Hi All: I'm considering touring part-way across the country this early autumn. I'm an avid mountain biker, but have little experience on the road, so I'm running into a lot of questions and hoping some of you could lend me some advice. First, paniers vs. a trailer -- I'm sure there are pros and cons -- what are your thoughts on which I should choose. Second, how can I best select safe roads to use? I'm considering riding from eastern Oregon to Nebraska and then maybe onto Michigan. But I can't find any good resources on roads to avoid, etc... Third, I'm thinking of using a cyclocross bike so that I can get some use out of it after the tour. Any thoughts on how to set this up appropriately? Thanks, Esj4
Look at http://www.adventurecycling.org/ for info on routes and equipment.
Look up the state resources in the areas you will pass through. For example, I can get moderately detailed maps rating roads through the Illinois Dept of Transportation. For free. I know Iowa and Missouri also have some biking resources.
The main problem with trailers is drag. You feel like you are pulling something, and you work a little harder. Since the big advantage to running a tour on roads is low rolling resistance it kinda sucks to mess that up. However there are pros and cons to everything and the list of handling, parking, and price features, pretty much sways in both directions depending on your individual circumstances.
If we drive past a tourist with low riders my wife whispers "too much gear", but if you are bringing the kitchen sink it all has to go somewhere, and be easy to get out I don't think there si a right answer. If you already have quality racks on your bike, and you don't blow the bank on paniers, I think the potential is there for paniers to be a lot cheaper than the average BOB set-up. Of course most of the folks I see with a BOB have paniers also.
I think the logical thing to do is:
- Figure out how you want to tour, use hostels and motels, camp out, stealth camp. By yourslef, sharing gear with others, etc...
- Decide what gear is totaly essential for that style of touring
- Figure out how big a pile that is, and where it is going to go on your bike.
- Through that process determine whether paniers, trialers, or both will work best for you.
There's a very nice route across central Idaho from Payette to Lowman to Stanley to Challis to Rexburg. Hot springs along route between Banks and Lowman - Sawtooth Rec Area is really beautiful - east of Stanley the road follows the Salmon River for miles, simply gorgeous - then US 93 cuts between two mountain ranges.
You can cross Teton Pass to get into Wyoming - hit Grand Teton N.P. - then follow US 26 across the state with a few variations. Casper has a bike trail along the Platte River and there are back roads that keep you off I-25 all the way to Wheatland. US 20 is nicer for cycling in eastern Wyo than US 26 - far less traffic.
In Nebraska, Hwy 2 is a beautiful ride thru the Sandhills with fairly light traffic - Hwy 92 east of Arthur is simply fantastic if you are willing to cut down on Hwy 61. I'd get off Hwy 2 at Broken Bow or just east of there. Hwys 91 or 22 make better eastern connectors.
I've included three pics from the route. Best - J
PS - Stanley often is the national icebox and the mountains of Western Wyoming can get snow any time after Labor Day. I wouldn't do these sections much after Oct 1.
This is a longer discussion. I certainly like the Bike Friday type system, if you are flying, but not for me if I don't need to pack the bike.
When you are doing you're final packing use the backpacking rule.
Pile everything on the floor.
Cut that in half.
Then take the rest... and cut that in half again.
Then you're about right.
I've seen no blogs from people really suffering because they didn't bring lots more stuff. Lots of people wishing they'd brought less.
There was a poll here a while ago asking how many people took a trailer and how many had panniers. I think the ratio was something like 9:1 in favour of panniers. Take that for what it's worth.
There are a TON of threads here on touring setups. Take a look at the "pictures of your touring rig" thread for a LOT of options.
My preference is a single set of rear panniers, a behind-saddle bag (like a Carradice Barley), a small bar bag for a camera and the tent, sleeping bag and ThermaRest on top of the rear rack.
Cooking: Trangia stove - stores in it's own cookset, about the size of a double-Whopper for the whole stove, wind break, pot, pan and handle. I cooked a Jalapeno omelette in it this morning just for kicks. ;)
Seriously - the admonition to travel light should be heeded.
You only really need one set of clean clothing and the ones on your back. Maybe one pair of bike shoes, one set of sandels.
Bike tool kit sufficient to get you to the nearest bike shop. Spare tube, patch kit w/tire irons, wrenches, allen key set. Some people carry extra spokes - I don't. (then again, my wheels are the equivalent of 44-spoke 700c's... ;)
If you're in a REALLY ROUGH area with thorns, you might consider a spare tire of the folding variety and/or use tire liners - or a Schwalbe Marathon Plus tire AKA "the Blue Wonder" with a built in liner.
BIG ONE: Make a checklist. USE IT. Post the checklist online (like, here!) and ask what people think of it. You'll get all sorts of input you didn't think of. :)