Author Topic: Your best single piece of advice  (Read 17663 times)

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Offline LouisB

Your best single piece of advice
« on: January 07, 2023, 07:37:12 am »
Hi All

I've posted here before about my upcoming TA tour and can't believe that I'm now less than 4 months away from starting. The flights were booked yesterday and so the serious planning starts now.

I'm flying from London to Washington DC (May 3rd) and will take the W&OD Trail out of DC, before heading towards Shenandoah NP, joining the TA in Waynesboro, VA. I'll stay on the TA until I find a suitable route to head north to Glacier NP, after which I'll join the Northern Tier towards Seattle (flight departs July 31st).

This group is always extremely helpful and I've returned once again to ask for your advice. Given the route outlined above, the fact that this is very much a leisurely, fully loaded tour, I'm fit and healthy, an experienced cyclist, BUT this is my very first tour, is there one piece of advice which you think is particularly important to consider as I make my plans?

Thanks again.

Offline canalligators

Re: Your best single piece of advice
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2023, 09:38:47 am »
Develop a gear and packing list. Start short and work to longer tours.  Take an overnight or weekend trip with all your gear.  Then take a week-long trip.  Update your list as you learn.  The starter trips are good for equipment shakedown, training and fun.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Your best single piece of advice
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2023, 12:43:25 pm »
Take fewer clothes. Don’t take any might-be-useful stuff.

Offline John Nettles

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  • I ride for smiles, not miles.
Re: Your best single piece of advice
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2023, 12:47:12 pm »
My single best piece of advice is to listen to and consider others advice but do what you think is best for YOU.  In other words do what makes you smile. 

If you want to carry that 10" cast iron skillet because you don't mind the weight and really enjoy the durability and heat distribution, then carry it regardless if others think you are nuts for carrying something that heavy.  If you want to leave camp at 5am or 1pm, that is fine.  If you want to stop early for the day or keep riding, do it (just be safe).  This is your tour, not anyone else's.  As you tour, you will quickly decide what works best for you.

That said, other advice I would suggest is to:
* Plan your route to where you connect to the TA.  The area west of Purcellville can be a bit hectic with cars if you are not careful.  You should try getting onto the Skyline Drive (no commercial vehicles and a reduced speed limit) at Front Royal or west of Sperryville.
* Have a few extra days buffer (at least 3) so you are not scrambling at the end to make Seattle.  One day for boxing the bike (call ahead to bike shops to get one about a week out) and at least two in case you are held up due to weather, sickness, mechanical, etc. in the last few weeks.  Worst case is you arrive early and can do a quick tour of the San Juan Islands (mostly vehicle free small islands accessible via ferry) near Seattle.
* I was going to say don't book a non-changeable return date as the pressure to finish on X day can make you miss some wonderful parts of the tour. 
* Don't worry about the weather, etc.  You will get wet, hot, and cold.  But overall the days will be nice.
* Don't worry about getting shot, robbed, etc.  Outside of major cities, the USA is pretty friendly and helpful, especially to Europeans (you're exotic). 
* The saying "Don't talk politics, religion, or whiskey" has a pretty big grain of truth to it though this rarely comes up on its own.* Since you are westbound, avoid riding into the setting sun as cars may have a difficult time seeing you.* Know that "stealth camping" on private land can be frowned upon though the ACA maps are pretty good about showing where camping is available.  A website like iOverlander or Outly allow you to see lots of legal dispersed camping in the western United States.
* Plan ahead a bit in the west in that it is not uncommon for places to be closed on Sunday. Always carry a spare emergency "meal" though I always have peanut butter and flour tortillas with me.
* America is a big country.  Know you WILL have some crappy days in scenery, weather, etc.  Just know that those crappy days are not the norm.* Most of all, enjoy the tour.
Hope you have a wonderful holiday!  Tailwinds, John

Offline LouisB

Re: Your best single piece of advice
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2023, 01:35:59 pm »
Thank you all for the advice, and thank you John Nettles for the very thoughtful, not to mention detailed reply!

I was planning to join Skyline Drive at Front Royal, as you suggested John, and have noted your advice about the traffic near Purcellville. As far as my ticket is concerned, it's free to change, but I cannot extend as my visa waiver limit is 90 days and my ticket is already at 90 days.

I will be taking a short bicycle tour around the Scottish Highlands, canalligators, a few weeks before my TA trip.

Thanks again.

Offline HobbesOnTour

Re: Your best single piece of advice
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2023, 03:12:54 pm »
As usual, John's advice is spot on.

There are no "rules". Tour the way that is good and satisfying - for you.

My best lesson from touring is to ride what's in front of you. Or beside you.
In other words, sometimes a tour, or parts of a tour are not what we expected. We can fight that or embrace it. I suggest embracing it.

As for packing, the most important thing to pack is a smile. It opens many doors.

Take lots of photos and take notes. Voice memos are great. They'll make a big difference for recalling the details. It's amazing how much we can forget. In the same vein, Strava, RWGPS & Komoot all have the options of adding photos to a ride. A great way to keep a permanent record.

Have a great trip!

Offline jamawani

Re: Your best single piece of advice
« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2023, 06:12:56 pm »
Hey Louis -

Since you said, "until I find a suitable route north to Glacier" - -

Don't remember if I shared this with you before.
Eastside route between Yellowstone and Glacier.
(Basically US 89 with super quiet Easr River Rd just north of YNP)
East-to-west on Going to the Sun Road is simply the bestest.

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/40636993

Have a great tour!

Jama

Offline John Nelson

Re: Your best single piece of advice
« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2023, 10:35:21 pm »
Every time you get discouraged, and you will, find something to enjoy right here, right now. Stay in the moment and don’t look too far ahead.

Offline LouisB

Re: Your best single piece of advice
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2023, 05:31:29 am »
Thank you jamawani for the advice re. route to Glacier and thank you all for the words of encouragement.

Although a virgin tourer, I'm a seasoned backpacker, and wholeheartedly agree with your comments about mindset and attitude, but it's always good to be reminded. Thank you.




Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Your best single piece of advice
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2023, 08:38:53 am »
Keep some kind of journal/blog/diary/notes.  2, 5, 15 years later you'll be asking yourself, "Where did I see ...?" or "Where was that picture?"  If you took those notes, look it up!

If you plan to blog every day or so, plan on it taking an hour a day.  It's also a good way to connect with family and friends so they'll know you're OK.

Be clear starting out that you will not call, email, or blog every day.  Some days (with a bit of luck) you'll be off the grid.  Some days things will be too hectic.  But if you know or suspect that a day or two ahead of time, let them know.

Offline hikerjer

Re: Your best single piece of advice
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2023, 08:43:48 pm »
The single best piece of advice is a tip I picked up on this forum: "Never quit on a bad day".

Offline donald.stewart.92

Re: Your best single piece of advice
« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2023, 10:39:53 pm »
The single best piece of advice is a tip I picked up on this forum: "Never quit on a bad day".
So true!  My first backpacking trip after many years was a ‘bad day’. A torrential downpour minutes after I started. I was climbing with my hands up the mountain in mud flowing down the trail. Soaked to the bone and exhausted on the first day. I wanted to give up. I persevered and had a fantastic time. I found a cherry tree with a ton of ripe cherries. Had a bath in a warm spring. Camped with an Appalachian Trail thru hiker who played the guitar into the night. Had a coyote check me out in my hammock. Saw a bobcat. While sitting on a Ridge, a National Guard Warthog plane buzzed me several times. The pilot slowed way way down and waved to me at my level.  90 degrees a couple days I got to swim in an ice cold stream.

I’m glad I didn’t give up.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Offline LouisB

Re: Your best single piece of advice
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2023, 12:58:10 pm »
Thanks all for the thoughtful advice.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Your best single piece of advice
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2023, 01:28:55 pm »
The single best piece of advice is a tip I picked up on this forum: "Never quit on a bad day".

Great advice!

A corollary is, don’t make any significant decisions while climbing a big hill.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Your best single piece of advice
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2023, 04:07:57 pm »
A corollary is, don’t make any significant decisions while climbing a big hill.

Which, in a flow of concious kind of way, leads me to:

Stop, pull out your camera, and take a few pictures on a long uphill.  You'll be going too fast to take pictures going downhill on the other side.