Author Topic: Tour Planning - Ten months out  (Read 25400 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Rep

Tour Planning - Ten months out
« on: August 23, 2008, 12:39:56 pm »

I am beginning the process of planning a tour that will begin in mid May of 09.  It is now late August of 08.

I have never toured and seek advice on where to begin planning a tour from Wisconsin to Washington state.  I am 58 years old and am retired.  I currently have no travel partner but will attempt to find one.

I will need almost all of the equipment for a self contained tour.  I will need almost all specialized clothing. I will camp most of the time and cook most of my own meals.

Given that scenario and time line, how would you begin preparations?

Bicycling, Brewing & Backgammon...What a life.

Offline JimF

Tour Planning - Ten months out
« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2008, 01:53:44 pm »
If you haven't reviewed the help on ACA's web site How-to, that's a good start. There is no shortage of advice/help here. Another excellent site is Enjoy.

Offline mlt22193

Tour Planning - Ten months out
« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2008, 04:56:50 pm »
Read everything you can get your hands on. Get the maps for the route you want and cross reference with other sources of information.  Look for sales and start collecting equipment. (REI is having sales, BTW)  I use Backpacker Magazine for info on eq. otherwise it can be intimidating comparing weight, size, etc.  You live in Wisconsin?  I'm betting you already have some clothes you'll need.  Good luck.

This message was edited by mlt22193 on 8-23-08 @ 1:58 PM

Offline paddleboy17

Tour Planning - Ten months out
« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2008, 09:44:51 am »
It is late in the season, but perhaps taking a back packing class would benefit you.  There is a lot of crossover.  A lot of the gear is the same, and a lot of the techniques are the same.

I would also encourage you to do some overnight shake down trips while you work out your way of doing things.  You will want to know where you packed your tights for quick access if the temp drops or where your raincoat is if it starts to rain.

Good luck.


Offline staehpj1

Tour Planning - Ten months out
« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2008, 11:00:20 am »
Do you have any kind of self supported camping experience (kayak camping, canoe camping, backpacking, etc.)?  If not that makes the learning curve much steeper.  At very least you want to have gear that will work well for the conditions and be familiar enough with it to use it.

If you are an experienced camper and have some riding experience, bike touring should be an easy transition.

To determine what to take, reading the packing lists and "what worked and what didn't" lists in peoples journals on crazyguyonabike is a good place to start.  Reading the rest of the journals helps too.  You can start with mine, but read other ones as well.  Mine is at

I would advise using the Adventure cycling maps if a route is close enough to where you want to go (the Northern Tier maybe?).  They are a wealth of info and negate the need for much or even any route planning.  You will find all of the services that you will require listed along with contact info for them.

Offline John Nettles

  • World Traveler
  • *****
  • Posts: 1913
  • I ride for smiles, not miles.
Tour Planning - Ten months out
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2008, 09:09:20 am »
Don't be intimiated as your have got a ton of time.

I have met people on tour who are using dept store bikes and have 1 set of clothes and a tarp & sheet strapped to their rear rack and were having a blast and others with literally $10k worth of customized bike & gear who weren't as happy since some things were not going as they had planned.  

Point is don't over plan as on any long trip, it never stays as planned.  A lot of the learing can be OTJ training if need be, i.e. look for rocks and roots BEFORE you setup your tent so when you finally go to bed your back is not being stuck.  Obviously, the advice others gave is quite valid but be sure to not fret too much if your aren't 100% ready.  You can always take another day on tour if need be since your are retired you lucky guy!

Since it sounds like this is your first trip like this, perhaps you might consider buying high quality used equipment in case touring is not your cup of tea.

Also, depending on your route & distance per day, you might arrive in the Rockies a tad early as snow can melt late there.  After you get your draft route planned out, you can an idea of how long it will take you to reach the passes and then find out if they are typically open by then.

My best advice is to start off with a properly sized/tuned bike and know how to do at least minimal repairs, i.e. change a flat/tire, adjust brakes & gears, and adjust seat and handlebars.

Also, don't overpack.  If the item can not do at least 2 functions, do not take it unless CRITICAL such as a stove.  Do you really need that pillow or can just some balled up clothes work in a pillowcase (doubles as a laundry bag)?

As Jim said, crazyguy is a great site so you can research/ask questions there also.  Read the journals to get an idea of problems they may have had to learn from their lessons.

Most of all, enjoy the ride!!

Happy trails and may the wind be at your back!


Offline Rep

Tour Planning - Ten months out
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2008, 11:57:47 am »
JimF - I did check out the wealth of information at the web page.  You are correct, it answered many questions.  TY.

mlt22193...I headed over to FEI's store near St. Paul, MN the other day.  Great sales as you stated.

paddleboy17 - I plan two short, regional tours yet this fall.  Then, prior to leaving next spring, I will actually begin the trip at lake Michigan and travel the 250 miles back to my home in west central WI.  That will be my shake down cruise.  I will then evaluate, make adjustments and leave from home.

staehpj1 - I do have canoe and vast amounts of camping experience.  Your idea about reading about tours is well taken.  And yes, I would take the Northern Tier using the AC maps.

TulsaJohn - I like this advice.  In short, take a deep breath, have confidence and enjoy.

TY all for the tips.

Drink beer, gain weight.  Ride bike, lose weight.
Bicycling, Brewing & Backgammon...What a life.

Offline MrBent

Tour Planning - Ten months out
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2008, 11:16:29 am »
My 2 cents: Don't give up the beer!  Just ride more. :)

You'll get lots of good advice in all the places suggested.  Spend lots of time on your bike, especially in the couple of months before heading out.  Since you plan on some shakedown tours, you should be fine.  I think that the more fit you are, the more fun you will have.  The first couple of weeks can be a real bear for folks who aren't toughed up a little.  

Have a blast!



Offline staehpj1

Tour Planning - Ten months out
« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2008, 02:20:40 pm »
I think you will take to touring quite easily since you have a lot of camping experience.  You will want to pack a lot lighter than you need to for canoe camping, but most of the required skills transfer just fine.

Being in good shape at the start is a plus, but if you aren't don't fret.  Just take it real easy to start.  On a trip that long taking it easy for the first 10-14 days will not set you back much.  My advice is to ease into it in any case.  Logging epic mileage in the beginning is likely to be counter productive.

Figure out what works for you, but I find it better to do daily mileage that can be sustained long term and skip the rest days unless they are do do something cool like a rafting trip or a long hike.  Sitting around in a motel room vegging out in front of a tv is a complete waste of time.  When you feel like you need a break take a half day and go for a swim or read a book in a scenic setting or something in the afternoon.

Offline Rep

Tour Planning - Ten months out
« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2008, 10:21:32 pm »

TY for all of the encouragement.

My wife and I were almost killed on Sunday night at the intersection of I94, I694 and the beginning of I494 in St. Paul, MN.

Long story short, our car was stopped in traffic.  Big Pickup, the kind so big it needs four wheels on the back hauling a twenty foot trailer skidded up behind us, swerved, crossed into the medium strip, bounced a great deal and landed in the other two lane highway facing the wrong way.

On Monday I told Lavonne, I am biking to Washington state.  Life is short.

Now, how do I go about considering head winds?

- Do I want to start in western Wisconsin and head west?  (My preference.)

- Do I fly to Washington and ride back?

-  Do I bike to Washington and bike back?  (Total time may be an issue.)

My real question is where do I find real data, not opinion on head winds?


Drink beer, gain weight.  Ride bike, lose weight.

This message was edited by Rep on 9-10-08 @ 7:22 PM
Bicycling, Brewing & Backgammon...What a life.

Offline staehpj1

Tour Planning - Ten months out
« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2008, 07:29:04 am »
Climate data often has prevailing surface winds listed by speed and direction for each month.  I know of no single source for it, but is possible to find it for each state.  Google search is your friend here.

My advice would be to forget it though and make the decision based on the many other factors.

My preference is to get the flying or motorized surface travel out of the way first.  I hate to be tied to a fixed end date and have to catch a plane on a particular day.  Sometimes this is unavoidable, but I avoid it when I can.

Other factors include:
  • Whether you want the sun in your eyes in the morning or evening.
  • Whether you want to start far away to fully commit to the tour.
  • Whether you want to be headed home or away from home.
  • What the temperatures, humidity and snow conditions are at the time you will be traveling.
  • Having friends and family waiting at your arrival is a big plus.  I can't describe what a great feeling it was to be greeted by friends and family at the end and the celebration picnic at the finish in Yorktown was wonderful.  I was actually moved to tears.

Offline windrath

Tour Planning - Ten months out
« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2008, 11:44:38 am »
Dear Rep -

Yup - that intersection can be rough.  Glad you were not hit.  A couple of comments regarding the direction of your ride - having done your route twice.  If you know where Red Wing, MN is, I lived there for 20 years.

As you know, in western Wisconsin, the wind rarely blows from the west or east.  It is more often northwest or southeast.  Same holds true until the rockies.  You will battle cross winds much more often than headwinds.

If you start in mid-May from Washington, you will likely have problems with snow and cold conditions through mid-June.  Many people encounter snow into late June when crossing the Rockies.

If you start in Wisconsin and head west, you might get some freezes and frosts, but you won't get appreciable snow.  There is a reason most supported cross country rides don't start until mid-June - cold and snow.

If you ride west, when you get to Washington State, you should consider riding Amtrak back.  You can box your bike and it gets handled pretty well in their luggage area.  You will ahve to get picked up at the Minneapolis Station.  It is a 36 hour train ride and interesting.

Offline Westinghouse

Tour Planning - Ten months out
« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2008, 12:44:07 pm »
It is a good idea to have some idea of what services will be available to you along various points on your route. If you do not carry sufficient food and water, there may be long distances between supplies.

I cycled through Texas hill country in summer. I checked the map and saw there was a string of small towns on my route, so I carried supplies sufficient only for getting from town to town which would lighten my load. What I found out was that these little towns as marked on the map did not eally exist. They were only names on a map. There I was on 100 degrees F, without food and water and fifty miles to the nearest actual town, and even that was only a crossroads with one piddly little store and a few houses. If not for some kind people who gave me a bag of turkey sandwiches, cookies, and bottles of water, I would have been in a fix. By the way, some days on that tour I drank three gallons of liquid per day. I cycled from Florida to Los Angeles, California. LA was an offensive, unfriendly place. I was glad to leave there.

Offline Westinghouse

Tour Planning - Ten months out
« Reply #13 on: September 30, 2008, 01:42:41 pm »
To tell you the truth, bicycle touring the way I do it does not require long term planning. Load the panniers, grab some road maps, and you are on your way, but then I have put in a lot of miles bicycle touring around the world. For a true beginner it might seem more complicated. After you get the hang of it you just go.

If your proposed tour is a long one, I recommend you change all these components with new ones:

1. wheels
2. tires
3. tubes
4. chain
5. freewheel
6. front chainrings
7. front and rear deraileurs
8. brake pads
9. brake and deraileur cables
10. handlebar padding

I have two new Shimano deraileurs waiting for my next long tour.

Offline Rep

Tour Planning - Ten months out
« Reply #14 on: November 06, 2008, 07:52:13 pm »
Well, equipment is coming together.  I found an REI Novara Safari on Craig's list.  It was purchased new last May and I got it for $475.00

Then, on e-bay I found a BOB that was delivered yesterday.

So things are coming together and it is time to decide where to go.

I may do some statewide or regional tours next summer then plan a long 6 week type tour that next year.

Of course, I want to head out tomorrow.  That would be in a snowstorm I guess.  Not the best idea.

Drink beer, gain weight.  Ride bike, lose weight.
Bicycling, Brewing & Backgammon...What a life.