Author Topic: food and water on the southern tier  (Read 8988 times)

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Offline PedalsMcSlick

food and water on the southern tier
« on: January 04, 2009, 04:29:44 pm »
i'm planning on riding a self-contained tour of the southern tier starting march 1 in san diego.  first question, how much water capacity should i be carrying to stay hydrated and cook with?  second, i intend to camp and cook for myself...any suggestion on meals that are portable and reasonably tasty that i could cook at the end of the day?  any thoughts on some good mid-day meals would also be appreciated.  thanks for your help.

Offline CMajernik

food and water on the southern tier
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2009, 03:54:10 pm »
Go to and look for backpacking cookbooks. Any meal that
you can cook while backpacking can also be used when bike touring. The
advantage while biking is that you'll be able to get more fresh food along
the road than in the woods.

Carla Majernik
Routes and Mapping Program Director

Adventure Cycling Association
Inspiring people of all ages to travel by bicycle.
800/755-2453, 406/721-1776 x218, 406/721-8754 fax

Follow Routes & Mapping on Twitter: @acaroutes

Offline valygrl

food and water on the southern tier
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2009, 01:29:07 am »
How much to carry depends on where you can get supplies.  It changes on a daily basis.

My strategy is to carry enough water & food to get to the next known resupply location, plus a little just in case things go slowly.  This is one reason the A.C. maps are nice - you know where that location is.  

Every time you are about to leave a place where you can get supplies, take a look at the map and figure out how far to the next supply place.  Figure out how long it's going to take you to ride there, and what meals and possible over-nights you have to cover.  Then buy to cover that, plus a little extra.

Evening meals are usually some kind of carb with whatever makes it taste good, and some protein, veggies & fat.  Example: pasta or couscous with pesto (powdered packet) and olive oil (carry a small bottle), or rice and cheddar cheese, or potatoes and cheese.  Add fresh veggies if available (some veggies last well - zucchini, squash, tomatoes, avocado, some less well - broccoli, some not at all - asparagus, lettuce) and fresh or preserved meat (tuna & chicken come in nice portable single-serving size packets).  I often carry a hard salami, some parmesean cheese, some spices, salt & pepper.  Cheese lasts a long time w/o refrigeration.  If I'm lucky enough to be eating dinner near a grocery store, I might buy a bag of lettuce, whatever veggies look good, some sliced ham or turkey, olives etc, and make a salad.  If you are really lucky there might be a salad bar.

Lunch can be peanut butter & jelly sandwiches (carry supplies) or crackers & cheese & salami, an avocado, etc.... just buy stuff that appeals to you and can do double duty - salami can go in a sandwich & in pasta).  Or you can buy a sandwich in the morning to eat later.  If you're lucky there's just somewhere to buy lunch along the way, but again you'll have to look at the maps to see where that might be.

I always have some ride-snacks of some sort (junk food, newtons, candy, energy bars, granola bars, chips) to eat on the go.

For water, I'll carry 3 regular large-sized water bottles, and if it's going to be a long way to the next water, i'll just buy a few liters of water from a store - just regular bottled water - and carry them in a pannier.  you can keep the bottles & refill if you want, or recycle and buy more later.  I generally don't overnight where I can't get water, since that would mean having a lot of water on board (for dinner, drinking at night, coffee, for the morning ride...)  so if you are going to dry camp, plan for that stuff.

Hope this helps!


Offline dubovsmj

food and water on the southern tier
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2009, 08:19:53 am »
one thing i tend to do, regarding having enough H2O, is always keep at
least one litre in one of my panniers and pretend that it is not there.  that
way in case of emergency it is there.  
this has saved my butt several times, esp in summer when i planned on
resupplying for water at a town I saw on the ACA map and when i get
there it is nothing but a ghost town.  I know some folks don't like carrying
that extra weight, but if you just consider it to be an essential, which we
all know water is, then maybe that will ease the mind of the weight
conscience travelers.  

Offline Westinghouse

Re: food and water on the southern tier
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2009, 03:16:10 am »
Knowing what is available, where it is, and how far away it is on a bike in time and distance are all quite important. When I did the SR I used roads that were and were not on the ACA route. Often I would come across places where only a convenience store was available. A CS is good for hydration any day, or if you like coffee, but when it comes to solid nutrition there can be a letdown; not always, but sometimes. Out west CSs sometimes have mini restaurants and tables in them. I have not see that on the east coast. In some places you might want to carry a couple of litres of water. In other areas you can easily guage your cycling time to the next sure source of food and water.

If you are going to cook your own food, you will need food stores in which you can purchase cookable food. This is where CSs leave you out in the cold as far as I have been able to see. In some areas you might have to settle for restaurant fare, and ready-to-eat sandwiches from a CS deli or something like that. The thing is to buy and carry your food for your next anticipated meal.

As for myself, I get my food from stores and restaurants. I cook at times using a lightweight, alcohol stove. Apples, bananas, and dried fruit such as dates and apricots are good snacks to carry along. In some areas of the ST you will find good food sources frequently; in other areas not so frequently; in other areas you had better stock up and be prepared.

Offline bicyclerider

Re: food and water on the southern tier
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2009, 06:13:08 pm »
What I noticed was that including myself I left San Diego with to much weight. I suggest for the first day you travel light because it is a 70 mile climb to Jacumba from anywhere you start in San Diego. At Jacumba there is a 6 mile ride to the downhill grade of 6% of 13 miles until you get to level ground. I suggest you add water weight after that downhill section. If your equipped with panniers or pulling a trailer the handling is diffrent for both.
My experience going downhill pulling a bob was constant braking the whole way downhill
Jean Andre Vallery
Jacumba, California

Offline Westinghouse

Re: food and water on the southern tier
« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2009, 02:31:48 am »
On the S-tier, it is out in the western states where you must be most concerned with carrying enough water and food between points where services are available. I have cycled the S-tier a number of times in summer and winter using just plain roadmaps. Only once or twice did I reach a point where there was any real concern with having enough food and water to see me through to the next city or town. In some regions I believe the ACA maps might direct along roads where there are regular services available, more regular than if you take a different road or roads. You have to have some plan. You will find that if you try to micromanage your entire trip from the drawing room, and then set out to adhere strictly to that plan, you will probably have to make changes along the way. Consider any pre-drawn plan tentative, and make allowances for exigencies in your plans.

The planning itself while you are out there doing it is fairly simple. Ask and answer these questions and you have your problems solved.

1. Where am I and how far is it to the next town with goods and services I will need.
2. How long will it take me to get to the next point, and how much food and water will I need to pedal there?
3. What if weather hinders my progress there significantly?  Do I have enough of what I will need to sit out a storm, and continue on my way?

And what to heck. If you were ever to find yourself in a completely untenable situation or predicament out there for whatever reason, and your water or food supply simply will not sustain you between point A and point B, you can hitch a ride in a pickup truck or something. It certainly is not a sin or a shame to make a miscalculation, and catch a ride. Cycling every inch of the way is not the point. It is the voyage. It is the getting there. Some stretch of miles taken on four wheels to avoid starvation and dehydration is THE thing to do if you get into that situation. I myself have never found myself in that situation except once on Texas farm roads in hot hot hot summer over very hilly roads. I met some people by the name of, Winchester I think it was, who gave me bottles of water, and a bag of turkey sandwiches and other snacks and cookies.  I offered to pay, but they adamantly refused to accept any money. If not for that I most definitely would have been standing along the side of the road with my thumb up and my bike at my side.

On those Texas farm roads the maps showed small towns at fairly close intervals, but on the land itself those towns did not exist. They were basically just names on maps. One would have to be familiar with the terrain to know that, and I was ignorant of the realities of the terrain and got myself into a fix. In cases like that, well known cycling routes that are mapped out especially for cyclists are definitely the better way to go.

Offline tonythomson

Re: food and water on the southern tier
« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2009, 01:51:57 pm »
Hi PM we are starting on the ST in a couple of weeks time.  The ACA maps are great combined with Google Earth, there are a lot of other services id there and you can follow the parts of the route that concern you.  In the past I only ever got concerned about shortage of h2o once, my fault (but didn't have the benefit of ACA or GE then), but as I rode I held up my water bottle and the second RV stopped and filled my bottles up.  Much appreciated and fellow travelors are always helpful.  Good luck

Just starting to record my trips

Offline whittierider

Re: food and water on the southern tier
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2009, 03:38:58 pm »
I recommend the Zefal Magnum water bottles which hold a quart each, substancially more than most.  They won't fit in the seat-tube water bottle cage of a compact frame because they're too tall, but you can at least have one on the down tube; and then you can put two more behind the seat in one of the gizmos made for the purpose, like the Profile Design Aqua Rack shown here:

or the XLab Saddle Wing shown here:

Both of these have a tendency to eject bottles though, so put the small bungee cords on them like this:

These are the one-quart Zefal Magnum bottles, by the way.

When the frame bottles are empty, swap.