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Messages - HobbesOnTour

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Gear Talk / Re: Breaking in Brooks B17 Imperial
« on: January 01, 2022, 06:21:10 pm »
I'm not an expert but I've broken in three Brook's leather saddles.
The first was the most difficult about an hour at a time.
The second (sprung) was easier and the third was done in a 400km weekend.
People's experiences vary. I'd suggest using the Proofide (wax) very, very sparingly.

Personally, I'd wait to break it in on the bike I'm going to use it on.

General Discussion / Re: Happy New Year!
« on: January 01, 2022, 06:16:54 pm »
Happy New Year, John and all.

Unlike most I've actually been "on tour" for a little over two years including a year "de-toured" in México due to closed borders in an attempt to get from Virginia to Patagonia.

I've made it as far as southern Colombia but couldn't cross into Ecuador a few weeks ago. It's confusing even now if I'm permitted to cross but the Colombians have extended my visitor permit to March and then I'll probably head home to Europe. In the meantime I get to explore more of this fabulous cycling country.

A happy and safe touring year to all.

Gear Talk / Re: Need STRONG 135mm hub for Surly long haul trucker.
« on: December 28, 2021, 05:04:19 pm »
Is 400lbs a typo?

If not you're going to need specialist racks and panniers too!

I travel pretty heavy ( about 110 - 130 kg total) and regularly take rough roads. I have the Ryde Anda rims, 36 spoke hand made by SJS in the UK. The only problem I had was when I foolishly fell into a drain. I've a Shimano hub on the rear and a Son Dynohub on the front.

As regards any "specialist" hubs such as the Phil Woods bear in mind the need to be able to service them on the road. Personally, I'd prefer to have something that can be serviced/adjusted/bodged to keep me going.

Youth Bicyle Travel / Re: Introduction, a plan, and some questions. :)
« on: November 24, 2021, 06:43:07 pm »
Why revive a two and half year old thread?
I went on a similar trip last year across Europe. At first, I was thinking about renting a car.

General Discussion / Re: About trailering one's pet dog while touring?
« on: November 20, 2021, 04:17:40 pm »
There are a number of videos on YouTube of people touring with dogs.
In Europe it is not uncommon at all to see small dogs in baskets, larger ones in trailers.

It's a dream of mine, someday.

All the points noted above are relevant. I'd also add that the dog would need to be very calm when traffic is heavy, close and fast.
I would also worry about territorial dogs on the roads I was riding.

Also, accommodation options can be limited with a pet.

I'd imagine a lot of day rides and practice are in order - lucky you[ :D

Routes / Re: Brit riding across the US
« on: November 16, 2021, 10:15:06 am »
As a fellow European who has done some riding in the States here's a few thoughts....

Distances can be big! By that I mean the distances between places to get a drink or food.

"Proper" food is rare and expensive.

I found ACA routes often unpleasant. (Atlantic coast in particular)

Dogs can be an issue.

The most dangerous traffic I have encountered is in the U.S.

Weather can be scary and much more extreme than what we are used to.

Camping can be very expensive

Bridges can be terrifying!

I think it's interesting that we tend to focus on a route eg coast to coast. I've had more success with thinking about places I'd like to visit and linking them together. was my default planner when I needed to do this or when the ACA route was not good.

With four months and a willing wife you really have your pick of things. (You'll need a visa for more than 3 months).

I've listed the negatives but I really enjoyed my time in the US.

Best of luck!

Gear Talk / Re: cooking System
« on: October 31, 2021, 04:55:01 am »
In my world eating should be a pleasure not a process and I pack accordingly.

I use a Trangia set supplemented with a flask.
The flask gets a lot of use - for making (and holding) coffee, for "finishing" pasta while I cook/heat up a sauce or for keeping water hot for tea on long cold nights.

General Discussion / Re: A weighty question
« on: October 25, 2021, 05:56:09 pm »

Questions:  For those who use GPS mapping, do you also carry paper maps? 

To answer your question .... It depends, but usually no. And even pre gpx I didn't usually carry maps. Mind you, that was in Europe and I did a lot of navigating by river or canal. A photograph of a bike map placed regularly along the route could last several days.

I use mapping apps on my phone, either to see where I am and to get local, live info (Google maps), route plotting (, Osmand).

I like a paper map to see the "big picture" which is difficult on a phone. But those maps are invariably poor for trying to plot a route on.
Bear in mind that I rarely have a definitive route in mind when I set off. They also serve a useful (for some) purpose by drawing people towards you if sitting down poring over a map. They are far more sociable than a phone or tablet.

Presuming you have the route already created in RWGPS what information will these maps have that you will need?
Is it just for redundancy? A back up in case of a technology fail? Do you want to be able to wander off course and need the extra information that these maps offer?

Depending on your answers there are probably better, lighter and more useful options.
Any info about the route (accommodation, stores, etc.) can simply be stored in a memo app on your phone or on a mapping app like Google or Osmand.

For redundancy, time to be realistic. If your Garmin fails you still have your phone. If your phone fails you still have your garmin. If both fail you have other problems than just a lost route. In any case, a new phone, Internet connection and you're back in business. Or just buy a map in a store.

Have you tried looking at the downloaded pdfs on your phone? If that works for you you can bring them all with zero weight penalty. Or perhaps you're planning on bringing a tablet?
Perhaps the PDF format doesn't work well so try photographing the map on your phone. A photo might "play" better.

The only disadvantages of using a phone are battery dependence and difficulty in rain.

And (as above) there are people. You can always talk to them! Just remember that drivers always underestimate the distances! :)

If you are going to take printouts remember that unless using special "paper" or laminating them they will likely need handling with kid gloves and bone dry storage.

Since you have a new gps unit and admit to not being very technically adept (neither am I) I'd encourage you to stress test it (and yourself!) as much as possible.
Try going off course and see what happens.
In an urban area pretend that a road is closed (or totally unsuitable) and see how to get around it.
Try creating a route "on the fly" both online and off.
Create a figure 8 route and see how the unit handles it.
If it has the function to save locations practice using that feature (perhaps for hotels in large urban areas)
Get a handle on battery life. Just how far will 10% get you? 5%? Similarly, how long to charge it?
Can you input an address into it and will it calculate a good, safe route?
The better you know and understand your unit the less stress you will have.

Just a final comment. One of the best pieces of gear I use is a Kindle. Not only am I toting a huge library with me I can also back up important documents, route notes and even maps (quality may vary) on it. For travelling I can download entire wikipedia articles about places. Of course, there's a kindle app for phone and tablet but a separate device is another layer of backup.

Good luck!

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 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

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!

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 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!

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!

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!

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!

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

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!

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