas, I will have to get more in Yuma, Arizona or thereabouts. Maybe sooner. In winter I will drink 4 or 5 ounces every 15-20-25 minutes, or somewhere in that range.I did the ST in summer and drank about 3 gallons a day.

Offline dennityrrell

Re: Advice needed!!!
« Reply #11 on: December 09, 2012, 01:20:49 am »
My brother and I went on our first bike touring trip from Vancouver to Tijuana this past year without much preparation.
We did not do a "shake down" trip but if you have the time, I would recommend going on one. Within 3 days, we stopped at a post office and sent home a combined weight of 10 lbs. One week later, we sent another 7 lbs home. Go light.

One Other recommendation ...  if you dont know about the community already, check out www.warmshowers.org
Its set up like couchsurfers but it is JUST for bike tourist. Free places to stay, maybe even dinner.  Worth a shot.


Offline bogiesan

Re: Advice needed!!!
« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2012, 09:15:44 am »
A friend and I with no experience are biking the trans am trail this summer starting on june10th. We are seniors in high school and find this very daunting but want to do it!!! Any advice???? our biggest fear is underpacking and maybe running out of water??? would this be an issue? Advice is appreciated!!! :)

Go to your local library and check out all of the bike touring techniques books. There should be four or more. There is also going to be a good selection of bicycle touring memoirs. Check them all out. Visit the Adventure Cycling how-to sections and the store to buy some excellent books and resources.

As others have said, accomplishing a cross country tour is not that big a deal once you get started. It's all been done. It's all been documented. You need not invent anything. People do it all the time without any preparation at all. However, what will become one of your short life's more interesting experiences does not to be undertaken in ignorance. Do the research, invest in good gear (if you must) and carry only what you need.

You live in a beautiful and wonderfully expansive country. Go see it.
I play go. I use Macintosh. Of course I ride a recumbent

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Advice needed!!!
« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2012, 07:22:53 am »
Do read on the subject. It isn't rocket science, but there are several bits of knowledge and preparation that can make the difference between some days being home runs, base hits, or outs. Spend for really high quality tires. The cheaper ones can be a real pain. Still bring a full patch kit. Be ready for all kinds of weather. You'll be surprised what nature will throw at you, and not pleasantly. Keep your load at minimum. On the road you'll see what you need and what is superfluous. Dump the unnecessary. Check out lightweight backpacking on youtube. It shows what a person can get by with on a 4-6 month through-hike of the Appalachian Trail. No need to buy an expensive stove if you are going to cook meals a lot. I have figured a way to make a very cheap, highly efficient, wood-burning stove. It's not as if nobody else has thought of it. They have. I will post it under gear. No need to pay out for costly gore tex. Make your own breathable rain suits from Tyvek.

Offline canalligators

Re: Advice needed!!!
« Reply #14 on: December 19, 2012, 03:17:13 pm »
But trust me on the sunscreen.

A skin cancer survivor...