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  1. #1
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    Planning a trip across the USA

    I'm planning a solo tour across the USA next summer (before going back to uni) and I've been doing some basic planning over the past month or so. I've done silly amounts of research using google and these forums but I still have quite a few questions.

    Route

    My plan is to follow the transamerica trail from west to east. I figure I have about 85 days when I consider time either side to sort out stuff back at home (in the UK). I'm young and I have all of this year to train so I reckon I might end up doing it a bit quicker and from looking at Yorktown, VA I don't think there's enough there to keep me amused for however many days i've got left. So my plan is to book my return flight from Miami, FL and, depending on how much time I have left and how I feel either:
    1) Cycle the extra 700ish miles from Yorktown to Miami following the ACA Atlantic Coast route.
    2) Catch the train (Amtrak) from Newport News, VA

    Then relax in Miami until I have to leave!

    Question 1: Is this a realistic plan?

    Bike

    I'm going to need to buy a new bike for this trip as the one I have at the moment is unsuitable (MTB) and is also falling apart. The bottom bracket makes some horrible horrible noises.

    After reading up online I was set on buying a Trek 520 but i've found out they aren't that easy to get in the UK and i've seen some other bikes which look a bit nicer (better gearing etc.).

    I'm very tempted by the Thorn Sherpa. I've seen a few good reviews on this site and others. I don't really have a clue what I'm doing when it comes to selecting parts, so I'm not sure if I should upgrade any of the components. The Thorn Sherpa Order Form lists lots of possible upgrades to the basic spec (listed in column 1 of page 2). I'm trying to avoid spending money unnecessarily because each pound I spend here means about a dollar less for motels and campgrounds in the USA.

    Question 2: Are any of the upgrades worth the money for a 4500 mile plus tour? I don't want to have spokes break or anything like that when i'm halfway across.

    Panniers

    I was completely set on buying Ortlieb to avoid having to worry about rain getting my gear wet but I later read some bad points on these forums:
    1) Waterproofing means moisture won't escape and stuff gets mouldy and smelly
    Question 3: Isn't is possible to leave the top of the Ortlieb panniers open when it's not raining to air them out?
    2) They only have one big pocket
    3) They only open from the top so if I have my tent strapped to the top of the rear rack it'll be a load of hassle to get into them.

    I've looked at Arkels gt-54 panniers and I love the design. I would go for them if they weren't so expensive.

    I'm also tempted to use Ortliebs on the front and another brand on the back.
    Question 4: Other than the amazing but very expensive Arkels, what are some other well renowned rear panniers?

    Money

    I'm seeing equipment costs etc. stacking up and I need to try to figure out roughly how much I need to budget for while over in the USA. I've seen so many different figures based on lots of different touring styles and I think what would help me would be:
    1) Approximate campground and motel costs on the transam trail
    I will adjust my ratio of camping to motelling based on how much I have available but I need to know rough figures.
    2) Rough food costs


    End
    If you made it this far, thanks for reading. Sorry for the long post... I want to have a great time and for me that means doing enough planning that I don't regret major decisions while on the tour.

  2. #2
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Question 1: Is this a realistic plan?
    Yes. We took 73 days to get to Yorktown. We started slow and trained as we went, but pushed fairly hard most of the way.

    Question 2: Are any of the upgrades worth the money for a 4500 mile plus tour?
    You want reasonably low gearing and decent wheels other than that noting special is required.

    Question 4: Other than the amazing but very expensive Arkels, what are some other well renowned rear panniers?
    We were happy with Nashbar Waterproof Panniers. Cheap, durable waterproof.

    1) Approximate campground and motel costs on the transam trail
    We spent less than $5 per day per person for this but were frugal and only rented a room once, a teepee once, and a cabin once. We stayed in cheap or free places when possible and split costs three ways. Motels are likely to run $40 - $70 per day most places, but we didn't feel the need to use them except once. State and national forests are cheap and city parks and churches are free.

    2) Rough food costs
    This can be hugely variable, so I won't even guess. I will say that it is possible to eat fairly cheaply, but you need to consider that you will be eating a lot more than normal. Will you be cooking? Eating in restaurants? $5 - $25 per day is a range that most people will fall within. To hit the bottom of the range you would have to be pretty frugal so $5 isn't realistic for most people.

    Little things like sunscreen and stuff like that add up more than you would think and we bought a ton of snacks and sports drinks.
    Last edited by staehpj1; 08-20-08 at 02:13 PM.

  3. #3
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    Thanks staephi.

    The upgrade i'm most concerned about it is the wheels. This is the standard wheel:
    36 hole Shimano Deore M510 Parallax hubs (135mm rear O.L.N),
    36 hole Sun CR18 rims (Thorn Recommended), 2.0mm stainless steel spokes,
    presta valve inner tubes, Velox rim tape.

    They are hand built so I can have pretty much what I want. For long tours they recommend:

    Sun Rhyno rims - in black, with ABT, wear indicators on 36 hole Shimano XT
    M760 hubs with double butted spokes (135mm OLN) ................................. + 90

    Does anyone know if this is worth the upgrade?

  4. #4
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    Upgrading to double butted spokes will definitely reduce the chances of spokes breaking. The Sun Rhyno rim is stronger and heavier than the CR18, the wear indicators are a nice touch as the bike gets older. The Shimano XT hub will roll better, last longer, and be easier to maintain than the Deore. The better hub and rim might pay off on this tour, nd the whole upgrade will pay off when you keep riding the bike after this tour.

    Some kind of lights would be good to have, there's always a chance that you'll find yourself arriving in camp a little late, etc., etc. I would suggest picking up a battery powered LED headlamp and taillight when you get to the US, cheaper than buying in the UK. The Cateye TL-1100 is an excellent taillight, Cateye also makes some good LED headlights that run on AA batteries that can be detched from the handlebars to use as a flashlight.

    REI is a good source for camping gear in the US, the selection is amazing and prices are a good bit less than in the UK. You can order online and pick up the merchandise in one of their stores when you reach the US.

    Carradice makes canvas panniers, the idea is that the cotton fibers swell up and seal out water when the bag gets wet, but the fabric can breathe when it dries out, eliminating the mold problem. Made in Nelson, England.
    Last edited by markf; 08-21-08 at 08:44 AM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisH120 View Post
    Thanks staephi.

    The upgrade i'm most concerned about it is the wheels. This is the standard wheel:
    36 hole Shimano Deore M510 Parallax hubs (135mm rear O.L.N),
    36 hole Sun CR18 rims (Thorn Recommended), 2.0mm stainless steel spokes,
    presta valve inner tubes, Velox rim tape.

    They are hand built so I can have pretty much what I want. For long tours they recommend:

    Sun Rhyno rims - in black, with ABT, wear indicators on 36 hole Shimano XT
    M760 hubs with double butted spokes (135mm OLN) ................................. + 90

    Does anyone know if this is worth the upgrade?
    I don't know if the upgrade is worth it to you or not, but I think I would go with the standard wheels. They sound pretty good, better than what we used to do our TransAmerica. I can't imagine they wouldn't be fine if well built.

  6. #6
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markf View Post
    Some kind of lights would be good to have, there's always a chance that you'll find yourself arriving in camp a little late, etc., etc. I would suggest picking up a battery powered LED headlamp and taillight when you get to the US, cheaper than buying in the UK. The Cateye TL-1100 is an excellent taillight, Cateye also makes some good LED headlights that run on AA batteries that can be detched from the handlebars to use as a flashlight.
    +1 on needing lights. I found a $6 blinkie from Performance adequate for a rear light and an LED headlamp adequate as the only light source for in camp and also as an impromptu front light for those times when you are on the road a bit late.
    http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...slisearch=true
    http://www.rei.com/product/747638

  7. #7
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisH120 View Post
    I'm planning a solo tour across the USA next summer (before going back to uni) and I've been doing some basic planning over the past month or so. I've done silly amounts of research using google and these forums but I still have quite a few questions.

    Route

    My plan is to follow the transamerica trail from west to east. I figure I have about 85 days when I consider time either side to sort out stuff back at home (in the UK). I'm young and I have all of this year to train so I reckon I might end up doing it a bit quicker and from looking at Yorktown, VA I don't think there's enough there to keep me amused for however many days i've got left. So my plan is to book my return flight from Miami, FL and, depending on how much time I have left and how I feel either:
    1) Cycle the extra 700ish miles from Yorktown to Miami following the ACA Atlantic Coast route.
    2) Catch the train (Amtrak) from Newport News, VA

    Then relax in Miami until I have to leave!

    Question 1: Is this a realistic plan?
    It seems very reasonable to me. My method is to plan an itinerary as exact as possible - day by day - knowing that I will probably change it after a day or two. It gives me a good point of reference. I often vary between a day ahead of the plan and a day behind the plan. If I have a wimpy day or decide to stop riding early to relax, or take an unplanned rest day, I get behind the plan. If I pedal further than expected for a few days I get ahead of the plan. I don't worry about sticking with the plan - that would cramp my style and my tour wouldn't be as much fun.

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisH120 View Post
    Bike

    I'm going to need to buy a new bike for this trip as the one I have at the moment is unsuitable (MTB) and is also falling apart. The bottom bracket makes some horrible horrible noises.

    After reading up online I was set on buying a Trek 520 but i've found out they aren't that easy to get in the UK and i've seen some other bikes which look a bit nicer (better gearing etc.).

    I'm very tempted by the Thorn Sherpa. I've seen a few good reviews on this site and others. I don't really have a clue what I'm doing when it comes to selecting parts, so I'm not sure if I should upgrade any of the components. The Thorn Sherpa Order Form lists lots of possible upgrades to the basic spec (listed in column 1 of page 2). I'm trying to avoid spending money unnecessarily because each pound I spend here means about a dollar less for motels and campgrounds in the USA.

    Question 2: Are any of the upgrades worth the money for a 4500 mile plus tour? I don't want to have spokes break or anything like that when i'm halfway across.
    I've never touched a Thorn Sherpa, but I've read many glowing reviews here and other places. I've also checked them out online and they seem like excellent touring bikes.

    As far as gearing goes, get the lowest option available. You'll be happy to have ultra-low gears when climbing long, steep passes with a full load. You won't miss the higher high gears nearly as much as you would miss a good low gear.

    As far as the rear wheel goes, I would recommend not skimping here. Get quality rims, quality hubs, and use double-butted spokes - at least 36 per wheel. I've had a tour ruined by broken spokes. I've also had a few tours with no spoke problems - what a difference! My research indicates that much of the strength of the wheel is determined by the skill of the builder, so consider going to a good mechanic to have it built, or at least tensioned. How much do you weigh? I weigh about 205 lbs. (about 93 kg.) and tend to carry a lot of stuff. If you weigh significantly less and carry a minimal load, breaking spokes won't be such a concern.
    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisH120 View Post
    Panniers

    I was completely set on buying Ortlieb to avoid having to worry about rain getting my gear wet but I later read some bad points on these forums:
    1) Waterproofing means moisture won't escape and stuff gets mouldy and smelly
    Question 3: Isn't is possible to leave the top of the Ortlieb panniers open when it's not raining to air them out?
    2) They only have one big pocket
    3) They only open from the top so if I have my tent strapped to the top of the rear rack it'll be a load of hassle to get into them.

    I've looked at Arkels gt-54 panniers and I love the design. I would go for them if they weren't so expensive.

    I'm also tempted to use Ortliebs on the front and another brand on the back.
    Question 4: Other than the amazing but very expensive Arkels, what are some other well renowned rear panniers?
    I have Ortliebs. I bought them this year and have used them on one tour. It never rained so I can't comment on having wet clothes in them. I did find them to be inconvenient as far as getting into them during the day. They're the rollers. You can only access them through the top by unclipping the straps and unrolling them. In front it wasn't bad, but in the back I had my tent and sleeping bag on top of the rack, which made it difficult to get into the panniers. I stop almost every day to buy supplies, so I have to get into my panniers to stash things. It was a hassle - not huge, but a bit of a pain. The capacity was good, there was no heel strike problem (I have very big feet!), and the quality was excellent. I think if it had rained I would have been happy to have them.

    I've read reviews of Nashbar panniers. People seem to be happy with them, but they wouldn't seem to last as long as Ortlieb.

    I had a set from REI that I bought in 1992. They were great and they're still good. The ones REI sells now look completely different, but they look good, and REI usually has pretty good quality stuff. Plus they have a good return policy. I don't know much about Arkel. I've heard good things about Lone Peak. I've also known people who loved their Cannondale panniers. I think they still make them. Jandd is another company that makes panniers that get very positive reviews. I can't give you any personal knowledge, but those are some names to check into.


    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisH120 View Post
    Money

    I'm seeing equipment costs etc. stacking up and I need to try to figure out roughly how much I need to budget for while over in the USA. I've seen so many different figures based on lots of different touring styles and I think what would help me would be:
    1) Approximate campground and motel costs on the transam trail
    I will adjust my ratio of camping to motelling based on how much I have available but I need to know rough figures.
    2) Rough food costs
    This is hard to predict, but reserve more money than you think you'll need. If you don't spend it, great! I have only toured in the western U. S. My guesstimate for campground costs are roughly $15/night for forest service campgrounds and state parks (it varies widely, depending on state and the services offered by the park,) $20 for private campgrounds, $4 per person per night for hiker/biker sites in Oregon, $5 per person per night for hiker/biker sites in California. Outside of Oregon and California hiker/biker sites are hard to find. I found one in Priest River, Idaho, that was $3 per night, one in Glacier N. P. that was $5 per night. They used to have hiker/biker sites in Washington State that were cheap; now they call them "primitive sites" and charge you full price - $14?

    I stay in motels when there are no suitable campgrounds, or when it's pouring rain. I'd say an average price is $50/night, though you can often find them cheaper.

    Food costs will also vary widely, depending on how much you eat and the ratio of restaurants to cooking yourself. It seems like you can't eat in a restaurant these days for much less than $10/meal on average. I buy sandwiches in grocery stores a lot for lunch and save a few dollars. I cook my own dinners, so I save a little that way too, However, most people eat enormous quantities of food on tour compared to what is normal at home, so be prepared for that too.

    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisH120 View Post
    End
    If you made it this far, thanks for reading. Sorry for the long post... I want to have a great time and for me that means doing enough planning that I don't regret major decisions while on the tour.
    Planning is good. When you're out on tour with limited access to things, having what you need because you thought things through is good. Having to do without, or buy something that you already have at home, or buy something online and have it overnighted to you (somewhere?) is a hassle.

    Be prepared to send home stuff you thought you'd need but didn't. It happens to most of us.

    Have a great ride!

  8. #8
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigBlueToe View Post
    My method is to plan an itinerary as exact as possible - day by day - knowing that I will probably change it after a day or two.
    Everyone is different on this. I did absolutely no planning beyond where we would stay the night before we started. On a route like the TransAmerica this is a reasonable approach. Once underway we looked ahead two days at most and often not at all. The only reasons we looked ahead were to hit places we wanted to be sure to stay or to know what to expect in areas where the towns were really far apart. The AC maps are good enough that pretty much no planning is required. They list almost all services along the way.

    Be sure to compare notes with the folks you meet going the other way. You may find out about great places to stay that way and will be able to share what you learned with them as well.

    Planning what to take is a different matter. You will certainly make mistakes on this. Do the best you can and be flexible. Send stuff you don't need home and if possible have someone at home who has access to your stuff and can send things that you decide you need along the way. General delivery works very well for this. Be sure to check out flat rate boxes as they are often a better deal.

  9. #9
    Senior Member bktourer1's Avatar
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    For lodging, look into warmshowers.org for cyclist who host other cyclists

  10. #10
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bktourer1 View Post
    For lodging, look into warmshowers.org for cyclist who host other cyclists
    A good resource, but not too many hosts on the TransAmerica.

  11. #11
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    It seems to me that a big part of the success here would depend on the rider. If you've never toured or camped anywhere, this sounds like a terrible way to start. If you've never been here before, you may have a considerably different idea of what it's like. The freeways may be less rideable than you imagine, for example, or the terrain a lot more boring in places, or the mountains longer and steeper. My suggestion is do a lot of overnight and multiday touring close to home and you'll be better prepared for here.

    The problem with campgrounds, national forests, etc., is that they are not where you need them. Some parts of the country are filled with them, but you can get some long long stretches without much of a decent place to stay. Staying on church grounds or city parks would certainly get you some odd looks in places. A lot of city parks are "closed" after dark or after midnight, and in either case, you don't necessarily have access to a restroom. There are commercial campgrounds scattered around, but then you pay money, too.

    There was another post a while back where a guy was looking for the cheapest way to get his bike across the ocean. You may be money ahead to buy your bike here (and maybe sell it here) rather than transporting it across the ocean once or twice. Ditto with a lot of your camping gear. The falling dollar is bad for us, but good for your. Sending stuff "home" and back as mentioned above only works if "home" is in the US. Otherwise, you'll spend $50 to mail $30 worth of groceries.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

  12. #12
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StephenH View Post
    It seems to me that a big part of the success here would depend on the rider. If you've never toured or camped anywhere, this sounds like a terrible way to start. If you've never been here before, you may have a considerably different idea of what it's like. The freeways may be less rideable than you imagine, for example, or the terrain a lot more boring in places, or the mountains longer and steeper. My suggestion is do a lot of overnight and multiday touring close to home and you'll be better prepared for here.
    I would have to disagree with some of that.

    I do agree on the camping experience though. If you have not done some kind of self supported camping (canoe, kayak, backpack, etc.) it will be a steep learning curve. In that case at a minimum be sure that you know what to pack and how to use all of your gear. On the other hand if camping is old hat, then bike touring is no huge deal to adapt to.

    Short trips are a good idea to get gear and procedures sorted out, but definitely not a requirement. They are so very different than long tours that you may find that you like one and not the other. I know that I am not crazy about trips shorter than a week or so and would prefer to do day rides rather than an overnight tour. S24O's as proposed by Rivendell are like camping in the back yard and I outgrew that when I was a kid. If you enjoy it fine, but it has little in common with a multi month tour.

    Quote Originally Posted by StephenH View Post
    The problem with campgrounds, national forests, etc., is that they are not where you need them. Some parts of the country are filled with them, but you can get some long long stretches without much of a decent place to stay. Staying on church grounds or city parks would certainly get you some odd looks in places. A lot of city parks are "closed" after dark or after midnight, and in either case, you don't necessarily have access to a restroom. There are commercial campgrounds scattered around, but then you pay money, too.
    Obviously you have never ridden the TransAmerica or used AC maps. You know from the maps what city parks are open to cyclists and what churches welcome cyclists before you get there if you are on an AC route. If not on an AC route, in the middle of the country it is usually easy to get permission to camp if on a long tour, you just need to ask the park manager or the local law enforcement. We did this numerous times and never were unable to get permission to camp somewhere in any town.

    It was rare that we stayed where there wasn't at least an outhouse and a water faucet, but we did often not have a real bathroom or a shower. I didn't consider that a real hardship though.
    Last edited by staehpj1; 08-22-08 at 09:10 AM.

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    Thanks for all the replies. I've decided to go with the upgraded rims and hubs with double butted spokes. You don't have to tell me how important lights are, I've noticed the difference between how traffic behaves when you have lights compared to when you don't, so i've always made a point of having good lights.

    Quote Originally Posted by StephenH View Post
    It seems to me that a big part of the success here would depend on the rider. If you've never toured or camped anywhere, this sounds like a terrible way to start. If you've never been here before, you may have a considerably different idea of what it's like. The freeways may be less rideable than you imagine, for example, or the terrain a lot more boring in places, or the mountains longer and steeper. My suggestion is do a lot of overnight and multiday touring close to home and you'll be better prepared for here.
    I've never toured by bike before but i've done plenty of camping and plenty of cycling. My plan is to do lots of training this year (as well as some multi-day). The reason i'm not really worried about this sort of stuff is because I know I can push myself very hard. I know it will be tough going, but that makes it more appealing to me. I really enjoy challenges.

    You may be money ahead to buy your bike here (and maybe sell it here) rather than transporting it across the ocean once or twice. Ditto with a lot of your camping gear. The falling dollar is bad for us, but good for your. Sending stuff "home" and back as mentioned above only works if "home" is in the US. Otherwise, you'll spend $50 to mail $30 worth of groceries.
    I've found out British Airways will transport bikes as luggage with no extra charge. For this reason i'm definitely going to buy the bike over here, so I can get used to it and make sure everything works right before I get there. I am tempted to buy my camping gear in the USA, but i'll decide that before I go. The currency markets are pretty unstable at the moment, and I have to consider the benefits of being able to practice putting the tent up at home before I go. Having said that i'm pretty certain that i'll buy some of my tools in the USA, because even with a bad exchange rate I could still save money. I've already decided i'm not going to send anything home, it's not practical. If I don't need something i'll throw it away! I'm going to do a LOT of reading up before I decide on my kit list.

  14. #14
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisH120 View Post

    I've found out British Airways will transport bikes as luggage with no extra charge. For this reason i'm definitely going to buy the bike over here, so I can get used to it and make sure everything works right before I get there.
    Just a note I've checked with an air line twice about their bike policy and was told I could ship my bike free as one of my two luggage items. When I got to the airport they charged me $75 extra and I had no proof of the other conversations and no time to argue much.

    Funny thing is on the return flight with the same airline I had 2 bike boxes plus a huge duffel bag and I was not charged anything extra - go figure!

    If you can get a statement from the airline in an email or find something on their website print it out and take it with you when you fly. It may solve a bunch of problems very quickly.
    safe riding - Vik
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisH120 View Post
    I've never toured by bike before but i've done plenty of camping and plenty of cycling. My plan is to do lots of training this year (as well as some multi-day). The reason i'm not really worried about this sort of stuff is because I know I can push myself very hard. I know it will be tough going, but that makes it more appealing to me. I really enjoy challenges.

    I've found out British Airways will transport bikes as luggage with no extra charge. For this reason i'm definitely going to buy the bike over here, so I can get used to it and make sure everything works right before I get there. I am tempted to buy my camping gear in the USA, but i'll decide that before I go. The currency markets are pretty unstable at the moment, and I have to consider the benefits of being able to practice putting the tent up at home before I go. Having said that i'm pretty certain that i'll buy some of my tools in the USA, because even with a bad exchange rate I could still save money. I've already decided i'm not going to send anything home, it's not practical. If I don't need something i'll throw it away! I'm going to do a LOT of reading up before I decide on my kit list.
    If you've done plenty of camping and plenty of cycling you should have very little problem combining the two. It's people who have done very little of one or the other (or both) who really should approach this sort of thing gradually.


    I've used BA twice (and Lufthansa once) to take my bicycle across the Atlantic and back. BA took very good care of the bike, and they did not charge, as promised. The website says you have to bag or box the bike, but I rolled it up to the check-in counter unbagged and with the handlebars sideways and the pedals off, and they took the bike with no problems. I'm not promising that they will continue to be so accommodating, but they were for me at Denver, Gatwick, Catania and Dublin airports last April/May. A touring bike with fenders/mudguards and front and rear racks is obviously not going to fit in most bicycle travel cases, so if you're polite and show up early the check-in staff might be a little more flexible.

    Even with a bad exchange rate you can save money on camping gear. Research some prices online at some US web merchants and you'll see what I mean. If you've camped before, putting up the tent the first time shouldn't be that big a deal, just stop early on your first day and take your time setting it up.

    If you're flying with camping gear, keep in mind that airline security people get very nervous about camping stoves, especially the liquid fuel models. Make sure your stove and fuel bottles (if any) are completely clean, dry, and do not smell of fuel before you take them on a plane. Packing your stove out of sight in a cooking pot can be a good way to avoid a disagreement with airline security, since they usually win those disagreements.

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    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markf View Post
    If you're flying with camping gear, keep in mind that airline security people get very nervous about camping stoves, especially the liquid fuel models. Make sure your stove and fuel bottles (if any) are completely clean, dry, and do not smell of fuel before you take them on a plane. Packing your stove out of sight in a cooking pot can be a good way to avoid a disagreement with airline security, since they usually win those disagreements.
    That reminds me... On much of the TransAmerica isobutane fuel was VERY hard to find. It is possible to mail it to yourself somewhere down the road via general delivery, but general delivery will officially only hold stuff 30 days. They might hold it longer if marked "hold for transcontinental bicyclists" or something. We had OK luck with that. as a fallback we used our on names with a general delivery address farther down the road as a return address.

    If you should want to mail isobutane keep it to 3 canisters or less and mark the box:
    "Surface Mail Only
    Consumer commodity
    ORM-D"

    Might be easier to just use a different fuel if you don't have someone in the US to mail it to you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    That reminds me... On much of the TransAmerica isobutane fuel was VERY hard to find. It is possible to mail it to yourself somewhere down the road via general delivery, but general delivery will officially only hold stuff 30 days. They might hold it longer if marked "hold for transcontinental bicyclists" or something. We had OK luck with that. as a fallback we used our on names with a general delivery address farther down the road as a return address.

    If you should want to mail isobutane keep it to 3 canisters or less and mark the box:
    "Surface Mail Only
    Consumer commodity
    ORM-D"

    Might be easier to just use a different fuel if you don't have someone in the US to mail it to you.
    I've concluded that gas cartridges of any kind are just a nuisance. Finding MSR cartridges in Italy was quite the undertaking, getting rid of my last half full cartridge before I flew home was worrying, and I don't like all the waste generated with all those empty cartridges.

    White gas (Coleman fuel) is less than $10/gallon at my local Wal-Mart, and most stoves that run on Coleman fuel can run on unleaded gasoline (petrol, for the OP) in a pinch even if some filling stations don't like to fill fuel bottles. Of course then the OP has to start his trip with a gallon of white gas strapped to his bike, but nothing's perfect, is it?

    I'm tempted to try a Trangia alcohol stove for warm weather travel. Very simple, easy to simmer with, and most hardware stores sell quart cans of denatured alcohol.

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    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markf View Post
    I've concluded that gas cartridges of any kind are just a nuisance. Finding MSR cartridges in Italy was quite the undertaking, getting rid of my last half full cartridge before I flew home was worrying, and I don't like all the waste generated with all those empty cartridges.

    White gas (Coleman fuel) is less than $10/gallon at my local Wal-Mart, and most stoves that run on Coleman fuel can run on unleaded gasoline (petrol, for the OP) in a pinch even if some filling stations don't like to fill fuel bottles. Of course then the OP has to start his trip with a gallon of white gas strapped to his bike, but nothing's perfect, is it?

    I'm tempted to try a Trangia alcohol stove for warm weather travel. Very simple, easy to simmer with, and most hardware stores sell quart cans of denatured alcohol.
    Also gas stations sell "Heet" (the one in the yellow bottle) which works in alcohol stoves. It comes in a small bottle.

    FWIW: I think the Pepsi can stoves work just as well as the mini trangia and are essentially free if you are just a bit handy. No need to fly with a used one just throw it away. At .5 ounce it is light enough to carry a spare.

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