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  1. #1
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    routes

    well this is my first post. my name is Gian and im from michigan(about 20 miles north of detroit)

    ive been xc mountain biking for a few years and this year plan to start some racing. i have also always loved to camp. i never new about bike touring until about 3 or 4 months ago when my dad brought a bike touring magazine home. i was instantly interested.

    i would like to give it a try this summer maybe a few trips. for my first i was planing a 3 to 4 day around the coast of the michigan thumb. my main question is: how do you choose the route you plan to take? what roads are acceptable and safe. country roads are probably less traffic but speeds are usually 55 mph. also where do most of you camp. do you stealth camp or just in campsites. my stops would all be at state parks and i know that at my first planned stop their is a park is usually really slow. not many people. should i just wait until its dark to pitch the tent or is it better of to stay at the campground.

    also, i plan i just using my raleigh 4.0 mountain bike. i would think that i only need a rear rack as my trips will be short.will this bike be acceptable.

    i know this is probably basic stuff but i would really appreciate the help.

    thanks
    gian

  2. #2
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Routes - I pour over maps. If you are planning to tour in your own area, you can probably find some land ordinance maps of your area fairly easily. Those maps are the best because they show you everything ... all the roads, not just the main ones ... and you can tell if they are paved or not.

    And then, if you are planning to tour in your own area, you might "train" for the tour by riding out in various directions from where you live to check out the possible roads ... at least within 1 day of where you live. Explore!

    Camping - I usually prefer to camp in a campsite which I pay for. It's nicer because of the toilet and shower facilities. But I will stealth camp now and then. I don't recommend stealth camping in an established campground.

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    Hey Gian -

    Route assistance: See MDOT bike use map. The Thumb Area map looks like M-25 (the shoreline road) is good for riding, at least by MDOT standards. I agree w/ Machka - route planning/mapping is half the fun for me.

    Camping: Mich DNR site lists campgrounds by county. I like the state forest campgrounds more than state park campgrounds - much more rustic (most have no power at sites = no motor homes). Unfortunately, I don't think there's many in the thumb area - unless you plan to head a bit farther N & W. Or, private campgrounds often are willing to cut bikers a deal to camp on the grass in a corner. I wouldn't try stealth camping in the immediate vicinity of a state park - it's posted in these areas that camping's allowed in designated sites only, & the ranger routinely checks out the area looking for sneakers. Surrounding state land (outside the park boundaries) is OK.

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    thanks

    thanks for the help. the map was really good.

    a few more questions if you dont mind

    i plan on getting a small stove. a popular one seems to be the msr pocket rocket or something similar

    my question is mainly what do you cook. oatmeal and other breakfeast foods seem to be easy but what other meals are easy. also where should i store the food. ive always camped by vehicle so i would leave it in the cooler in the car but am unsure with the tent. should i have a sealed bag left outside?

    also. what do most people use when touring solo. a solo or 2 person tent. i can see the advantages of both. solo= less weight , 2 man = more room. im just wondering what most use and what you recommend.

    thanks for all the help

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    You might be interested in Shoreline Tours, run by the League of Michigan Bicyclists. They have a Lake Huron tour http://www.lmb.org/pages/Events/Shor.../sunrisead.htm as well as others. I provided the first mechanic support for the Shoreline Bike Tours back in the early 90's and it's a fun time, with distance of 20-60 miles per day. You can learn a lot from touring with others, though it does not offer the freedom of solo touring. Their maps may also be available.

    When I planned tours for myself I always planned at least part of my route on paved roads that paralleled major highways. They tend to be uncrowded but have easy access to water and food. Even during tourist season that coast of Michigan should be relatively painless to tour.

    As for tents I like having a 2 person, but I have a very light one (2.7 lbs). You have to consider what weight and bulk you are willing to put up with during the day in return for a little more room at night.

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    Senior Member BikePackin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gian133 View Post
    thanks for the help. the map was really good.
    my question is mainly what do you cook. oatmeal and other breakfeast foods seem to be easy but what other meals are easy. also where should i store the food. ive always camped by vehicle so i would leave it in the cooler in the car but am unsure with the tent. should i have a sealed bag left outside?

    also. what do most people use when touring solo. a solo or 2 person tent. i can see the advantages of both. solo= less weight , 2 man = more room. im just wondering what most use and what you recommend.

    thanks for all the help
    Hello Gian,

    Regarding how one goes about "learning touring," you are really on the best of all tracks - that is learning as much as you can from the bulletin boards (e.g./i.e., I will really never know how much other riders "saved me from" by their advice)... I have often thought of this while riding and, for whatever it is worth, concluded that 60% of all what I ever learned 'academically' was via the boards.

    Two other big, big helpers to me were:
    1. AdventureCycling.org, with all its many on-line (incld. bulletin board) + hardcopy resources.
    2. The book, The Essential Touring Cyclist by Lovett (isbn 0-07-038849-0) - best ed on cycling I have ever read, and re-read about ever 2 years to see how much it would be good for me to rethink :- ).

    Regarding what I called above, "learning touring," and the one dimension that keeps me forever lovin' it, is that I expect to never completely master it.... my experience has been that I have never come back from a tour without a fun and enthusiasm inspiring addition to my learning curve.

    I look forward to hearing about your tours via this board on into the future (btw, used to live in Troy :- ).

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    Google Maps is a great tool to use for mapping too. You can plan out your route on a mapping website such as www.mapmyroute.com

    I keep Google Earth or Google Maps open in another tab while I create a possible route in Mapmyride's website.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gian133 View Post
    ...my question is mainly what do you cook. oatmeal and other breakfeast foods seem to be easy but what other meals are easy. also where should i store the food. ive always camped by vehicle so i would leave it in the cooler in the car but am unsure with the tent. should i have a sealed bag left outside?
    What you eat can vary so much according to what your pref’s are for food, time and energy expended in cooking. My long tours (2 weeks to 3 months) were a very long time ago but I did the following:

    Breakfasts were things I could make easily by boiling water or in a fry pan, as well as yogurt and granola. I usually bought anything perishable the evening before, kept it cool in an insulated lunch bag inside my pannier. Of course I always had food accessible from the saddle and ate often during the day.

    Lunch was typically cold unless I splurged on a low cost lunch at a diner. I generally ate sandwiches – meat and cheese, tomato if I had it. Sometimes I found reasonably priced potato salad and made a sandwich out of it. I bought breads that were substantial so as to hold up better – especially things like round or half-round ryes or sourdoughs because the shape was good for panniers.

    Dinner varied quite a bit. I often ate from the food I carried all the time, which was as compact as possible – pasta, dried fruit, homemade turkey jerky, etc. I often bought 6 eggs (almost any grocery will allow you to split a dozen pkg in half). Used some in either the evening or a.m. and boiled the remainder for snacks or for egg salad. (The heaviest food item I kept in stock was Miracle Whip). I also carried a small amt of oil, romano cheese and herb/spices.

    I always tried to keep my food stashed away from the sun and with clothing around it to keep it cooler. On tours in very hot weather I’d ask for some ice cubes when I ate in a restaurant and put them in a freezer bag. If I stayed in a hotel or was invited to a home overnight I froze a small juice bottle for additional cooling.

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    jwa
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    Check also the Adventure Cycling site for lots of info.

    If money isn't a concern (and a 3 - 4 day trip won't be THAT expensive....) I like the freeze-dried "backpacking" foods available at outdoors-oriented stores (Gander Mountain, etc) or online (Campmor, etc.) A bit more expensive than your basic Mac & Cheese, but tasty.

    In that part of the country, there'll be plenty fast-food stops, & microwave-able foods at gas station convenience stores - so you wouldn't need to invest in a stove/cooking gear/etc until you see if you really like bike touring.

    Unless it's REALLY hot when you're riding, many perishable foods will survive a couple of days insulated stuffed in your sleeping bag during the day.

    I use a cheap 2-man tent (really, about 1 1/2 man) simply so I have room to thrash. What's really important for novice campers, I think, is room to sit up inside comfortably - makes changing clothes, etc lots easier when it's raining!

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    jwa
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    Quote Originally Posted by jwa View Post
    Check also the Adventure Cycling site for lots of info.
    Oops - that's what BikePackin said - sorry.

  11. #11
    Senior Member foamy's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=gian133;6506528]
    i plan on getting a small stove. a popular one seems to be the msr pocket rocket or something similar

    The Coleman Exponent is a lot quieter—a lot quieter, and weighs less. It will also simmer. A very good thing. Costs about the same.

    my question is mainly what do you cook. oatmeal and other breakfeast foods seem to be easy but what other meals are easy.

    Anything freeze dried. As mentioned above, backing meals are good, but expensive. Those noodles or rice instant meals you find in the supermarket are pretty good. There's a surprising amount of things to be found in a supermarket that only require boiling water.

    also where should i store the food. ive always camped by vehicle so i would leave it in the cooler in the car but am unsure with the tent. should i have a sealed bag left outside?

    Absolutely. Put your food in a bag and hang it from a tree branch so 'coons and other critters can't get at it. A fifty foot piece of line should do the trick. Make sure the bag is waterproof. Keep NO FOOD IN YOUR TENT.

    also. what do most people use when touring solo. a solo or 2 person tent. i can see the advantages of both. solo= less weight , 2 man = more room. im just wondering what most use and what you recommend.

    I have a Big Agnes SL1. Extremely light and enough room for me and my favorite pannier. I see no point in bringing panniers in the tent with you unless they have clothes or other 'before I get out of the tent' items.

    thanks for all the help[/QUOTE

    You'll have a great time.
    Last edited by foamy; 04-12-08 at 10:52 PM.
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    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by foamy View Post
    The Coleman Exponent is a lot quieter—a lot quieter, and weighs less. It will also simmer. A very good thing. Costs about the same.
    I am confused on this one. Are you sure you are comparing the right stoves?

    There are several different Coleman stoves that carry the Exponent name but all are about 25% more expensive and all are over 4X heavier (comparing at Campmor). In addition the Exponent looks like it takes a strange cartridge that I didn't see for sale more than a couple times on a 10 week tour. Does it also work with the more common catrtridges that fit the MSRs and Snowpeaks?

    The Pocket Rocket weighs 3 ounces without fuel and the Exponent weighs 13.5 ounces without fuel according to Campmor. The Pocket Rocket is also very quiet and simmers well.

    Are you perhaps confusing the Pocket Rocket with one of the multi fuel or white gas models? Or is there a different Exponent model that I missed?

  13. #13
    Senior Member BikePackin's Avatar
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    I know this seems a little rambling... however, please just put up with me.... I will be better once I get out on the road/off-road again after too long of a winter :- )......
    Except for wanting hot coffee I have found that carrying a stove and fuel and related etc.s just is not worth it to me (much to my own surprise - cause the the 'bike touring-ology' to which I am actually slow to say that I subscibe is 'take the kitchen sink' - I would be embarassed to tell you what my fully loaded rig weighs out at, truely). I used to see Appalach. Trail hikers up on the Skyline Drive not carrying stoves and I wondered 'how does one ever get that way? :- )'... having some where out there I guessed morfed (maybe I hit my head too hard on the last spill).... now I r 1. Hey - maybe I should take a thermos and load up at the convenience stores for the coffee as it'd probably last all night... never thought of that ... any of you tried it and found it to work ok ????? (< I don't think I am off topic here cause one of the original questions posted was having to do with stove/btw).

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    "Fred"--is that bad? DTSCDS's Avatar
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    I am in a similar position as you. My wife and I are just starting out in biking in general and, since we already are backpackers, think touring might fight us well. So we are trying to find as much info as possible while we build our stamina so that touring will be possible at some point in the future.
    One good resource would be to go where the backpackers go. Here is a site that has TONS of independent user review of gear (stoves, tents, sleeping bags food.) http://www.backpackgeartest.org/
    Another place we really like for food related stuff: http://www.freezerbagcooking.com/
    That site gives lots of recipes for putting together your own "camping" type food using ziplock bags, then you just add boiling water. Lightweight, better than most commercial freeze-dried stuff and much cheaper. Plus, you make it exactly like you want it.
    Good luck with your rides.

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    Senior Member foamy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    I am confused on this one. Are you sure you are comparing the right stoves?

    There are several different Coleman stoves that carry the Exponent name but all are about 25% more expensive and all are over 4X heavier (comparing at Campmor). In addition the Exponent looks like it takes a strange cartridge that I didn't see for sale more than a couple times on a 10 week tour. Does it also work with the more common catrtridges that fit the MSRs and Snowpeaks?

    The Pocket Rocket weighs 3 ounces without fuel and the Exponent weighs 13.5 ounces without fuel according to Campmor. The Pocket Rocket is also very quiet and simmers well.

    Are you perhaps confusing the Pocket Rocket with one of the multi fuel or white gas models? Or is there a different Exponent model that I missed?
    Hey staehpj1, I probably should have been more specific: It's the Coleman Ultralight Exponent F1. 2.7 oz. according to Campmor.

    http://www.campmor.com/webapp/wcs/st...Id=40000000226

    It's a lovely little stove and uses the same canisters as the others. I'm using MSR's 8 oz.'ers. And thank you for the labeling tip for drop mailing—that has become my plan of action.

    You'll note that they're on sale now for $35. A good deal, I think.
    Last edited by foamy; 04-21-08 at 12:40 PM.
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  16. #16
    bicycle tourer Johnrs2117's Avatar
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    Go to this site. There is a lot of Michigan bike trails on it.

    http://www.gpstrailhead.com/gps-trails.html

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    bike fanatic bike-always's Avatar
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    Try out this link on bicycle camping. It has a lot of information:

    http://www.bicycle-touring-guide.com...e-camping.html

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    Quote Originally Posted by jwa View Post
    I use a cheap 2-man tent (really, about 1 1/2 man) simply so I have room to thrash. What's really important for novice campers, I think, is room to sit up inside comfortably - makes changing clothes, etc lots easier when it's raining!
    Ha, no. I have a tiny tunnel tent. You can't sit up without pushing your head against the mesh ceiling. But so what? Pretty much the only thing I do in there is spread out my gear and go to sleep. I'd much rather save a few grams of weight, even if it means I'm getting changed outside or something...

    Steve

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    I am from Michigan also (St. Clair Shores). Adventure Cycling Ascociation also has a book "Adventure Cycling in Michigan" that I have.
    I have been on the Shoreline tours more than once and I can say I really enjoyed the west tour. Many things to see along the way on this tour.

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    Hey Gian!

    I grew up in Ferndale and did my first tour in the U.P. I have to say that the further north I went in the state the more I liked it. Went to school in Ann Arbor, and although the mountain biking is lots of fun the roads kinda suck. The U.P. Still has a lot of wilderness feel and good shoulders on all the highways (that Ive been on). Pictured Rocks and the Keeweaw are amazing. Even up in the fingertips is lot of fun. Just know to avoid the little tourist highways when the RVs are out (like in the Traverse area). Theres a lot of state parks and stuff that go from Pontiac in an arch towards Jackson (Im pretty sure). Maybe ride to Hell? Hit up the Potowatomi. For buying gear theres an REI in Troy (Im guessing youre kinda close to there?) and although it can be more expensive if you dont like the gear you got after you test it out you can take it back for a full refund. Thats what I did after my first few tours to upgrde to some sturdier stuff. The Troy store even let me use their tools to put my rack on when I bought it.

    I love my pocketrocket when Im touring or backpacking in the States, otherwise its impossible to find fuel. You wont be dissapointed, and you can use the SnoPeak fuel and everything that has the screw-on interface, the MSR fuel is most expensive.
    The only upgrade Id make to a mountain bike is to buy some slicks. Head to your bike shop (or REI if youre already going) and ask for some 1.5 or 1.75 tires that can handle at least 55PSI. I bought a pair of Bontrager Special K 1.5 slick down the middle, little tringe bumps on the outside with Kevlar protection almost 6,000 miles ago. One of my best investments.
    Dont forget the long layers for the bugs! Stay visable! Michiganders love to drive fast. Dont wear any Scarlet and Grey, UofM football has been struggling for a while now...
    Have Fun!! Say Hi to Michigan for me!
    -Donal
    p.s. Forest Service land is free camping so long as youre over 300 feet from the road.

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    Wow

    thanks everyone for all the responses, sorry i havent been on, i had finals last week so ive been pretty busy for the past couple weeks

    anyways, i had another question. i think i allready asked but im still unsure. what do i do with my food at night? i know if your backpacking you should tie it up a tree, but im staying at established camp sites. ive always had a cooler or vehicle when ive gone family camping but im confused on what to do in this situation. sealed bag ? im not sure

    thanks again for all the help
    gian

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    jwa
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    Quote Originally Posted by gian133 View Post
    i had finals last week so ive been pretty busy for the past couple weeks
    Hahahahaha. Better you than me!

    ...what do i do with my food at night? i know if your backpacking you should tie it up a tree, but im staying at established camp sites. ive always had a cooler or vehicle when ive gone family camping but im confused on what to do in this situation. sealed bag ?
    Established campgrounds in that part of Mich: biggest threat is chipmunks, skunks, raccoons. If you're in a State Park with lots of campers, none of the above - there's enough campers w/ dogs to keep the area clear.

    In these parts - unlike Mich's UP, or farther N in the lower peninsula - I've been pretty laid back re: food with no problems; just keeping it in the tent with me at night. Of course, I don't leave garbage or open pkgs around, in or out of tent. If you wanna be extra cautious, simply throw your food items into a stuff sack & hang from a tree branch, as you mentioned. And of course, you could ask the guy at the campground registration booth if there's been any recent issues. The self-service state forest campgrounds - where there's not a ranger routinely around - have a bulletin board at the sign-in spot that'll list any particular local concerns.

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