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Old 05-18-09, 08:30 AM   #1
han-gan
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Pacific Coast advice

I am starting in Oregon and I plan on going as far south on the Pacific coast trail as possible. I have a few limitations and I'd like some thoughts/suggestions/warnings. If everything goes as planned I will give myself 45 days for the 1500 mile trip to san diego. The bike I am on is a '86 univega. I plan on going solo. I can't really afford a stove. Any thoughts on the availability of food that doesn't need to be prepared, assuming I won't eat in any establishments? I commute by bike and rode to Seattle recently but other than that I don't have time to train for this ride. My rear wheel is solid but the front is of such low-quality that I am concerned how far it will carry me. At any point I can abandon this trip and get on a train home.

My packlist will look something like this:
personal: sun and butt goo, some basic first aid
safety: map, compass, phone, loads of lights and reflective gear
clothing wise: quick dry clothes but no rain jacket or rain pants, wool gloves, glasses, gortex booties for my feet, some wool outer layers, wool socks
tools/repair: cables, allen, tubes, patches, perhaps an extra tire, spokes
and finally I have two small tarps, good rope, and a solid sleeping bag.

What are your thoughts on the feasibility of this? I'm not determined to make it as far south as san diego but without a goal I won't get anywhere. My gear and finances are my biggest limitations. I'm young and in good shape, don't have any knee problems, and I have been riding hard and for a couple of hours everyday for about two years now.

I appreciate you reading this and anything you can say to add to the dialogue.
peace
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Old 05-18-09, 09:00 AM   #2
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45 days without a stove is a long time. I think you should get a cheap one at rei or other sporting store. You will save on warm foods in the long run. This will keep you out of the dining establishments UNLESS you are able to barter work for food at some places.
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Old 05-18-09, 09:01 AM   #3
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Well for starters............. 45 days for 1500 miles is a lot of time and that means expense. Not even 40 miles a day. If your young and strong like you mention your going to have way to much time on your hands not riding. Cut your trip time down some and you will have plenty for a stove if you want one.

I'm planning my trip along the pacific coast for later in the summer. Will be leaving from the Canadian boarder and down to Mexico.... don't plan on more than 30 days. It's around 1800 miles. Even 30 days seems slow.
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Old 05-18-09, 10:05 AM   #4
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I can't really afford a stove. Any thoughts on the availability of food that doesn't need to be prepared, assuming I won't eat in any establishments?
Since you ask....

There's another thread that argues the merits of a handful of different stoves. Buried in there are a couple of posts (mine included) that claim you can tour just fine without a stove. For the main touring routes (Pacific Coast included -- but maybe not the Great Divide) you can count on passing at least one grocery store every day. There may be a couple of gaps in the route, especially depending on your mileage, but it's easy to stock up on two days of sandwich fixin's.

Lots of people can't stomach the thought of living on sandwiches, homemade burritos, bread and cheese; plus occasional hot-dogs-and-chili-over-a-campfire. If you're put off by not having a hot meal in camp, then you need a stove. Otherwise you can easily do without.

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...I commute by bike and rode to Seattle recently but other than that I don't have time to train for this ride. My rear wheel is solid but the front is of such low-quality that I am concerned how far it will carry me. [...]

What are your thoughts on the feasibility of this? I'm not determined to make it as far south as san diego but without a goal I won't get anywhere. My gear and finances are my biggest limitations. I'm young and in good shape, don't have any knee problems, and I have been riding hard and for a couple of hours everyday for about two years now.
From your description, you're ready. Training isn't a necessity, as long as you know you can spend hours in the saddle. After the first week, you'll be 100% trained. Training is a lot more important when you're in a group and you're the weakest link, fitness-wise.

If you're worried about your front wheel, tune it up or have someone look at it. True it, tension the spokes. If the rim is worn or bent, or the hub is low quality, replace it. The front wheel generally takes much less punishment than the rear, so if it only needs a tuneup it may be fine.

Definitely feasible. You'll meet lots of others headed the same way. Have a great time.

-- Mark
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Old 05-18-09, 10:16 AM   #5
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I agree with travelmama that it might be cheaper to buy a stove and be able to cook food then to eat cold food or eat in restauarants or fast food places. If you're really strapped for cash you can make an alcohol burning stove out of soft drink cans or beer cans, search through this forum for information. Buy a quart or gallon can of denatured alcohol in a hardware store or just buy bottles of HEET in gas stations. Get a pot, bowl, cup and utensils at a thrift store or use what you've got at home and you'll be set. If you can stretch your budget to buy a stove, Trangia makes nice alcohol stoves, or the MSR Whisperlite is a good option for a white gas stove. You can run the Whisperlite on unleaded auto fuel but most people think it does better on white gas. The cheapest way to get white gas is the generic stuff at Wal-Mart, but it's sold in gallon cans which is pretty bulky.

If you're worried about your front wheel, fix or replace it now instead of letting it ruin your trip. Never mind the spare tire, start with the newest tires you can on the bike and carry a roll of duct tape.

Do you have a ground pad? It'll make sleeping much more comfortable. You don't need a Therma-Rest, just the cheap blue closed cell foam pads that you get at Wal-Mart for $5 or so. People used those for years before Therma-Rests were invented, and they still work just fine.

Kyakdiver is right, you should be able to do the trip in much less than 45 days, and that will cut your expenses.
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Old 05-18-09, 10:18 AM   #6
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I recently did the northern california coast and met another tourer that was going from seattle to san diego without a stove, was taking two months to do it (about 30 miles/day with rest days). His bike was a full suspension mountain bike with a seatpost rack (yes seatpost), and he had never ridden on the road before the trip. He seemed to not have a problem getting food that did not need to be cooked, although he ate in restaurants about once per week. So I would say that yes, it is very doable. However, his thoughts were that he could be saving money in the long run with a stove, and eat better meals.

If you really don't want to eat in restaurants then I would say get a stove. You will be passing by that hamburger stand and it will call you to enjoy it's greasy goodness. My appetite on tour is pretty high, and if I couldn't cook a hot meal (and make tea!), then I would be pretty miserable, especially for 45 days. But that is me, your comfort level may vary.
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Old 05-18-09, 11:07 AM   #7
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West Coast -> Touring Lite

8 months post ACL minimal training no issues. (I took some alleve the first week.) Just in case I did some research on regional buses and found that there is a high probability of one passing in a few hours.

As for stove, don't. They are a hassle solo. It's just one less thing to worry about. Stores are plentiful on the coast and most of the time temps will be low which means you can carry fruits veggie and dairy.

Try not to over pack. Two pannier is just fine.

Loads of lights?? Are you planning on night riding due to the heat?? Bring some rear flashers for the fog.

The best part of the ride is between Westport WA and San Louis Obisbo CA.

That's it.
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Old 05-18-09, 10:28 PM   #8
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i've done touring with and without a stove...one of my tours without was actually the northern 500 miles of California, along route 101/1..You do pass at least one place a day to buy food. My buddy and I did a lot of cans of stuff on a fire. But then you are spending money on fire wood at campgrounds, which adds up. Is it possible? Totally, but I would never do it without it now that I have a stove. Besides dinner, nothing gets me ready to ride faster on a cold morning when your whole body is sore like hot tea and oatmeal. I have a wisperlite, but the Trangia alcohol stoves mentioned here are supposed to be pretty good
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Old 05-19-09, 09:05 AM   #9
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I am surprised penny stove, aka popcan stove, aka pepsi stove hasn't come up yet. It costs between zero and two dollars depending on whether you drink beer. It is the lightest stove out there. Fuel is available at every gas station and auto parts store on your route. It is perfect for a solo traveler. Of course there is nothing wrong with going stoveless, but the nice thing about the penny stove is that if you decide you don't need it, you can just chuck it into the garbage.

Other than that, 45 days is really a long time. 30 days at a moderate fun pace is more reasonable. You will probably meet a lot of people, especially if you stay at the bike and hike campgrounds.

The Pacific coast is a great route for just going for it with whatever you have because it is very forgiving. You can't really mess it up big time unless you get creamed by a tractor trailer. For every other accident or problem, you are never more than a few hours from some kind of help or store that sells what you need. There are also tons of other cyclists all going the same direction as you and lots of cycling stores. If you were to stand at any one spot along the pacific coast bike route in mid summer I would guarantee you to see at least two touring cyclists pass by on even the slowest day.
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Old 05-19-09, 09:43 AM   #10
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Dude you need a stove. Even prepackaged camping food needs to warmed up. If your gung ho on no stove then you could buy military MRE's, that stuff requires no cooking but should be...but taste is so so and you'll have to eat that stuff for 45 days!! You can get this stuff at any military store in town or on E-Bay. At least with an MRE you get a complete meal designed for rigorous activity.
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Old 05-19-09, 10:13 AM   #11
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Dude you need a stove. Even prepackaged camping food needs to warmed up....
If I was British, I'd say "Balderdash!" Heck, I'll say it anyway.

A loaf of bread, 4 oz. of sliced turkey or ham, a head of lettuce, a couple mustard and mayonnaise packets (from a McDonald's you stop in to use the restroom) -- what's that, $5.00 ??? Now you have enough to make sandwiches for lunch and dinner. Add a bag of carrots, a brick of cheese, yogurt, cinnamon rolls, whatever... That gives you dessert and tomorrow's breakfast, to boot.

If you've made it into your 20's, by now you should know how to make a sandwich. You don't have to buy pre-made and pre-packaged deli meals.

It's not my place to convince people they don't need a hot meal. But if you're the kind of person who can survive just fine on healthy homemade sandwiches (or burritos, or salads), then by all means you don't need a stove.

If you're the kind of person who needs hot meals, then you need a stove.

Only the OP knows what group he belongs to. But his original post gives a clue.

I realize that most of our diet is comprised of cooked foods. But that doesn't mean YOU have to cook it. Bread, sliced turkey, canned chili, granola, even peanut butter -- yes, those have already been baked or cooked. Take advantage of it. And lots of nutritious food is available raw (and cold), like carrots, apples, zuccini, dairy products.

To repeat: I'm not trying to convince anyone to give up hot meals on the road. But leave the option open to those who are asking. Buying basic ingredients (bread, sliced meat, peanut butter) at grocery stores is just as cheap as buying things to cook (pasta, sauce, meat) -- without the cost of fuel.

-- Mark
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Old 05-19-09, 10:22 AM   #12
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If I was British, I'd say "Balderdash!" Heck, I'll say it anyway.

A loaf of bread, 4 oz. of sliced turkey or ham, a head of lettuce, a couple mustard and mayonnaise packets (from a McDonald's you stop in to use the restroom) -- what's that, $5.00 ??? Now you have enough to make sandwiches for lunch and dinner. Add a bag of carrots, a brick of cheese, yogurt, cinnamon rolls, whatever... That gives you dessert and tomorrow's breakfast, to boot.


-- Mark
Balderdash!!! I had to say it, it's a cool word. Anyway, bread with turkey doesn't supply enough energy to sustain one on a long ride, as most deli sandwichs and or salads don't. Unless your energy needs is so low that you can survive off of bird food.
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Old 05-19-09, 11:00 AM   #13
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Balderdash!!! I had to say it, it's a cool word. Anyway, bread with turkey doesn't supply enough energy to sustain one on a long ride, as most deli sandwichs and or salads don't. Unless your energy needs is so low that you can survive off of bird food.
I agree that one for lunch, and one for dinner wouldn't get you very far. The solution is to have two or three, plus nut mix, fig bars, apples, cheese, M&Ms, granola, until you're full.

My wife and I covered over 5000 miles last summer on such a diet (plus occasional restaurant meals and campfire cookouts -- but who doesn't?). Between us, I think we lost less than 10 lbs, which we were glad to do. We always eat healthy, so I'm not worried about a specialized touring diet, and we never really worried about it. I do believe that the human body will do fine when you increase the caloric intake to match what's needed. Provided that your diet is OK to begin with -- a junk-food junkie at 500% intake will just die 5 times faster.

I'm still not pushing stove-free on the non-believers, I'm just sayin' it's fine if you don't need hot meals.

-- Mark
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Old 05-19-09, 12:46 PM   #14
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I agree with dan_the_man look at building your own alcohol stove. I have used these backpacking around MT and love them. Cheap, light weight, and small.
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Old 05-19-09, 12:51 PM   #15
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Balderdash!!! I had to say it, it's a cool word. Anyway, bread with turkey doesn't supply enough energy to sustain one on a long ride, as most deli sandwichs and or salads don't. Unless your energy needs is so low that you can survive off of bird food.
Does hot food magically contain more energy than cold food? I would think that energy would be independent of temperature. If you are still hungry after one sandwich, eat another one. You don't even have to say please, you can just make yourself another. If you are still hungry, eat a bag of potato chips, oh no the calories! There are plenty of ways to shovel cold calories into your mouth. It doesn't take a genius to not starve to death on a highway with stores every 15 miles and a credit card.
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Old 05-19-09, 11:16 PM   #16
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There are a lot of places along the Pacific Coast the bailing out by train is not an easy option. I agree with the folks about fixing the things that need fixing before you leave. I've done the Coast from Lund, BC down to the California border and plan to do another segment this fall. I also work on the Oegon Coast a lot. I highly recommend a rain jacket of some sort. At a minimum, some sort of "wind proof" shell. I was really glad to have both rain jacket and pants on our last trip. The coast can also be foggy and windy in the summer which will get you about as wet as rain.

Best wishes on you ride.

Stoves, sleeping pads, etc are personal choices. I like to be comfortable and hot meal and hot cup of tea on a rainy day are nice (but not necessary).
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Old 05-19-09, 11:50 PM   #17
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Alochol stove is where it's at

Nice trip planned,

I agree with others on bringing a homemade alcohol stove. In addition, use a Heineken keg can as your boiling pot, it's about the size of a JetBoil pot, but lighter. The combined setup is small and weighs close to nothing. As far a fuel, HEET seems to burn the best (less flare ups) and comes in a yellow bottle that slides nicely into a pannier. If you don't find yourself using the stove, stop at a post office and ship it home or to a friends house, or better yet, recycle it!

I am a ultralight backpacker and made the stove for backpacking. I used the stove on a 8 day cycling trip last summer and loved it! I'll be taking it on a 30 day trip this summer.

I made mine from 2 V8 cans and 1 Heineken keg can. I made several stoves of just about every style(like 15 stoves in all) until I settled on the open jet style made from V8 cans to save weight. It is self priming and super easy to fill with fuel. Making a stove on your first try takes about 2 hours while watching TV, even my first stove came out pretty good and could be used on a trip if needed.

Try the following links

http://zenstoves.net/Stoves.htm

http://hikinghq.net/sgt_stove/sgt_v8stove1_pf.html
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Old 05-20-09, 08:03 AM   #18
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Does hot food magically contain more energy than cold food? I would think that energy would be independent of temperature. If you are still hungry after one sandwich, eat another one. You don't even have to say please, you can just make yourself another. If you are still hungry, eat a bag of potato chips, oh no the calories! There are plenty of ways to shovel cold calories into your mouth. It doesn't take a genius to not starve to death on a highway with stores every 15 miles and a credit card.
What does my statement about eating a turkey sandwich have to do with hot vs cold having more energy? Not a dang thing. And no you can't just eat two or three sandwiches because then you overload your stomach.

But your right, it doesn't take a genius to figure out how not to starve to death. And a cold deli sandwich does work, but it doesn't last as long for energy production as more solid food whether cold or not. Thus if your hungry buy a deli sandwich if nothing else is around to eat, then buy another an hour or so later, or take one with you to eat later.

My metabolism is very high and it's been that way all my life and is still that way now and I'm 56. My first 100 mile race I stored food like everyone advise me to do, but I ate it all before the 50 mile mark, I had to go into a quicky store and crab a sandwich and 4 powerbars to continue! (needless to say I didn't fair well in that race). For my body those cheap thin turkey sandwichs from a quicky store is not adequate. I do pretty well on a Subway sandwich since I can put whatever I want on it. Those I can order a foot long, have it cut in half, store half in my handlebar bag and eat it about 2 hours later.
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Old 05-20-09, 09:42 AM   #19
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... For my body those cheap thin turkey sandwichs from a quicky store is not adequate. I do pretty well on a Subway sandwich since I can put whatever I want on it. ...
Which is why I was saying "Make your own sandwich". (Or burrito, or crab louie, or ....)

I can eat anything when I'm hungry; but in between, the thought of a "cheap thin turkey sandwich" or a "Subway sandwich" makes me gag. As I said above, my wife and I covered over 5000 miles on grocery-store food. We ate well. Very well. Gourmet well, in many cases. You want to make a meal out of homemade sandwich, you're not limited to what or how much you put on it.

Reminds me of a month we spent in Cambodia..... In a typical town of 1000 souls, you'd be lucky to find a package of dry crackers for off-the-shelf ready-to-eat food. (Things to cook, like rice and flour and fish, were plentiful.) That's one place where I'd carry a stove, or better yet, get all my meals at "restaurants". But this is North America, Safeways and A&Ps abound.

I respect that each person's metabolism is different, and it explains a lot of the differences in diets and eating habits. We don't know the OP's nutritional requirements, we don't even really know if he's the kind who needs hot meals in camp. But if he doesn't, chances are he'll do fine without a stove. Personal choice.

-- Mark
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Old 05-20-09, 11:41 AM   #20
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Personally I would never ride in Cambodia or China etc, but can appreciate one who does! Eating that kind of food would turn me into even a thinner pencil stick then I'm already am! While I've been to Antarctica (hence the Froze) I would not ride a bike there, nor have any desire to go back!!!
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Old 05-20-09, 08:36 PM   #21
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I've been away from the computer for several days and I'm pleased as punch with all the responses. I really appreciate all the information here. The trip has changed up a bit and I've taken yalls advice into consideration.

I will have some company with me for the northern part of the route. I feel better knowing that the ride is well traveled, though.

As far as gear goes: I will be taking a sleeping pad with me - I found a short, light weight therma rest. I am pretty sure I can make a killer stove out of a beer can and insulation. Combined with a light pot, I think this will be great for hot food and tea in the morning and at night. I know I'll appreciate hot food regardless of the savings or nutrient potential. I am a college student so I am well accustomed and even a bit fond of eating in a very cheap, very simple way. I'll be well suited to eating in creative ways on the road. I am packing a light weight rain coat and after looking at the weather patterns I think I'll be packing some warmer clothes. I found some glasses as well which will help with light rain and dirt.

Timing wise, I was giving myself too many days of travel, I think you were right on in that regard. 30 days sounds much better and even then I will have plenty of time to enjoy the scenery.

I have had to push back my travel dates a bit. I received a ticket on my bike recently and I have to appear in court to plead not guilty. This will give me a chance to spend hours on my bike for about two weeks before I leave, making sure me and my bike are ready. I also tuned and re-tensioned my wheels. I plan on repacking the bearings in the front. The head set and bottom bracket are both fresh and greased and I've replaced the chain, chain ring and free wheel.

I do appreciate all your advice and perhaps in a month or so I'll let yall know what kind of an adventure it was. peace and thanks
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Old 05-21-09, 09:33 PM   #22
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"EmmCeeBee" and others are right, if you are set on not taking a stove, building sandwichs using high energy, healthy ingredients as well as using energy bars, eating fruits and nuts etc. will get you through. A friend, at age 45, and I, at age 50, did the trip from Vancouver b.c. to San Fransisco averaging 75 miles a day. If you haven't trained much before leaving, aiming for 60 miles a day average is very do-able. I've ridden several trips as long or longer while in my 50's and early 60's while carrying full camping and other gear totalling 40-50 lbs. and always averaged between 70 mi./day average on the slowest trip, and 85 mi./day on the fastest trip. If you would like more detailed info., pm me.
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Old 05-23-09, 12:23 PM   #23
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Glad you got some rain gear. That was going to be my recommendation.
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Old 05-24-09, 10:21 AM   #24
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I met a guy in Glacier National Park last summer. He was relocating via bicycle from Buffalo, New York to Portland, Oregon. He was a young guy, just starting out in life. He had worked miscellaneous jobs to put the money together to buy his touring bike and gear, and set aside money for the trip. Every penny was precious. He was traveling light and didn't have a stove.

He told me what a hassle it had been finding food. He was gone for an hour at dinnertime and came back with some packages from the little market - bean salad, chicken salad - stuff like that. He wasn't happy with how he had been eating, and said that if he had it to do again he would buy a stove and mess kit and cook his own food. The way he was eating was more costly and the food was often lousy and unhealthy.

The other thing he remarked on was how hungry he was all the time! He said he was eating at least twice as much as he did at home, and still was losing weight! I can relate to that! This magnifies any hassles you might have with finding food, because you'll need to find it more often, and find more of it.

Bringing cooking gear gives you options. You can choose your own menu at any grocery store. You can brew coffee (mandatory as far as I'm concerned.)

When I get to a campground, the last thing I want to do is hop back on my bike and go searching for a place to eat. I also wouldn't want to have to eat before I was ready because it was the last opportunity before arriving at the campground. About the only time I'd want to go out for dinner would be if the restaurant was within walking distance of my campsite.

I do eat at restaurants when I stay in motels, but there have always been restaurants within easy walking distance.

Besides dinner and coffee, I cook oatmeal in the campsite for first breakfast, but if possible I stop after 10 miles or so for second breakfast in a restaurant.
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Old 05-24-09, 11:02 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by BigBlueToe View Post
I do eat at restaurants when I stay in motels, but there have always been restaurants within easy walking distance.

Besides dinner and coffee, I cook oatmeal in the campsite for first breakfast, but if possible I stop after 10 miles or so for second breakfast in a restaurant.
I hate to say and admit this, but I've actually found fast food places to be more filling and energy sustaining then trying to dink around in some mini market!! Now I'm going to get pissed all over on...oh well it works better for me and I don't gain weight.

In the evening I use to (use to because I'm now slowly preparing for camping type of touring) either stay at a motel or a friends house and either eat at a regular resturant or at the friends house.

Your right about the breakfast, I would eat a light high protein breakfast at around 6am hit the road at 7 and by 10 or so have to eat again, usually a breakfast. But keep in mind I don't eat till I'm stuffed, just enough not to cause stomach problems while riding, thus it's actually a light first and second breakfast usually consisting of 3 eggs, some sort of meat, and hash browns, then the second breakfast is usually a fast food joint.
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