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Old 01-19-10, 01:25 AM   #1
MilitantPotato
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Virgin Tourer: Missouri to Jacksonvlle Florida very little planning time, need help.

Long story short, my wife left with our children.

My family has invited me to Florida for a visit, and I'm keen on accepting.

If you had two weeks to plan a fully loaded, 99% of the nights in a tent, rookie safe tour, how would you go about it?

Are the adventure cycling maps geared for tent camping or hotel hopping?

If there are ample camp grounds and decent stealth sights I'm thinking about the following route:
Taking the MKT from Columbia, to St. Louis (Family there I'd like to see,) Great Rivers route south, connecting to the Underground route, then the Southern Tier ending up near Jacksonville.

I don't have a laptop, or an Internet capable phone either, should be a wild trip, yea?

Thanks in advance for any help or advice you can offer.
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Old 01-19-10, 03:38 AM   #2
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Just go and have a back up plan to arrive at your destination.
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Old 01-19-10, 05:40 AM   #3
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The Adv Cycling maps are geared to camping. They have locations of campgrounds, churches, city halls etc that will allow you to camp. Also have hotels, motels, hostels, etc listed.
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Old 01-19-10, 07:30 AM   #4
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Sounds like a good plan to me. The only fly in this ointment might be the weather. Be prepared to hole up somewhere for a few days should it turn nasty on you.
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Old 01-19-10, 02:36 PM   #5
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What time frame are you planning on making your trip?
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Old 01-19-10, 04:01 PM   #6
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Nothing set in stone. I'll likely be leaving early-mid next month, and arriving whenever I happen to get there. Or, I'll wait until February if I can't manage to sell enough stuff to fund the trip.
Everything is very much up in the air at the moment, the situation with my wife is sketchy to say the least.
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Old 01-20-10, 09:25 AM   #7
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Nothing set in stone. I'll likely be leaving early-mid next month, and arriving whenever I happen to get there. Or, I'll wait until February if I can't manage to sell enough stuff to fund the trip.
Everything is very much up in the air at the moment, the situation with my wife is sketchy to say the least.
Let me know when you get a days ride from Lake City and, if I'm not doing anything, I'll ride out from Jacksonville and ride in with you if you'd like some company. I'm busy the weekend of the 13th and 20th but my week days are open.
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Old 01-20-10, 10:37 AM   #8
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I think if you choose the adventure cycling routes and maps then two weeks is plenty of time for planning, assuming you already have the bike and gear. The ACA maps are excellent for camping info and route descriptions. Buy the ones you need and just go, do it!

As far as no laptop, I never carry one on a tour. You can always stop at a local library and use the internet for free.
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Old 01-20-10, 03:12 PM   #9
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Your ACA route sounds good. This route will get you into warmer weather sooner than a direct route and you'll have avoided the Appalachians. I really don't recommend a first time tourer crossing those mountains in a Southeasterly direction and at this time of year!
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Old 01-20-10, 06:51 PM   #10
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I disagree with the majority of those posting here.
Given what little you have said here, I suspect that you are in a world of hurt -
not to mention tight finances, job?
Now is not the time to start something you have never done before -
let alone in the middle of winter.

Touring solo can be a very isolating experience - the last thing you need right now.
Plus you can drink yourself into oblivion every night - hoping no one will notice.
And no one probably will.
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Old 01-20-10, 08:19 PM   #11
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I agree somewhat with jama. Given your situation add to that your rookie status, you stand a chance of setting yourself up for disaster. Solo touring is not for everybody.
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Old 01-20-10, 08:31 PM   #12
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I'll have about the same support and people around me as I would on tour that I do here, none. Whole goal is to attempt to reset and get back to my family.

Granted I'll likely fail, but a plane ticket has been offered, so I guess if I start losing touch on the road I can call in that favor.

Financially, I have about $600 per month if I abandon everything here, more if I can sell off most of my stuff. I don't see food costing near that, so I SHOULD be alright. I do have a stove (Optimus Plus) that should help keep the price of a warm meal down.

The cold factor is a worry though. I have a 0* north face bag, which should help. I've been comfortable in ~10F riding with my current clothing situation, and aside from shoe covers I've got the rain gear. My tent (big agnes emerald mountain 3) is complete overkill for a solo tour though, and will likely mess up stealth camping.
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Old 01-20-10, 10:07 PM   #13
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I'll have about the same support and people around me as I would on tour that I do here, none. ... Granted I'll likely fail, but a plane ticket has been offered,
Militant Potato -

You sound very depressed - and you have a right to be.
But that still doesn't change the fact of the depression.
Combine that with nasty weather and meager financial resources -
And it is a recipe for even deeper depression.

I've got oodles of touring miles - including some in the cold back East.
And trust me, it ain't pleasant even for a hardcore oldtimer.
Cold, damp, grey, bleak - - not the circumstances you need.
And as poor as I am - I've had to use lots of motels.

If you have the plane ticket, use it.
You can fly down to Florida and find plenty of places to hike and bike -
Find people online here and in clubs down there.
Do weekend or week long trips - - with somebody.

Are you aware of the canoe trails in Okeefenokee Swamp?
There's Cumberland Island which is really sweet.
My suggestion is to get to Jacksonville and head out from there.

<<<>>>

I am also aware that many times alcohol & drugs have a role in marital difficulties.
Kinda chicken & egg, not sure which comes first, but the two are often in tandem.
That may or may not apply to you - but if it does, you have an opportunity to deal with it.

Again, what little you have posted has been a red flag for me.
Please, think twice before heading out.
There are many other ways to use this time and engage the outdoors.
Don't punish yourself with a trip like this - you've been punished enough.

I wish you the best in whatever you choose to do.
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Old 01-20-10, 10:55 PM   #14
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I'll take that to heart jamawani and reassess my plans/desires.

I may just head to St. Louis (~200 miles) and call that it for a tour. I need to go there anyway for the flight, and the trail to there is about as nice as it gets.

The marital problems come from my wife's battle with bi-polar, mostly. Happens every year around this time. Shame it doesn't happen in the summer, nights outside are much nicer, at least this year I've still got a roof.


Also, thanks for the advice and help everyone.
If I get my bike to Fl, I'll be sure to look you up FL Rando. Thanks for the offer for company.
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Old 01-21-10, 08:51 AM   #15
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GO FOR IT!

Hey guys, let's be a little more supportive. Going on a bike tour in not the same as crawling into a bottle or becoming a crack head. Given that you're not running out on any obligations, going on a bike tour at this time is one of the better options you can choose. Put 8 hours in the saddle and what have you got, maybe an hour of paying attention to in-town traffic, 15 minutes of route finding and the other 6 3/4 hours with nothing better to do with your brain than think things over. Do that for 2 weeks, and i think you'll get a lot of things figured out. Sounds like just the thing to me.

add to that accomplishing a goal that most people wouldn't dream of and the self-confidence that comes with it, the exercise and mostly fresh air and it's a winning package.

as far as the nuts & bolts of doing it goes, there are a lot of lists around; just try not to pack the kitchen sink. you'll probably find that you can mail off or ditch things you find you really didn't need after all. that's par for the course, first time around.

challenges will be both expected and unexpected. deal with them 1 at a time. if it gets to where you feel like giving up, by all means do so, but make the final decision only after a decent meal and a good nights rest. calling it a day early is 1 thing, but give up too early and you'll be kicking yourself in the butt afterwards.

go have a nice ride!
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Old 01-21-10, 11:38 AM   #16
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MilitantPotato,

someone pmed me implying that my post was on a level with a nike commercial and that it was generally irresponsible of me (pushing it) to encourage you to go on an undertaking that may not entirely be a stroll through a park, what with you having some personal problems to deal with at this time.

i feel that some of the points they raised and some of my responses might give you some food for thought and help you come to a better-informed decision on whether to do this or not. some parts are deleted in order to not point to whom i was pmed by. i'm sure their opinion is 100% sincere, just pretty much diametrically opposed to mine. we are both of course just pasting a lot of our own experience onto your essentially mostly-unknown-to-us situation. just keep that in mind.

[ Hi there,

first off, i'd like to make it 100% clear that nothing i wrote was either directed at you personally, or written in a flippant, off-the-cuff attitude, although my writing style may bely that.

my main point is that telling him to give up before he even tries is not the attitude one needs to get through life. if he's going to give up on a little thing like a tour without even trying, you can be sure he'll be closer to giving up on the whole wife & kids things, a much harder challenge all around.

neither one of us knows the guy, and each of us is putting our own interpretation on his situation. perhaps to you it may seem that he's " psychologically at risk " and should be protected from himself. to me it sounds as if he's trying to get his act together by taking some "alone time" and surmounting a small challenge.

as far as the "beginner on a winter tour" goes, other than a traffic accident, what actually is the worst case scenario that you feel he's in danger of? " psychologically at risk " of what , exactly? i've been touring 35 + years; spring, summer, fall and,yes, winters, too. it seems to me that the worst that'll happen is that he decides that it's all too much work, or just too cold to enjoy, or just too lonely, and then give up & catch a bus or plane to florida. at least he'll have given it his best shot first.

it seems to me that he's asking all the right questions.

{deleted section**

i'll agree with you on one point, and that is that "mindset" is very important.

"And trust me, it ain't pleasant even for a hardcore oldtimer.
Cold, damp, grey, bleak " " Everything points to a miserable tour for this young person "

i'll take exception to the "everything points to" part, but sure, parts of his upcoming tour might end up being fairly described as miserable. what i can't agree with is your conclusion "not the circumstances (he) need(s)".

pedalling mile after mile uphill against the wind or, for me, slogging up an alpine icefield with numb fingers and toes and alternating between sweating buckets and freezing could be described as miserable. but any time i've asked myself "what the h@ll am i doing this for?, the question has been entirely rhetorical. the unpleasantness is all part of the equation that makes it eminently worthwhile doing.

so all in all it is my "considered" opinion that miltantpotato should be engouraged. ]

as long as you're not doing this to escape from personal, immediate responsiblilties, especially towards your kids, i still think you should go ahead and give it a shot.
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