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Messages - HobbesOnTour

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16
Routes / Re: US bike route 21 Atlanta to Chatanooga
« on: October 04, 2021, 05:24:45 pm »
I made up my own route from Charleston SC to Nashville TN a couple of years ago.
I mainly used https://cycle.travel/ to plot routes since I was very far from home.

A very useful tool with easy access to Streetview to see actual road conditions (if available).

It may help you in your planning.

Good luck

17
Gear Talk / Re: A couple of clothing questions and comments
« on: September 01, 2021, 08:18:44 pm »
I can't help you with the specifics but a few points.
There are always sales and you have time on your side.
A few expensive items I own I saved on by knowing what I wanted, knowing the usual price and only pulling the trigger when I saw a decent offer.

I agree with others that a rain jacket is mainly for warmth. I use an ex military Gore-Tex jacket a few sizes too big given by a friend. Off the bike it doesn't stand out, on the bike I throw on a high viz. By being too big it means I can sit on it in really miserable situations.

I use rain pants (Gorewear) less for rain and mostly for cold.

I don't wear padded shorts, just regular, quick drying boxer shorts under a pair of hiking shorts. Initially on a Brooks B17 now a C17. Haven't had a problem until recently, but that's because I'm riding in Central America in the wet season and am almost constantly sweating and wet. Two small points of irritation - nothing significant.

My preferred material for a top is Merino wool. In cold weather it's warm, in hot weather it absorbs sweat and dries quickly.
However, it is quite fragile and washing but especially drying on tour can create weaknesses then holes in the material.
Be careful with "net" type tops. In hot weather the friction can irritate the nipples.

I wear hiking shorts (Decathlon, a decent, cheap European brand). I like the pockets and the quick drying material. The ass seam can be a bit weak but nothing that a needle and thread can't fix.

I only wear high viz clothing on the bike when I think I need to - certainly in the dark (which I avoid as much as possible) and on gloomy or wet days. I prefer to throw on a high viz vest as needed. If I'm not wearing it it's strapped across the back of the bike.

You've lots of time to figure all this out and once the bike comes things will start falling into place!

Good luck!

18
General Discussion / Re: Hillbilly dogs
« on: August 25, 2021, 07:39:27 am »
I think it's a pity that you are considering an alternative route. The comments about "perceived" fear and the real risk of traffic are spot on, I believe.
As are the comments on over planning.

You have 9 months to get your head straight. Since this is your first tour, the processes you establish now will most likely become permanent (or at least difficult to change). I think you should pay attention to that.

The problem for me was that the dog situation was such a shock to the system - I wasn't prepared. Traffic, despite being more dangerous (and sometimes pure malicious) was easier to deal with because I had prepared for that.

If you do wish to create your own routes I recommend https://cycle.travel/map A very handy website with instant access to Streetview.
My biggest issues when creating my own routes were the disappearance of shoulders (often at county lines) and bridges. I came to hate bridges.

Once you have your bike, load up and get as much practice under your belt as you can. Instead of cycling down a local road, try to imagine where you want to be cycling. It will all come together.

Good luck!

19
General Discussion / Re: Hillbilly dogs
« on: August 23, 2021, 12:39:12 am »
This is an interesting one.

I made my own way from Charleston to Nashville and had to deal with dogs every day. Honestly, they almost ruined my tour.

What I found was that even though I could deal with them (I have a squeezable water bottle - a squirt or two was usually enough) the thought of a dog up ahead really impacted on my enjoyment.
After a while a simple dog bark drove the anxiety needle higher.
Approaching dogs sent it higher again.
I had a few bad scares which ruined some otherwise good days.

And yes, traffic combined with dogs was often not pleasant. Drivers either were unaware or uninterested.
In a couple of cases owners weren't too interested either.

My usual method was a squirt of water.
I stopped a handful of times but preferred to keep moving if possible. I had a trailer so that limited flexibility of moving the bike when stationary. I also use a clickstand - an instant stick if I need it. And my mirror saved me a couple of times from silent chasers.

The thing is, I like dogs and generally have no problem with them. Plus, in quite a lot of touring in Europe I've only ever been chased once - by a comically tiny terrier. The shock almost had me off - not the dog.
I have some pretty good techniques for dealing with anxiety like this but they weren't working for dogs. It was a daily feature.

I have an understanding of dog behaviour (far from an expert) and can usually tell when a dog is simply protecting his territory or actively attacking.

The cure for me was the Natchez Trace Parkway - not a dog in sight. A few days of no dogs started to restore some perspective and get the needle back to a normal level.

That was probably not what you wanted to read. Sorry.
But, on the bright side, you have a lot of time to prepare, to get to understand dogs and to mix with them as much as possible. That would be my suggestion, rather than change your route.

I often think that what's going on between our ears can be the heaviest load we carry. Some people aren't put off in the slightest by dogs, others very much are. One hundred people could post here and say it will be fine (and they'll most likely be right) but it's your tour, your enjoyment. Not theirs.

Good luck!

Edited to add:
BikeForums can be overzealous to say the least. There's a thread that paints large swathes of the US as being inhabited by meth induced zombies. It's a wonder anyone rides a bike!

20
General Discussion / Re: Staying out of the breakdown lane; staying safe
« on: August 18, 2021, 07:30:15 am »
As regards the chain maintenance, what do you do now?
Do you monitor the distance or have a set timeframe?
How about pretending you're on tour and using whatever you think you will have with you?
For me it's a rag and a bottle of lube. At home? Not much more.

Videos are good as we can slow them down to our pace. I believe you can save Youtube videos for offline use.
I also make short notes on the things I know will trip me up.

Do you actually practice on your bike while watching/after the video? There's a world of difference between the theory and the practice and "studio conditions" are never quite the same as road conditions.
Finding that tiny piece of wire that punctured this tube and will puncture my new one may not be so easy!

I can't comment on park camping but I can comment on safety. "Over there" is always more dangerous than "here", or at least that's what people tell me. It's not my experience.The fact is, most people are friendly and hospitable. The ones that aren't can be usually  picked out if we keep our wits about us.
I always think the most important thing to pack is a smile - it opens so many doors.
Your greatest risk will be vehicles.
I've read of more than a few touring cyclists who complain of having to be friendly to helpful locals at the end of a tough day! :D

I may have the wrong end of the stick but I found your title to be a tad dramatic in relation to the subject matter. A little anxiety is normal, it's when it gets out of control that it can hamper us.
The best thing I can recommend is to practise. Ride to a friend's house to camp out in his yard. Storm coming in? Out with the tent and see how much fun it is to set up!
Too hot/wet to ride? Replace the front tube with the rear one.
The more we do, the less fear we lug along with us.

I am no mechanic and before heading off into parts unknown I cycled out to a local forest with my "touring" tools and did everything I could think of to the bike. It was slow, cumbersome, not a lot of fun but incredibly rewarding.

If you're not familiar, CrazyGuyOnABike is a treasure trove of cycling journals with a useful search function. Loads of information but more importantly, tonnes of inspiration!


Good luck!

21
While battery is important, there are other considerations to take into account.
In fact, pretty much the main units available offer similar battery specs (depending on usage).
Things I considered on top of battery life were:
Customer service (for when things go wrong)
Cabling (one cable for phone, kindle, camera etc.)
Ease of use
Usability (for example, switching off for lunch and back on later)
Compatibility with phone (I like to change things on the fly)
Compatibility with apps that I use - Osmand etc.
Charging on the go (Dynohub)
Types of maps in unit and their uses
(A detailed colour map on such a small screen is nowhere near as clear or as usable as maps on my phone, or some units allow searching by address and some not. Some units store maps on memory cards that may need to be changed or can become corrupted).
Charging time. (I've seen one unit that requires 8 hours charging for 10-12 hours of use!)

The world of gps units can be very confusing at the start. Fortunately, you have lots of time to learn about it.

*Inspired by your car gps being "so helpful". A bike gps is not like a car gps! In a car you'll rarely notice if it's taking the long way home, the quality of the road or if it is deliberately taking you on (or away from) all the hills. You'll notice on a bike! :)

Good luck!

22
Some people use maps, some gps some both. The important thing is to be comfortable in whatever method you choose.  It's no good depending on maps if you can't read the darn things and it's no good depending on gps if you struggle to understand the unit.

You have lots of time to discover what method(s) work for you.

Personally, if I had the maps I'd sit down and create my own gps files from the maps. It's really quite straightforward. You'll need to get familiar with some route planning sites or apps. Strava, RideWithGps, Komoot are popular ones, I prefer cycle.travel.net.

A good app to learn about gps for a bike is Osmand. You can create or import gpx files and follow them on your phone with voice prompts and turn by turn directions. It has a lot of very handy features for a bike tourist and works completely offline. It has been my emergency back up for years.
(I don't recommend using a phone in such a way in such a long tour just as a method for becoming familiar with a bike satnav.

To answer your question I find that a gps device is invaluable in large urban areas where I may not want to stop and check notes or my phone.
For someone navigationally challenged it gave me a lot of confidence.
The size and scale of the ACA maps are easy to follow if in front of you though. A gps unit can give the flexibility and confidence to wander off route or to head for a different destination if circumstances change.
If it's your thing, a gps unit may give a more "real time" perspective of gradient.
One thing I love about my gps unit is that at the end of each ride I can upload it (I use Strava, other options are available), add photos and comments if I like and hey presto! A record of my ride. If I want people can follow my progress. For a tour I think it's brilliant! (Yes, I could use my phone but that drains the battery).

If you haven't bought a gps unit yet, hold off until you've had a good think about how you want it to work. They don't all work the same.

Good luck!



23
Hold on a moment.
There's an issue with asking for advice on the internet - people respond based on their own experience, but only the OP knows, or can figure out how that relates to them.

If you're being vague about medication and whatever the medication controls then every piece of information needs to be filtered through that.

A 24 year old heading across a continent? Great fun!
A 24 year old needing medication may be less fun. There's not just health issues there are logistics too.
All solvable, I'm sure, but requiring pretty precise planning and prep.

Sorry to be negative but effectively in a foreign country, large parts miles from a major city a bit of optimism may not be enough.

Good luck


24
Routes / Re: Northern Tier map set issues
« on: July 19, 2021, 11:51:09 pm »
I'm curious.
Why do you want both?
Surely, once you have the paper maps it's not a lot of work to create a gpx file with any planner?
In fact I could see a lot of advantages.
It's a long time since I planned anything on RWGPS but I used to be able to add personalised comments like last store for X km or a reminder of a possible detour if I was feeling up to it.


25
Routes / Re: Northern Tier map set issues
« on: July 19, 2021, 08:21:59 pm »
Don't wait too long to use them or they'll be out of date again :D

26
Routes / Re: Northern Tier map set issues
« on: July 16, 2021, 11:44:51 pm »
Just FYI I never trust Google Maps to navigate on a bike.

Have you considered the app? It was possible to download q sample to get a feel for it.

Personally, if it wasn't clear that three maps hqve been updated I'd be demanding free replacements.

27
Routes / Re: Northern Tier map set issues
« on: July 16, 2021, 10:58:51 pm »
Well, just pick one and follow it!

If using the gps you can supplement with Google Maps for stores or any other info

For security, and assuming you have a Google account you can "save" any location you like, even make your own categories then save offline maps.
That way you have all the information irrespective of cellphone signal.

You can always ask people too!

Deep breath!
Of all the things that can go wrong on tour, having two routes is not too bad! :)

28
Routes / Re: Northern Tier map set issues
« on: July 16, 2021, 09:50:29 pm »
I can understand your frustration. Map updates, paper or gps should be clear.

I'm sorry, it's not clear to me what the real problem is though.

Are you waying that your Bolt can't read the file?
(The advice is to open the file in RWGPS or similar, save it in that app then export or sync to the device).

Perhaps an alternative to new paper maps is to consider their app. Logistically this will be easier and I believe these have the same information as the paper maps (showing stores etc )

Good luck!

29
Routes / Re: What's a good first tour?
« on: July 13, 2021, 06:19:42 pm »
This is all such good information.  I think I prefer to ride on my own but being able to meet up with familiar faces in the evenings would be awesome. Especially since camping alone is still one of my things to get over. I don't yet know how many miles I  would do on average but some of it depends on how hilly it is that day.

I'll check out Crazy Guy on A Bike. So far during my training I've found that meeting others has been one of the best parts and look forward to that continuing.

I hadn't considered getting to the start and riding back. Interesting concept.

I am finishing gathering the rest of what I need and hope to start within 2 weeks - or less if I can.

Is using Ride with GPS enough for navigation or should I buy something like the Garmin Edge?

As a solo traveller I have never had a problem meeting friendly people along the way or in campgrounds. I think a single person on a bike is far more approachable to a lot of people. I often think one of the most important things to pack is a smile.

As regards navigation perhaps start a new thread as there are lots of different opinions and experiences and this thread title suggests routes.

I'm sure you could use RWGPS exclusively but be aware of the limitations. It cannot reroute you if offline. Battery life can be an issue, especially if using the phone to take photos (powerbank?). Attaching the phone to the bike, especially for bumpy surfaces is important. Display can suffer or be damaged (sun and rain). Phone charging sockets are not usually designed for the bouncing a phone can get on the road so topping up could damage your phone. Finally, for the solo tourist there is always the question of a fall or crash and the need for a phone. A phone on the handlebars may not survive.

If you go down the gps route I'd advise you to have a good think about what you need and how you will use it. People are different, units are different. Remember, a bike gps unit is not the same as a car unit. Most units work best with a separate planner, like RWGPS, since a unit rarely has the capacity to plan a good route. Depending on where you go and the road options that may not be a big deal.

It's not clear how long you are going for, but based on not having a route I assume you will need to create routes "on the road". For that you will probably need an internet accessing phone, tablet or laptop for the planning to send to the unit. (Osmand, an app will work totally offline).
Wahoo units work with a phone app.

If it sounds complicated, sorry. It's really not when you can figure out how you will use it.

If you're leaving in two weeks I wouldn't bother too much. A couple of weeks on the road will tell you a lot about what you want and need. No reason you can't pick up a unit on the road if you decide you want one.

There are a couple of advantages for a unit -
Dedicated, weather proof and decent battery life.
For me, a huge advantage is the ability to record my daily journey, add photos, comments etc. and have a great memory of each day. Great fir family and friends to follow too. Also possible to do on your phone (RWGPS & Strava).

Good luck!




 

30
Routes / Re: What's a good first tour?
« on: July 13, 2021, 08:33:28 am »
What are you interested in?
Plan a tour around that/those?


Are there places you want to go?
Link them together and cycle there.

While a route, be that a Trans America etc. can be appealing at first glance, it's a line on a map that someone else has drawn. Much more interesting to draw your own lines on a map and follow those.

Much easier to stay inspired when the destination at the end of the day or week is a place you really want to visit.
Depending on where you go, though, it may require a bit more research.

It strikes me that you seem to have the one thing most cycle tourists would give their eye teeth for - time! You have the chance not just to visit and see places but to really absorb them. Local festival at the weekend? Hang around and get a feel for somewhere different. Ask locals what you should see and visit.

European, I've done tours following rivers, WWII cemeteries, Belgian breweries, military advances, Normandy invasion. Town cemeteries are a popular spot for me. (I'm really not so macabre!)
Where I have followed "official" cycle routes I have almost always tacked on my own added destinations. But they always had a time constraint.

In the US I arrived in Virginia, satisfied a long held urge to visit Charleston then set off to Nashville then Texas on a musical pilgrimage.
Cycling into Music City, USA - now that's s thrill!

Where are your thrills?

Good luck!

Edited to add:
If you're not aware have a look at CrazyGuyOnABike.com It has a treasure trove of journals from all over the world and a really good search/map function. Great for inspiration and information.

(I'd strongly suggest staying away from the fora there, though).



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