Author Topic: Bicycle Touring vs Backpacking  (Read 10408 times)

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Offline Dr. John

Re: Bicycle Touring vs Backpacking
« Reply #30 on: February 12, 2013, 01:31:21 pm »
I like tensors myself.  I have noticed that many thru-hikers have advanced degrees - certainly at a much greater rate than the general population.  I suspect this is partially due to having both the time and money, not to mention if one makes a living doing physical labor, one might be more inclined to want to rest.  But I also suspect that the same personality trait which would drive someone to push their brain might also cause them to push their bodies.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Bicycle Touring vs Backpacking
« Reply #31 on: February 12, 2013, 03:50:18 pm »
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.
I had to laugh at that one.  I'd say the exact opposite.  I live in the east and always fly out west to tour although I do sometimes ride to the east coast.  I always figured that the east was a much inferior place to tour compared to the west.  Camping tends to be harder to find and expensive in the east unless you want to stealth camp.

I guess the east and midwest do have things like the GAP and Katy trails, but they do not appeal to me.

I figured that Oregon, California, and Colorado were pretty much bike touring heaven, with Montana and Wyoming close behind.

Just personal preference though...

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Bicycle Touring vs Backpacking
« Reply #32 on: February 12, 2013, 08:08:53 pm »
For paved roads, the east and midwest have the western states beat.  There are numerous county and state paved roads connecting all of the small towns in the east and midwest.  All of the farm towns up and down every river.  The west does not have many towns.  And the few roads connecting the few towns are main, highly traveled roads.  The west does have the advantage of every paved road being a scenic road through the mountains.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Bicycle Touring vs Backpacking
« Reply #33 on: February 13, 2013, 09:54:20 am »
For paved roads, the east and midwest have the western states beat.  There are numerous county and state paved roads connecting all of the small towns in the east and midwest.  All of the farm towns up and down every river.  The west does not have many towns.  And the few roads connecting the few towns are main, highly traveled roads.  The west does have the advantage of every paved road being a scenic road through the mountains.

I realize that it is all personal preference, but I have to say that I am really surprised to read that folks feel that way.

Offline Sean T

Re: Bicycle Touring vs Backpacking
« Reply #34 on: February 13, 2013, 09:34:44 pm »
I agree it's a matter of preference; for those who prefer the rugged, wildness of the West, the quality of rides is more important than quantity. For those who appreciate the relatively pastoral beauties of the East, the greater quantity of uncongested secondary roads must be fantastic.

I've lived in the West all my life (California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Utah, Arizona), and have never traveled farther east than the high plains of the Rocky Mountain Front and West Texas. So it has always seemed to me that there are a huge number of lightly traveled roads here, especially in farmland like the Sacramento Valley, San Joaquin Valley, Willamette Valley, Eastern Washington, and the vast areas of wide open sageland and desert. But then I've had nothing to compare it to, and have never experienced Western roads from the perspective of a bike tourist.

The West certainly has a lot more mountains and fewer towns (although way too many towns by typical Western preferences!), and those two factors would have to narrow and lessen the quantity of travel routes and thus create relative congestion. Are roads in the Appalachians and Adirondacks similarly congested?

Offline Dr. John

Re: Bicycle Touring vs Backpacking
« Reply #35 on: February 14, 2013, 01:17:32 pm »
Wow, what a can of worms!  What I've noticed of people in general (not specifically bike tourists) is a tendency for westerners to feel claustrophobic when traveling back east with all the trees, and easterners to feel exposed and vulnerable when traveling west (although I've certainly met many easterners who are in awe of the grandeur of the mountainous west).  Personally I like both except for large, flat, expanses of sage etc.  What I can say is that I very much prefer the small towns back east.  Small western towns seem to me to either be completely void of any charm and/or ridiculously expensive.   I can say pretty much the same as far as cities go, but I usually try to avoid cycling in cities anyhow.
One thing I find odd is the availability of cheap bike camping in the Pacific states, e.g. ~$4 at many CA state parks, or free on BLM land etc., yet when backpacking it seems you almost need a (often fee-based) permit to take a leak!  And there have been proposals in the CO legislature to require a fee to climb 14’ers in the state, similar to CA.  I’ve seen fees charged just to walk into many western Wilderness Areas, yet never back east.  And I must carry a campfire permit in CA just to use my Jetboil (I will admit, given the number of morons I’ve met when it comes to fire, that may not be such a bad idea!).

Offline mucknort

Re: Bicycle Touring vs Backpacking
« Reply #36 on: February 14, 2013, 02:15:14 pm »
Wow, what a can of worms!  What I've noticed of people in general is a tendency for westerners to ..... and easterners to feel ......

Well, I've toured extensively in the NorthEast-MidWest-West. Yes, there are differences regarding availability of camping, types of roads available and their quality, but I've mostly found that  vehicle drivers are tolerant to welcoming of cyclists on tour. I have not toured in the Southeast, a good deal because of the stories I've heard regarding the intolerance of a large enough number of vehicle drivers toward cyclists. For me, this is a much bigger issue over campsite availability/road quality/etc.
Comments?

Offline Dr. John

Re: Bicycle Touring vs Backpacking
« Reply #37 on: February 14, 2013, 04:33:07 pm »
The West certainly has a lot more mountains

The East used to have a lot more mountains.  I saw a few years ago that the coal companies had leveled over 650 mountains in the central Appalachians :'(

Offline Dr. John

Re: Bicycle Touring vs Backpacking
« Reply #38 on: February 14, 2013, 05:38:23 pm »
I have not toured in the Southeast, a good deal because of the stories I've heard regarding the intolerance of a large enough number of vehicle drivers toward cyclists.

When I lived in South Carolina, if I was riding in the country and stopped by the side of the road to shed a jacket, get a drink, or I recall once stopping for the few seconds it took to realign the computer sensor on my fork, almost invariably if someone passed by they would stop and ask if I was alright.  This has been a rare occurrence for me elsewhere.

Southern hospitality on the Appalachian Trail is well known.  The number of times I have arrived at a road crossing intending to hitch into town for resupply only to have someone pull over before I even got my thumb out are way too many to count.  I've known people who have had rancher point a gun at them on the CDT in Montana, and I had that happen to me on the CDT in central CO.  A few years ago I was passing thru Grand Junction, CO and stopped at a LBS for brake pads.  I had several people hanging out their windows yelling at me or even throwing garbage at me on the way and told the owner.  The owner told me that CO had just passed the 3-foot law, and a couple weeks earlier during a large (charity?) event, a number of people had situated their vehicles to block the route at several locations in protest.

A woman I met on the AT had traveled all over the world and much of the US, and even been in the Peace Corp, but never to the South until she and her mother drove down from her home in CT to get to the AT.  She was surprised that when driving down a country road other drivers would wave.  She was also surprised at how many old people she saw, commenting that up north when people got old they were often just "shipped away".

Yes there are intolerant people in the South just like everywhere else.  And I have heard horror stories about Florida myself, yet I don't know how common these are.  I haven’t had people try to run me off the road, or point a gun at me in the South.   So don't let your prejudices stop you from touring the South.  From my extensive travels in the US, I must say there are few things as pretty as springtime in the southeast or autumn in upper-New England (I’d move to central Maine if it wasn’t for the cold winters and springtime bug bloom).


Southern hospitality on the Appalachian trail is well known.  The number of times I have gotten to a road crossing intending to hitch into town for resupply only to have someone pull over before I even got my thumb out is way to many to count.  I've known people who have had rancher point a gun at them on the CDT in Montana, and I had that happen on the CDT in central CO.  A few years ago I was passing thru Grand Junction, CO and stopped at a LBS for brake pads.  I had several people hanging out the window yelling at me or even throwing things at me on the way and told the owner.  The owner told me that CO had just passed the 3-foot law, and a couple weeks earlier during a large (charity?) event, a number of people had situated their vehicles to block the route in protest.

A girl I met on the AT had traveled all over the world and much of the US, been in the Peace Corp, but never to the South until she and her mother drove down from her home in CT.  She was suprised that when driving down a country road other drivers would wave.  She was also suprised at how many old people she saw, commenting that up north when people got old they were often just "shipped away"

I'm sure there are intolerant people in the South just like everywhere else.  And I have heard horror stories about Florida myself, yet I don't know how common these are.  But don't let your predjuces stop you from touring the South.  From my extensive travels in the US, I must say there are few things prettier than springtime in the southeast or autumn in upper-New England.

Offline MrBent

Re: Bicycle Touring vs Backpacking
« Reply #39 on: February 17, 2013, 01:29:58 pm »
Touring East vs. West:  My experience is based on my 2007 cross country tour.  I was so impressed with the numerous road options I was seeing.  Granted, I was away from all the big cities as I followed the ACA Norther Tier route as far as Muscatine, Iowa.  Then I took the Great Rivers south to pick up the Katy and, eventually, the TransAm route as far as Salida, CO.  Then I followed my own route the rest of the way, dropping down through Colorado and NM as far south as Socorro where I headed due west again with, of course, a lot of zigs and zags.  I've also crossed, now, N--S, a big chunk of Alberta, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado.  For pure light traffic, wild touring, New Mexico has proven to be one of the best states so far--paved riding, that is.    Since I'd never ridden back east or the Midwest, I was very pleased with the riding and the ACA route.  In the Midwest, although often boring, the riding was bliss with nice roads between fields and virtually NO traffic---like private bike paths.

Scott

Offline johnsondasw

Re: Bicycle Touring vs Backpacking
« Reply #40 on: February 18, 2013, 09:03:00 pm »
For paved roads, the east and midwest have the western states beat.  There are numerous county and state paved roads connecting all of the small towns in the east and midwest.  All of the farm towns up and down every river.  The west does not have many towns.  And the few roads connecting the few towns are main, highly traveled roads.  The west does have the advantage of every paved road being a scenic road through the mountains.

I find these claims to be kind of bizzare.  I've toured all over the West and never felt the need for more towns! And the West has, to my liking, much superior weather in the summer months.  There are many fairly cool places in the West and even the hot ones may be similar temps to the East but with much lower humidity.
May the wind be at your back!

Offline jamawani

Re: Bicycle Touring vs Backpacking
« Reply #41 on: February 18, 2013, 11:21:39 pm »
You say, "To-MAY-to" and I say, "To-MAH-to".

Yes there are some lovely back roads in the East, South, and Midwest - -
And far fewer paved back roads in the West.
But the West has an abundance of public lands - -
Glorious natural landscapes that are rare east of the Rockies.

East or West, if you are willing to do a little dirt, the payoffs are big.
This is especially true if there is only a short dirt section in a route.
For example, the main highway is 30 miles with shoulders and moderate traffic.
The old road is 32 miles with a 6-mile dirt section and almost zero traffic.
For me, the choice is obvious.

Also, you have to be willing to ride extra miles in the West to discover the empty paved roads.
If you want the direct routes - it will usually have traffic, although often not that much.
But if you are willing to zig and zag some, you find the jewels.
For example, US 50 across Nevada - supposedly the "Loneliest Road" - ain't that lonely.
But US 6 to the south has half the traffic - profoundly empty.

Similarly, in Wyoming's Grand Teton N.P. back road options are there.
After riding the park loop, you can swing around Mormon Row, then use Spring Gulch Road into Jackson.


Offline lesliehorning

Re: Bicycle Touring vs Backpacking
« Reply #42 on: February 22, 2013, 04:10:20 pm »
If you do the Appalachian Trail, you should read Bill Bryon's book, "A Walk in the Woods" before you go.

Offline MrBent

Re: Bicycle Touring vs Backpacking
« Reply #43 on: February 23, 2013, 01:12:35 pm »
@Jama:  You're certainly right about going dirt.  It's especially nice, I noticed, that some through roads with dirt lose virtually all the traffic.  We experienced this in riding County Rd. 3  south from Sulphur Hot Springs to get to Ute Pass--great riding!  And the dirt was so good it practically qualified as pavement.