Author Topic: Is it ok to travel solo...  (Read 6845 times)

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Offline ronnie421

Is it ok to travel solo...
« on: September 29, 2010, 11:48:40 am »
Is it safe and alright to travel alone, even if I have never been on a long distance ride and totally inexperienced? I am planning to cross the US next summer, but i have never done it before. Total beginner. No camping experience, no hiking experience. Will I starve? Where will I sleep? What if something goes wrong? How do I get to help if my cell fone signal is out of range? I originally wanted to tour with someone, but I lost touch with the gentlemen that replied to my post searching for a touring partner.  But if it comes down to having to go alone, could I do it? I admit, I love solitude. I love being alone and calling my own shots.  But will I actually have the nerve to ask someone if I can set up my tent in their yard? I have lots of doubts about touring alone. I'm a grown-ass man, but being alone for three months... I dont know. Maybe I just need to hear from some of you that have done this before. I am VERY excited about this dream of mine, though. I want this SO bad! Even if I gotta go alone!

Offline John Nelson

Re: Is it ok to travel solo...
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2010, 12:48:38 pm »
Yes, it's okay to travel alone, as long as you take your common sense with you. In fact, it's better alone (generally much, much better than a partner you find online--successful online partnerships are the exception, not the rule).

If you don't have camping experience, get some before you go.

If you don't have touring experience, get some with some short trips before your long trip.

I recommend, if feasible, following an ACA route using ACA maps. It will help you figure out where to eat and sleep and simplify the logistics for your first big trip.

Make sure your equipment is in excellent shape before starting to minimize the chances of a problem (e.g., start with new tires and new brake pads and new cables). If something goes wrong, you'll use your ingenuity to figure out a solution. For many people, solving these problems is one of the best things about bicycle touring.

First, get a cell provider with excellent coverage in the area you plan to tour (which is often Verizon in rural US). But if you're out of range, flag down a car for help. You can also consider carrying a SPOT (findmespot.com) if you're really worried about it.

Will you have the nerve to ask someone if you can set up your tent? Maybe, maybe not. But you'll get more comfortable with it if you force yourself to try it the first time. Also ask at churches, fire stations, police stations, courthouses, VFW halls, Eagles clubs, etc.

Going alone isn't an "even if I have to". It's an excellent option, maybe even the best option.

Offline whittierider

Re: Is it ok to travel solo...
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2010, 02:04:14 pm »
There was a lengthy topic on this not long ago but I can't find it.  I'm probably not entering the right search terms.  Maybe someone can help.

Offline tonythomson

Re: Is it ok to travel solo...
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2010, 02:33:03 pm »
Ronnie, go for it you will be so pleased when you have succeeded - which you will.  I've done both but will always in future go solo for too many reasons to go into.
Yes it's scary to start and the lead up but get a couple of days in and your confidence will grow along with enjoyment.

Plenty of info on this forum about safety, routes etc etc

You'll meet some great people along the way.

Tony
Just starting to record my trips  www.tonystravels.com

Offline ronnie421

Re: Is it ok to travel solo...
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2010, 09:49:31 am »
I guess it does make sense to understand that a couple of days into it, my confidence level will rise. I am beginning to think about it more and more.  Maybe a solo trip would be nice.  I have been looking into everything that I think I may need... camping gear, clothes,  the "Spot" device that was mentioned and even freeze-dried foods from Mountain House that look pretty good.  I'm really excited. I feel like a little boy getting ready for his first big camping trip. LOL. Any other suggestions would be great. I think I'm gonna have the time of my life! Thanks, everyone.   

Offline staehpj1

Re: Is it ok to travel solo...
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2010, 11:02:29 am »
I guess it does make sense to understand that a couple of days into it, my confidence level will rise. I am beginning to think about it more and more.  Maybe a solo trip would be nice.  I have been looking into everything that I think I may need... camping gear, clothes,  the "Spot" device that was mentioned and even freeze-dried foods from Mountain House that look pretty good.  I'm really excited. I feel like a little boy getting ready for his first big camping trip. LOL. Any other suggestions would be great. I think I'm gonna have the time of my life! Thanks, everyone.   

You worry too much...  A solo trip is great, just go and enjoy yourself.  A trip with someone you want to spend time with is great too, but a trip with a stranger is a crap shoot with a high chance for failure.  I met plenty of folks who started with someone and split up due to the friction between them.

In my opinion those Mountain House meals are just barely passable for an emergency meal if caught out or maybe for backpacking where you might go a longish ways without restocking options and must carry many days worth of food.  I don't usually use them for bike touring.  On a bike tour across the US you will be able to buy fresh "real" food daily most of the time and every 2-3 days at worst.

Personally I think the spot device is a unnecessary expense and wouldn't bother.  Worst case you can flag down a passing car.

Quote
But will I actually have the nerve to ask someone if I can set up my tent in their yard? I have lots of doubts about touring alone. I'm a grown-ass man, but being alone for three months... I dont know.

I would suggest that you use one of the standard Adventure Cycling routes.  The maps will have tons of places to stay marked on them and after a while you will have a better feel for when and where to ask if you go off route.  Additionally by using a popular route like the Trans America you will undoubtedly make some friends with other tourists along the way.  You will certainly have a chance to ride with or camp with others if you choose to do so.  I know that I met another bike tourist at least every few days on the Trans America.  On more "off the beaten track" tours I met no other cyclists, but even then I met lots of local folks

Offline Tourista829

Re: Is it ok to travel solo...
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2010, 01:51:44 pm »
I like both, but traveling solo, puts the tour and the decisions, in your hands. If you look on Adventure Cyclings website there is a book,
The Essential Touring Cyclist it can be a useful resource. I would start with a 20 mile ride with an overnight and 20 miles back. Work your
way up to 70-80 miles a day, linked to several days and overnights. I sometimes stay in rv parks that have showers, pool, and rec room incase the weather gets bad. I would also budget some overnights in a motel, to break up the tour. I will assure you one thing, you will never be truly alone, people want to know, what you are up to and don't be surpised if you are invited to have dinner with them or stay at their home.

The Essential Touring Cyclist
Product #: IS-110
Price: $16.95
Overall Rating:
based on 3 reviews
       

Offline ronnie421

Re: Is it ok to travel solo...
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2010, 02:49:25 pm »
Thanks for tip on the book. I'm gonna go look for it as soon as I get done with this reply. My original plan was to go with my girlfriend, but we broke up.  She loves cycling, too.  I do have an ad in the COMPANIONS WANTED section. Mine is the one leaving from
Disney World, Orlando, and heading west. I have plans to purchase a set of the ACA maps, but the only part that I might have to map out myself, is the area between Orlando and Gainesville. From the looks of the map, I can catch the (southern tier?) near Gainesville to Mobil, then on up thru Underground RR. I realize that there are good days and there are bad days, but I think this trip is gonna be an experience!     

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Is it ok to travel solo...
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2010, 04:10:52 pm »
Cycling alone is safe enough that I know of after about 37,000 miles of bicycle touring, about 32,000 miles of which was solo touring.
It might be nice to find a good female touring partner, but bear in mind long distance touring such as transcontinental cycling can drive a wedge between otherwise compatible couples. I have heard the same thing said of couples on transoceanic sailboat passages. Certainly something unfortunate could happen, but there is no reason to think that cycling alone across the continent will expose you to any more risks than the average person anywhere. The main danger would be getting run down by a car or truck. Choosing the best roads for cycling, reading up on cycling safety, taking the safety rules to heart and living by them, and planning ahead should go a long way toward minimizing some problems you might encounter.

Offline Tourista829

Re: Is it ok to travel solo...
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2010, 04:42:17 pm »
Ronnie421, do you live in the Orlando area? I live in Tampa. If interested, email me, it is in my forum profile, maybe I can help you with Florida routing and equipment.

Offline tonythomson

Re: Is it ok to travel solo...
« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2010, 08:40:10 am »
Hi Ronnie,
I will be in the Orlando area from 10 Nov (if you are around welcome to come & have a chat)-I have a house in Celebration and have started several tours from there.  So happy to give you a couple of great routes that take in some of the Rails to Trails and eventually link up with ST.
Cheers Tony
Just starting to record my trips  www.tonystravels.com

Offline ronnie421

Re: Is it ok to travel solo...
« Reply #11 on: October 01, 2010, 09:49:04 am »
@Tourista... I tried to send you an email, but your email address is not on your profile.  So, I sent you a pm, twice.  But Im not sure you got that either because I have nothing in my outbox.  Did you get anything from me? Since I am new to this forum, I'm still a bit unfamiliar with the system.

@Tony...  Thats very nice of you, Tony.  That would also be lots of help.  But you say you'll be in Celebration? Is that a city near Orlando? (I hope that was not a bumb question, LOL).  I'll look it up in a little bit. But I will not be in the Orlando area till the first wek of June, 2011.  I dont know if you will still be there.  But meeting up with you for a chat would be great!  I'm still EIGHT months away and I'm ALREADY getting lots of help! Maybe one day I'll be able to offer some help to a new rider!   

Offline Tourista829

Re: Is it ok to travel solo...
« Reply #12 on: October 01, 2010, 11:38:48 pm »
My email address is robertschneck@tampabay.rr.com it is the best way to reach me. I receive your private message and sent you a reply. I don't always look at my private messages, on this forum. I would be glad to offer any assistance. Please send me your email address via my email.

Offline tonythomson

Re: Is it ok to travel solo...
« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2010, 12:37:05 pm »
Hi Ronnie,
Celebration is just down the road from Disney off the 192.  I'm in the UK and lucky enough to have a holiday home there.  What I'll do is give you the routes that I took - hope it's some help.  Not sure if we will be in USA in June as you only give me 6 months visa a year (can't blame you really LOL) and prefer to use my time to escape our winters.

Tony
Just starting to record my trips  www.tonystravels.com

Offline biased bohemian

Re: Is it ok to travel solo...
« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2010, 11:47:34 am »
I am a beginner that traveled solo earlier this year.  It can be done and is a thrilling experience.  I didn't make it across country, but this was due to my diet limitations in regard to available food (vegan) and not the feasibility of a solo tour.  I can give several pieces of advice:

1. As others said, begin a routine of biking daily to increase your distance.
2. Do a 4-5 day practice trip prior to leaving and bring all the supplies that you are planning to bring on the full trip.  This will give you an idea of items that you need to add to your gear and others that need to be removed.  It also gives you an idea of what amount of food and water you need to stow with you at all times, which, for me, was the biggest impact to weight.  You will also gain an understanding of how reliable your maps and cell coverage may be.  Reliable maps are important. 
3. I would recommend buying an individual GPS system in addition to your cell phone (even if cell has GPS).  The cell battery should be reserved for emergencies and I hit plenty of areas in the mountains where I had no coverage and wish I could get a GPS signal.  Even ACA maps can have inaccuracies and it can be unnerving if you get lost alone, or are even uncertain if you are heading in the right direction, especially if you are getting tired or fighting the darkness.
4. Study the maps prior to leaving and know your distance that you can travel in a day fully loaded.  70-80 miles is nothing on flat ground but, if you are a beginner, cut this in half or more for mountains.  In some more remote areas you may find that the distance between campgrounds is longer than you can travel, which means a more expensive stay at a motel or hotel.  Maps like ACA don't have all the motels and hotels in the area listed, only some, so any means of preparation you can do beforehand will make for a better trip.     
5.  I think the most difficult part of traveling alone is bike and bag security, especially when going into a supermarket or restaurant.  I never had a problem, but I did lock my bike up every time and took in my front panniers when the area seemed sketchy.
6.  I prefer to travel solo.  If you like being alone then you are going to love this trip.  If you like meeting strangers then you will love this trip.  Having a fully loaded bike attracts attention.  I didn't have a concern about safety from people.  I did have a concern about problems with my bike and being stranded, especially during long stretches where there were no bike shops.  To help offset this, get a bike that is not complex and so is easy to repair, and bring replacement parts and tools.
7. Finally, I recommend bringing a camera (with additional memory storage), journal and a good audio recorder.  They are worth the extra weight.  I used the audio recorder for recording thoughts as well as the ambiance of each place that I slept.

If you are interested I kept a blog of my gear purchases, practice run and trip here: http://biasedbohemian.com/bike-across-america/

Good luck
___________________________________
www.biasedbohemian.com - an unabashedly biased look at the world from one small unapologetic man