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  1. #1
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Question for those who travel heavy ...

    How do you handle it when you discover you need to use alternate forms of transportation or indoor accommodations like hostels, motels, hotels?

    My two biggest incentives to reduce the amount I take with me on a tour are:

    1) I have trouble climbing hills when the load I'm carrying (including the bicycle) is quite heavy (like, let's say anything more than half my weight).

    2) I hate having to deal with all those bags, and all that weight, when I am doing anything other than actually cycling. Like, for example, if I have to load it all onto a bus or train ... or up and down the platform of the bus or train station ... or if I have to haul it all up to the 5th floor of a hostel or something. Not only can it be incredibly heavy and I am at risk of injuring myself, but if I can't take it all in one load, that means I'm leaving some sitting there unattended where anyone could walk off with it.

    I've gotten the whole load, bicycle and all down under 60 lbs and I can't see anything else I could leave behind ... and even so I still struggle with those two issues I mentioned above.

    I can't even imagine carrying anything over 100 lbs (that was the most I ever carried on a tour ... and regretted it) ... but I know there are some of you out there that do. How do you do it?

  2. #2
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    start counting grams...
    do you really need more than 1 set of biking cloths? do you really need more than 1 set of civie cloths...
    drill holes in everything... cut out labels, you can lose the weight.
    Coming from a liteweight backpacking background.. let me tell you can go really light, but you have to sacrifice, how much you do its up to you.

    If you have a gear list made up, im sure people here would have tons of suggestions to go lighter...

  3. #3
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    I'm with you, I don't think there is any way to square the excess weight problem if you are travelling. If you go door to door, or get a lift in a car, but as far as hauling it on public transit... I took a train recently and checked all my bags. Train hits car, and all of a sedden my checked through luggage is dumped in my arms for my continuation, when it was supposed to be checekd through, and the bike came a day later to boot. Just because we were late for our connection.

    Have you gone to Ray Jardines site? Or other ultralite sites. I basically disagree that yo have to suffer. It's not like you can leave food or water. Nothing you leave behind is going to hurt you as much as carrying it does.

  4. #4
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peterpan1
    I'm with you, I don't think there is any way to square the excess weight problem if you are travelling. If you go door to door, or get a lift in a car, but as far as hauling it on public transit... I took a train recently and checked all my bags. Train hits car, and all of a sedden my checked through luggage is dumped in my arms for my continuation, when it was supposed to be checekd through, and the bike came a day later to boot. Just because we were late for our connection.

    Have you gone to Ray Jardines site? Or other ultralite sites. I basically disagree that yo have to suffer. It's not like you can leave food or water. Nothing you leave behind is going to hurt you as much as carrying it does.

    Something similar happened to me at the Vancouver bus station. I'd just spent about 12 eternities getting from Sacramento to Eugene by Amtrak, and then from Eugene to Vancouver by Greyhound ... I was exhausted, had hardly eaten or drunk anything in about two days because I was afraid to let anything out of my sight even for a few seconds, and when we got to Vancouver, where I needed to make a connection, everything was dumped onto the platform, and I was told I would have to haul it all into the station, find out which bus I was supposed to line up at to get my connection, and then haul it all back out again ... but there were NO trolleys or anything.

    A petite girl, who didn't speak a word of English, took pity on me and helped me into the station with my stuff. (While all the big burly guys just ignored us) And then I had to do the "helpless and pathetic" routine to a security guard to get him to find me a trolley so I could haul everything clear down to the far end of the platform again.

    In Eugene, when we got there, I spotted the one and only trolley in the place and grabbed it as soon as I got off the train while everyone else was hugging relatives!


    I haven't been to that site, but I toured with a guy who could have probably travelled the world with a handkerchief and a water bottle. He was the one who insisted I get rid of all the stuff I got rid of while I was touring in Australia. Any time he could get ahold of my bags he'd go through them and tell me I don't need this, and I don't need that ....

  5. #5
    Caffeinated. Camel's Avatar
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    There's a lot I don't need, but there's some stuff that I just will not do without. My stovetop espresso maker is an example.

    Pretty much carry what makes you happy, your doing the work. "Bike your own bike"

    The ultralite sites & advice is pretty good for the most part (take some, leave some). Some folks tend to push the safety limit a bit though.

    As far as hauling stuff around goes, I carry a duffel bag. For planes/trains 3 of my empty panniers go on the bottom of the duffel, then I pack everything else in. I will usually carry one small panier as carry on.

    I did just pick up alighter weight duffel (saved a pound), which packs smaller, over at REI. Cheap on discount. REI duffel
    mmmm coffeee!

    email: jfoneg (_"a t symbol thing"_) yahoo (_"period or dot"_) com

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    The main thrust of ultra-light travel is that you look at lightening the heaviest items first. That is why eg threadless headsets are great for tourists, they eliminate 2 heavy tools. Similarly, some of the hubs which dissassemble with allen keys remove the need for cone wrenches.
    Shoes are always a dilemma and seem to be the biggest, heaviest items I carry. The true ultra-light rider would take only one pair.

  7. #7
    nun
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelW
    The main thrust of ultra-light travel is that you look at lightening the heaviest items first. That is why eg threadless headsets are great for tourists, they eliminate 2 heavy tools. Similarly, some of the hubs which dissassemble with allen keys remove the need for cone wrenches.
    Shoes are always a dilemma and seem to be the biggest, heaviest items I carry. The true ultra-light rider would take only one pair.
    I'm in total agreement with this. Look at the heaviest items you are carrying. The majority of weight you carry
    is in the tent, sleeping bag etc. There's a nice, if old, gear list at the follwoing website, click on the "Ultralight Gear List" tab on the lefthand side of the page at

    http://ultralight-hiking.com/home.html

    From the graph you can see that its important to get the lightest possible tent etc.

    Also search on ultarlight on this forum and at www.cyclingforums.com

  8. #8
    Velocipedic Practitioner
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    I toured both Estonia and Ireland with the same buddy. My load consisted of only two medium sized rear panniers. His had front and rear, handlebar bag, seat bag, etc. For the same amount of time in the same place, I was probably carrying half the weight. The difference is that some things were important to him that were not important to me, so I left them home. I should point out that I had more touring experience than him, and I used to carry a lot of that stuff too until I realized I could easily get by without it. To help lighten my load, I don't carry any specific clothing outfits. I just carry a few shirts and a couple pair of lightweight pants, all of which will match in any combination, a pair of lightweight walking shoes (cycling shoes aren't comfy for long periods off the bike), and my bike jacket serves double duty for chilly evenings.
    Being down to two bags made it relatively easy to load the bike onto public transportation and take the bags with me to the passenger carriage.
    You raise an interesting issue with security while moving bags. I follow a simple procedure. I carry everything of value - cash, credit cards, plane tix, passport, camera, etc - in the same bag (usually a small one which I keep in one of the rear panniers) and take it with me when I leave the bike. If it is a short stop, such as checking in at my place of lodging or getting a bite to eat, I simply leave the other stuff on the bike and try to park somewhere I can see the bike. If someone wants to paw through my underwear looking for something of value, then have at it. I suppose there is the possibility that someone would want to take my panniers, but I figure the odds of that happening during my short break are low enough that it's worth the risk. Anything left on the bike (mostly clothing and toiletries)is usually easy to replace in the unlikely event someone stole something anyway. Never had a problem yet.
    Other forms of transportation grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart. - Iris Murdoch

  9. #9
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    I go pretty heavy.

    The majority of my time is spent either on the bike or in camp, so I might as well be happy and comfortable in those situations. I mostly camp, rarely hotel/hostel. The travelling issues - moving your stuff around in train stations/airports, getting into upstairs roooms - take up such a small percentage of the total time that I just suck it up and deal. I agree it can be a pain, and I've had that same lame bus station experience.

    I personally don't mind a heavy bike on the road. My rig (bike, panniers, food) weighs in around 75 pounds, which is quite a bit more than 1/2 my weight.

    I might feel differently if I was travelling somewhere that I had to be in these situations frequently, but so far most of my trips have involved only limited motorized transportation and very infrequent use of upstairs accomodations. I did take my fully loaded rig into the elevator in a fancy hotel in New Jersey.

    RE: the shoe problem - cycling sandals do it all.

    Cheers,
    anna
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  10. #10
    hello roadfix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelW
    That is why eg threadless headsets are great for tourists, they eliminate 2 heavy tools. Similarly, some of the hubs which dissassemble with allen keys remove the need for cone wrenches.
    Yes, tools are heavy. If you're able to perform minor service to your bike by mostly using allen wrenches, all the better. That means using hex crank bolts or self-extracting crank bolts, and for those planning to install cantis, making sure they don't require open end wrenches to make pad adjustments, for instance.
    .cinelli.olympic.surly.long.haul.trucker.kona.ku.surly.steamroller.
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  11. #11
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    A lot depends on where you travel and with whom. For a tour in the tropics or even in Southern or Central U.S.A., it seems the temperature is fairly predictable. However, it isn't here. I want to be ready for cold weather and warm weather alike; for rain and sun. Travelling with children requires even more preparedness because they never want to be chilly and they want some toys. And since I may be 100-500 km away from a decent bike shop, I want to be fairly self-sufficient. Add to that camping gear – adequate for near-freezing temperatures –, some food and a camera and you've got a decent bike.

    Speaking of compromises, if I bring my camera, I bring a 35-mm camera, not a compact one, because photos are better. On the other hand, I don't bring a stove because I have no problem living for 1 month off salads, cold cuts, beans and the like.

    My weight? In 2003, my daughter and I toured with a 150-lb bicycle+trailercycle contraption. In 2005, the tandem used by my 2 daughters and I must have weighted 180-190 lb. My oldest daughter now carries her own weight, even uphill, but my youngest one clearly doesn't, hence the need for low low gears.
    Michel Gagnon
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  12. #12
    Long Live Long Rides
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    Excellent thread.

    I also like being comfortable on a tour. However, I did, on one tour, have to pull my bike over and rest. It was one of the most gruelling, hilly, areas I've ever been to.

    Some things did: Took every screw out of my bike and replaced it with an allen head. I can almost dismantel my entire bike with 3 allen wrenches. Also, I found a really cool flannel sheet at the thrift store. I take that instead of my sleeping bag in the summer.
    I wash clothes. I'll take two silk long sleeve shirts in the summer. They are cool, don't build bacteria, and are easy to wash and pack. Plus, I don't fry my arms in the sun.

    I travel solo and sometimes think it's easier to pack light. I like some of the ideas I've seen. Always great new ideas to be had here.
    Jharte
    Touring...therapy for the soul.

  13. #13
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    the only difference with heavy weights is you go slower and cover less distance.

    45 lb version - I did very light on my solo pacific coast tour in 2002, using lots of great tips on lightweight touring. my favorite was not havnig a tent - used a kelty tarp and a hammock - super comfy, very warm, super light, easy to clean, quick to dry, easy to pitch, and gave me loads of space to arrange gear, cook, etc. in the pic, mine's behind the other dude's tent.

    125 lb version - on the other hand, I have done ultra-heavyweight touring with my wife and baby. it's a hassle, but you can't tour with a baby without bringing food, toys, diapers, etc. it's a hassle, but it's not worth the comfort sacrifices with the whole family. alone I can do with little, but I like to keep the baby happy with a big tent, heavy sleeping pads, chairs, etc. when staying in a hotel, I locked bikes and trailers outside and only brough in what we needed for the night - most places have a garage or covered space to do this. it may take some planning, but I would never even consider taking my touring bike up 5 flights of stairs.

    transportation is a hassle whether light or heavy, which is why I try to do loops that don't involve buses and trains. frankly, lugging a 60 lb rig onto a train is damn unpleasant. if it's 120, it's just 2 unpleasant trips. either way - I avoid this except for the start and end of the trip if at all.
    Last edited by Mr_Super_Socks; 11-03-05 at 11:14 AM.

  14. #14
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    Regarding the original question, assuming you're not carrying too much (I don't think I do), I haven't had a problem carrying my stuff when not biking. For years I've done what Camel suggested. That is, I use a lightweight duffel (duffle?) bag to carry everything except the bike when I need to fly, take a train or bus, or whatever. The duffel bag rolls up when not being used and takes up little space and weighs very little. If you're really that concerned about something being stolen and you have to go up "up to the 5th floor of a hostel or something", then lock the unloaded bike, carry up the duffel bag, then go get the bike. (Not too many places let you carry bikes up to the 5th floor anyway). I've taken many buses and trains in recent years, and it just isn't that big of a deal for me. On many trains I've taken, I didn't even need to take my stuff off my bike.

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