Author Topic: Bicycle Touring vs Backpacking  (Read 10979 times)

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Offline 2riders

Re: Bicycle Touring vs Backpacking
« Reply #15 on: January 05, 2013, 11:49:41 pm »
I came across this while reading "Retired Couple Tackles The Northern Tier" by Jim Cox on CrazyGuyOnABike from 2006:
...You may wonder how doing this compares to hiking the Appalachian Trail. It's a little early to answer that, but to me the big appeal of both is the SIMPLICITY of the life style. Everything you "own" is right there in a few cubic feet -- plus your only real concerns are eating, sleeping and whether or not your body will hold up. The negatives about biking are the mechanical concerns and the traffic. The positives about biking are: (1) You sleep in beds a lot more often. (2) You eat a lot better food. (3) You cover a lot more miles and, therefore, see a lot more things...

Offline canalligators

Re: Bicycle Touring vs Backpacking
« Reply #16 on: January 28, 2013, 01:07:33 pm »
I just find the speed of travel from walking to be too slow.  Maybe I just haven't learned to slow down enough, I've only backpacked a total of about four weeks in my life.  We'd probably all agree that travel by car is too fast, you don't see anything.

Offline Dr. John

Re: Bicycle Touring vs Backpacking
« Reply #17 on: January 30, 2013, 05:54:56 pm »
My first love is long hiking.  Still one of my best summers was a hike from Katadin to Mass, then taking commuter buses up to Burlington, buying a LHT etc, riding back to central Maine, then down the coast, over to DC, then Pitt, back to Harper's Ferry and down Skyline Dr. and BRP while chasing the turning leaves.  Is the AT what it used to be?  Well a big difference is everyone has a cell phone and it can be quite crowded.  But if you go late (or very early) or head south people can be a bit sparse.  I have yet to bike tour on a route where I have run into more than the very occasional touring cyclist.  I must admit one reason it love long hikes is the community of hikers, not to mention usually clean air (but not on the southern PCT about 3 p.m. when the L.A fog rolls in, or the smell of cow shit on the Colorado trail etc.).  I also love the taste of the water on the AT.  What I have noticed on my AT thru-hikes is when I get near the big cities (SNP comes to mind) I can smell the air pollution on the day hikers, somewhat like you can smell the smoke on a cigarette smoker.  Anyone else notice this?  I can only imagine what I must smell like after riding in traffic.

Offline Sean T

Re: Bicycle Touring vs Backpacking
« Reply #18 on: February 05, 2013, 05:05:07 pm »
I did most of the Pacific Crest Trail from Oregon to Mexico for six months in 1981, and I remember feeling like a mule after a few months, slogging along with that heavy backpack mile after mile, day after day, week after week, dreaming about how sweet it would be to do a bike tour instead, carrying nothing on my back, eating all the tasty food I wanted. But on the hike I got to be in awesome places no bike could go.
 
I've never done a bike tour, yet, but if I do I'll probably dream of how great it was to do the PCT as I pedal mile after mile, saddlesore and tired, worrying about flat tires...  :P

Offline Dr. John

Re: Bicycle Touring vs Backpacking
« Reply #19 on: February 06, 2013, 04:21:26 pm »
Hey Sean, things have changed since 1981.  My typical pack weight is 18 lbs. + food and water, yet many get by with 15 or less.  And lightweight food choices are easier and likely resupply points more frequent.  Still, it takes a few weeks to get your legs, but the point is you do get to where you don't feel so much like a mule.  Funny thing, I have a very hard time not losing too much weight backpacking, but I can put on weight bike touring - it is way too easy to eat all the tasty food you want, or suck down sodas on a hot day (and I usually don't like sweet things).  Still I hope you get to do a bike tour soon.

Offline Sean T

Re: Bicycle Touring vs Backpacking
« Reply #20 on: February 06, 2013, 07:30:39 pm »
18 lbs!  My Jansport external frame pack, loaded with gear but no food or water, weighed about 50 lbs. After I loaded up with food and water from a post office drop it was around 70 lbs.  By the time I got to the High Sierras I'd worn out the soles of my new boots and the frame broke. 

I sure didn't gain any body weight either on that trip!

18 lbs. would be heaven.  So would a bike tour, with 0 lbs.


Offline staehpj1

Re: Bicycle Touring vs Backpacking
« Reply #21 on: February 07, 2013, 09:31:29 am »
18 lbs!  My Jansport external frame pack, loaded with gear but no food or water, weighed about 50 lbs. After I loaded up with food and water from a post office drop it was around 70 lbs.  By the time I got to the High Sierras I'd worn out the soles of my new boots and the frame broke. 

That sounds miserable.  I don't think that I would go on a backpacking trip if it meant having to carry 70 pounds.

It really isn't very hard to go light.  I can get to under 7 pounds base weight if I don't need a bear canister or a lot of extra clothing.  It doesn't even require using fancy cuben fiber stuff or much high dollar cottage industry stuff.  In addition to the lighter load, I also like having a simple minimal kit.

Offline Sean T

Re: Bicycle Touring vs Backpacking
« Reply #22 on: February 07, 2013, 04:56:25 pm »
That is definitely the way to go.  With feather weight like that my aging knees and feet might actually be able to handle backpacking again.

Offline Dr. John

Re: Bicycle Touring vs Backpacking
« Reply #23 on: February 08, 2013, 03:06:47 pm »
Is it just me, or do many (especially young, testosterone filled men) try to inversely correlate pack weight with physical endowment?  :)  Still what a pleasure it is to fall asleep in your tent at night with so few possessions and know that is all it takes to be truly happy.

Offline Sean T

Re: Bicycle Touring vs Backpacking
« Reply #24 on: February 08, 2013, 07:17:04 pm »
 ;)  Indeed!

Offline Dr. John

Re: Bicycle Touring vs Backpacking
« Reply #25 on: February 08, 2013, 10:36:13 pm »
"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving." - Albert Einstein

"To get to know a country, you must have direct contact with the earth. It's futile to gaze at the world through a car window." - Albert Einstein

Would dear old Albert have been jealous of us all? Would (or did?) he prefer backpacking or bike touring? It is curious to ponder that many great physicists and mathematicians love to walk.

Offline Sean T

Re: Bicycle Touring vs Backpacking
« Reply #26 on: February 09, 2013, 06:42:26 pm »
I think it's because walking (or riding a bike or watching your breath or any physical activity) is grounding, it liberates our attention from the mind, bringing it home to the now, where life is actually happening, where real creativity is possible.  Physicists and mathematicians of Einstein's caliber are creative.

Of course it's all too easy to keep thinking while doing physical things, but at least physical activity makes it easier to be present, to not miss out on your life.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2013, 09:32:01 pm by Sean T »

Offline johnsondasw

Re: Bicycle Touring vs Backpacking
« Reply #27 on: February 10, 2013, 12:02:13 am »
Would (or did?) he prefer backpacking or bike touring? It is curious to ponder that many great physicists and mathematicians love to walk.

Well, I guess I can't lay any claim to greatness, but I've been a mathematician for the past 30 uyears or so, and I love to walk, bike and climb.  In fact quite a high proportion of climbers are into mathematics, science, and other technical fields.  I find solving the problems and meeting the challenges in climbing and mathematics to be metaphorically quite similar. 

If anyone's interested, there is a delightful biography on Einstein by Walter Issackson.  I listened to it on CD on a road trip a year ago.  It's worth a read if you're into math/physics/etc.

May the wind be at your back!

Offline MrBent

Re: Bicycle Touring vs Backpacking
« Reply #28 on: February 10, 2013, 03:22:32 pm »
Thread drift:  Hell yes, Johnson!  What the hell is it with people knowing almost nothing about where they live?

OP:  I like both but these days I'm leaning towards the quiet of hiking, although as I can see spring coming on, I can feel myself itching for the bike, too.  The only downside to backpacking is the pack itself--even ultra light there's some discomfort there, but I suppose cycle touring has its analogous aches and pains.  I'm working on developing a lighter pack.  I've done almost all bike touring for the last ten years, and now I'm excited about hiking again.  I'm envious of people back east and in the Midwest for all the paved cycling options.  The West is more congested with fewer options.  Still, I ride.

Offline mucknort

Re: Bicycle Touring vs Backpacking
« Reply #29 on: February 12, 2013, 01:10:24 pm »
What a great question!
I really can't choose one over the other.
-Backpacking is slow, Biking covers more ground.
   -Still, compared to driving, biking is slow/ hiking is much slower. You explore your environment in either enhanced or super enhanced.
-Biking allows you to have access to civilization (if needed), Hiking removes you from civilization. (Both can be good.)
-Biking allows you to connect with other human beings in a very personal way along the journey, Hiking can cut you off from human contact completely. (Both can be good.)
-Both are human powered and are excellent for body/mind/spirit. (But no more so than kayaking/canoeing.)
-Both should be required subjects in all elementary/high schools. (In my humble opinion.)