Author Topic: First time, but year long trip. Nervous.  (Read 538 times)

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Offline Tortoise Avenger

First time, but year long trip. Nervous.
« on: August 29, 2020, 11:30:38 pm »
Hi there... First post ever.

For various reasons, I am considering planning a bike tour to last a year. I'm less interested in covering mileage and more interested in living simply. Being in nature is a huge plus. Ideally, I could repeat my year-long route until I don't want to do it anymore. Before I get too deep into this, I'm just wondering if what I want is possible. (I've seen videos of people doing it, but maybe they are nuttier than I am?)

Basically, I want to live "on the road" for awhile. Sort of like van life, but on a bike. I have some backpacking experience, and from what I can tell, the gear and knowledge is somewhat transferrable. I am fortunate enough to own a successful internet business, and although I don't make a ton of money, I make enough that as long as I have a reliable data connection a couple days a week, I'm fairly confident I can afford to do this indefinitely.

I've been paring down what I own, and testing out living with very little. So far so good. In order for this to work for me, I need the following:

  • Reliable internet (data cell connection is fine) two or more days a week (reliable enough to make a set virtual appointment),
  • The ability to go up and down the Eastern half the US in such a way that temperatures aren't crazy (up in 6 months, down in six months?)
  • Cheap or free camping along the way. (In the past when I've researched this, hunting season in the South is a problem in the winter in the National Forests...)

I'm an analytical person, and perfectly comfortable thinking of every minor detail. But I have no idea how to plan something like this. Should I buy a map for one of the North/South Adventure Cycling routes? Any advice on how to plan for camping or internet?

I understand that this is a can of worms, and I have a feeling that planning the whole thing is going to be as much of an adventure as the lifestyle is itself. Hence, any suggestions you have to offer are VERY MUCH appreciated!

Thanks!

Offline HobbesOnTour

Re: First time, but year long trip. Nervous.
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2020, 12:02:58 am »
Is it possible? Yes! Other people are doing it. I'm on a phone and can't look properly, but there are blogs from people who have done the same. Have a look.

But......
I'd strongly suggest you get some practice under your belt. A sense of adventure is normally all I'd suggest you need (and a comfortable bike) but in your case, you need to keep a business going.

I think you may find conflicting demands - cheap/free accommodation is unlikely to be compatible with reliable internet access. Local libraries might be better or Starbucks etc. That of course, means leaving your bike unattended.

As for maps/planning etc. that is really where practice and experience comes into play. Everybody plans differently because everyone has different thresholds for uncertainty/spontaneity.
There's a map floating around on the internet showing a bike touring route around the US that maintains a 70F temperature every day.

There are practical considerations to living on the road, especially if you plan to not have a "home". I'm thinking taxes, insurance etc. 

Practise. Practise some more. Then practise again.

Good luck!

Offline staehpj1

Re: First time, but year long trip. Nervous.
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2020, 06:39:16 am »
I have not done and have no interest in doing what you are planning myself, but have spent some longish periods on the road.  My experiences don't really match what you are trying to do.  I know that after a couple months on the road if I have reached my destination I am ready to go home for a while.  If I didn't have a destination I probably wouldn't last that long.

That said, a lot of the skills from your backpacking experience will be useful.  I think maybe the most useful will be the ability to live a simple life with not much stuff and to be adaptable to changing conditions.

There are a variety of ways you could live with a bike.  Approaches I have observed others taking are:
1. Something pretty close to typical touring, where they are making some daily mileage and following and making progress on some route.
2. Bouncing around in a local area moving seasonally.
3. Living in one area with a bike (basically just homeless in one place with a bike).

In my experience it is easier to live on the road away from the coasts at least when on a goal oriented tour.  People were very hospitable and impromptu camping was super easy to find across the middle of the country when I could say I was riding coast to coast.  They might be less hospitable if they thought you were living on your bike.  Not sure if you might be less likely to be treated as well.

For a new tourist I think and adventure cycling route is a great introduction.  I cut my teeth on the Trans America and thought that it was easy because the trail had been blazed by thousands before me, but when I later rode other places I realized that what I learned from using those maps allowed me to get along easily in similar country elsewhere.

Personally, I'd suggest a route across the country rather than up and down.  One of the well used and well pioneered ones would be the best to start with.  The TA is great in season.   I highly recommend trying the AC maps for it if you plan to take the approach in item #1 otherwise I don't see them as useful.

If you choose to have a destination and keep moving the hardest part is where to spend the winter since the southern tier is so empty much of the way.  You will probably need to knock around in the southeast for a good chunk of the season.

My suggestion would be to start out on an AC route with a rough schedule in season.  I much prefer it if it wasn't the Winter or the Southern Tier.  Then from there you could decide to alter your approach to something else as you see fit.

Offline dkoloko

Re: First time, but year long trip. Nervous.
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2020, 09:58:58 am »
For what you say is one of your needs I suggest you Google free or cheap camping for touring bicyclists.

Online John Nettles

Re: First time, but year long trip. Nervous.
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2020, 08:23:30 pm »
I would say so.  Thousands have toured by bike for years at a time on the cheap.  The caveat is they typically do not stay in the USA or Europe due to expenses. 

That said, check out the various Facebook pages devoted to full-time touring and/or the journals over at CrazyGuyonabike.com .

Out of curiosity, why are you limiting yourself to the eastern USA.  If I were going to do this, I would definitely expand my geographic area as the western USA has many more free places to camp but the internet would be harder to come by.

Tailwinds, John

Offline staehpj1

Re: First time, but year long trip. Nervous.
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2020, 08:33:54 pm »
Out of curiosity, why are you limiting yourself to the eastern USA.  If I were going to do this, I would definitely expand my geographic area as the western USA has many more free places to camp but the internet would be harder to come by.
I might winter in the SE, but other than that I agree.  Free/cheap camping is more difficult in the east.  Covid may have screwed up things but in the past bouncing up and down the pacific coast and staying in hiker/biker sites used to work for some of the homeless guys I met there and I found riding down the coast nice.  The middle of the country was pretty good for free camping when I have crossed the country there.  The closer to the east coast the worse the camping opportunities were.  Riding up and down the east coast sounds unappealing to me, but that is personal opinion.

Offline Tortoise Avenger

Re: First time, but year long trip. Nervous.
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2020, 08:59:38 pm »
I'm more comfortable in the Eastern half the US because I've been all over the land and it feels like home. Desserts and treeless places freak me out. I like forests over sand and barrenness. Certainly, this doesn't describe the entire other half of the country...

Winter is probably my biggest concern. And a decent cell connection.

Offline rmball28

Re: First time, but year long trip. Nervous.
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2020, 09:00:22 am »
I think that if you explore the west coast you will find that you are mistaken in thinking of the west as barren.  In addition Oregon and Washington to some extent have wonderful hiker biker sites if they are open (Covid).  If you are determined to stay east I have been on the C&O, GAP and Erie Canal trails and they have had cheap/free camping areas.  Not the great wilderness experience however.
You may have trouble with internet.  I usually depend on libraries for WiFi and found a lot of them closed this summer.

Offline Outspoken

Re: First time, but year long trip. Nervous.
« Reply #8 on: September 27, 2020, 10:06:55 pm »
Hola! You might take a look at this blog:

https://www.espiritu-libre.com/part-1

It's a photographer / filmmaker / designer guy who biked from Vancouver, Canada to Patagonia--the tip of Argentina. He must make pretty good money because he actually left the tour a few times, flew to do some work in San Francisco, say, or New York, and then flew back to the bike and the journey!!!! (He doesn't run a company; he's a freelancer from what I gather.) Anyway, he posts photos gargantuan in size and might have some ideas about internet service here and there. 'Probably more wide-ranging than what you need (in terms of solutions and problems encountered) but you might find it insightful.

Martijn Doolaard is his name. 'Interesting guy! ADVENTURESOME!