Author Topic: NEED ADVICE FROM SEASONED/CRAFTY VETERANS  (Read 5202 times)

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Offline dumbledorecycler

NEED ADVICE FROM SEASONED/CRAFTY VETERANS
« on: November 27, 2009, 04:45:48 pm »
A buddy of mine and I are looking go on a 5 day tour and we have no effing idea what we are getting ourselves into. We are both mountain bikers turned road cyclers, but we have never done a tour before. We don't know much specifically about panniers or tents, and we have looked on Craigslist and poked around in local bike shops without too much success. Any advice for first timers on a tour would be appreciated. We would appreciate any advice about what food to bring or additional supplies to bring that would not be obvious.

Also, any additional resources recommended would be immensely appreciated.

Remember...we have no effing idea

Offline Galloper

Re: NEED ADVICE FROM SEASONED/CRAFTY VETERANS
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2009, 05:34:14 pm »
Well, one of my golden rules is "To increase speed, add lightness", an old saw from a motorcycle tuner of great renown back in the 50s.   I find that a good breakfast helps to get the day off to a good start.   Porridge is light to carry and easy to cook and is a great source of carbs.   Add in fruit or whatever to make it tastier.   For an evening meal, pasta is a good start.   I cook the pasta then mix in a packet sauce (light and easy to carry) then add in whatever else is to hand, mince, smoked fish - anything.   High carb and protein value, tasty and only uses one pot :)

Don't underestimate the amount of food you're going to need either, carry plenty.   I treat one of my panniers as the kitchen and carry everything ready for easy access.   With something like a jet boil cooker, it's easy to stop and heat up a tin of soup or something similar, very quickly.

Have fun.

Offline geegee

Re: NEED ADVICE FROM SEASONED/CRAFTY VETERANS
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2009, 06:57:03 pm »
It's hard to offer specific advice without knowing where you are planning to tour. If you are going on a relatively populated route, you don't really need to worry about food. I've crossed the continent not bringing a stove, but I've gone up north where I really depended on one. The climate where you are planning to ride would be good to know too.

For a five day trip, you won't really need to bring that much stuff. If you are just taking some clothes and a tent/sleeping bag, any pannier will do, or you can even get away with a dry seal bag or strapped to a rear rack. I personally like having a handlebar bag for stuff I want easy access to. like my wallet or camera.

Offline valygrl

Re: NEED ADVICE FROM SEASONED/CRAFTY VETERANS
« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2009, 12:17:03 am »
Lots of tour journals, many of them containing gear lists: www.crazyguyonabike.com.

Good value and information about high quality panniers and racks:  www.thetouringstore.com (make a phone call, it's a one-man show and he knows what he's talking about). 

Cheap racks and panniers, but if you fall in love with touring you might buy better ones later:  www.performancebike.com

Current popular medium-priced touring bike: Surly Long Haul Trucker - but you can use just about any bike you already have, maybe with a little creativity.  Mountain bikes are a better starting point than race bikes because of the low gearing.  Delta and Old Man Mountain make racks that can go on suspension bikes and bikes with no rack-mounting eyelets. 

Maps -  you already found it, www.adventurecycling.com.  Also lots of states have bike info on the Dept. of Transportation web site, or if you tell us where you are maybe someone could recommend a route in your area.

Food - whatever you like, but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches is a great place to start and will get you a long way.  you only have to carry enough food to get to the next place you can buy food, plus a little more in case it takes longer than you plan.

Have fun!

Offline windrath

Re: NEED ADVICE FROM SEASONED/CRAFTY VETERANS
« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2009, 06:45:31 am »
Although you want to go self-contained, you may find it very helpful to participate in a 5 day supported group ride in a state or area near you.  I did this for my first cross country ride and it helped alot.

Or, because you are uncertain about panniers, etc. , do a credit card trip which means you stay overnight in hotels and carry minimal amounts of gear.  Most of what you need can fit in a bag on your back rack or handlebar bag. You can get by with ne set of biking clothes - rinse out each night and some light day clothes.

Of course, this all depends on where/when you are riding.  Pick a time of the year when weather will be most cooperative so you don't need to worry about rain and cold.

Good Luck - it is fun!

Offline litespeed

Re: NEED ADVICE FROM SEASONED/CRAFTY VETERANS
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2009, 04:19:29 pm »
I have put on some 30,000 miles up and down, across and around the contiguous US without ever packing any food or cooking gear except for the occasional sandwich. My recommendations would be a good bike with low gears and good quality tires, waterproof panniers and, most important of all, a good tent. Ortlieb makes fine, waterproof panniers and handlebar bag. I consider rain covers for non-waterproof panniers a real nuisance. North Face and Hilleberg make very good tents. I have never had a leaky tent but I have met touring cyclists who skimped on their tent and really regretted it.

I have met many touring cyclists with trailers and most all of them complain that they have too much stuff. It's apparently real easy to throw in excess items.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2009, 04:24:46 pm by litespeed »

Re: NEED ADVICE FROM SEASONED/CRAFTY VETERANS
« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2009, 03:08:04 pm »
Is it Harry Potter week?

We've got Dumbledore AND Severus Snape on the board right now....

Offline johnsondasw

Re: NEED ADVICE FROM SEASONED/CRAFTY VETERANS
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2009, 08:42:19 pm »
One huge convenience about road touring is that you can send stuff home if you bring too much.  We have also done this on a tour where we went from north to south in early summer.  Clothing and gear (fenders) we needed in Washington, were superfluous  in California.  Don't carry much food.  You can buy it, usually daily, on the road.

Get a mirror, and make sure it's adjusted correctly and you have practiced with it.  Otherwise, you are taking yourself completely out of control of the continuingly changing geography of the traffic passing you.  You don't want that control to be in the hands of thousands of total strangers each day!

You can get great lightweight tents at reasonable cost and sleeping bags that squish down to the size of a large loaf of bread. 

May the wind be at your back!

Offline driftlessregion

Re: NEED ADVICE FROM SEASONED/CRAFTY VETERANS
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2009, 10:56:08 pm »
Go to the Adventure Cycling website (see the address in the top right) and read it! Lots of answers to the questions you are asking.

Offline MrBent

Re: NEED ADVICE FROM SEASONED/CRAFTY VETERANS
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2009, 10:35:31 am »
Here is a neat site with a LOT of how to get started, tips and tricks, etc.

http://bicycletouringpro.com/blog/


Re. stoves/cooking stuff vs. not:  Of course this is personal, and it's possible to ride across the country without it, but that means you are always facing either cold meals and/or someone else's cooking--not often appealing prospects.  One of my favorite things is brewing up a hot cup of java to greet the morning and get to my packing chores.  Camped in the middle of nowhere (my preferred location) this is quite impossible without a stove. 

These can be quite light.  I rode across  the USA using only a small alcohol stove built out of two Pepsi cans that I found on the side of the road during a training ride--fantastic little bugger.

Instructions: http://home.insightbb.com/~royevans/pepsistove.pdf

If you are cooking for more than one, however, these units are less than optimal.  If you have more than one person, check into a Whisperlite International by MSR.  Whatever stove you get, you want to make SURE it burns unleaded gasoline well.  Finding Coleman style white gas in small quantities on the road is almost impossible.  Short tours, however, are less problematic.  In that case, white gas, bottled gas stoves that use propane blends, etc. can all be fine.  For short tours, I often use a little Bluet bottled gas stove because it's so convenient, quick to light and compact.

Sierra Designs makes a superb one-person tent: the Light Year.  There are many others out there.  Follow the advice of the other poster about tents--get a good one.  Also, crucial for me, is an excellent sleeping pad.  Go to a good outdoor store like REI and spend some time lying down on different pads.  Generally, thicker is better!  I may skimp in other areas, but I splurge when it comes to sleeping pads.  For me, an extra pound or so of sleeping pad is worth every ounce.  Currently, I'm using Big Agnes air mattress, which is pretty light, about 3" thick, but does require lung power.  Anyway, some time spent checking out different models is well worth it.  I find the super light, closed-cell Ridgerest/Z-rest type pads unacceptable.  Remember, you'll be on it for HOURS at a time.  On winter tours, for example,  we're in the tent for about 12 hours.  Ugh.  Gotta have good sleep gear.

Re. bike:  Make sure it really fits.  In general, you'll probably be more comfortable with a more upright seating posture, and make sure whatever bars you use have multiple hand positions.  The saddle is everything.  Brooks seem to be the gold standard, but they do take some break in.  I ride a recumbent, so this not an issue for me.

Anyway, lots to think about!  Enjoy the process.  Have a great ride.

Scott

Offline Susan

Re: NEED ADVICE FROM SEASONED/CRAFTY VETERANS
« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2009, 02:24:57 am »
Re the tent, I LOVE my MSR Hubba!! - it is lightweight, roomy and freestanding (can be quickly set up in a spot as big as your sleeping pad and has no long lines to trip over) - great for backpacking as well.  Before hiking the JMT this summer I bought a Thermarest Neo Air - it's GREAT!  Weighs a pound, can be folded or rolled up any way you need it to fit - it is not self-inflating, but after only takes about 45 puffs which you should still have in you after a day on the roadl  Inflated it is about 2,5 in.thick - insulates well and makes it possible to sleep on surfaces that would just be too uncomfortable with other pads.  Expensive yes, but the comfort really helps enjoying camping without a weight and volume penalty - saves money on motels!   Good luck!

Offline mikedirectory2

Re: NEED ADVICE FROM SEASONED/CRAFTY VETERANS
« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2009, 08:52:18 pm »
Food - whatever you like, but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches is a great place to start and will get you a long way.  you only have to carry enough food to get to the next place you can buy food, plus a little more in case it takes longer than you plan.

Have fun!

Great advice!  Why carry more food than you need to get to your next stop. 
May the skies be blue and the road be flat... Happy Riding.

Offline Galloper

Re: NEED ADVICE FROM SEASONED/CRAFTY VETERANS
« Reply #12 on: December 18, 2009, 06:49:02 am »


I always have an emergency food reserve, maybe something as simple as a small malt loaf, that way, if you get stuck or travel slower than you anticipated, you've got something to fall back on.

Money spent on good kit is money well spent.   I'm a great believer in buying the best you can afford, whether it's bike or camping kit, you won't regret it.


Offline paddleboy17

Re: NEED ADVICE FROM SEASONED/CRAFTY VETERANS
« Reply #13 on: December 18, 2009, 12:28:04 pm »
This kind of question comes up a lot, and my standard answer is always, "Take a BackPacking Class".

A backpacking class will teach you all about light weight camping.  You will learn all about clothing, stoves, cooking, hygiene, tents, and sleeping bags.  There has got to be a community college or adventure group near you that offers a class you can take in January.  Try to pick one with real trips as a practical exam.  Most classes can loan or rent you equipment so you can find out what you like and don't like before you actually buy and are stuck with it.

Once you can backpack, the transition to touring is trivial.  Instead of slinging your gear on your back, you put it in a pannier. 
Danno