Author Topic: ‘Camping’: Is it really necessary?  (Read 10180 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Juan Burro

‘Camping’: Is it really necessary?
« on: February 05, 2009, 10:35:09 am »
I’ve criss-crossed Europe by bike, but always with a credit-card rather than tent. I happily manage 100 miles/day on a light tourer, staying at whatever ‘indoor’ accommodation (bricks, mortar, shower, bar etc) is available. I’m beginning to scheme a coast-to-coast US tour for 2010, but I keep encountering references to ‘camping.’ I appreciate that the US has a few more empty spaces than Europe, but isn’t it possible to route a tour hotel-to-hotel, comfy-bed-to-comfy-bed, nice-warm-bath-to-nice-cold-beer etc, rather than being weighed down with tents etc? Any advice/pointers would be most welcome, J’.

Offline paddleboy17

Re: ‘Camping’: Is it really necessary?
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2009, 12:03:13 pm »
I can't speak for all of the continental US...

I would think you could do a lot of the US riding from hotel to hotel.  I just don't think you could do everything that way.

In 2000, I did part of the continental divide route in New Mexico.  We carried 14 lliters of water each, as we did not think we could resupply everyday.  We went three days without resupply, because there was nothing.  A lot of the streams on the map were dry ravines.  On the 3rd day, we stopped at ranch and asked for water and were chased off by the owner.  We found water later on that day at a ranger station.

So it all depends on your route.
Danno

Offline DU

Re: ‘Camping’: Is it really necessary?
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2009, 02:17:25 pm »
I think if you were able to ride long days when needed it would be possible. I ran into a British couple in Kansas on the transam in 2006 E-W and they were staying at motels. They had a journal on CGOAB but I can't find it now, I know they made it to Oregon. They always made reservations for the next day upon arriving in a town. Being willing to stay off route would be helpful also.


Offline litespeed

Re: ‘Camping’: Is it really necessary?
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2009, 02:38:08 pm »
If you can do 100 miles a day you will virtually always be able to find a motel or hotel, especially if you call ahead. I prefer campgrounds but, frankly, they are usually harder to find than motels. In my travels I am often amazed at how even the smallest, scruffiest town will have a motel or two. This is mainly a result of immigrants, usually Indians, buying up motels over the past 30 years or so and getting them operating. I think this is just great.

Offline staehpj1

Re: ‘Camping’: Is it really necessary?
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2009, 03:04:24 pm »
Crossing the US on the TA we never had trouble finding a place to camp with permission, but I can think of a lot of places that we didn't see motels.  Our preference was to stay with hosts first, at free camping spots next, at cheap campsites next, and KOA type places as a last resort.

I think there was at least one and probably a few places where the motels were 80-100 miles apart.  It may have been possible to cut the distance by modifying the route, but I am not sure.  It would require some long days at the least to avoid camping.  It is certainly possible though and folks have crossed the US without camping.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: ‘Camping’: Is it really necessary?
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2009, 06:17:37 am »
I cycled and train toured all around western Europe. Rarely did I ever have a problem finding a hostel or B&B. Hostels were much less expensive in those days. The most expensive hostel for me was about $10.00 a day in Finland. Others ran about $5.00 to $7.00 or $8.00 a day. So far as I know, such prices do not exist in the USA for similar accomodations, and did not then either.

Absolutely, you can cycle tour the way you want. For me it is a matter of cash outlay. When I begin a tour I have enough money to stay in motels  every night which can be very expensive. The way I see it is this, for every night I can free-camp it is that much more money I can keep in the bank as opposed to spending it out. The way you sleep for the night is up to you. As for myself, I am not about to dish out $35.00 to $60.00 a night just for some shuteye. Besides, I like camping. What I do not like is staying without a shower for days on end. It is a trade-off.

Offline jfitch

Re: ‘Camping’: Is it really necessary?
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2009, 11:22:29 pm »
See Mike Noonan's journal at CGOAB (http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?o=3Tzut&doc_id=2522&v=si). San Francisco to Boston, motel every night.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: ‘Camping’: Is it really necessary?
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2009, 07:30:03 am »
I went to that tour site. The pictures were taking so long to load. It would have taken half the night. I did see his mileage chart and Motel chart and the points between which he traveled. That must have been one very expensive tour. I did not see a price list for his daily expences.

Here are the problems with motels, as I see it. You cannot always find them, and if you constrict your cycling to where you can get one, you may have to cut short your cycling day. They are too expensive for the most part. Is it really worth that much just for a few hours sleep and a shower? It is less adventurous and toughening to stay in motels. Of course, I say all this because I could not afford to stay in motels every night anyway. I might have enough money to do it, but what I can do and what I can really afford to do are different matters.

A good campsite can be just as good as a motel. However, after several days on the open road it is a welcomed comfort to spend two or three days in a motel. When I use motels I make a practice of entering in the morning, and staying the full 24 hours. That way I get the full benefit of the rest. On one tour I stayed in motels one day out of every four days on the road. On another tour I stayed in motels one day of every six days. On one 93-day tour I stayed in motels only five or six days total. The big thing with me is getting a good night's rest, and having a safe secure place to do it.

Offline Juan Burro

Re: ‘Camping’: Is it really necessary?
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2009, 02:52:41 pm »
Many thanks for all posts (esp’ the link): I should perhaps reconsider my prejudice against cycle-camping, [stemming from a middle-aged pining to be still racing thoroughbreds, rather than traipsing with a fully-laden packhorse, (I even resent donning mudguards in winter)]. Also; with riding all-year-round over the inclement lumps-&-bumps of Northern England, I often return home cold, wet & tired, & so-so glad of the sanctuary of ‘indoors’.
I’m firming-up my ideas: possibly-camping / probably-B-&-Bs/motels, (/ perhaps a little support from my wife in a RV), & maybe-maybe this May/June rather than next!
My temped route is the Northern Tier, as it links my acquaintances/family in the US. (Though a good friend raised in Iowa, is aghast with the soulless prospect of pedalling across some of the blandest county in the world!)
May I narrow my initial query, & request comments regarding ‘camping-avoidance’ through the western 1/2 of the Northern Tier? Or is it time to invest in canvass & a fat back-wheel?
Cheers, J’.

Offline staehpj1

Re: ‘Camping’: Is it really necessary?
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2009, 07:16:06 pm »
I haven't done the NT, but the AC maps are pretty complete when it comes to listing available services.  I'd say if you are pretty sure about the trip the maps would answer your questions very well.  Hopefully some one here can give a better answer.

Offline Fred Hiltz

Re: ‘Camping’: Is it really necessary?
« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2009, 08:24:57 am »
I was willing to pay for motels, but carried tent, pad, and bag anyway. The seven pounds gave me the freedom to select the really beautiful outdoor spots and the security of knowing I could stop short of the next motel town if I had to (never did have to). It worked well for this traveler; I would do it again.

Fred

Offline John Nettles

Re: ‘Camping’: Is it really necessary?
« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2009, 10:55:40 am »
Just be sure to verify in advance that motel is still open if it is in a small town (under 10,000 people).  A lot of them have been shutting down the past couple of years and more will probably close.  I am planning a tour in Florida for April and am running into this situation.
Happy trails and may the wind be at your back!
John

Offline RussSeaton

Re: ‘Camping’: Is it really necessary?
« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2009, 12:50:13 pm »
May I narrow my initial query, & request comments regarding ‘camping-avoidance’ through the western 1/2 of the Northern Tier? Or is it time to invest in canvass & a fat back-wheel?

Actually in the USA its much, much, much easier to find motels everywhere in the EASTERN half of the country.  Its the western part where you may need the camping gear.  In the east the towns are plentiful and close together.  In the west its miles and miles and miles between the tiniest of little towns.  So your plan is exactly opposite of what it needs to be.  Motel the eastern half, say from Iowa-Minnesota-Missouri east.  And camp from North-South-Dakota-Nebraska-Kansas west.

Offline mucknort

Re: ‘Camping’: Is it really necessary?
« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2009, 01:26:07 pm »
As for myself, I am not about to dish out $35.00 to $60.00 a night just for some shuteye.
If it were that cheap, I might consider motels, but these days it seems $50 to $100 is closer to the going rate.

Offline jwaynelee

Re: ‘Camping’: Is it really necessary?
« Reply #14 on: February 19, 2009, 01:09:14 pm »
I’ve criss-crossed Europe by bike, but always with a credit-card rather than tent. I happily manage 100 miles/day on a light tourer, staying at whatever ‘indoor’ accommodation (bricks, mortar, shower, bar etc) is available. I’m beginning to scheme a coast-to-coast US tour for 2010, but I keep encountering references to ‘camping.’ I appreciate that the US has a few more empty spaces than Europe, but isn’t it possible to route a tour hotel-to-hotel, comfy-bed-to-comfy-bed, nice-warm-bath-to-nice-cold-beer etc, rather than being weighed down with tents etc? Any advice/pointers would be most welcome, J’.

It's possible to do a coast-to-coast tour of the USA and never camp at all, but I don't think I would try it for the following reasons:

1.  You mentioned that the US has "a few more empty spaces than Europe."  That is a major understatement, especially in the western states.  There are some days on the TransAmerica and the Northern Tier when you will be FORCED to do long days, despite the terrain, the weather, or how tired you are, in order to get to the next motel.

2.  I would think you would need to plan fairly far ahead and get reservations if you're not carrying even minimal camping gear as a backup.  For me, a major part of the fun of bike touring is NOT needing to plan ahead.

3.  Even if you plan far in advance, there's no guarantee that a small-town motel (especially in one of the tiny, remote towns in the western states) will even still be in business by the time you get there - especially give the current economic recession.

4.  I'm not sure if cost is an issue for you, but you might be surprised at how much even some of the "cheap" motels cost.  You will find very few $10 per night hostels in the USA.  You will rarely (if ever) find a motel for less than $30 or $35, and most of the time they will cost $50 or more.

I rode the TransAm in 2006, and only camped a few times, but there's no way I would have done the trip without carrying the camping stuff.  I would have constantly worried about finding the next motel.  I did the Northern Tier last summer, (and camped a lot more often), and I seriously doubt that it would be possible to do the whole thing without camping, ESPECIALLY once you get into the western states.

These people did the TransAm without camping at all:

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?o=3Tzut&doc_id=2522&v=si>Mike Noonan
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?o=3Tzut&doc_id=1496&v=ad>Janice and Jon Risley

I'm not aware of anyone who did an unsupported Norther Tier without camping at least a little bit.