Author Topic: Water?  (Read 2488 times)

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Offline jinx

Water?
« on: December 28, 2021, 07:57:20 pm »
I've taken well-planned week long trips before but never across country. I'd like to make a longer trip.

In a cross country trip especially in remote areas what do you do about the daily need for water? My limited ability to carry adequate amounts of water along with the uncertainty of finding any supply has me worried.

I'd like to also mention I'm 73 (in reasonable shape). I travel steady but I travel slow, 7-8 mph.

Thanks.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Water?
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2021, 09:22:54 pm »
If you're on an ACA route, the maps will tell you when you have to worry about water.

Otherwise, consult a map about what is ahead where you might get water. You shouldn't bet your life on water being available (e.g., places on the map are sometimes gone or closed), so always carry some spare. In a pinch, you can stop at a house on your route and ask for water. I've had to do this a few times. In an emergency, you could flag down a passing motorist.

When you know that water is scarce ahead, carry extra water. I carry a couple of empty platypuses that I can fill and strap to the top of my panniers when required. You can also buy bottled water or other liquid (like Gatorade) and stick them somewhere in a pannier. You should have the ability to carry at least three water bottles in cages on your bike for normal conditions. I guess you could carry water in a backpack, but I wouldn't personally.

It's not usually a big problem if you plan ahead.

You could carry a water filter, but I don't this is necessarily a good solution. In my experience, places with no people usually have no surface water available to filter.

Are you going somewhere really remote, such as southern Argentina?

Offline jamawani

Re: Water?
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2021, 09:23:16 pm »
Water is available in many more places than you might think.
Of course, it depends upon the route you are taking and the time of year.
I would strongly avoid riding in the Deep South or Southwest in mid-summer.
But on most ACA routes, water is generally available.

Exceptions might be the Great Divide which is a mountain bike route.
Also, the Western Express in Nevada and Utah has some long stretches without water.

However - and it is a big however -
Print off in big, bold letters - "H2O?" - on an 8.5 by 11 sheet.
Put it in a clear plastic sleeve.

On those long, remote stretches, you'd be surprised how well that works.
Best places are at road junctions with a stop sign or mountain pass pull-outs.
People will not only offer you water, but bananas and granola bars, too.
And you get the opportunity to meet folks you would have never encountered otherwise.

Safe travels.  -  J

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Water?
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2021, 09:50:17 pm »
As other have said, it typically is not a big deal.  I am immune suppressed due to a transplant and I can only drink bottled water which is much harder to always have compared to water out of a faucet.  I rarely have issues.  When I anticipate I might, I  carry a cargo net or two like this one:  https://www.amazon.com/s?k=B0022ZXO40 

Between the 3 bottles my bike already carries, plus what I can put inside the packs, and what I strap onto the packs with the cargo nets, I have never ran out of water.  I like the "H2O ?" sign idea as it is light, easy to pack, and would most likely help.

Have a great trip!  Tailwinds, John


Offline jinx

Re: Water?
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2021, 11:12:52 pm »
Are you going somewhere really remote, such as southern Argentina?

No, nothing that grand. I live in northern Illinois and I would like to ride to the Rockies. I'm planning a route that incorporates secondary roads and rail trails when possible.

Thanks everyone for your experience and suggestions. I have to be sure I'll have water when I need it. It's the main thing I'm having a problem with.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2021, 11:17:59 pm by jinx »

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Water?
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2021, 11:23:52 pm »
You will be fine.  In that part of the country, you are usually within 20 miles of the next town.  That should be about 3 hours and 3 bottles at your speed.  Have a great trip!

Offline staehpj1

Re: Water?
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2021, 06:46:21 am »
I have not had any trouble finding water frquently enough in the US.  Generally a filter wasn't helpful since surface water was scarce where water resupply was scarce.

I have not been touring during the pandemic, but have heard that many places the minimart and gas station soda fountains and public restrooms that I relied on for refills were closed and that in many places they wouldn't fill your bottles.  Not sure how big of a problem it was or whether it has gotten any better.  My understanding is that some folks found that they needed to buy bottled water pretty often due to the lack of open soda fountains and restrooms where they would normally refill.  You might want to budget for more bottled water just in case.

Edit: I should have mentioned that there were rare places where I have had to carry water for all day or even 24 hours.  In general It was obvious when that was the case and certainly was if using ACA maps.  Even if you should screw up, in desert country pretty much everyone will stop if you signal that you are out of water (empty bottle tilt).  RVs will have water and even most cars will.  So even where there is only one or two cars per day you won't die because you don't have water.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2021, 09:42:37 am by staehpj1 »

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Water?
« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2021, 09:34:27 am »
Other options include state park facilities, including campgrounds and office facilities, and many U.S. Forest Service campgrounds/facilities.  I even stopped at a private campground and asked to fill my bottles.  Not a problem.  One extremely hot day in rural IL a couple of us spotted a school open on a Saturday for extracurricular activities.  Got water there.  Bars have also been quite free with water, even offering ice when it was hot.  If you pass a municipal park you might find a water spigot/fountain or at least a restroom with potable water.

Probably my strangest water bum was in rural IA one morning.  A high school student was hosing down her 4-H "project"--a young bull named Ace of Spades.  She let me fill my bottles from her hose.

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Water?
« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2021, 09:45:57 am »
Probably my strangest water bum was in rural IA one morning.  A high school student was hosing down her 4-H "project"--a young bull named Ace of Spades.  She let me fill my bottles from her hose.
Memories like that is why I love touring.  In a car, you would have just pressed on until you found a convenience store.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Water?
« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2021, 10:01:59 am »
Probably my strangest water bum was in rural IA one morning.  A high school student was hosing down her 4-H "project"--a young bull named Ace of Spades.  She let me fill my bottles from her hose.
Memories like that is why I love touring.  In a car, you would have just pressed on until you found a convenience store.
Yep.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2021, 10:10:03 am by staehpj1 »

Offline jinx

Re: Water?
« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2021, 10:04:13 am »
Again, thanks everyone for the ideas and confidence. And I don't want to Google Earth the entire trip, talk myself out of it or destroy a serendipitous adventure with too much certainty.

Last summer I built a small collapsible 2-wheel trailer around the dimensions of a 24 bottle pack of water. Most of the trails will be limestone and the secondary roads will be 55 mph with no rideable shoulder. The trailer weights 14 lbs and will carry 25-30 lbs. After being out with the trailer a number of times I now question if I really want to be competing with traffic on a 2-lane road or riding on softer sections of trails with the trailer. I could disassemble the trailer and attach it to the bike if necessary but then what do I do with the water?

I'm vaccinated, boosted and wear a mask in public but I still plan on minimizing contact with people. In the past I've carried 2-16oz bottles of water on my fork, 2 on my frame and 2 in my bags. Minimum for a day. But that means by the end of each day I'll need to find water. And some days I'll use more water than other days.

I'll admit I'm a geezer and I hope I'm not making too much of this but I must have water.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Water?
« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2021, 10:36:08 am »
I'll admit I'm a geezer and I hope I'm not making too much of this but I must have water.
I think you are making way too much of it.  I rode the arid southern tier with two bottle cages.  Many days that was enough because I could top off often enough.  When necessary I added capacity by carrying more water in salvaged sport drink or bottled water bottles.  The very longest stretch without resupply (24 hours overnight) I jammed my jersey pockets full of water bottles and stuffed a couple in my baggage on the rear rack.  Baggage space was limited because I was UL packing with 14# of gear.  I used up the ones in the jersey pockets first since they were packed to the gills.

That was with no panniers and only a rear rack and handlebar bag and a need to go 24 hours with no resupply.  It seems unlikely that any of those conditions will apply to your trip.  You mentioned carrying 2-16oz bottles of water on my fork, 2 on my frame and 2 in my bags, I have a hard time imagining not having a chance to resupply before running out on your proposed route.  I guess it depends on your specific route choices, but I don't recall much trouble finding resupply frequently enough in that general part of the country.

Offline hikerjer

Re: Water?
« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2021, 11:31:51 am »
I'm the same age as you and hope to take a cross country trip this summer. On past tours I've never had a problelm obtaining water except maybe in Nevada's Great Basin (desert). There, I found that three one liter bottles attached to the frame and a two leader bladder strapped to the back rack usually was plenty. If I felt I needed more, I would buy several bottles in advance and put them in my panniers.  So sufficient water was never really a problem. However, cold water which I often craved, was sometimes hard to come by. The water I carried quickly became tepid, but at least it was wet.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Water?
« Reply #13 on: December 29, 2021, 12:19:01 pm »
However, cold water which I often craved, was sometimes hard to come by. The water I carried quickly became tepid, but at least it was wet.
Yeah, that is an issue.  I find it a bit hard to drink enough when the water is hot.  You may have to force yourself to drink enough.  Some people put a wet sock over the bottle for evaporative cooling, but I just suffer the hot water.  In places where there are cold snow melt streams filtering some cold water is nice.  In those places I do carry a filter.  That worked out well for me in 100+ heat in the Sierras with snowmelt streams.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Water?
« Reply #14 on: December 29, 2021, 01:42:51 pm »
The longest I've ever had to go without a water resupply was two days going through the Mojave Desert. I loaded up with three gallons before I left civilization. I've only had to spend the night without a water supply a few times, and I have always (except for once) known about it in advance. The one time I was caught overnight unexpectedly without a water supply (on the north shore of Lake Erie), I found a half-drunk cup of coke. Normally I wouldn't have touched this with a ten-foot pole, but I was desperate that night. In that case, a facility I was expecting to be open was closed.