Author Topic: Eating the Transam Trail  (Read 5431 times)

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Offline Soulboy#1

Eating the Transam Trail
« on: March 07, 2017, 06:02:58 pm »
Hi folks.

I'm setting out end of April to ride the Transam trail. My first big tour so a bit new to touring. Question keeps popping in my head about food on the trail. Would any seasoned transamers offer any advice on food? The thought of carry extra stuff to cook with and getting your pots n pans out after a hard day in the saddle is a bit Tiring. So my question is this. Are the towns on the trail frequent  in their locality to get some good nourishment? Is it affordable?

Thank you in advance.

Dave

Online John Nelson

Re: Eating the Transam Trail
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2017, 11:14:26 pm »
Everybody has different experiences, but here's mine.

In Virginia, Kentucky and Illinois, the route is so rural that many of the towns you go through have few food choices. Even when you do go through a bigger town, the ACA map often takes you the back way through town so that you still don't see much food. I found myself eating a lot of gas-station food in those states. From Missouri to the West Coast, things were a bit better. You could find more cafes and grocery stores. I did not take any cooking equipment, so I could only eat ready-to-eat food.

To find more food options, you have to be willing to go off route a bit. Sometimes that's just a few blocks off route, but it can be a bit time-consuming to hunt around. I suppose a smart phone might help you find more food.

I also admit that I'm cheap, and not willing to spend two hours on a meal, so I rejected some of the fancier restaurants. That limited my options further.

Offline Gif4445

Re: Eating the Transam Trail
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2017, 04:49:45 am »
I've done most of the western half of the TA, so take this for what it's worth. Question to OP?  What will be your estimated daily mileage?  I know that will vary a bit, but can you do 60 mile days?  80 mile days?  If you are in that range or better, I don't think you have to be concerned.  If you have room in your pack for a little food to get you through the day, you will be fine.  It may be a mix of fast food, convenience store, restaurant and grocery, but you won't starve.  Rawlins Wyoming to/from Lander stands out to me as the most challenging in the west that I have rode as far as food stops.  Muddy Gap (convenience store) and Jeffers City (Restaurant) are maybe the only reliable stops between (125 miles).  Maybe the cafe in Lamont, but sounds like that may or may not be open.  If you are worried about cost, I assume that you would prefer the grocery store options.  That will probably be a little more difficult, if not impossible in stretches.  Doable in more populated area, but will take some navigating, as a previous poster has pointed out.   

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: Eating the Transam Trail
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2017, 10:10:30 am »
To me, there is a difference between calories and nourishment. I left the cooking gear at home during my 20-15 Black Hills tour and regretted it. "Junk/fast food everywhere. Nutritious/healthy food, not so much. Spent three nights in Custer and finally found a place that more than just burgers, fries, steaks and pizza. Another place near town also had *gasp* some green stuff called spinach that wasn't drowning in ranch dressing like many of the salad bar vegetables I found. Eating like that is fine once and a while, but my body runs best on a carb-based dinner with vegetables and protein. I typically have breakfast in camp, lunch out on the road if I haven't brought stuff to make my own lunch and then cook dinner in camp. I actually find it relaxing and sometimes challenging to whip up a great meal. During my week-long tour last September I made this in about 35 minutes:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/105349603@N05/29779270861/in/album-72157670896460903/

As for cost, I think you are going to spend more if you eat out every meal, especially when you factor in tip when you get waitress/waiter service. As you get into more touristy areas out west, the prices are generally going to rise. That's not to say some bargains can't be found.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Eating the Transam Trail
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2017, 09:31:00 pm »
I don't disagree with much of what indy says.  I'll add a few points, though.  First, there are a number places, swathes of Kentucky, Missouri, and parts of Kansas, for instance, where the small towns the TA goes through apparently cannot support fresh produce being stocked at their grocery stores.  (I don't worry much  too much about residents there, there seem to be a lot of gardens in most of those areas.)  It makes in difficult for a tourist with limited mobility, since most cyclists aren't inclined  to ride 60-100 miles out of their way to find fresh, or sometimes even frozen, vegetables.

The second point is that when you see a bunch of cars gathering between 4:30 and 5:00 at country diner, it's often worthwhile to stop for supper there.  It's probably the best eating place around.  And while it may not be your top idea of great dining, when you join the locals at their favorite diner, you have a good chance of being able to strike up conversations that will be some of the most revealing about the locale, the residents, their concerns, thoughts, hopes, fears, and humor.  To me, this is the most enlightening illustration of the country you are going through.  My wife doesn't cycle, so while I can take her to the great national parks to experience the scenery, she'll have to rely on what I tell her about the residents of the areas in between.

Offline roderick.young

Re: Eating the Transam Trail
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2017, 05:43:24 pm »
It's been a long time since I rode the TransAm Trail, almost 30 years.  But I'd imagine that services could only improve with time, as the population has expanded.  I don't recall a single stretch of more than 40 miles without food and water.  The source of food may be a gas station in many cases.  The typical spacing was maybe 20 miles.  How much it costs does depend on how much you cook.  When I was young, all I needed were calories, so could subsist on macaroni and chili, Peanut butter and jelly, or coldcut sandwiches.  Or premade deli items like fried chicken, burritos, and pizza form a grocery.  It is, of course, cheaper to buy foods, even from a convenience store, than to sit in a restaurant.

Economy packages cookies are good for keeping energy up while riding - cheaper calories than granola or energy bars.

If you have more money, look for the place in town where everybody hangs out.  In some towns, it could be the convenience mart at the gas station, or general store.  Or it could be the Dairy Queen.  Or a local diner.  Often the best banter with locals is at these places.

Camping is another way to save money, obviously.  Foregoing just one night at a motel saves enough money to buy your meals for a day at restaurants, maybe many days if you eat fast food.  It may be hard to resist a hot shower and cool room, though, at the end of a hot and humid day.  I thought I would camp more, but since I wasn't on a shoestring budget, kept succumbing to motels.

Story of the trip is here.

Offline Soulboy#1

Re: Eating the Transam Trail
« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2017, 04:24:49 am »
Thanks to everyone who has offered advice for my question. I guess my first option would be to cook, however not having all the correct equipment and an intent to ride out as light as possible makes the prospect of cooking as I go a bit of a headache.

Offline YogaO

Re: Eating the Transam Trail
« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2017, 02:38:48 pm »
As others have said, it depends on what your definitions of "good nutrition" and "affordable" are. It also depends on how many miles you do in a day, what the weather is, did you fight headwinds, cold, hot temps and how much climbing, plus a bunch of other stuff, like a bike mechanical?

Also, it depends on your budget. We met a couple of guys from the Netherlands who only rode with a rain jacket as additional gear. They rode hotel-to-hotel 60 - 120+ miles a day and ate in restaurants. They were fast!

On our W-E trip last summer, we found that many small towns had lost their grocery store because there's a Wal-Mart 25 or so miles down the road, easily accessed by car. Some significant number of small towns have had their grocery "replaced" with a Dollar General. We found them to be a good source for peanut butter and trail mix. I ate more trail mix last summer than in all of my prior life combined, LOL.

We also carried lightweight cooking gear and bought a few days worth of relatively nutritional items that we could make into a one pot meal. This included cooked chicken breast in pouches and pre-cooked Uncle Ben's rice in a variety of flavors (also found in pouches). We also carried flour tortillas and peanut butter. A great lunch is a flour (whole wheat) tortilla, peanut butter and roadside wild blackberries.

You can make a very lightweight alcohol stove and carry pretty minimal gear to cook with. Consult the ACA TransAm maps to see where there might be "holes" along your planned daily rides and plan accordingly.

Tailwinds!

Offline Gif4445

Re: Eating the Transam Trail
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2017, 10:07:23 am »
If you don't want to be carrying the cooking gear and extra food ALL the time, you could use a bounce box.  Send your gear ahead of you to a post office to pick up before services get scarce.  When you get out of those areas, send the gear ahead again, or back home if you won't need it again.  I used such on my last tour for clothing items that I thought would not be needed (forecast included terrible headwinds and I wanted to be as light as possible).  It's a little bit of a pain, in that small town PO's probably won't be open on weekends and many close by 4-4:30.   But it is a viable option.

Offline Soulboy#1

Re: Eating the Transam Trail
« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2017, 07:32:45 am »
To all the cookers

What gear did you need and what things were easy to knock up when you were without a kitchen and all its wonders with only the bare essentials to work with? Very interested to hear your advice and culinary tips?

Offline roderick.young

Re: Eating the Transam Trail
« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2017, 02:28:51 pm »
To all the cookers

What gear did you need and what things were easy to knock up when you were without a kitchen and all its wonders with only the bare essentials to work with? Very interested to hear your advice and culinary tips?
Portable white gas stove (propane seems to be more common)
Aluminum 2 qt camping pot with lid (lid serves as a frying pan)
Chopsticks or wooden spatula

A can of Dinty Moore Beef Stew can be heated directly on the stove or fire.  It's actually not terribly tasty if you're used to making your own stew, but if you're hungry after a day of cycling in rain, it's so delicious, and easy to fix.  In a pinch, it can be eaten cold.

Various kinds of pasta work well.  You need a supply of water, so if the campground has no water, this option is out.  A few handfuls of macaroni or shells, then when its ready, use the lid to keep the macaroni in the pot when you dump the water.  You can actually leave a little water, it doesn't hurt.  Add a can of chili, or canned spaghetti sauce, or whatever, and reheat if desired.  Slice of cheese is optional.  But if you got a package of cheese slices, and don't have a large group, you'll have to figure out how to eat the rest (add to sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwich, keep in handlebar bag as snack).

I like to keep one freeze-dried meal (at least) in the panniers in case I get stuck somewhere.  Personally, I consider those backpacking meals too expensive for regular use, especially when they rival pre-made food at a convenience store, the heat lamp section of a supermarket, or even a diner.

Offline Nyimbo

Re: Eating the Transam Trail
« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2017, 03:38:21 pm »
I rode Oregon to Kansas last summer and found myself enjoying eating anything anywhere.  I thought that was great fun.  This summer - finishing the second half I'm a bit worried as I have developed a health problem (not a super severe case) of pancreatitis. The diet for this is to eliminate fats and alcohol from the diet.  No problem to skip the alcohol, but it is really hard to find local cafes and convenience store food and community potluck food without fat.  So we'll see what happens.  I am going to try to find the best I can and see how it goes.

 I'm guessing I'll have fewer places without food available on the eastern half of the ride.  On the first half I'm sure I had a peanut butter on a bagel or pita bread at least an average of once a day.  Peanut butter has so much fat (oil) so it may not be the best choice for my carry everywhere emergency food.

Offline Soulboy#1

Re: Eating the Transam Trail
« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2017, 10:40:51 am »
I rode Oregon to Kansas last summer and found myself enjoying eating anything anywhere.  I thought that was great fun.  This summer - finishing the second half I'm a bit worried as I have developed a health problem (not a super severe case) of pancreatitis. The diet for this is to eliminate fats and alcohol from the diet.  No problem to skip the alcohol, but it is really hard to find local cafes and convenience store food and community potluck food without fat.  So we'll see what happens.  I am going to try to find the best I can and see how it goes.

 I'm guessing I'll have fewer places without food available on the eastern half of the ride.  On the first half I'm sure I had a peanut butter on a bagel or pita bread at least an average of once a day.  Peanut butter has so much fat (oil) so it may not be the best choice for my carry everywhere emergency food.

Thank Nyimbo.