Author Topic: Newb, feeling over whelmed by planning process. where/how to start???  (Read 7596 times)

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Offline Bursha

 :-\ So i've got my bike, gear, and maps (norther & great lakes). I'm just not sure how to begin planning my trip using the maps. How will i know how many miles per day i'll be riding, so i know where i'll end up and sleep each night. I'm feeling overwhelmed and intimidated by the whole process. Any advice on how/where to begin this process?? Thanks in advance!

Offline staehpj1

Re: Newb, feeling over whelmed by planning process. where/how to start???
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2014, 04:07:13 pm »
How will i know how many miles per day i'll be riding, so i know where i'll end up and sleep each night.
I strongly advise against planning each day in advance.  That would suck much of the joy out of the trip for me.  You only need to know that you have enough time to finish the tour.  Mostly just take each day as it comes.  You do want to look a couple days ahead so you can plan for any long stretches with no services or places where you want to stop for some special reason.

I usually don't know where I will stop for the day until I am there.  I do look at the map for the next couple days so I have an idea what my options are, but where I stop will depend on how much energy I have, how much mileage I can knock out, whether I get an invite to stay somewhere, and whether a stopping place strikes my fancy. 
« Last Edit: January 17, 2014, 04:08:44 pm by staehpj1 »

Offline John Nelson

Re: Newb, feeling over whelmed by planning process. where/how to start???
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2014, 05:15:27 pm »
If you read some journals over at crazyguyonabike.com, you'll start to get a feel for how far you might ride in a day. There are lots of journals over there, so find ones by someone of a similar age and condition, and who seems to tour in a style that suits you. That'll give you an idea of how far you might go in a day. Most people go from 30 to 90 miles in a day, with a pretty big concentration in the 50 to 60 mile range. Use that as a starting point. Then figure out if you might like to take days off or not and how often. Use the maps to figure out if there are particular attractions you might like to linger at. These factors can give you a rough schedule.

Now look at your maps. I like to make a list of all the places that are consistent with the types of places I like to stay. Note how far apart they are. From this, you can make a rough plan, but don't feel compelled to stick to it. Take the list with you so that you can find alternatives along the way. Perhaps you are getting tired early--look at your list to see what's coming up next. Maybe you get to your tentative destination and find that it's a dump, or maybe you just feel like riding farther--look at your list again and see what's farther up ahead. Can you get there?

I usually plan one day at a time. In the morning, or the evening before, I pick out a target for the day. Most of the time, that's where I end up, but I remain flexible.

If you have a hard stop, such as a non-refundable airline ticket home, you may want to make a tentative schedule for the whole trip that gets you to your end point at the right time. Again, you don't need to stick to the schedule, but you can use it as a gauge as to whether you are ahead or behind schedule and whether you can slow down or might need to speed up.

Most of the fun of a tour is the freedom to make each decision as it comes and not worry to much about tomorrow.

Oh, by the way, and this is important: take a test trips of a couple of days to a week to see how it plays out for you. Even overnighters on a weekend are useful experience. This will help ease your anxiety and give you confidence.

Offline Bursha

Re: Newb, feeling over whelmed by planning process. where/how to start???
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2014, 08:07:57 pm »
Thanks for the info folks! John, i'll certainly check out the journals on crazyguyonabike. I've stumbled across that site a few times in preparing for this trip but never took the time to notice those journals. Thanks again!

Offline KeepPedalin

Re: Newb, feeling over whelmed by planning process. where/how to start???
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2014, 06:15:38 pm »
Thats similar to how i felt when i started the northern tier in 2010.  I tried planning out the first week or so.  With in the first day that all went out the window.   If your going west to east i would do a really long first day to get close to the base of mt washington or two short days to get there, since its a really long climb to the top.  The first day i cycled to concrete and then cycled up mt washington from there and it ended up taking much longer than i anticipated it was 5pm and i still had 30 miles to go to reach the top which doesnt seem like much but when your only going 4-6 mph that takes a looooong time.  Didnt reach the top till the middle of the night and was a freezing ride down the other side.  Towards the base of the mountain right before spokane theres a nice little farm that has a sign out front for touring cyclists to camp there.  They have a nice little set up with an outdoor shower and plenty of space to camp.  They even invited me in for some juice and chips while we shared cycling stories.  After the weeks went on youll learn sense when its ready to stop.  Half the time i would just ask a farmer on the side of the road where a good place to camp was if i was out in the country and most of the time they would let me pitch my tent in their yard.  Majority of all the small cities you go threw have parks that allow camping so its really never hard to find a place to camp, unless your staying in hotels and such.

Offline bogiesan

Re: Newb, feeling over whelmed by planning process. where/how to start???
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2014, 08:57:19 pm »
DOn't sweat it, everything comes together. It's not always pleasant, though.

Thousands of folks take off every year with a lot less planning and research than you have performed and they seem to do alright. But I'm not the kind of guy who risks comfort (and possibly much more) without knowing what I'm doing. I wouldn't start winter backcountry ski camping without some training and some experimentation under controlled and reduced risk conditions.

I strongly urge you to sign up with a supported bike tour event--tow or three nights or a week. It's an expensive vacation, about $100/day on average, but you learn how to ride distances, how your gear works, how your bike works and how to pack and set up your camp. then take a few short overnights with all of your gear packed on the bike. There are plenty of places wherever you are that you can ride to, set up camp, eat, sleep safely and return.

Or, of course, you can just saddle up and hit the road!

Please visit the forums after your trip and let us know how you got along. Or give us your blog address if you're traveling and posting live.
I play go. I use Macintosh. Of course I ride a recumbent

Offline Bursha

Re: Newb, feeling over whelmed by planning process. where/how to start???
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2014, 09:24:50 pm »
Tks for the tips Bogiesan! I'm actually planning to take a few overnight/weekend cycle camping trips soon to try out our gear and get some practice riding with all that added weight. I ride somewhat regularly now, about 100+ miles per week (although I've been down for a few months with a broken collarbone), but i know this isn't near what i should expect to be doing for this trip. My plan is to fit in as many fully loaded with gear trips on the weekends between now and June as i can, to try and prepare me for the cross country trip in June. I will definitely post on the forums during/after the trip.

Tks KeepPedalin for the first day tip on Mt. Washington!

indyfabz

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Re: Newb, feeling over whelmed by planning process. where/how to start???
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2014, 12:54:38 pm »
When I did ACA's group Northern Tier tour, we planned about a week ahead, in part because we had  adrop dead date we had to finish by. Only you know how far you can reasonably expect to ride each day based on the conditions. And note that, unless you intend to stealth camp, some times the planning in terms of where you will stay each noght takes care of itself due to the way accomodations are spaced out. On the westrn part of the NT route, sometimes we had the choice of reasonable miles and one mountain pass or unreasonable mileage and two mountain passes.

It might help you get into the grove by roughly planning out your first week. Using the maps, look for services such as food/groceries and campgrounds that are located in places that, based on your cycling ability, you reasonably believe you can reach each day. But definitely remain flexible. Condtions could shorten or extend a planned day. For example, you might find yourself with a steady 25 mph tailwind over the flat ground of central Montana and decide on the fy to turn a planned 55 mile day into an 80 mile day. On the flip side, bad weather may shorten your planned day or cancel it completely.

Offline Bursha

Re: Newb, feeling over whelmed by planning process. where/how to start???
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2014, 08:28:39 pm »
Based on all these replies, it sounds like the best plan is no plan!  ;D

I think i'm just gonna break out the maps and start looking up points of interest in certain areas and try and plan to be in those areas. I'm not used to this flying by the seat of my pants business but I guess that's the beauty of this adventure.

Thanks again!

Offline jimbo

Re: Newb, feeling over whelmed by planning process. where/how to start???
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2014, 08:50:02 pm »
My first trip was northern tier (to Glacier) and then various routes including Great Lakes. Our ave. was in the 60 range as John Nelson has indicated. Plan enough to feel you have some control and reduce the anxiety level ( some people get anxious with plans while others of us need some plans to find a comfort level). Contact me via messaging if you want to know where my stops were...the 5 passes control the first week and pretty much determine the over nights.
There is nothing like the FIRST trip.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Newb, feeling over whelmed by planning process. where/how to start???
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2014, 06:16:55 am »
Based on all these replies, it sounds like the best plan is no plan!  ;D

I think i'm just gonna break out the maps and start looking up points of interest in certain areas and try and plan to be in those areas. I'm not used to this flying by the seat of my pants business but I guess that's the beauty of this adventure.

Thanks again!

Have a great trip.

Offline gorob23

Re: Newb, feeling over whelmed by planning process. where/how to start???
« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2014, 06:45:41 pm »
Good info I am planing a trip Trans America tier (kind of) Starting in Manhattan Beach and at some point hooking into the T.A.
SO thanks to those of us with the same questions.

Rob

Offline PeteJack

Re: Newb, feeling over whelmed by planning process. where/how to start???
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2014, 01:47:09 pm »
Quote from: KeepPedalin
then cycled up mt washington from there
I take it you mean Washington Pass the highest point on the N Cascades Hwy. Don't be like the father of two brothers I met in Minnesota. He got as far as Washington Pass and refused to go any further leaving his sons to carry on without him! All part of the rich tapestry of cycle touring

Offline officerdare

Re: Newb, feeling over whelmed by planning process. where/how to start???
« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2014, 07:23:34 pm »
BUT!  It does not hurt to plan.  For my ride this summer, I’ve been using Ride with GPS to plan out the route, which will give me cue sheets.  I’ve planned most of the ride to average approx. 60 miles a day, though I know that things will change as I travel and flexibility is going to be the key.  Also have done research on places to camp, city parks, etc.  Especially since I will be on a trike, I’ve used Google Maps to get an idea of how the roads actually look and made modifications especially on the really tight, curvy mountain roads in the east.  I contacted all the state DOT’s and have gotten some really good maps, suggestions, etc from them.  Time consuming, but part of the fun of planning a trip.  Train, train, train, especially if you are using a DF touring bike and get your sit bones ready for long hours in the saddle.  There are a lot of really good tips to be found on crazyguyonabike website,  choose the type of bike you ride and go to that section.  I found some of the packing lists to be helpful.  Ride, be safe and have fun.
Saepius Exertus, Semper Fidelis, Frater Infinitas, Fortitudine Vincimus
Often Tested, Always Faithful, Brothers Forever, By Endurance We Conquer

Offline dayjack119

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Re: Newb, feeling over whelmed by planning process. where/how to start???
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2014, 05:59:43 pm »
In planning, you have to determine your methods of travel, first.   My desire is to stay with as many hosts as possible.  Others may be loners and would rather not plan but camp on the fly.  To me the hosts make the trip.
Below is my method, but everyone has their own ideas.
1.  Draw a general line on a map that defines your direction of travel from point A to B.
2.  Select a town or general area on either side of that line every thirty to fifty miles as an over night stop.  (This gives me time to get to know my hosts and maybe look around a bit)  If you are young, you are going to travel lighter, faster and farther, and only be concerned with the end goal.  The older the wiser.  I don't want to miss anything in-between.
3.  Use Warmshowers, Couchsurfers and Tripping websites to locate and arrange overnight hosts in overnight stop areas.
4.  Contact governmental State and City Tourism Departments for their bicycle and state road maps and side trip sites.
5.  Use Google Drive to create an systematic on-line spreadsheet of all pertinent data that your laptop/phone can access at anytime.
I organize my rides months in advance.  In 2013, I traveled 7,000 miles and stayed with 127 hosts that I will never forget.  I owe the overall success of my trip to prior planning.
Hope this helps.
Jack