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Old 05-19-08, 05:59 PM   #1
Lucas Kirby
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How Much Water Should I Carry on tour

Hi All. I'm starting my tour across america (central transam route) next Sunday. I have pretty much eveything to ready, but I was wondering what your thoughts on the amount of water to carry would be. I have 4 24 ounce bottles ( 3 polars and 1 regular) attached to the bike. I also have a camelback which I keep stowed away in my trailer just incase I hit some long stretches without services. Is this sufficiant or should I be carrying more, or less? Any of your thoughts are much appreciated. Thanks again!

Luke
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Old 05-19-08, 06:08 PM   #2
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Sounds like plenty to me (overkill in fact), but if you're headed across the desert in the heat of the day, you may want to throw another couple liters in the trailer. Better yet, get a 4am start and shut down by noon somewhere with an A/C'ed hotel and a pool. Once you're out of the unpopulated/hot areas, I'd cut way back so you're not carrying so much weight.

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Old 05-19-08, 06:11 PM   #3
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I carry two bottles ... one is a 1-litre bottle, the other is a 750 ml bottle. That's all I've ever needed. I refill the bottles as I go, and if I want to carry more to drink because I figure I'm not going to be able to replenish what I've got in the next 3 hours, I buy a bottle of coke or orange pop or water or something to carry on the bicycle.
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Old 05-19-08, 06:43 PM   #4
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I would get rid of the camelback, you will almost never need more than 3 bottles. If you do need more, just buy what you need in a convenience store - a couple of 1-liter bottles or whatever - put them in the trailer, and then recycle/discard the bottles when you are past the dry patch.

The camelback is extra weight that doesn't serve a function, unless you are wanting to use it as a little day pack for hiking. The whole just-in-case mindset needs to be examined carefully every time it comes up, because if you just-in-case everything the bike gets so heavy it's not fun to ride anymore.

My $.02, FWIW, YMMV, etc etc
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Old 05-19-08, 07:00 PM   #5
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On my longer tours I carry 5 bottles, 3 on the bike and 2 on the exterior mesh pockets on my rear panniers. In almost all cases I only use 3 of the 5 bottles when I am on the road. When I would decide to camp out somewhere at the end of the day I would fill all 5. This allowed me to have water to to cook and wash in camp, as well as a bit of water left over for when I hit the road the next day.
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Old 05-19-08, 07:22 PM   #6
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Well, it sounds like you have plenty of water. four 24-ounce bottles will do you fine for most of your ride. However, you might want to keep the camelback if you are going through any deserts. I lived out in a desert for two years, and trust me, you can get dehydrated fast if you aren't careful. From what i gather, most of your trip should be taken care of by the four bottles. Just fill the camelback during the desert stages to ensure that you have all the water you need, cause deserts are very dry and some towns are 75 miles apart (nothing like driving for over an hour at 80 mph and wondering where the next town is).

From my Point of View, water is the only thing to actually do "just in case." If you have to treat or boil water before using it, you may not be able to actually refill your bottles mid ride. And with some desert towns being so far apart, you could run out of water before the next town if you don't plan well.

BTW, A lot of riders like to poke fun at me for carrying five 24-ounce bottles on 70 mile rides. I think they are jealous because I don't have to stop every two hours for water

Good luck with you Trans-American tour.

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Old 05-19-08, 07:58 PM   #7
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I would keep two, maybe three bottles at most on the bike. Then, keep an eye on the map and the weather. If it's hot, and you are entering a stretch without services and hot weather, buy a gallon of water at a supermarket and throw it in your trailer to refill your bottles.


As an aside, I keep a cheap bottle of water pur pills with me as opposed to a complicated water filtration system. When you cross a creek you can refill and clear out the germs with the pills. Also, don't feel bad about going up to a home, business or church or whatever and ask politely to refill your water bottles. I've never ever had someone refuse me some water from a hose bib or a bathroom faucet.
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Old 05-19-08, 08:07 PM   #8
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... When I would decide to camp out somewhere at the end of the day I would fill all 5....
Kinda like the question of carrying food - the camelbak would be a convenient way to carry water from your last stop before camping if you're stealth camping in the middle of nowhere, without a clean water supply. But an empty 1- or 2-L bottle does the same at much less empty weight during the rest of the day.

Good luck on your trip - will watch crazyguy for updates!
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Old 05-19-08, 08:14 PM   #9
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On my tour the most I would drink was 6 liters of water in a day, and this was in the deserts of the Baja where it was hot as hell
Even then I'd never carry that much at a time, usually just 2 or 3 liters
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Old 05-19-08, 10:08 PM   #10
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Also, don't feel bad about going up to a home, business or church or whatever and ask politely to refill your water bottles. I've never ever had someone refuse me some water from a hose bib or a bathroom faucet.
Nobody has ever refused me, either, but be careful about accepting drinking water from hoses! An occasional gulp of hose water probably won’t hurt, but don’t make it a habit:

1. The dark, moist interior of hoses is the perfect breeding climate for bacteria. For healthy adults, one drink isn’t likely to cause problems, but children and anyone with an impaired immune system could get sick.

2. Most rubber hoses and brass fittings contain lead, so it’s possible that lead may leach into the water.

3. Hoses that are worn or improperly sealed may be contaminated by fertilizer, manure, and dirt, which get into the water.
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Old 05-19-08, 11:11 PM   #11
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Hey guys. Thanks a lot for all the great advice. I think I'm going to do without the camelback as it does cost me a little more weight than I want to be carrying. I bought a small 16 ounce bottle to remedy the problem. I think 4 large bottles and one small will be fine.

JWA - Thanks for your help on the last thread as well. You've been a great source of advice! I leave Saturday. Yeah!!!
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Old 05-20-08, 12:07 AM   #12
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I would rather carry to much water than not enough. Last year ( October ) while biking the MRT from Reelfoot Lake Tn. to Riple TN. (about 70 miles ) I ran out of water. It turn a nice fun ride in to a grulling ride from hell. Luckly the first house I came to a man let me refill my bottles (5). By the way, the Great River Road portion of the MRT in TN. sucks, there were no houses, stores, or any thing for about 45 miles. just empty cotton fields. Live and learn.
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Old 05-20-08, 01:08 AM   #13
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Hi,

the double you use on a regular day. (So for me 2x 3 Liters)

I think you have every day the possibility to get water. In deserts I upload up to 14 Liters liquid an this last for (for me) about 5-6 days.

I think for this tour water for two days is enough.

Thomas
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Old 05-20-08, 01:48 AM   #14
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Nobody has ever refused me, either, but be careful about accepting drinking water from hoses! An occasional gulp of hose water probably wonít hurt, but donít make it a habit:

1. The dark, moist interior of hoses is the perfect breeding climate for bacteria. For healthy adults, one drink isnít likely to cause problems, but children and anyone with an impaired immune system could get sick.

2. Most rubber hoses and brass fittings contain lead, so itís possible that lead may leach into the water.

3. Hoses that are worn or improperly sealed may be contaminated by fertilizer, manure, and dirt, which get into the water.

Remember all the newspaper articles of people getting the dreaded "hose belly" - which is caused by the same yuckky microbes that cause "Deli belly" and "hamburger disease". Don't believe me? Read it in this summers' news papers. Yup, it happens every summer.

As for lead poisoning, most copper pipes in USA homes were soldered with lead-based solder. Read of the high numbers of lead poisoning from drinking the water from American homes. Yup! believe what the Britta filter marketeers say - and notice that people are dying in American homes every day - from lead poisoning no doubt.

Beware of drinking from hoses sitting in pools of cow **** and cow piss. That goes without saying.

One last thing.. NEVER EVER, while travelling, shake the hands of a sheriff, state trooper, or deer hunter. Their hands are undoubtedly contaminated with the lead from the bullets they use in their line of work. Hand washing does NOT completely remove the lead and it will comtaminate your hands.

All such caution aside, just use your head and you will be fine. Enjoy the trip and drink plenty of water - even before you get thirsty.

I have been told that by adding overproof rum to the drinking water, you will get nice "hygenic, disinfected water" that gives a bit of a buzz too. If you go this route, I would not recommend drinking this "hygenic water" during or before bicycling, but when resting in the evening it might be therapeutic ;-)
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Old 05-20-08, 02:11 AM   #15
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One last thing.. NEVER EVER, while travelling, shake the hands of a sheriff, state trooper, or deer hunter. Their hands are undoubtedly contaminated with the lead from the bullets they use in their line of work. Hand washing does NOT completely remove the lead and it will comtaminate your hands.
You are joking right? If you are that fearful of the dangers of the world you probably shouldn't be on a bicycle.
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Old 05-20-08, 03:20 AM   #16
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Joking, eh??

I am not joking about being careful with your water supply, nor am I joking about drinking from a hose in a pool of cow... Let us use some common sense here.

I am joking about getting sick from lead poisoning - from potable/drinking water and from sherrifs' hands.

That said, I have travelled in outback Australia and drank water from rivers that flowed through cattle country. I never had a problem during the 6 week trip through the outback. The manure in thousands of gal/minute water flow is really miniscule. Besides, sweat is basically diluted urine and some folks lick sweat on their lips with no ill effects.

The basic problem that occurs with camelback and water bottles repeatedly used is that sometimes when drinking, a wee bit of backflow occurs and it carries debris from the mouth. This has bacteria that multiply. Watch someone drinking from a "clear" drink bottle (like 7Up) then carefully look at the bottle for debris. When I showed that to my young lads (who were 6 or 7 years old then) they changed the way they drank from their drink bottles.

I am using a one-time-use water bottle here that I refil with tap water. The water is not refrigerated. I have been using the same bottle for a month and wash it every day or two with dish detergent. I let it soak and then swish and rinse several times. Anyone could do the same thing at a gas station along a highway...

Do what you will. I LIKE riding on a bicycle more than driving a vehicle, with the exception of wet, snowing, cold weather. No matter - Happy and healthy trails to y'all.....
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Old 05-20-08, 05:27 AM   #17
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Luke,
For the TransAm 3 bottles should be fine for all the riding you will do. The variable is cooking. If you are camping every day and doing all of your cooking, then your water requirements will be different from mine. Just try to begin the day with full bottles and it will all work out. Oftentimes on the TransAm I only filled two bottles for the day. If you camp in places where water is available then your 3 bottles should be fine. I agree with your decision to leave the camelback at home. I have carried mine across the country twice and have only used it on one leg one day.
Good luck and have a great ride.
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Old 05-20-08, 05:39 AM   #18
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Oh there's always one isn't there.....

I say keep the Camelbak -but then again, I use my Camelbak touring, and don't go with water bottles (well, I carry one but usually just buy a gallon container before I stop). For me personally, I find the Camelbak to be very much superior to water bottles -it carries more that 3 standard size bottles and more importantly, it's really easy to keep hydrated. That is the deal breaker for me -no more fumbling down while I'm riding, no more stopping to mess with bottles.

Yes, you have the inconvenience of having something on your back and the weight penalty (is it that much though?) but the convenience and ease of keeping hydrated far outweigh it for me. Of course, YMMV.
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Old 05-20-08, 07:22 AM   #19
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I say carry what you need for the particular day in question with a bit of extra. There are some long stretches on the TA without water, but if you look ahead on your AC maps you know where they are. Adjust how much you carry accordingly. It is easy to reuse a Gatorade bottle or buy some bottles of bottled water just for the days you need extra. Most of the time 2 or 3 bottles are enough. When we hit an 80 mile stretch without access to water on a 100+ degree day I needed a lot more.

Edit:
Forgot to mention...
I don't like a camelback for riding, but my two travel companions used a $8 bladder, hose, and bite valve from wallmart. They just put it in their front pannier with the hose attached to the handle bar. They filled it with ice and topped up with water. They were able to have cold water for quite a few hours and could drink while riding. They said it worked well. The only drawback was that they were never sure how much was left.

Last edited by staehpj1; 05-20-08 at 07:59 AM.
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Old 05-20-08, 07:57 AM   #20
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I normally fill two 24-oz. bottles and refill them when possible during the day. However, last summer I went over Loup-loup Pass on the Northern Tier in Washington. It was hot and there was no water. I had the two bottles on my bike and two more on my trailer. I rationed the water and had just enough. I would have enjoyed a couple more bottles that day. If I'm going to travel any sections with no water I'm going to have plent of capacity. Carrying an empty Camelbak the rest of the time doesn't seem like an unreasonable plan.
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Old 05-20-08, 08:55 AM   #21
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I would get rid of the camelback, you will almost never need more than 3 bottles. If you do need more, just buy what you need in a convenience store - a couple of 1-liter bottles or whatever - put them in the trailer, and then recycle/discard the bottles when you are past the dry patch.

The camelback is extra weight that doesn't serve a function, unless you are wanting to use it as a little day pack for hiking. The whole just-in-case mindset needs to be examined carefully every time it comes up, because if you just-in-case everything the bike gets so heavy it's not fun to ride anymore.

My $.02, FWIW, YMMV, etc etc
I'd use the Camelbak for iced water and keep sport drink in 2 of the bottles and water in a third. There are plenty of stretches across Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming where watering holes are fairly wide apart.

Word of warning, once you hit the Colorado line (and maybe even in Kansas) buy bottled water until you get to Pueblo. The water is pretty nasty out there. Even the locals can't stand it

I'd also suggest continuing west on US50 out of Lamar to at least Rocky Ford, rather than take CO96. A few more services that way and make a side trip to Bent's Fort. Worth the visit. You can even take a back road from Las Animas to La Junta that runs right in front of the fort.
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Old 05-20-08, 10:36 AM   #22
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Word of warning, once you hit the Colorado line (and maybe even in Kansas) buy bottled water until you get to Pueblo. The water is pretty nasty out there. Even the locals can't stand it.
Yes the water was nasty there, but...

On the TA I thought the water was the worst in Montana. That was where I couldn't stomach it at all.

If it tastes a little bad when it is cold it will be awful when it is hot, so if that first sip is iffy buy bottled water. If it tastes bad you probably won't drink enough.
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Old 05-20-08, 11:38 AM   #23
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Yes the water was nasty there, but...

On the TA I thought the water was the worst in Montana. That was where I couldn't stomach it at all.

If it tastes a little bad when it is cold it will be awful when it is hot, so if that first sip is iffy buy bottled water. If it tastes bad you probably won't drink enough.
You've obviously never been to Fowler! Town motto: No place is...
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Old 05-21-08, 01:03 PM   #24
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Remember all the newspaper articles of people getting the dreaded "hose belly" - which is caused by the same yuckky microbes that cause "Deli belly" and "hamburger disease". Don't believe me? Read it in this summers' news papers. Yup, it happens every summer.

As for lead poisoning, most copper pipes in USA homes were soldered with lead-based solder. Read of the high numbers of lead poisoning from drinking the water from American homes. Yup! believe what the Britta filter marketeers say - and notice that people are dying in American homes every day - from lead poisoning no doubt.

Beware of drinking from hoses sitting in pools of cow **** and cow piss. That goes without saying.

One last thing.. NEVER EVER, while travelling, shake the hands of a sheriff, state trooper, or deer hunter. Their hands are undoubtedly contaminated with the lead from the bullets they use in their line of work. Hand washing does NOT completely remove the lead and it will comtaminate your hands.

All such caution aside, just use your head and you will be fine. Enjoy the trip and drink plenty of water - even before you get thirsty.

I have been told that by adding overproof rum to the drinking water, you will get nice "hygenic, disinfected water" that gives a bit of a buzz too. If you go this route, I would not recommend drinking this "hygenic water" during or before bicycling, but when resting in the evening it might be therapeutic ;-)
I can picture Dwight from the Office saying all this
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Old 05-21-08, 04:49 PM   #25
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Has anyone here used the Steripen? It got good reviews on some outdoor gear review sites that I checked. I'm trying to plan a trip through the wilderness in Sweden, but water supply is presenting a problem. With this Steripen, it seems I could just use water from lakes and streams. It has a filter, and a UV-light to zap the microorganisms. It would apparently solve my problem and make my tour possible.
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