Author Topic: Food by Mail  (Read 16088 times)

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Offline kurt

Food by Mail
« on: April 23, 2014, 05:16:46 pm »
On the GWD this summer, I plan on sending certain food supplies by general delivery to select P.O.s.  Has anyone experienced a reason NOT to do this?  Thanks.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Food by Mail
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2014, 05:40:39 pm »
GWD?

I have done mail drops and would again, but only where I couldn't buy just food as I go.  Since I don't know what you mean by GWD I am not sure how necessary it is for your route.

Do you have some particular reason to want or need to do mail drops of food?

I found that it was a bit of a hassle to deal with mail drops because small town post offices tend to have weird and short hours and I am not one to stay on a schedule.  It sucks to get to town and find the post office is closed the next two days.  Also I tended to not be ready for a package when I got to town.  On the other hand you can stop at any post office and they will arrange to forward your package further down the road.

I figure it is a useful approach if you are bikepacking where you will need to stock up for several days or more at a time and the food choices in local stores will be too limited wrt lightweight foods.  Otherwise I personally wouldn't bother.

My preferred approach is to buy food once a day where that is possible.  Also I like to mix in some diner meals where that is possible.

Offline kurt

Food by Mail
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2014, 06:50:00 pm »
Thanks for the reply.  I should have been more specific -- I guess I'm used to 'GWD' as my personal shorthand for the Great Western Divide mountain bike ride.  Thanks again.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Food by Mail
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2014, 07:40:13 pm »
Just MHO, but unless you're on a special diet, mailing food to yourself seems like a good way to spend money needlessly.  I could see perhaps a couple of mail drops for freeze-dried food on the route.  But most places you'll find a post office, you'll also find a store that carries pasta, oats, peanut butter, dried or canned meats, etc., not to mention some kind of vegetable and/or fruit.  The first four are about as dense calories as you can get without eating a stick of butter

As Pete alludes to,  part of the problem is predicting where and when you'll pass a P.O. that's open.  That means you'll either have to be in touch with someone to express mail you things one or two days ahead, or you'll be paying some company even more to do the same.  There's a place for a $15 freeze dried meal with dessert, but make it a $40 meal with S&H, and is it really going to taste that good?


Offline percy kittens

Re: Food by Mail
« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2014, 02:31:02 am »
I will be mailing myself food for the Trans Am Bike race. Thanks for the heads up about checking PO hours ahead of time. This works for me as I prefer organic foods and sources of energy that are free of standard commercial toxins. Since I have a map of the exact route and a rough goal of my daily mileage, I am planning to send three boxes at 1000-mile intervals. As far as cost, the local discount grocery has clif bars and stingers for .59 a pop and I can fit about 50 in a medium-sized flat rate USPS for a mailing cost of $12. It is still a significant savings and I get ingredients I can live with. Sure, the first day of toting 50 clif bars will be cumbersome, but figure that at 240 calories a pop and me riding 100-120 mpd I will easily eat 10 per day. This plan works for me as I am riding at a race pace and hope to eliminate excessive searching for food. The post office will hold general delivery for 30 days. My roommate will send the last two packages for me.
Hope some of this can be of use to the OP!

Offline staehpj1

Re: Food by Mail
« Reply #5 on: May 27, 2014, 05:53:10 am »
I will be mailing myself food for the Trans Am Bike race. Thanks for the heads up about checking PO hours ahead of time. This works for me as I prefer organic foods and sources of energy that are free of standard commercial toxins. Since I have a map of the exact route and a rough goal of my daily mileage, I am planning to send three boxes at 1000-mile intervals.

Some food for thought on that from someone who has used drop boxes and who has ridden across the country and done other similarly long tours...

I am having trouble making sense of your plan.  You describe it as a race, but 100-120 miles per day does not sound like a race pace.  It sounds like a lot of mileage for a tour but not much for a race.  What race race you referring to?  RAAM?

It is your ride and your choice, but 1000 miles worth of food at a time sounds like a heck of a lot of food to carry at once.  This is especially true if you are racing.

Then there is the mention of Cliff bars per box...

Cliff bars are generally pretty available along the way on the routes I have taken across the US and much of the way on my rides has been about as rural as it gets.  You will be stopping for water and/or other beverages any way and these days most mini marts, walmarts, targets, and convenience stores all usually have cliff bars.  I doubt that finding them would involve much/any searching.  I could see possibly see using drop boxes if your diet needed to be something hard to find along the way, but for the cliff bars I definitely wouldn't carry too many days worth at at time, they are just too available for that.

Besides that, I know that the folks I have toured with and I got very sick of of cliff bars after a few weeks on the road and we were not eating the 10 or more per day you mention.

Another problem I can see is that when touring getting to locations where you have a package to pick up, I  seem to fairly often wind up arriving there at at time the post office is closed.  This was true for us even when planning only a few days ahead at a time.  For a race it seems to me it even more likely that you might wind up arriving at a time the post office is closed and waiting around for them to be open would be less desirable than when touring.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2014, 05:52:18 am by staehpj1 »

Offline John Nelson

Re: Food by Mail
« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2014, 10:34:50 am »
10 Clif Bars a day for weeks on end? Just the thought of it makes me want to hurl. Have you tried this before? Do you know if your stomach can handle that much of the same thing?

Pete, I think maybe he's talking about this: http://www.transambikerace.com/. It's a very informal "race", but I agree with you that a number of people have done these kind of distances when not in a race. I also agree with you that it's easy to resupply en route. Carrying 10 pounds of Clif Bars to save ten bucks would not be my cup of tea either.

Perhaps what the OP means by GWD is the GDMBR. Or maybe he means an ad hoc route through the Sierra Nevadas.

Now, a few tips about general delivery. Pick a medium-sized town that only has one post office, but a post office with generous open hours. Know what the hours are ahead of time, and Google the location of the post office ahead of time too. Pick a town that you won't risk getting to on one of the days with more limited hours, such as Saturday or Sunday. If you can plan well enough, pick a town that isn't your destination for the day, but rather some place you'll be in the middle of the day (when the post office is more likely to be open--but make sure the post office doesn't close for lunch, which they do in small towns). If you keep to a schedule, general delivery can work very well. Don't put too much faith in expected delivery times, but mail your packages with plenty of time to spare.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Food by Mail
« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2014, 11:15:49 am »
10 Clif Bars a day for weeks on end? Just the thought of it makes me want to hurl. Have you tried this before? Do you know if your stomach can handle that much of the same thing?

+1

Somebody recently described "energy bars" as "emergency energy bars."  If it's an emergency, you'll be glad to have one or two.  If it's not an emergency, I have to force one down, often with lots of water.

Many ultra racers and randonneurs have gone to liquid foods like Spiz or Ensure.  They might not qualify for some tailored definition of "chemical free" but, depending on an individual's stomach, they can be digested.

Offline percy kittens

Re: Food by Mail
« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2014, 12:37:47 am »
Great advice, all around, thank you.

100 mpd is my best guess at what I can do. This is my first "race". I like to think of the endurance part of it more than the speed part of it. It is 4200 miles, so I figure, aim low to avoid burning out in the beginning. Since I have never rode across the country before, I have absolutely no idea what to expect of my abilities.

The clif bars idea came about as I am on a budget and was trying to shave down my daily food costs. I am a sugar junkie, although I don't eat candy bars and the like, so cliffies for me are sort of a legal candy. Yes, I could and have eat[en] ten a day. It is said that one could expect to burn 4k calories riding this much. Even 3k calories a day would be a friggin fortune at the small stores one is bound to on a x-country race consisting of side-roads.

There are no qualifiers for the TABR, which is how people like me come to be a part of it. There are a number of pro racers who plan to do 200+ miles per day. That's great, enjoy your youth ;-) Me, i'll stick to 100 mpd and see how that feels and will adjust as more information comes in.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Food by Mail
« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2014, 06:21:05 am »
100 mpd is my best guess at what I can do. This is my first "race". I like to think of the endurance part of it more than the speed part of it. It is 4200 miles, so I figure, aim low to avoid burning out in the beginning. Since I have never rode across the country before, I have absolutely no idea what to expect of my abilities.

On a tour, I always recommend riding easy days for the first week or so and then building the daily mileage after settled in to the grind.  Not sure if that works for you or not, but it does help avoid overdoing and getting injured an/or discouraged.  It also avoids needing to take days off recovering.  I much prefer to ride every day or at least almost every day.

Even 3k calories a day would be a friggin fortune at the small stores one is bound to on a x-country race consisting of side-roads.

I don't know your route, but only a few exceptions on any given route I have done it is pretty hard to avoid going past a walmart every hundred miles or so and impossible to avoid dollar stores.  It may depend on what you consider a fortune, but I have managed to eat pretty cheaply even when eating at least one restaurant meal per day.  Both diners and Subway usually wont dent your budget too bad.  You will undoubtedly have lots of chances to buy real food at a grocery or walmart.

There are no qualifiers for the TABR, which is how people like me come to be a part of it. There are a number of pro racers who plan to do 200+ miles per day. That's great, enjoy your youth ;-) Me, i'll stick to 100 mpd and see how that feels and will adjust as more information comes in.

Just a suggestion, but...

I don't know your age or fitness level, but I know that I personally didn't mind didn't mind doing quite a few 100+ mile days on my last coast to coast road tour.  That said it was nice to take some easy days and I wound up only averaging 80 miles per day.  I was 61 at the time, not much of an athlete, and didn't train for the trip beyond just trying to remain at a good overall fitness level.  Also, an injury slowed me down for some of the trip.  Only you can say what will work for you, but much more mileage than that would have been a lot less fun to me.

I'd suggest that you consider taking time to talk to the locals and hang out.  See the sights a bit.  It doesn't sound like you will be competitive at the pace you are contemplating unless you are at a pretty advanced age and there are age brackets, so treating it more like a tour and less like a race may be nice.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Food by Mail
« Reply #10 on: May 28, 2014, 10:44:45 am »
This may not apply to you at all, but I'll mention it just in case.

Racing (or even rushing) the TransAm, even at a very low level, would make the route about 10% as much fun as taking a bit longer. So please carefully consider whether you even want to rush this trip. Maybe this race is not the best option for you. Unless you are an exceptionally goal-driven person, and/or have very limited time, taking a few more weeks for this trip would make it ever so much more fun. But maybe you're not out there for fun.

Getting half or more of your calories from Clif Bars is not a balanced diet. My guess is that your body will revolt. I further guess that this strategy will only save you a few bucks a day at most. A typical Clif Bar has 230 calories, and cost you (according to your figures) 59 cents plus 24 cents mailing costs (315 calories per dollar). An two-pound sub sandwich at Safeway costs $5 (on sale) and has 1642 calories (328 calories per dollar). You can eat real, fresh food for less! Furthermore, the all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet in Marshfield, Missouri costs $4.50 and can easily provide you with at least 1500 calories per dollar.

Offline percy kittens

Re: Food by Mail
« Reply #11 on: May 29, 2014, 01:11:05 am »
On a tour, I always recommend riding easy days for the first week or so and then building the daily mileage after settled in to the grind.  Not sure if that works for you or not, but it does help avoid overdoing and getting injured an/or discouraged.  It also avoids needing to take days off recovering.  I much prefer to ride every day or at least almost every day.

Sounds good. My plans are loose. I have goals that will be adjusted as new information (pain) comes in.

I don't know your route, but only a few exceptions on any given route I have done it is pretty hard to avoid going past a walmart every hundred miles or so and impossible to avoid dollar stores.  It may depend on what you consider a fortune, but I have managed to eat pretty cheaply even when eating at least one restaurant meal per day.  Both diners and Subway usually wont dent your budget too bad.  You will undoubtedly have lots of chances to buy real food at a grocery or walmart.

I dont shop at WM and I am not going to leave my fully loaded bike, locked, in front of a large store, even if the route allows me access to one. I dont (when it can be avoided) eat processed food, preservatives, junk etc. My plan may sound weird and convoluted to some, but it is a way to keep some kind of organic source of energy with me. I will of course eat other foods, but I do not want to eat crap out of desperation.

Just a suggestion, but...
I don't know your age or fitness level,

47, F, ride about 80 miles a week, constraints due mostly to work+school. I'd ride all dang day if I didn't have work or homework to do when i got back. I am taking two months off for this  ;D

but I know that I personally didn't mind didn't mind doing quite a few 100+ mile days on my last coast to coast road tour.  That said it was nice to take some easy days and I wound up only averaging 80 miles per day.  I was 61 at the time, not much of an athlete, and didn't train for the trip beyond just trying to remain at a good overall fitness level.  Also, an injury slowed me down for some of the trip.  Only you can say what will work for you, but much more mileage than that would have been a lot less fun to me.
I will play it as it comes :-D

I'd suggest that you consider taking time to talk to the locals and hang out.  See the sights a bit.  It doesn't sound like you will be competitive at the pace you are contemplating unless you are at a pretty advanced age and there are age brackets, so treating it more like a tour and less like a race may be nice.

I am competing with me and one other person whom I hope to beat, as yet undetermined. My goal is to a) finish b) not last. What is the point of entering a race if one does not do better than their best? It is always easier for me to assume I can do less than I think I can, if that makes any sense. I am just going for it, is all. As far as stopping, I am trading in my vintage flip phone for a smart phone because it has an app where I can locate an AA meeting wherever I am. To me that would be awesome. AA people are the most. I have been in for 27 years, with four years in between out doing research  :-X

 Plus I have a woman's AA coin she gave me to take with me, as she cannot travel right now, she would like her coin to see the sights. I plan to photograph it at various spots along the way and email her, like that garden gnome in [In Bruges?]. So, the race does have a spiritual bent to it. ;)

Offline percy kittens

Re: Food by Mail
« Reply #12 on: May 29, 2014, 01:21:34 am »
This may not apply to you at all, but I'll mention it just in case.

Racing (or even rushing) the TransAm, even at a very low level, would make the route about 10% as much fun as taking a bit longer. So please carefully consider whether you even want to rush this trip. Maybe this race is not the best option for you. Unless you are an exceptionally goal-driven person, and/or have very limited time, taking a few more weeks for this trip would make it ever so much more fun. But maybe you're not out there for fun.

Getting half or more of your calories from Clif Bars is not a balanced diet. My guess is that your body will revolt. I further guess that this strategy will only save you a few bucks a day at most. A typical Clif Bar has 230 calories, and cost you (according to your figures) 59 cents plus 24 cents mailing costs (315 calories per dollar). An two-pound sub sandwich at Safeway costs $5 (on sale) and has 1642 calories (328 calories per dollar). You can eat real, fresh food for less! Furthermore, the all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet in Marshfield, Missouri costs $4.50 and can easily provide you with at least 1500 calories per dollar.

I post just to appreciate your math.  ;D
I suppose, after listening to my internal replies, that I do have what would be called a 'special diet' after all. I am not going to eat sources of non-nutritive energy if it can at all be avoided, and i believe it can. maybe that will be my personal bent to this race, along with the friend mission I have described in a previous reply. Sure, tons of calories can be had for a few dollars, but the ingredients are just toxic and would take more wind out of my sails than riding too hard one day. that sub sandwich has tons of preservatives, the chinese food most likely msg and some toxic oil like canola.

Food for me does not have to be a gourmet experience. I view it as a source of energy. I am happy to eat energy bars all day and salad + fish when I can find it organic. Fruits too. High-fat and high-fiber foods digest too slowly for the purposes of this expedition, else i'd mau on avocados and coconut by the pound.

Mostly, let me thank all of you for your responses, your wisdom and now your excellent road food calculus skills. I look forward to getting to know some of you as time and the miles go by  ;D

Offline staehpj1

Re: Food by Mail
« Reply #13 on: May 29, 2014, 06:13:44 am »
...and I am not going to leave my fully loaded bike, locked, in front of a large store, even if the route allows me access to one.

This really need not be a problem.  I play it by ear depending on the location, but if you are concerned you can generally either just wheel the bike up and down the aisles or ask if you can park it in a safe spot inside.   You can even get by OK without a lock.

I do have another suggestion that might be a bit off topic for this thread.  Since you mentioned fully loaded and race in describing the same ride I can't resist straying to packing style.  Fully loaded and race together kind of don't compute in my way of thinking.  My last coast to coast tour I had a base gear weight of 14 pounds including bags.  I was able to comfortably camp and cook with what I was carrying and the light load greatly enhanced the riding.  I have since further trimmed the weight to 11 pounds for a subsequent trip.  If I were racing I might even go lighter.

Applying some of those load reducing techniques might be helpful to you on a ride of this nature especially since speed is a priority.

Check out some of my ultralight recommendations at:
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/Ultralight

And some of my other articles and journals at:
https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/directory/?o=LB&user=staehpj1&v=16

Also browse around on the crazy guy site in general at:
https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/directory/?o=LB&user=staehpj1&v=16

Oh it is more off road oriented but check out the bikepacking site at:
http://www.bikepacking.net/

Are you going to post a journal anywhere?  If so let us know where so we can follow your trip.  That or post back and let us know how it went.

Good luck and have a great trip.

Offline percy kittens

Re: Food by Mail
« Reply #14 on: May 29, 2014, 09:49:55 am »
Crazy Guy:
I have had your page bookmarked since I decided to do this back in November. I have been using it regularly for tips! Thank you.
By fully loaded I mean more like I am a turtle and that bike is my home for the next two months. I have my gear down to the basics, with a change of clothes, tiny first-aid pack, lightweight bivvy and inflatable sleeping bad. I sprung for Revelate Design bags in front and back and will remove the rear rack for this trip. I plan to not wash my (long) hair and appreciate the softness that natural oils can bring. I have a bar of soap, a travel towel (soaks up a lot, packs very small)..
...and a bottle of ibuprofen  :D

I should probably move my gear discussion to another forum.

I thought of having a blog.  I had only planned to post updates on my facebook page to keep my friends current, but I can post here as well if you like (in another forum - I'll look around for the appropriate spot). It would be great to have you guys on board with me! I value the mental support, virtual or IRL.