Author Topic: Transcontinental touring.  (Read 8445 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Westinghouse

Transcontinental touring.
« Reply #15 on: October 07, 2008, 02:13:19 pm »
Weight should be kept at a minimum. Know your needs on the road, and carry the minimum that will meet those needs. The heaviest weight I ever carried was 65 pounds on a 4,500 mile tour through France, Germany, Czech, Poland, the former Soviet republics of Ukraine and Moldovia, then Romania, Bulgaria, Greece. Italy, and the east coast of the US from New York City to south Florida. Cycling days averaged at something over seventy.

Going across the USA in winter requires additional weight for cold weather. You can get by carrying thirty pounds, sometimes less.

I do not even use a tent anymore. All I carry for shelter is a 10 X 12 polyethylene tarp, camoflage pattern. String a line between two trees, throw it over the rope and peg it to the ground. It is certain shelter against the rain and snow. On cold nights, below freezing when the wind is kicking up, put the pad on the ground, fix up a pillow, lay the bag(rated at 20 degrees F or below) on the pad, and when you go to sleep just throw the tarp over the bag. It breaks wind chill and turns your 20 degree bag into a 10 degree bag, or so it feels anyway. When you choose a must-have item to take with you, think of where you might be able to get the same item in lighter weight.
Saving ounces on many different items adds up to several pounds lighter.

This message was edited by Westinghouse on 11-5-08 @ 1:18 PM

Offline wanderingwheel

Transcontinental touring.
« Reply #16 on: October 07, 2008, 05:19:28 pm »
As compared to backpacking, I don't think weight on a bike tour is that critical.  An extra pound or five really does not make that big of a difference.  Just compare how your bike feels with full water bottles and empty water bottles.  I feel every ounce on my back, but can ignore many pounds on the bike.

I have toured with everything from 60+ pound loads with every concievable "luxury" to stupid-light trips with just a daypack of maybe 10 pounds.  In the end I don't think it matters much, one is better on the road, on is better in camp.  If you have plenty of time and your bike can handle it, carry everything; no reason (in my mind) not to.  

There's a theory that every tour has a given amount of discomfort associated with it.  You can't avoid it, but you can move it around to some combination of: the time on the bike, the time off the bike, your wallet, and the calendar.  Everybody has a different mix that works best for them.

Sean


Offline bagoh20

Transcontinental touring.
« Reply #17 on: October 07, 2008, 05:34:39 pm »
So what do you experienced guys consider essential?  How about entertainment (music)?


Offline Westinghouse

Transcontinental touring.
« Reply #18 on: October 09, 2008, 06:34:04 pm »
Clothing appropriate for weather. Tent or other shelter, sleeping bag, maps. Some snacks depending on where you are. Water. A cook stove is not actually essential. A bike in condition to complete a long tour.
Enough money to complete the tour without having to stop and work. Also, do not go anywhere without tools, a pump, and a patch kit.

This message was edited by Westinghouse on 10-14-08 @ 8:14 AM

Offline Westinghouse

Transcontinental touring.
« Reply #19 on: October 16, 2008, 03:20:11 pm »
Weight is not all that critical, but it is a factor. If you look to keeping your weight down, it is possible to reduce it by 10 or 15 pounds by being careful. If you get into a particularly hilly, rollercoaster like area like the Smokey Mountains or the road alongside the Mississippi river, you will definitely start feeling that weight. After a while it can really be a drag.

New touring cyclists often bring too much gear, and they end up mailing some home. There are things you think you cannot get along without at home which suddenly become useless ballast on a long cycling tour. Read books on bicycle touring. Look up web sites on the subject. Find out what experienced cyclists take on long tours.


Offline staehpj1

Transcontinental touring.
« Reply #20 on: October 16, 2008, 06:35:20 pm »
"Weight is not all that critical, but it is a factor."

Different strokes, but for me it is one of the most important factors that I have control of.  That said I am OK with 30-40 pounds and could survive with more.  Still if I send home 2 pounds it is noticeably more pleasant.


Offline biker_james

Transcontinental touring.
« Reply #21 on: October 17, 2008, 07:16:32 am »
I tend to go with weight not being an issue. My tours are normally limited to my holiday time of 3 weeks, so maybe if I were going longer I'd be more concerned. I'm not sure where I'd cut the weight-leae the electric toothbrush at home, cut down on my rock collecting on the trip, avoid stopping at bookshops along the route, not buy a watermelon, then carry it for days waiting for a sunny day to enjoy it? It's just too radical to consider.
I have a friend with more holiday time who usually does 5 week tours in exotic or arctic locales, andhe just carries everything , even on weekend trips. The philosophy being that its not an issue if you are used to carrying it.


Offline MrBent

Transcontinental touring.
« Reply #22 on: October 17, 2008, 09:31:07 am »
My philosophy is to reduce weight but not be fanatical about it--though I do admit that lighter almost always makes for more pleasant cycling.  It's just nicer to have less weight to push around.

Here's an example of saving weight in, for me, a really good way: I stopped using a trailer.  I did a ride from California to Arizona towing a Burley Nomad--great trailer, super convenient, no flats, no problems.  I can totally see why folks like trailers.  But when I looked at the panniers that my German recumbent could use, I calculated that I could shave at least 10 lbs.!  That's no joke on climbs.  I sacrificed some convenience, but the increased climbing ability and better aerodynamics in windy conditions were the clinchers.

For my cross-America ride last year, I ultimately chose a Pepsi can alcohol stove, which is about as light as they get.  I cooked the vast majority of my meals, made coffee every morning, often a second cup later in the day--great!  

I splurge in weight with sleeping gear.  I really want and need a good night's sleep, so I carryied a 2" thick, full-length Thermarest pad with integrated camp chair--weighed about three pounds.  But man, was it sweet.  Pull into camp, set up the chair and kick back for reading, cooking, journal writing.  I've since acquired a Big Agnes air mattress--lighter, more compact, more comfortable.  The only drawback is that you get a little light-headed filling it up!  Setting up the Big Agnes chair is not as convenient as the Thermarest, however, but it seems okay.  I think the BA combo is about a pound lighter than the T-rest.

For me, in most settings, a tent is essential in order to avoid insects.  Westinghouse recommended a tarp, which is fine, but I can't imagine what that would have been like in the mosquito infested Midwest last August.  I also like the idea of a little cave or shelter to call my own, a sanctuary that sets me apart for a while.  When conditions permit, however, I love to sleep out under the stars.  As I got into the Southwest in October, I had a blast laying out the tarp and flopping out in the open--no bugs, clear skies, can't beat that.  My tent is a Sierra Designs one-person model, can't recall the name right now, and it weighs about three pounds.  I go super light with sleeping bags and carry a  sub-two pound 20 deg. F. down bag--very compact, too!

Leave the cast iron gear at home, and you'll be fine!

The more important thing is to realize that you don't need the best of the best.  People get by and have wonderful adventures on all kinds of gear.  Mostly you need a reliable bike and a way to carry gear so it won't fall off.  Get out there and ride.

Cheerios,

Scott




Offline bagoh20

Transcontinental touring.
« Reply #23 on: October 17, 2008, 11:46:17 am »
I want to load very light just out of a personal aesthetic.  I don't want to carry anything that I can get along the way when needed.  When doing the TA would food even be needed?  Can you find food everyday enroute?  I can go without eating and definitely without cooking for a day.  I'm thinking all I really need is: water, shelter, 2 sets of clothes, tools, a credit card, cell phone, and one book.  Am I missing something?


Offline Westinghouse

Transcontinental touring.
« Reply #24 on: October 17, 2008, 01:20:59 pm »
I think weight is an issue, and I say go as light as you can. But it is not an all determining issue as long as you can go enjoyably with what you are carrying. Keep it light. Why pull a lot of useless weight? What would be the purpose? An alcohol stove weighing a total of 20 ounces with fuel included is a better choice than a stove that weighs two pounds (32 ounces) with fuel that weighs 28 ounces. And that is only one item where weight can be pared. Keep reducing weight and the next thing you know you are carrying 25 pounds of weight instead of 35 or 40.

Mr Brent was saying something about the mosquito problem in summer where I was. Well, you can say that again. There were millions of the little blood sucking little demons from hell. And it was a pain in the neck dealing with them. There was almost no rain at all on that trip, and I hardly used the tarp at all. Mostly it became part of my pillow arrangement. But the mosquitos were everywhere. Here is how I dealt with them. I just lay out in the open. I sprayed myself with Cutters spray and rubbed it around on myself. Then I would light three mosquito coils, and place them so that the barely perceptible drift of the night  breeze would keep the smoke flowing across me. It worked, and the problem was solved, but my clothes held the distinctive aroma / odor of smoke.

Offline MrBent

Transcontinental touring.
« Reply #25 on: October 19, 2008, 04:12:13 pm »
Hey, Bogo: Not missing anything.  So much of this thread is about personal preference.  Sooner or later, we all work out what's best for us.  I, for one, really enjoy having a stove and cooking my own meals.  When I pull into some totally choice, hidden spot, set up my chair and kick back with a tasty meal bubbling on the stove, I've found a little slice of heaven.  When I get up in the morning, I make my own coffee and get to slurp it down in whatever place I've landed.  Although I carry more weight, for me the freedom and experience of these simple chores more than make up for it.  I could eat cold, skip meals, etc. if necessary, but why?  I cover all the miles I want to in a day.  I have fun on the climbs, so whatever weight I've ended up with is not an albatross around my neck, and when I ride up a remote dirt road and throw down camp between some junipers on a high lonesome ridge, I get all the benefits of home--only more.

One very practical concern, of course, is money, at least for most people.  Cooking one's own chow is usually a lot cheaper than eating out all the time.

Ah, Westinghouse:  I can see how your method works.  Personally, I hate bug juice and those smoky rings like crazy, so being able to dive into a tent is a big plus for me.  For me, bugs are the single worst thing about outdoor living.  That's why I love touring in the desert in the winter and also why I timed my cross-country ride so much of it would be in the fall.

A point to remember: Heinz Stuck (sp?) is the world's most traveled man.  He has toured in virtually every country in the world on a super heavy-duty three speed and a mountain of gear for a bike+load of about 100lbs.  This is what works for him. I would never tour in that manner.  Still, he puts all of this in perspective.

Cheers,

Scott


Offline bagoh20

Transcontinental touring.
« Reply #26 on: October 19, 2008, 05:06:24 pm »
Mr. Bent, Everything you said I completely agree with.  I'm looking for the basic requirements for success (reach goal alive).  I agree, I also would "require" more than that for my own personal success.  Making coffee at campsite does make the world all right.


Offline Westinghouse

Transcontinental touring.
« Reply #27 on: October 23, 2008, 01:12:51 pm »
When it comes to reaching the goal alive, I am sure that everyone would agree very much on that point. It is the one point on which everyone would agree, and it is the one point on which we do not have full control. No matter how safely you cycle it could still come out bad. Someone might just run into you. It happens. A person riding a bicycle was killed here just a few days ago. I knew a fellow (Gus) who was hit. Both his legs were broken and he required surgery to have them set. Another man, Arthur Hudson, was killed by an 18 year old guy in a truck. Every once in a while, even in this relatively sparsely populated area, somebody gets killed riding a bicycle. There are several others.

All I can tell you is to read books on cycling safety and take what they say seriously. Be very careful in traffic. You cannot always tell what a motor vehicle driver might do, but you can tip the odds in your favor by being a careful, defensive cyclist.

This message was edited by Westinghouse on 10-28-08 @ 10:13 AM

Offline Westinghouse

Transcontinental touring.
« Reply #28 on: October 24, 2008, 02:24:21 pm »
Van Horn, Texas is on the S-tier. Two things I have noticed about Van Horn need to be mentioned. First, Van Horn used to have very reasonably priced motels, and was a good stopping off place for rest days. Prices went up when road work was being done in that area, and they have not come back down. For quite some time roads in that area were being improved, requiring many persons to be in the Van Horn area doing the work. Motel owners raised their prices significantly, knowing that the workers had no places else to go. After the workers left the prices stayed inflated. Second, I noticed it myself, and read about it in the journals of those who stayed to eat in Van Horn. People who eat in Van Horn's restaurants end up leaving the town with diarrhea, or with some mild form of dysentery. It happened to me every time I ate out there. After reading many journals by others who ate there I realized it was not just me.

Offline Westinghouse

Transcontinental touring.
« Reply #29 on: October 27, 2008, 06:58:07 pm »
A transcontinental bicycle trail would run into some pretty substantial costs to build and maintain, but it would also create jobs for the building and maintaining.