Adventure Cycling Association Forum

Bicycle Travel => General Discussion => Topic started by: jinx on December 28, 2021, 07:57:20 pm

 
Title: Water?
Post by: jinx on December 28, 2021, 07:57:20 pm
I've taken well-planned week long trips before but never across country. I'd like to make a longer trip.

In a cross country trip especially in remote areas what do you do about the daily need for water? My limited ability to carry adequate amounts of water along with the uncertainty of finding any supply has me worried.

I'd like to also mention I'm 73 (in reasonable shape). I travel steady but I travel slow, 7-8 mph.

Thanks.
Title: Re: Water?
Post by: John Nelson on December 28, 2021, 09:22:54 pm
If you're on an ACA route, the maps will tell you when you have to worry about water.

Otherwise, consult a map about what is ahead where you might get water. You shouldn't bet your life on water being available (e.g., places on the map are sometimes gone or closed), so always carry some spare. In a pinch, you can stop at a house on your route and ask for water. I've had to do this a few times. In an emergency, you could flag down a passing motorist.

When you know that water is scarce ahead, carry extra water. I carry a couple of empty platypuses that I can fill and strap to the top of my panniers when required. You can also buy bottled water or other liquid (like Gatorade) and stick them somewhere in a pannier. You should have the ability to carry at least three water bottles in cages on your bike for normal conditions. I guess you could carry water in a backpack, but I wouldn't personally.

It's not usually a big problem if you plan ahead.

You could carry a water filter, but I don't this is necessarily a good solution. In my experience, places with no people usually have no surface water available to filter.

Are you going somewhere really remote, such as southern Argentina?
Title: Re: Water?
Post by: jamawani on December 28, 2021, 09:23:16 pm
Water is available in many more places than you might think.
Of course, it depends upon the route you are taking and the time of year.
I would strongly avoid riding in the Deep South or Southwest in mid-summer.
But on most ACA routes, water is generally available.

Exceptions might be the Great Divide which is a mountain bike route.
Also, the Western Express in Nevada and Utah has some long stretches without water.

However - and it is a big however -
Print off in big, bold letters - "H2O?" - on an 8.5 by 11 sheet.
Put it in a clear plastic sleeve.

On those long, remote stretches, you'd be surprised how well that works.
Best places are at road junctions with a stop sign or mountain pass pull-outs.
People will not only offer you water, but bananas and granola bars, too.
And you get the opportunity to meet folks you would have never encountered otherwise.

Safe travels.  -  J
Title: Re: Water?
Post by: John Nettles on December 28, 2021, 09:50:17 pm
As other have said, it typically is not a big deal.  I am immune suppressed due to a transplant and I can only drink bottled water which is much harder to always have compared to water out of a faucet.  I rarely have issues.  When I anticipate I might, I  carry a cargo net or two like this one:  https://www.amazon.com/s?k=B0022ZXO40 (https://www.amazon.com/s?k=B0022ZXO40) 

Between the 3 bottles my bike already carries, plus what I can put inside the packs, and what I strap onto the packs with the cargo nets, I have never ran out of water.  I like the "H2O ?" sign idea as it is light, easy to pack, and would most likely help.

Have a great trip!  Tailwinds, John

Title: Re: Water?
Post by: jinx on December 28, 2021, 11:12:52 pm
Are you going somewhere really remote, such as southern Argentina?

No, nothing that grand. I live in northern Illinois and I would like to ride to the Rockies. I'm planning a route that incorporates secondary roads and rail trails when possible.

Thanks everyone for your experience and suggestions. I have to be sure I'll have water when I need it. It's the main thing I'm having a problem with.
Title: Re: Water?
Post by: John Nettles on December 28, 2021, 11:23:52 pm
You will be fine.  In that part of the country, you are usually within 20 miles of the next town.  That should be about 3 hours and 3 bottles at your speed.  Have a great trip!
Title: Re: Water?
Post by: staehpj1 on December 29, 2021, 06:46:21 am
I have not had any trouble finding water frquently enough in the US.  Generally a filter wasn't helpful since surface water was scarce where water resupply was scarce.

I have not been touring during the pandemic, but have heard that many places the minimart and gas station soda fountains and public restrooms that I relied on for refills were closed and that in many places they wouldn't fill your bottles.  Not sure how big of a problem it was or whether it has gotten any better.  My understanding is that some folks found that they needed to buy bottled water pretty often due to the lack of open soda fountains and restrooms where they would normally refill.  You might want to budget for more bottled water just in case.

Edit: I should have mentioned that there were rare places where I have had to carry water for all day or even 24 hours.  In general It was obvious when that was the case and certainly was if using ACA maps.  Even if you should screw up, in desert country pretty much everyone will stop if you signal that you are out of water (empty bottle tilt).  RVs will have water and even most cars will.  So even where there is only one or two cars per day you won't die because you don't have water.
Title: Re: Water?
Post by: BikeliciousBabe on December 29, 2021, 09:34:27 am
Other options include state park facilities, including campgrounds and office facilities, and many U.S. Forest Service campgrounds/facilities.  I even stopped at a private campground and asked to fill my bottles.  Not a problem.  One extremely hot day in rural IL a couple of us spotted a school open on a Saturday for extracurricular activities.  Got water there.  Bars have also been quite free with water, even offering ice when it was hot.  If you pass a municipal park you might find a water spigot/fountain or at least a restroom with potable water.

Probably my strangest water bum was in rural IA one morning.  A high school student was hosing down her 4-H "project"--a young bull named Ace of Spades.  She let me fill my bottles from her hose.
Title: Re: Water?
Post by: John Nettles on December 29, 2021, 09:45:57 am
Probably my strangest water bum was in rural IA one morning.  A high school student was hosing down her 4-H "project"--a young bull named Ace of Spades.  She let me fill my bottles from her hose.
Memories like that is why I love touring.  In a car, you would have just pressed on until you found a convenience store.
Title: Re: Water?
Post by: staehpj1 on December 29, 2021, 10:01:59 am
Probably my strangest water bum was in rural IA one morning.  A high school student was hosing down her 4-H "project"--a young bull named Ace of Spades.  She let me fill my bottles from her hose.
Memories like that is why I love touring.  In a car, you would have just pressed on until you found a convenience store.
Yep.
Title: Re: Water?
Post by: jinx on December 29, 2021, 10:04:13 am
Again, thanks everyone for the ideas and confidence. And I don't want to Google Earth the entire trip, talk myself out of it or destroy a serendipitous adventure with too much certainty.

Last summer I built a small collapsible 2-wheel trailer around the dimensions of a 24 bottle pack of water. Most of the trails will be limestone and the secondary roads will be 55 mph with no rideable shoulder. The trailer weights 14 lbs and will carry 25-30 lbs. After being out with the trailer a number of times I now question if I really want to be competing with traffic on a 2-lane road or riding on softer sections of trails with the trailer. I could disassemble the trailer and attach it to the bike if necessary but then what do I do with the water?

I'm vaccinated, boosted and wear a mask in public but I still plan on minimizing contact with people. In the past I've carried 2-16oz bottles of water on my fork, 2 on my frame and 2 in my bags. Minimum for a day. But that means by the end of each day I'll need to find water. And some days I'll use more water than other days.

I'll admit I'm a geezer and I hope I'm not making too much of this but I must have water.
Title: Re: Water?
Post by: staehpj1 on December 29, 2021, 10:36:08 am
I'll admit I'm a geezer and I hope I'm not making too much of this but I must have water.
I think you are making way too much of it.  I rode the arid southern tier with two bottle cages.  Many days that was enough because I could top off often enough.  When necessary I added capacity by carrying more water in salvaged sport drink or bottled water bottles.  The very longest stretch without resupply (24 hours overnight) I jammed my jersey pockets full of water bottles and stuffed a couple in my baggage on the rear rack.  Baggage space was limited because I was UL packing with 14# of gear.  I used up the ones in the jersey pockets first since they were packed to the gills.

That was with no panniers and only a rear rack and handlebar bag and a need to go 24 hours with no resupply.  It seems unlikely that any of those conditions will apply to your trip.  You mentioned carrying 2-16oz bottles of water on my fork, 2 on my frame and 2 in my bags, I have a hard time imagining not having a chance to resupply before running out on your proposed route.  I guess it depends on your specific route choices, but I don't recall much trouble finding resupply frequently enough in that general part of the country.
Title: Re: Water?
Post by: hikerjer on December 29, 2021, 11:31:51 am
I'm the same age as you and hope to take a cross country trip this summer. On past tours I've never had a problelm obtaining water except maybe in Nevada's Great Basin (desert). There, I found that three one liter bottles attached to the frame and a two leader bladder strapped to the back rack usually was plenty. If I felt I needed more, I would buy several bottles in advance and put them in my panniers.  So sufficient water was never really a problem. However, cold water which I often craved, was sometimes hard to come by. The water I carried quickly became tepid, but at least it was wet.
Title: Re: Water?
Post by: staehpj1 on December 29, 2021, 12:19:01 pm
However, cold water which I often craved, was sometimes hard to come by. The water I carried quickly became tepid, but at least it was wet.
Yeah, that is an issue.  I find it a bit hard to drink enough when the water is hot.  You may have to force yourself to drink enough.  Some people put a wet sock over the bottle for evaporative cooling, but I just suffer the hot water.  In places where there are cold snow melt streams filtering some cold water is nice.  In those places I do carry a filter.  That worked out well for me in 100+ heat in the Sierras with snowmelt streams.
Title: Re: Water?
Post by: John Nelson on December 29, 2021, 01:42:51 pm
The longest I've ever had to go without a water resupply was two days going through the Mojave Desert. I loaded up with three gallons before I left civilization. I've only had to spend the night without a water supply a few times, and I have always (except for once) known about it in advance. The one time I was caught overnight unexpectedly without a water supply (on the north shore of Lake Erie), I found a half-drunk cup of coke. Normally I wouldn't have touched this with a ten-foot pole, but I was desperate that night. In that case, a facility I was expecting to be open was closed.
Title: Re: Water?
Post by: jamawani on December 29, 2021, 03:37:16 pm
However, cold water which I often craved, was sometimes hard to come by.

Ahem .....

I have posted many times about how to have cold water on brutally hot days.
It's called "evaporative cooling" and it works wherever there is lower humidity. (Not the Deep South)

I cut off the ankle and toes of an old white cotton sock.
Then I slide the water bottle into the sock sleeve and keep the sock wet in the bottle cage.
It can be 99F and, as long as the sock stays wet, the water is 48F.
People are shocked how chilled the water stays.
Yes, you do use up some water in the chilling process.

Way better than insulated water bottles - - and way cheaper.
Not to mention a low-tech solution to a low-tech problem.
(That's how people did it for centuries before refrigeration.)
Title: Re: Water?
Post by: hikerjer on December 29, 2021, 04:11:17 pm
My son had a similar eperience while rossing Nevada. He failed to screw the top down on his water battle and managed to spill it all. The rest stop he planed on refilling at was closed so he was in a tough position. 100 degree heat and no rlief or water for at least 5-6 hours. Forunately, he came across some stuff left by a road painting crew. In it was an unopend bottle of Gatorade. He lucked out on that one.
Title: Re: Water?
Post by: BikeliciousBabe on December 30, 2021, 01:16:45 pm
Probably my strangest water bum was in rural IA one morning.  A high school student was hosing down her 4-H "project"--a young bull named Ace of Spades.  She let me fill my bottles from her hose.
Memories like that is why I love touring.  In a car, you would have just pressed on until you found a convenience store.

I left out the sad part:  She told me his last competition was coming up soon.  After that, he was likely going to end up covered with cheese on buns.   :'(
Title: Re: Water?
Post by: John Nettles on December 30, 2021, 01:28:05 pm
I left out the sad part:  She told me his last competition was coming up soon.  After that, he was likely going to end up covered with cheese on buns.   :'(
Still, you have the memory all this time later.  It is the memories that are created that I love so much about traveling. I think it is harder for people who always stay home to create memories.

Tailwinds, John
Title: Re: Water?
Post by: staehpj1 on December 30, 2021, 04:24:58 pm
I left out the sad part:  She told me his last competition was coming up soon.  After that, he was likely going to end up covered with cheese on buns.   :'(
Still, you have the memory all this time later.  It is the memories that are created that I love so much about traveling. I think it is harder for people who always stay home to create memories.

Tailwinds, John
Some people aren't very open to meeting the local folks and don't make many of this kind of memories even when they do tour.
Title: Re: Water?
Post by: John Nettles on December 30, 2021, 04:54:09 pm
Some people aren't very open to meeting the local folks and don't make many of this kind of memories even when they do tour.
Granted, some interact with the locals as little as possible and therefore have much fewer memories of locals.  However, I assume people still make at least a few memories due to their experiences when traveling whether it is due to meeting the locals, seeing new scenery, experiencing new food, visiting some cultural site, etc.  Otherwise, why travel?  My point is as I previously stated that it is harder to make memories for those that always stay home since the opportunity for "new" experiences are less in my opinion.  Of course, there are always some that do.
Title: Re: Water?
Post by: staehpj1 on December 30, 2021, 05:39:50 pm
Some people aren't very open to meeting the local folks and don't make many of this kind of memories even when they do tour.
Granted, some interact with the locals as little as possible and therefore have much fewer memories of locals.  However, I assume people still make at least a few memories due to their experiences when traveling whether it is due to meeting the locals, seeing new scenery, experiencing new food, visiting some cultural site, etc.  Otherwise, why travel?  My point is as I previously stated that it is harder to make memories for those that always stay home since the opportunity for "new" experiences are less in my opinion.  Of course, there are always some that do.
For me it is a huge part of what touring is about, but when I compare notes with other riders in camp or on the road I often find that they don't have the same connection with the people of the area they are traveling through.  I guess we all tour for different reasons.
Title: Re: Water?
Post by: canalligators on December 30, 2021, 06:11:47 pm
Many of the places where bathrooms are available can also give you water: government buildings, police stations, libraries, schools.  Churches too, if someone happens to be there on weekdays.
Title: Re: Water?
Post by: froze on January 01, 2022, 01:19:18 am
Water is everywhere, usually anyways.  Any fast-food place, or a one of those gas/food quick marts, will let you get water out of the soda fountain without charging you.  However, if you want to make sure you can always get water then you need to buys a water filter, and the best one is the Sawyer, you can read about it here:  https://www.sawyer.com/products/squeeze-water-filtration-system, there are two different ones, the one I showed you in that link is unlimited filtering capacity, they make another one called the Mini and that one will filter up to 100,000 gallons, the Mini cost $20 or so, and the other called the Squeeze Water Filtration System cost around $50; they both filter just as much stuff as the other.  For cycling I think the Mini is fine.  So with this system you can take water out of any lake, river, or stream, and filter it and drink it.

The other thing you can do is to get a set of adjustable water bottle cages so that you can carry larger water bottles instead of the standard bottles that are not really made for long distance riding.  The cage I use and like is the Arundel Looney Bin, this cage will fit bottles from 65 to the standard 73mm bottle that all cyclists use, and all the way up to 95mm, that means that the largest bottle it will hold will carry about 41 ounces instead of 21 ounces for the max in a standard plastic bottle.  If you have a second water cage bosses on the underside of the down tube you probably won't be able to put a big bottle there due to size constraints where the top of the water bottle will hit your tire and or fender.

You can also get a twin bottle holder that can mount onto the rear seat, but usually if you're touring that probably won't work since you will probably have a saddle bag of some sort back there.  There is also a seat bag now on the market that has a bottle pocket built in, the problem with this seat bag is I don't know what the quality of the bag is, they claim it's water resistant, but when touring you will find out if it's truly water resistant.

Another option is to carry a Camelback on your back, but the problem with that is the weight of the water on your back for hours while you ride.

There are plenty of ways to carry water, and to get water.  If you plan your route carefully you shouldn't have any problem getting water, but I would carry the Sawyer filter for sure.
Title: Re: Water?
Post by: jinx on January 01, 2022, 08:44:21 am
Thanks again everyone for the input.

I'll try a water filter. They don't seem to do much for chemicals. I'll try it out on some day trips from different ground water sources and see how hard/practical it is to use, see how the water tastes and see if I can give myself the shits.

I'll also try to reposition and carry more water on the frame. But I don't want the handling or personality of the bike to be altered too much. Dragging a trailer seems less psychologically cumbersome than to much weight on the front end. I don't want to hate my bike.
Title: Re: Water?
Post by: staehpj1 on January 01, 2022, 08:59:03 am
Water is everywhere, usually anyways.  Any fast-food place, or a one of those gas/food quick marts, will let you get water out of the soda fountain without charging you.  However, if you want to make sure you can always get water then you need to buys a water filter
That may be true the majority of the time.  I have relied on them much of the time.  The times where it isn't were what was being mentioned and they do come up now and then particularly on trancontinental type tours.  I know that I have on ocasion run into places where they was no water restock for a full day or even a day and an overnight.  There are places where there are no stores gas stations, mini marts, or whatever.  Any ranch house may be behind a locked gate, out of sight, and miles off the road.  As far as the filter goes those tend to be the places where the filter is useless because there just isn't any surface water.

I have used a water filter a lot for backpacking and other trips, but have not found it useful on most bike tours.  It was of so little use that I mave mailed it home in the days that I carried a pump type filter and have usually not carried one since then.  I did find one useful on the SC route to get ice cold water from snow melt mountain streams when the air was 100F, but found it useless on the ST and the TA.

I have not been touring during the pandemic, but have heard of folks who said the soda fountains and rest rooms were closed in many places due to covid.  I do not know how widespread that was or is, but they said that they needed to buy a lot of bottled water.
(https://onda.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Next-Gas-85Miles-hero-Groeneveld-Ben.jpg)
Title: Re: Water?
Post by: staehpj1 on January 01, 2022, 09:19:00 am
Thanks again everyone for the input.

I'll try a water filter. They don't seem to do much for chemicals. I'll try it out on some day trips from different ground water sources and see how hard/practical it is to use, see how the water tastes and see if I can give myself the shits.

I'll also try to reposition and carry more water on the frame. But I don't want the handling or personality of the bike to be altered too much. Dragging a trailer seems less psychologically cumbersome than to much weight on the front end. I don't want to hate my bike.
The filter will work great for making water save to drink when it comes to bacteria.  I have drank from shallow nasty mud puddles without issue.  Don't drink mine runoff with heavy metals.  It does nothing for that.  The problem is that you have to have surface water to filter.  Usually where I have toured where there wasn't a tap there wasn't much surface water either. Most of the remote places without resupply were in the desert or dry plains.  So the filter is great where it is actually useful but in most touring situations it is useless because when you don't have tap water you don't have water to filter.

The handling of the bike will only be impacted while you are carrying extra water.  Typically ou only need to carry extra water a day at a time here and there.  Also you use it up throughout the day, so the weight will reduce quickly as you drink.  Halfway through the day you will be down to a fairly normal load.

It just doesn't become a big deal unless you are in need of carrying multiple days of water. and you can usually manage to keep it to 24 hours in my experience.  Personally if it gets beyound two days of water I'd start to rethink the trip and wonder if I could arrange for a cache of water along the way, or catch a ride, or do a different route.  I know that I find it a bigger issue for backpacking and I just choose to not do some trips that I otherwise would if there is no other way than to carry multiple days of water or weeks of food.  I might have been more willing to be a pack mule when I was younger, but these days as an old geezer  I refuse to.
Title: Re: Water?
Post by: froze on January 01, 2022, 03:16:53 pm
I've heard from other touring people I spoke to that they carry about a 1/2 a day of extra water just in case, and they are aways stopping to refill even if only one bottle is empty.  I carry currently about 176 ounces of water, that is the water I start out with and it lasts all day and into the morning the following day and into mid day, but for backup I put 2 store bought plastic water bottles in my panniers, just in case, and I have that filter.  But I always plan the trips so that I will be near water.  I'm sort of at a loss myself if I was out in the desert and it took 3 days to find water!  Ouch!  But I would think with prudent route planning that shouldn't become a problem.

I carry the filter because I know people who have done extreme backpacking and bike camping and they all recommended having one just in case.

In the desert you have to learn survival skills to find water, which I'm admittedly not really good at, but they do have stuff on the internet that one should research if they know they're going to be in that situation.  I think if I were about to head into that sort of situation, I would start out by stocking up on water, yes water is heavy but so is carrying out a dead body!  So, I would probably put 4 store bought plastic bottles of water in the bottom of each pannier, so that would be 8 bottles, with two more going into each of my handlebar bag bottle holders, a lot more weight but as one person said you would be going through the water and eventually losing that weight.   But using survival skills to find water in a desert is a last-ditch effort to stay alive, and what water you do find, especially during the dry seasons, is scant to none!  you might get a few drops from certain plants, but not enough to sustain you for a day, and digging into the desert sand near a plant will yield nothing.

I don't like carrying a Camelback so I probably wouldn't do that, since that will make your back not only tired but hot.  I have one of those, a small 70-ounce version I used when I lived in the Mojave Desert of Calif, but I never liked it except for it carrying the extra water I needed, but I didn't have a touring bike back then so I relied on by two water bottles that the bike could carry plus the Camelback.  Now my touring bike can carry 5 bottles on the frame and fork, I use those Arundel bottle holders and can carry 4 32-ounce bottles, plus the underside of the down tube can carry a 16-ounce bottle.  Plus, the two 16.9-ounce store bought water bottles. 

I sort of mislead in my earlier post, my Arundel bottle cages can carry up to about 41-ounce bottles, I don't have any 41-ounce bottles, I only have 4 32-ounce bottles and one 16-ounce bottle I use on my camping trips, those are insulated steel bottles too so I don't have hot water to drink an hour or two into a ride.  The bottles are kind of heavy but I was willing to pay for the weight penalty to avoid hot water.

I went bike camping all that year of the covid shut down, and I was able to find water.  I went into a McDonalds that had the drive thru only open, and rode the bike up to the drive thru and they gave me a large water with ice for free and I filled up an empty bottle with it that I had finished off during the ride up to that point.  Gas stations with mini marts stayed open too so they could sell gas, they had water not only in bottles but at the fountains and even outside spigots could be used if necessary, in addition to plenty of ice and other assorted drinks in the fridges. the state parks had their stores open and they had water, other drinks, not to mention water at the spigots around the camp grounds, and they had plenty of ice which melts down into water.  Plus, those campgrounds had lakes, but I didn't have to use the filter anyways since there was plenty of water.

I wouldn't personally map a route where I know I could be without a source of water or any sort, or some other liquids for more than 2 days during the ride.
Title: Re: Water?
Post by: Westinghouse on January 01, 2022, 04:36:45 pm
The need for water is a vital concern. The thing is this. I have Bicycle across the continent of North America five times east to west. I have also bicycle over the roads all around the United States and some in Canada and Mexico. I have cycled extensively in Europe and Asia and the former Soviet union. The availability of water was never a problem. With a little planning and foresight in remote areas it is not a problem. However, Cycling long distances over dirt and gravel roads in remote areas is a different matter. I have never done that so I have never been presented with the challenge of finding water in those circumstances.
Title: Re: Water?
Post by: John Nelson on January 01, 2022, 06:08:56 pm
I carry a water filter when backpacking, but never when cyclotouring on mostly paved roads. First, there’s the problem Pete mentioned of chemical pollutants. And then there’s just the annoyance factor of scrambling down some brushy riverbank in my cycling clothes.

But the biggest reason is that with just a tiny amount of planning, it’s unnecessary.
Title: Re: Water?
Post by: froze on January 01, 2022, 08:40:40 pm
I agree, I think a bit of planning will keep you within comfortable riding distance to water, and all touring people I've ever spoken to have all acknowledged that, but even then, a few said they packed a filter.

Personally, I'm not sure what to think, I have a friend who backpacks, which I know is different than bike camping/touring, but he insists that I should take a filter.  The Sawyer is light weight and takes little space, so I'll just keep carrying for a while.
Title: Re: Water?
Post by: jamawani on January 01, 2022, 09:59:43 pm
I've been touring since the mid 1980s.
At least half of my touring has been in remote parts of the West - where water availability can be an issue.
In the East water quality may be a issue - Flint, rural West Virginia, petrochemical alley in Louisiana.

I've had a filter since my second X-USA trip, but I have rarely used it - only on extended hikes into the wilderness.
Also, filters don't eliminate certain pollutants and microparticles. I view them as extra baggage.
In case of the rare emergency, iodine tablets plus a packet of lemonade to hide the taste will do.

Until Covid, there was easy to come by water in the East where towns and services are close together.
In the West there has always been the issue of greater distances between services.
In remote parts of Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana it can be 75-100 miles between water stops.
Also, because of EPA requirements more and more small, public campgrounds have eliminated the water pump.

Covid has changed all of that - at least temporarily - and possibly permanently.
Small stores, cafes, and campgrounds may not be open - even during the summer season.
Those that were barely hanging on may never reopen.
This is especially true of the Great Plains where there may be only one business left in a small town.
Still, you could always knock on a door and ask for water. Small town folks are usually quite generous.

Nevada is the classic case of a remote "stage stop" that cyclists depend on that closes.
Middlegate - on the Western Express - is one example. 50 miles to Fallon; 64 miles to Austin.
It's a bar / cafe / campground / historic site. But if it were to close, it would be tough on cyclists.
Major's Place, between Ely and Baker, is another watering hole strategically situated.
But it is only open sporadically - the last post on their Facebook page was 2011.

I've ridden from Tonopah to Ely on US 6 - 168 miles with no services.
The Warm Springs Bar/Cafe is long closed and derelict. The nearby houses are abandoned, too.
There was a little store/gas station at Balckrock that closed in the early 2000s.
The Currant Bar/Cafe is long closed, but there is an occupied house behind it - >IF< you catch someone home.
There is rarely any surface water - and if so there may be high in fecal matter or heavy metals. Filter? Nah.
So that leaves begging water from the few cars or truck that come by.
(On my 2019 trip we rode for 2-3 hours one morning without a single car in either direction.)
But when there is a car and you have a "Water?" sign, they almost always stop.

But regardless of how you procure water in the remote West - whether at stops or by supplication -
It's never a good idea to wait until you are almost completely out of water and then search.
Top off early and often - kinda like voting in Chicago.

Pic - Near Blue Jay NDOT Station on US 6
Lots of sky, lots of sagebrush, not much water




Title: Re: Water?
Post by: staehpj1 on January 02, 2022, 06:07:05 am
I agree, I think a bit of planning will keep you within comfortable riding distance to water, and all touring people I've ever spoken to have all acknowledged that, but even then, a few said they packed a filter.

Personally, I'm not sure what to think, I have a friend who backpacks, which I know is different than bike camping/touring, but he insists that I should take a filter.  The Sawyer is light weight and takes little space, so I'll just keep carrying for a while.
If you were contemplating taking a heavier filter I might try to talk you out of it for most road touring in the US.  I know that early in my touring career I wound up mailing my MSR Sweetwater filter home and never carried it again.  I have found reasons to take a sawyer now and then.  I still don't think it is generally something that is a good general practice, but it is only a few ounces and on some routes it can be handy.  Most likely it will sit in you bags unused.

Also I am unsure how covid has affected the choice.  The closure of some of the old usual resupply places just might make a filter handy in more places.  You can always mail it home after few weeks on the road if you decide it was a mistake.
Title: Re: Water?
Post by: froze on January 02, 2022, 03:23:28 pm
No I don't use a large heavy filter, it's the smaller Sawyer Mini model so it hardly weighs anything and it takes up very little space.  I'm still out on a limb if I will continue to carry it or not, I've read all the post here and most are against it, but others that I know are for it, that's why I'm out on a limb about carrying it or not.

Some of you have noted that in parts of the US water can be loaded with heavy metals, I Googled filters for this and ran into a water bottle filter that is rated for anywhere in the world, and will remove heavy metals, plus a host of other stuff you can go to the website and check it out.  It also supposedly from reviews had the best tasting water of any other filter they tested.  But the short coming to that filter is that it will do 40 gallons then you have to replace the filter, but in an emergency you're not going to need 40 gallons, just enough water to get you to place where you can get water, but once you use it for the first time you have 3 years before you have to get a new filter at a cost of $25.  This thing is shaped like a water bottle so it would fit a water bottle cage IF that cage is like my Arundel adjustable cages I use, I'm not sure if it would fit standard non adjustable cages.  Being that it only holds 16 ounces it could fit in handlebar bags that have the bottle holder pocket on the outside of the bag.  The unit is expensive at $90 though; it's called the Grayl 16.9 oz UltraPress Purifier Nature Edition.
Title: Re: Water?
Post by: John Nettles on January 02, 2022, 04:03:07 pm
The unit is expensive at $90 though; it's called the Grayl 16.9 oz UltraPress Purifier Nature Edition.
Very interesting as most filters do not get down to the virus level.

When you consider that it is $90 for 40 gallons that is about $2.25 per gallon which is not that much more than buying a gallon at a time in a grocery store.  And if you compare it to a 1/2 liter bottle, it is a lot cheaper.  Then it gets even cheaper the more you use it, i.e. for 80 gallons the total cost would be about $115 or $1.44 per gallon. 

You can go even cheaper by getting the GeoPress filter which costs $10 more but holds ~8 more ounces and does about 65 gallons per cartridge ($5 more).  Plus the Q&A on the website indicates they usually have 20% off sales around "the holiday" (don't know if that is all holidays or just December).  Of course, from a free source like a restaurant, it is expensive.

EDIT:  I see REI sells both the UltraPressa and GEOPress for $90 each.  Plus REI frequently has 20% off sales.

Thanks for the info!
Title: Re: Water?
Post by: froze on January 02, 2022, 10:41:24 pm
I saw the larger one too, it is a unique system that's for sure.  Not sure if backpackers would want something like that due to the weight, but they have to carry the weight of water in bottles anyways, so not sure what they would think of that system, but when I see my backpacking friend again, I'll ask him if he's heard of it and if so, what his thoughts are concerning it vs the Sawyer Mini he uses.  He researches camping stuff really thoroughly, so I think he's heard of it, just not sure why he chose the Sawyer over the Grayl.

Breaking down the price like you did doesn't make it sound so expensive, the problem is do I need something like that if all I ever do is use it once in 5 or 10 years, and if I use it so infrequently than I don't think I can justify the price, especially considering let's say I use it once, then it gets unused for over 3 years which means I have to spend $25 for a filter, so that really mean it cost me $90 for a single bottle of water and $25 per bottle after that, whereas the filter I use now doesn't have time limit.
Title: Re: Water?
Post by: staehpj1 on January 03, 2022, 06:55:39 am
All of the filter talk is very interesting.  The Grayl is something I hadn't heard of.  It sounds interesting for travel to places where you need to filter chemicals or viruses.  For bike touring on the road in the continental US or other "first world" countries in general it all seems like a solution in search of a problem to solve.

A filter is something you probably won't use if you plan ahead a bit.  Your fall back plan can easily be holding up and tilting an empty bottle with the cap popped at passing vehicles.  In a real emergency there likely won't be water to filter, but if there is some then aquamira tabs, iodine, a steripen, or a few drops of bleach would do the trick.

When it comes to lead and other toxins.  I personally don't worry too much about that when touring since I don't plan on drinking the surface water other than in an emergency and just to get to where I can resupply.  In the unlikely event that I wind up in a situation where I need to drink to survive, I'll ingest a little questionable water rather than die of thirst, but really I am way more likely to be able to flag down a car or RV and get some water.  In the desert, where I am most likely run out of water pretty much everyone will stop to help someone who is out of water. and there is no water to filter any way
Title: Re: Water?
Post by: HikeBikeCook on January 03, 2022, 07:27:05 am
I have carried all kinds of water filters over the years while backpacking, and sometimes bike touring, and they all seem to have one thing in common - they get heavier (and harder to use) with each use. A dry filter, that has never been used, seems like a borderline piece of emergency equipment, especially if there is more than one person in the group that could benefit from it. However, once you pass water through that pump expect the weight to increase. I bought an MSR TrailShot on sale at ACA https://www.adventurecycling.org/cyclosource-store/equipment/sp/msr-trailshot-water-filter/ (https://www.adventurecycling.org/cyclosource-store/equipment/sp/msr-trailshot-water-filter/) and it was on my "maybe" list for my upcoming TransAM but is currently in the "No" column.

I liked the filter when backpacking the AT in the south, where there is lots of cloudy, questionable water, but as I progressed north I switched to Aquarmira drops https://www.aquamira.com/product/aquamira-water-treatment-drops-1-oz/ (https://www.aquamira.com/product/aquamira-water-treatment-drops-1-oz/) which kills bacteria and cryptosporidium like Giardia. I always carry them now. Heavy metal is not something I personally would worry about if we are talking about a quart of water out of the gallons per week that I drink. One thing about long distance hiking or biking is, that even though you tend to eat crap food, you are typically flushing far more water through you system than normal, and flushing out a lot of crap.
Title: Re: Water?
Post by: froze on January 03, 2022, 11:01:10 am
From what I've read N America supposedly doesn't have major issues with heavily metal polluted water like you will run into in Europe, so you could be right about the heavy metal thing for N America, however Mississipi river is known for it's high concentration of heavy metal in the water.

Keep in mind, heavy metal is not primarily from pollution, it was in water going back to before the industrial age, but we've added to it with pesticides, and industrial dumping.

The iodine solution is a good one, but some people are allergic to it and won't know it till they purify some water with it, then they get the diarrhea, but I haven't found any instances of problems with Chlorine Dioxide found in Aquamira as long as you follow the directions to the letter and not try to over dose the water thinking more is better.  Boiling water will kill all the stuff that the iodine and chlorine dioxide will kill; also, a cheaper alternative to Aquamira is simply using household unscented bleach, 3 or 4 of drops and wait a half hour, make sure the bleach you use is brand new stuff, if bleach sits around too long it can become useless.

So how do we get heavy metals out of the water?  A little digging, I found out you can distill the water, but distilling isn't as simple as boiling a pot of water than drinking it, it's the steam from the boiling that needs to be captured and recycled into a bottle, and if you boil it at too high of temp those contaminates will simply go into steam and be in the water you thought was clean.  So that can be a complicated process, not alone the equipment needed to carry with you to make it work, at that point it would be better to have the Grayl filtering system. 

I can't find anything on the internet saying that since a person is backpacking and they drink water with heavy metals in it you can flush it out by drinking clean water.  I ran out of time to check that out more thoroughly, maybe someone can do that and provide websites for us to read.  Overall, in N America the risks of drinking water with heavy metals in it to a poisonous degree should be quite limited.  The Mississippi river area could be bad, but there is plenty of civilization around that river you can find good water from without resorting to taking it out of that river.
Title: Re: Water?
Post by: HikeBikeCook on January 03, 2022, 02:41:12 pm
There is a valley in Wallace Idaho on RT 4 that turns to a forest road in Burke that had years of extensive mining and is one big super site. I was considering biking through that valley as a shortcut from Thompson Falls until I realized it is very remote (no services) and all of the ground water has heavy metals. I believe anywhere there is or was mining (like areas on the GAP) you need to be carful from metals leaching from the tailings.
Title: Re: Water?
Post by: jinx on January 04, 2022, 08:58:23 pm
Lots of great ideas and advice much of it for a greater traveler than I. What should I do?

With my limited daily mileage capability I'm leaning towards using my trailer. The trailer impacts the handling of my bike less than my bike laden with water and gear. I'm vaccinated and supposedly immune from hospitalization and death. But catching COVID on the trip would bring me 2 weeks of hell and would effectively end the trip. So I still plan to minimize contact with people.

The maximum water I could carry would be about 3 gallons or about 3 days worth. I would have the option to carry that much water if necessary or not. I'll bring a small filter and use it if necessary but will prefer to buy water when possible.

I'm trying to allow for the unexpected which will occur. I'm working on it.