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I Don't Know Where To Start

Old 06-29-21, 03:11 PM
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Paul Barnard
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I Don't Know Where To Start

I have started typing this thread out several times over the past year or so and have always bailed because the topic became too big. Let me see if I can really strip it down to the basics and not be so short on detail as to make it worthless.

Let's dismiss gear. I have a bike and decent touring gear. I want to do a tour. A blended tour if you will, where I stay in hotels at least every other night and camp some along the way. I don't want to cook. I want to tour out West in some remote or semi-remote areas. I envision flying out or doing a one way rental car to the starting point. For my grand tour, I am thinking of making this last anywhere from 2-4 weeks. It will be my retirement gift to myself. I have done RAGBRAI FWIW and will do some shorter shakedown tours before I do the big one. I have read a touring book, but it didn't really help me fill in the blanks.

I feel certain people have done this, but when I start looking at a map and thinking about logistics, I start drawing blank. I'd need a town with some kind of lodging every other night. In that town I'd need to be able to find up to 2 days worth of food to carry with me until my next stop. It would need to be food with enough protein/nutrition/calories to fuel quite a bit of burn. So food is a question.

Some of the places I would like to go are arid climates with significant distances between town. Camel back, bottles in cages and some in the panniers? It's suck to be 40 miles out of Ely Nevada and run out of water on a 100 degree day. Help me think my way through hydration.

Obviously route planning is a huge part of any tour. I have done a good bit of reading and have yet to find anyone who has done a route on the hybrid camp/hotel theme. The Trans American trail looks like it may work, but I haven't found the right kind of reading on it yet.

This may seem odd. Down time is a concern in remote areas. It seems that 50 miles a day is a fairly normal touring day. At an average of 8 MPH, that's about 6 hours of riding. Add in 8 hours of sleep and that leaves 10 hours of down time. Now, I can be very happy roaming around on foot, taking photos and other such touristy things, but leaving the bike and gear unattended is a concern. I don't really get bored on the bike, but is boredom an issue the rest of the time?

Just some things on my mind. Help me sort this out if you don't mind.
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Old 06-29-21, 04:32 PM
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Join ACA, use their routes. You don't need to follow the entire route to do a portion of it. They keep their info up to date online. There are books to go along with the Trans Am and the GDMBR, though they fall out of date.
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Old 06-29-21, 04:53 PM
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I mostly camp in campgrounds, not motels, so can't help on motel locations. But, if you have a good GPS with a good basemap in it, you should be able to do searches for lodging in that. I have not done that type of searching for motels, so I do not know if phone numbers are in the GPS database, maybe? Also, on my phone I have the Android app Maps.Me, you can do a search for motels, but I have not personally used that so I do not know how well that works. Both of those options do not require a data plan if you had the maps loaded into your GPS and/or phone ahead of time.

Food, on some of my tours we fully expected that we would find enough grocery stores so that we did not have to worry, such as Pacific Coast. On such trips, we had a day of food (freeze dried) buried in the bottom of a pannier as a continency, thus we never had to get obsessive about finding a grocery store because we had a one day contingency. But other tours, I was more concerned. When two of us rode the Florida Keys, everything is linear, not two dimensional like everywhere else. When still at home, I found that there were two main food chains in the area. Their websites gave me locations, I put their store locations along our route into my GPS while still at home, that way we could plan our food stops as we were rolling. My Canada trip, I knew that part of my route would be a food desert, so on that trip I also put major grocery store chains into my GPS so I knew where they were and planned accordingly. Before I went into the food desert, I stocked up with about six days of food. The first time I did that grocery store and GPS thing was my Iceland trip, there it came in really handy to know where the grocery stores were for my trip planning, some communities are tiny and offer minimal services.

Water, I can't advise. I like cooler weather, so I am more likely to have too much water, not enough. I have avoid trips to arid places. (I also have avoided flats from thorns that way too.)

The only times that I have gotten bored on a bike tour was on a day when I did not travel due to bad weather, such as all day rain or strong headwinds. If I watch the forecast far enough ahead, I often found that I could find a touristy area to spend such days. But, thinking back, I have had some boring days. But they are so rare, I do not bother to bring a novel along, I always find something to keep myself amused or busy.

Some places, I do not want to leave the bike and gear unattended, but I have generally felt pretty good about state parks and national parks. That said, sometimes situational awareness warns you in advance that you are not in such a great place and need to watch your stuff carefully.

Some of my touring was solo, some with a former co-worker. When solo, you do not have to plan things with someone that might have a different opinion, but you are alone and have to be self reliant.

Would you do this on your Backroad? Do you have a good lock? Most of my tours that were in areas with low crime rates, I did not bring a very good lock. The trip I am looking at for this year will go through some areas that I would be less trusting, I plan to bring a lock that cost over a hundred bucks plus a good cable to go with it. My touring partner in such areas carries a very heavy chain.

When going somewhere that is not a published bike route, I just look at the map for route ideas. But I have also used my GPS routing. And have used the Android app Komoot (spell?) for routing. And sometimes use Maps.Me for routing. And occasionally I will be standing somewhere and decide that the paper map looks like it has a better route than all that electronic stuff.

Sometimes you just have to be brave and go for it. But if you do some solo trips on routes that have published bike maps from ACA or guidebooks (Katy Trail, Pacific Coast, etc.), doing the solo trips where you had some proper information first can help you build confidence. Or, do a couple self supported group trips with ACA to build some confidence. Then, plot out your own trips after you have done a few of those other trips.
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Old 06-29-21, 05:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I mostly camp in campgrounds, not motels, so can't help on motel locations. But, if you have a good GPS with a good basemap in it, you should be able to do searches for lodging in that. I have not done that type of searching for motels, so I do not know if phone numbers are in the GPS database, maybe? Also, on my phone I have the Android app Maps.Me, you can do a search for motels, but I have not personally used that so I do not know how well that works. Both of those options do not require a data plan if you had the maps loaded into your GPS and/or phone ahead of time.

Food, on some of my tours we fully expected that we would find enough grocery stores so that we did not have to worry, such as Pacific Coast. On such trips, we had a day of food (freeze dried) buried in the bottom of a pannier as a continency, thus we never had to get obsessive about finding a grocery store because we had a one day contingency. But other tours, I was more concerned. When two of us rode the Florida Keys, everything is linear, not two dimensional like everywhere else. When still at home, I found that there were two main food chains in the area. Their websites gave me locations, I put their store locations along our route into my GPS while still at home, that way we could plan our food stops as we were rolling. My Canada trip, I knew that part of my route would be a food desert, so on that trip I also put major grocery store chains into my GPS so I knew where they were and planned accordingly. Before I went into the food desert, I stocked up with about six days of food. The first time I did that grocery store and GPS thing was my Iceland trip, there it came in really handy to know where the grocery stores were for my trip planning, some communities are tiny and offer minimal services.

Water, I can't advise. I like cooler weather, so I am more likely to have too much water, not enough. I have avoid trips to arid places. (I also have avoided flats from thorns that way too.)

The only times that I have gotten bored on a bike tour was on a day when I did not travel due to bad weather, such as all day rain or strong headwinds. If I watch the forecast far enough ahead, I often found that I could find a touristy area to spend such days. But, thinking back, I have had some boring days. But they are so rare, I do not bother to bring a novel along, I always find something to keep myself amused or busy.

Some places, I do not want to leave the bike and gear unattended, but I have generally felt pretty good about state parks and national parks. That said, sometimes situational awareness warns you in advance that you are not in such a great place and need to watch your stuff carefully.

Some of my touring was solo, some with a former co-worker. When solo, you do not have to plan things with someone that might have a different opinion, but you are alone and have to be self reliant.

Would you do this on your Backroad? Do you have a good lock? Most of my tours that were in areas with low crime rates, I did not bring a very good lock. The trip I am looking at for this year will go through some areas that I would be less trusting, I plan to bring a lock that cost over a hundred bucks plus a good cable to go with it. My touring partner in such areas carries a very heavy chain.

When going somewhere that is not a published bike route, I just look at the map for route ideas. But I have also used my GPS routing. And have used the Android app Komoot (spell?) for routing. And sometimes use Maps.Me for routing. And occasionally I will be standing somewhere and decide that the paper map looks like it has a better route than all that electronic stuff.

Sometimes you just have to be brave and go for it. But if you do some solo trips on routes that have published bike maps from ACA or guidebooks (Katy Trail, Pacific Coast, etc.), doing the solo trips where you had some proper information first can help you build confidence. Or, do a couple self supported group trips with ACA to build some confidence. Then, plot out your own trips after you have done a few of those other trips.

I will be taking the Backroad. It should last me indefinitely. Right now I have a cheap cable lock. My bike is never further away than than right outside of a coffee shop when I use that lock.
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Old 06-29-21, 05:46 PM
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Why are you envisioning a rental? Why not, say, a loop starting from where you fly into?

And 50 miles/day with a hotel every other night doesnít seem to equate well to great distances between towns.

As for boredom, that depends on you. I like to read and generally relax when off the bike. I like my own company and donít feel the need to constantly interact with others. But maybe thatís not you.

And did you mention terrain?

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Old 06-29-21, 06:31 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Why are you envisioning a rental? Why not, say, a loop starting from where you fly into?

And 50 miles/day with a hotel every other night doesnít seem to equate well to great distances between towns.

As for boredom, that depends on you. I like to read and generally relax when off the bike. I like my own company and donít feel the need to constantly interact with others. But maybe thatís not you.

I am thinking about hitting the west coast in May and working my way to Colorado where I will meet my dog and wife. I don't think I'd have any problem stretching distance a bit more. I did read part of a blog where a guy stayed in hotels nearly every night on the TAT.
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Old 06-29-21, 08:21 PM
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Have you had a look at CrazyGuyOnABike?
Lots of people alternate camping & hotels.

Another source of routes is RideWithGPS you can look around particular areas.
Having a few nerves at the start is perfectly normal. The best way to settle them down is to do a bit of research.

Taking water, as an example, you don't have to be in the middle of a desert to have a problem. A short day with a serious mechanical can be just as tricky.

Don't forget that most people you meet are going to be helpful.

From a purely personal point of view I'd be looking for inspiration, reading what I could, watching what I could, taking note of what I liked (and didn't) then sitting down and trying to link all the good things together while avoiding as many of the bad as I can.

Two days of food isn't a problem, but two days of water can be. cyclists use extra large bottle ages, camelbacks and bladders in panniers. Google Maps or OsMand can be a good way of finding stores along a route.

Good luck!
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Old 06-30-21, 05:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
Join ACA, use their routes. You don't need to follow the entire route to do a portion of it. They keep their info up to date online. There are books to go along with the Trans Am and the GDMBR, though they fall out of date.
If you have doubts. I agree that is an easy way to go. I find that I can just go with pretty much no planning when I use an ACA map.

I also agree that you might consider just riding right out of the airport.

Water... I try to avoid carrying too much when I can. I add or remove capacity by reusing bottled water bottles or sport drink bottles. I pick them up or discard them as needed. Sometimes for the short haul I might have a lot of water but I try to never carry more than 24 hours worth and that only once in a while. I have used a filter like the sawyer squeeze or it little brother. In some places it can work well in others it can be worthless. On the ST I didn't find it worth carrying, but on the southern half of the Sierra Cascades it was wonderful to hit the little snowmelt creeks for some ice cold water.
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Old 06-30-21, 06:49 AM
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John Muir put it this way: "Who has not felt the urge to throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence?" Sometimes that's what it takes--stop thinking about it and go. Books can't prepare you for how you deal with downtime, or your needs for water and food, which are different than mine. I would never go on a trip with someone else's gear--that's highly personal and tailored to my experiences.

On desert road travel, carry a cardboard sign that reads "Need H2O." You'll probably never need it. There are many kind motorists (likely cyclists themselves) who will pull over and see if you need anything, and offer you a fresh piece of fruit and some conversation, maybe invite you home. And there goes your downtime.
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Old 06-30-21, 07:15 AM
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As suggested above, maybe an ACA route is right for you. Note, however, that the TA from the Oregon coast to Rawlins, WY is 1,667 miles, or about 60 miles/day for 28 straight days with no days off. Moteling it can also take some advance planning as places can be relatively small and fill up in certain places during certain times of year. But one advantage to also having camping gear is that it would be easier to avail one's self of cabins at private campgrounds. I ended up staying in a really nice one in Troy, MT a couple of years ago because the tent camping was occupied by a large group on a supported tour. The place had every amenity of chain motel (including a hair dryer) other than a private bath.
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Old 06-30-21, 08:03 AM
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I do a lot of hybrid touring since a lot of my touring buddies are older. I just completed a short 8-day trip from Sioux Falls to La Crosse with an 80 year old who prefers indoor accommodations when possible but we will camp if needed. One thing you can do is to ease into the remote area, i.e., start in a populated "regular" area and then ride toward the remote area. You will adjust accordingly.

Doing a hybrid is very easy, in a lot of respects it is easier since you can camp OR hotel it depending on what you want and/or is avaialle for that night. As far as water goes, that is a somewhat personal area. I have been known to strap a gallon of water or two to my packs with small cargo nets and nylon straps when I am doing remote camping. If you carry a good water filter, what may allow you to top off when you come across a water source (think stock tanks, not ponds, in the west). Rarely are you more than 2 days between water sources in the west unless you are off-pavement or do low miles.

Food is not that big of an issue. For me, the biggest problem with food is getting variety while in remote areas. Lots of pastas, hard cheeses (cheddar), tortillas, peanut butter, salami, etc. Again, you will probably be only 2 days between food resupply points.

As far as boredom goes, I will download a couple of books on my phone and read via Kindle. Adds no weight, can read anytime I want, and don't need internet. Plus there is always bike maintenance, journal writing (I still do post cars when I can find them), laundry, etc. I do notice I spend more time awake when in a hotel since it is so easy and more comfortable. Sometimes that is good, sometimes that is bad when you get to bed at midnight due to finishing the above book and you still need to get up at 6am.

In summary, I really would not worry to much.

Tailwinds, John
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Old 06-30-21, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by HobbesOnTour View Post
Have you had a look at CrazyGuyOnABike?
Lots of people alternate camping & hotels.

Another source of routes is RideWithGPS you can look around particular areas.
Having a few nerves at the start is perfectly normal. The best way to settle them down is to do a bit of research.

Taking water, as an example, you don't have to be in the middle of a desert to have a problem. A short day with a serious mechanical can be just as tricky.

Don't forget that most people you meet are going to be helpful.

From a purely personal point of view I'd be looking for inspiration, reading what I could, watching what I could, taking note of what I liked (and didn't) then sitting down and trying to link all the good things together while avoiding as many of the bad as I can.

Two days of food isn't a problem, but two days of water can be. cyclists use extra large bottle ages, camelbacks and bladders in panniers. Google Maps or OsMand can be a good way of finding stores along a route.

Good luck!
What would make for decent road food that required no prep?
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Old 06-30-21, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post
Sometimes that's what it takes--stop thinking about it and go.
I laughed at myself when I read this. I am a planner by nature. I recognize at some point I'll need to just say eff it and do it, but that flies in the face of my core constitution.
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Old 06-30-21, 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
As suggested above, maybe an ACA route is right for you. Note, however, that the TA from the Oregon coast to Rawlins, WY is 1,667 miles, or about 60 miles/day for 28 straight days with no days off. Moteling it can also take some advance planning as places can be relatively small and fill up in certain places during certain times of year. But one advantage to also having camping gear is that it would be easier to avail one's self of cabins at private campgrounds. I ended up staying in a really nice one in Troy, MT a couple of years ago because the tent camping was occupied by a large group on a supported tour. The place had every amenity of chain motel (including a hair dryer) other than a private bath.
I started playing with an ACA route last night beginning on the Oregon coast and got out of Oregon pretty easily with most stops 60 miles apart. I didn't look at elevation profiles or grocery stores on the route.
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Old 06-30-21, 12:12 PM
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As to where to start, I'd say route planning and looking up weather data to pick the optimal time to begin. Included with route planning is checking elevation profiles. You live in a pretty flat area. Have you had any experience with some serious climbing? If not, that could be a major issue for you.

As far as food & water are concerned, it shouldn't be an issue if you are aware of what you're likely to need in the upcoming days and plan accordingly.
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Old 06-30-21, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Paul Barnard View Post
I laughed at myself when I read this. I am a planner by nature. I recognize at some point I'll need to just say eff it and do it, but that flies in the face of my core constitution.
I'm glad you took it in the spirit it was intended.

Actually, I believe planning can be a fun part of the adventure. It helps sometimes in the dead of winter to have something like that to work on and dream about.
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Old 06-30-21, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Paul Barnard View Post
What would make for decent road food that required no prep?
I'll jump in here since I enjoy easy, no-cook fare on biking and hiking trips. It helps to forget about the concept of "meals," and basically get in the habit of eating something every time you stop, at least every two hours. For me, it's muesli (oats, walnuts, raisins), either dry or with water, tortillas with peanut butter, nuts, dried fruit, and fresh fruit and veg. Dried mashed potatoes and refried beans can be reconstituted with cold water, and Ramen noodles can be eaten like a big 200 Kcal cracker. All that can be found in most small town markets. For me, not cooking also frees up the chore of resupplying fuel on long trips--one less thing to plan!

And don't discount the pleasure of meals in small town restaurants and cafes. A solo cyclist can make lots of new friends in those places, and you'll sometimes get a free meal and occasionally a home stay in exchange for your road stories.
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Old 06-30-21, 12:48 PM
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This is my go-to weather data source for planning purposes.
https://weatherspark.com/

Generically, the site has good weather data where there is good past history of weather records, which usually means airports.

Your profile suggests you are down south, so I typed in New Orleans and got this.
https://weatherspark.com/y/11799/Ave...tes-Year-Round

Gives you good temperature averages, cloud cover data, chance of precip (they define that as at least 0.04 inches minimum), hours of sunlight, and most important you get wind speed and direction averages. If I expect a lot of tough headwinds, I adjust my anticipated daily distance to be more appropriate.

If you know you are going to be there in a certain month, click on a month below a graph to get more precise graphics.

On the right side you see a tiny little map and the phrase interactive map, click on that and you can get a map of other data points to click on. This way you could look at a few spots along your route to figure out what your weather might be like on your trip.

It is good for averages, and for example for temp it will give you the range you can expect to be within 90 percent of the time.

I use that to assess what clothing I want to bring. And I of course look at the wind probability. But I think you can assume that the wind will always be a few mph stronger where you are biking than where the data is collected for the averages.

But I only use that data when planning a trip. Once I get somewhere, then I want more site specific data. In USA I mostly rely on national weather service for forecasts.

Mostly rely on wunderground for radar.
https://www.wunderground.com/maps/radar/current/usa

But you probably have your favorite sources for weather forecasts, so I am not going to elaborate further. But if you are afraid of getting bored, sounds like you are more likely to ride on a rainy day than sit it out.

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Old 06-30-21, 12:59 PM
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WOW!... I am not in a position to advise you on your trip or route. Now days my rides are so short I would should be embarrassed.

You are planning, preparing, mentally expanding, the full challenge of a Great Trip. I am happy for you.

"Your Trip Has Already Started"

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Old 06-30-21, 02:51 PM
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Paul Barnard
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Originally Posted by axolotl View Post
As to where to start, I'd say route planning and looking up weather data to pick the optimal time to begin. Included with route planning is checking elevation profiles. You live in a pretty flat area. Have you had any experience with some serious climbing? If not, that could be a major issue for you.

As far as food & water are concerned, it shouldn't be an issue if you are aware of what you're likely to need in the upcoming days and plan accordingly.
I ride in CO at 10K plus in in elevation every summer. Included in that are some Cat 1 and 2 climbs. I stop to "take pictures" on some of the climbs, but do pretty well.
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Old 07-01-21, 07:57 AM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by Paul Barnard View Post
What would make for decent road food that required no prep?
Paul, with the greatest of respect and not meaning to be an ass, if you're planning on crossing areas without food and water for two days at a time and you haven't any ideas on what you can eat, then a bit more research is required.

Tortillas, peanut butter, Nutella, oatmeal, fruit, noodles, dried meat, tuna, olive oil, powdered milk and sometimes cheese depending on weather. Couscous is good too.

Good luck

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Old 07-01-21, 08:34 AM
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Paul Barnard
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Originally Posted by HobbesOnTour View Post
Paul, with the greatest of respect and not meaning to be an ass, if you're planning on crossing areas without food and water for two days at a time and you haven't any ideas on what you can eat, then a bit more research is required.

Tortillas, peanut butter, Nutella, oatmeal, fruit, noodles, dried meat, tuna, olive oil, powdered milk and sometimes cheese depending on weather. Couscous is good too.

Good luck

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Right now I am in what I call the exploration phase. Picking the brains of the pros (those of you with a lot of experience) has been very useful in the past when I have been exploring ideas. Thanks for ringing in.

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Old 07-01-21, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post

Actually, I believe planning can be a fun part of the adventure. It helps sometimes in the dead of winter to have something like that to work on and dream about.
+1. I am going through that process now. I had to skip my usual two-week trip out west in June because of an injury I suffered last November that kept me off the bike for so long that I did not have the time to get in good enough shape to attempt anything like that. Setting my sights on something relatively local for September. A boy can dream, can't he?
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Old 07-01-21, 02:24 PM
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This is pretty far off topic, but I thought I should mention it. If you are planning to do this solo, that means if your bike has a mechanical, you are most likely on your own. But if you are traveling with someone else, someone can go get parts or tools, or whatever. But, if I understand this right, you are planning for this trip to be solo.

I do not recall if you built up your bike yourself or had a bike shop build it for you. If you did not build it up, you might need to look for some sources of good info on fixing stuff. I think the Park Tools videos on youtube are excellent. But that only works where you have a cell signal. And it only works if you have the tools you need.

Have you given much thought to a list of tools and spares to bring? And do you have the knowledge on how to use them?

***

Originally Posted by Paul Barnard View Post
What would make for decent road food that required no prep?
Sorry, but I could not pass up the opportunity, ... ...




Only disadvantage is that it does not store well, need to consume right away.
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Old 07-01-21, 04:17 PM
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Everyone is different, but I have never planned day to day stops. I typically don't know where I will stop until I am there. I do look ahead a few days because there are places where the spacing of services will dictate a schedule or at least limit choices. Often there is a need to choose between two stops one longer and one shorter that you want in order to wind up in the right place two days down the road.

I do plan endlessly when it comes to my gear list, but never day to day stops. I like to be able to ride a long or a short day on a whim and stop in a place that strikes my fancy or push on if it doesn't. I usually have a semi flexible route plan. That is often an ACA route with the possibility of departing from it here and there.
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