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  1. #1
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    We're poor, how do we make this work? Austin Tx to Vancouver

    I was hoping I could get some good friendly internet insight from folks who have done this sort of stuff before. Me and my two roomates when our lease runs out are looking to up and head to Vancouver via bicycle. There's a few issues though I would love some insight on.

    1-we don't all have touring bicycles neccessarily. I have a 87 Fuji Roubaix road bike, another one of us has a Giordana road, and the last of us is still looking for a new bike. Though the components are all good and fancy on these, and the frames steel, I feel like the geometry on these bikes seem a little too aggresive to be riding on comfortably for two months with panniers and trailers. However, I'd still like to know if this can be done safely and efficiantly on road bikes, or if we should just invest in touring specific bikes. Keep in mind now, we're poor so if the latter is the smarted option whats some good buys on touring bikes where we can get the most bang for our bucks?

    2-How do we make this trip as easy on ourselves monetarily speaking. We plan on camping pretty much the whole way when not staying with old friends and family, and we plan on bringing along lots of peanut butter and superfoods like spirulina, different proteins and what have you (get those at wholesale cost). It's mostly those uncontrolable out of your hands bike or human mechanical maintenance problems I'm worried about. I hear there are ways to get your trip sponsored through different causes or organizations but really know nothing about that sort of stuff. Any recomendations?

    3-finally, if anyone has done a trip like this before from Austin towards the Northwest, any recomended scenic routes, or places to stop at?

    Any feedback on this would be very appreciated by us; Ben Josh and Jordan, Bike Gang

  2. #2
    Senior Member foamy's Avatar
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    No worries. I rode with a fella (for 3 or 4 days) who was on his racing bike (college cycling team) with a heaping Coraplast carton and two panniers on the back. He was just fine. Made it coast to coast. He changed his rear cassette to a more mountain friendly set and never looked back. Don't over think this.

    Don't buy a lot of grub and carry it with you. Buy as you need it to avoid carrying a lot of weight. Forget about getting some org to sponsor you—unless it's your folks. Save your cash. Buy food together for the savings. You can get by on $20 a day, perhaps less, no frills.

    Consult www.crazyguyonabike.com—chances are somebody has done and documented a trip that would be close to yours. In fact it's got all kinds of useful info. This forum as well. Search "touring cheaply" or something like that.
    Last edited by foamy; 02-23-10 at 01:35 PM.
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  3. #3
    Just keep pedalling! big_heineken's Avatar
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    Nashbar has their touring frame on sale right now for $100.
    http://www.nashbar.com/bikes//Produc...2_173291_-1___

    Most of the drivetrain will transfer over. Those Ukai wheels on your Roubaix are pretty stout, I have the same ones on my 1987 Club Fuji.
    Hook 'em Horns!

  4. #4
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    I can only answer the first point. Light road bikes are great for going fast with no loads. I don't think it matters if the posture is "aggressive" or not, if it's a posture you like and are able to ride long distances then it's fine. Once you load up on stuff and go steady easy speeds for day to day comfort the light wheels and small tires become less desirable. It doesn't take any kind of fancy bike to ride 6hrs/day at 10-15mph. It's all the motor and making sure there's air in the tires. If you're emotionally attached to the existing bikes I'd go for ultralight traveling instead of trying to pull a trailer or adapting the bikes to carry lots. I'm not familiar with that Fuji but if it's got 23yr old wheels I'd be inclined to replace the rear rim/wheel. Whether the bikes will work for you is hard to say without seeing the bikes. You know, are you 140lbs thinking of carrying 25lbs or are you 200lbs thinking of carrying 30lbs and what condition are the rear wheels.

    If you get different bikes it won't be an investment, it'll be an expense. When I had a shop on the coast in the 80's I replaced a lot of rear wheels on bikes people had for ten years but never loaded up with gear. They loaded it up and rear spokes started breaking a week into the trip. So the short answer is "it depends" on the size of the load, you and your gear whether the bikes you have can work.

  5. #5
    Senior Member bktourer1's Avatar
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    For potential places to stay check out warmshowers.org

  6. #6
    Senior Member pasopia's Avatar
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    My first tour I did fresh out of college in 2003, 6 weeks in Europe. I had very little money. I bought a trek mountain bike used from a college kid that only road it once or twice. I think it was $200 and basically new. I borrowed camping gear and bought cheap synthetic shirts at walmart. I bought cheap nashbar panniers on sale. I had a great time.

    My setup was HEAVY, but I didn't really know it at the time. Unfortunately ultralight camping gear is pretty expensive. I'm not sure I'd want to tour on a road bike with a full touring load. If I were you I would look around on craigslist and see if you can get a used rigid mountain bike, they make great cheap tourers. Not to say your current bike wouldn't work, I don't really know without throwing some panniers on it and riding around.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    whats some good buys on touring bikes where we can get the most bang for our bucks?

    For a dedicated touring bicycle, the Windsor Tourist, $600 at www.bikesdirect.com, is relatively inexpensive and proven.

    Frankly tho, you're likely to get the most for your bucks by riding what you've got. Too aggressive? Raise the bar. Gearing too high, replace the cassette. Rear wheel too weak, get a stronger one. Certainly you'll need some good puncture resistant tires. Probably all for less than $300.

    Maybe you can find something used better, cheaper, and just the right fit. Wouldn't hold my breath tho.
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

  8. #8
    ah.... sure. kayakdiver's Avatar
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    When I crossed the country in 2008 I met up with a couple who had maybe $100 worth of craigslist bikes and a handmade trailer. They had the same size smile I did. If I was really stuck for money I'd find a cheap used mountain bike with rigid fork and pull a trailer. I'd have the gearing I needed and something heavy duty. If I was really trying to do it cheap I'd purchase a trailer at the beginning of the trip and sell it when I got done....

    Can't think of a much cheaper way to do it.

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  9. #9
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    Check frankenbike when they start having it again if its before you leave and see if you can get some things you need there. Check yellow bike and see what they have as far as bikes.
    If I didnt have to work for a living, I would see about joining yall. When are yall planning on leaving?
    It is not about the destination. It is about the journey getting there.
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  10. #10
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    I'm in a similar situation, coming out of college and looking to save money. I have a Miyata Professionnel from the 70s with moderately steep road geometry and no eyelets. Can I make this happen? I'm also working this semester and can probably save enough money to buy, say, a Novara Randonee. I also have access to a couple of older mountain bikes (one with a broken frame, one with a too-small frame) as well the local bike coop, and those could provide a pretty healthy proportion of a build kit for a Nashbar frame. How's that compare?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlanKHG View Post
    I'm in a similar situation, coming out of college and looking to save money. I have a Miyata Professionnel from the 70s with moderately steep road geometry and no eyelets.
    When I was 25 that was the bike I did a two week tour on. Maserati road bike with 74degree head/seat angles. I changed the front fork to one with more rake. Put on a blackburn rack with ss. p. clamps. Rode on 19mm wide Rigida rims, 36 hole,straight 15g. spokes. But I weighed 145lbs and was carrying less than 15lbs. My riding partner was 6'4" 180lbs and had similar bike but with 14g. spokes on the rear. We weren't carrying much weight and rode on 700x28 tires. If you need money for the trip I wouldn't bother sinking it into a new bike as long as your road bike can be made to work. A new or rebuilt rear wheel is still a lot cheaper than a new bike.

    If you're a 220lb+ rider wanting to load up an old road bike with 30+lbs and both wheels are dodgy and the gears need changing then looking around for that old mtn bike built on coop parts start making a lot of sense. For touring speeds 26"x1.5 touring tires roll very nice over all kinds of garbage compared to skinny tires.

  12. #12
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Given your situation, I'd say:
    Ride the road bikes and pack very light or use a trailer if you carry a bit more. Get lower gearing though.

    If you decide to buy bikes and are on a budget there are a number of good choices for $599 to a bit over $1000. I like my Windsor Touring ($599) just fine. Three of us rode them across the US and were happy with them. The REI Novarra Randioneer, Fuji Touring, LHT, and a few others are also good choices, but the cheapest is to ride what you have. I would not find the geometry or riding position to be a problem, but others might.

    I agree with Foamy that you should buy food daily or close to daily. No way you can carry a lot of food and pack light enough IMO.

    Free camping should be easy to find most of the time if you avoid bigger cities and stick with smaller towns. In the middle of the country almost all small towns will leave you alone if you camp in the little town park. Ask around if in doubt, you will generally be able to camp in the town park, a church lot, or someones yard. Cashiers, librarians, the police dept or sheriff's office, city hall, the local church, or the local fire hall are all good places to ask where you might pitch a tent for the night.

    If you use an Adventure Cycling Route for some or all of your route many free places to stay and contacts will be listed on the maps.
    Last edited by staehpj1; 02-24-10 at 07:25 AM.

  13. #13
    Senior Member m_yates's Avatar
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    +1 on the warmshowers recommendation. A student of mine did a 400 mile tour last summer on a racing bike. He did the whole trip only carrying a couple of water bottles and one small bag. He stayed with people he contacted through warmshowers and told me it worked out great. He just bought food and drinks along the way.

    I disagree with the suggestions of modifying an old mountain bike or your existing road bike to make it into a tourer. You do that sort of thing if you have money, love the bike frame, and enjoy being a bike mechanic. It won't end up saving you anything. In the end, you are better off buying the $600 Windsor Tourist if you really want a bike capable of hauling a load.

    For example, if you upgrade to 36 spoke wheels, that will cost you ~$250. A new cassette with bigger gears is ~$30 at least, you'll probably need wider tires to go with the wheels (~$60 for two), might need new tubes to go with the tires (~$15 for two). Oh, then you probably need a long cage rear derailleur to go with the new cassette (~$60). If you decide to install a triple ring crankset to give lower gearing, it will be around $120. You'll probably then need a new bottom bracket (~$30) and front derailleur (~$30) to go with the new crankset. I could go on, but you get the point. The parts I just listed cost around $600 and doesn't include the cost of tools or hiring someone to install them. Even if you did all of what I just said, you are still left with a frame that probably doesn't have braze ons for mounting racks, and probably doesn't have a long chainstay so your heal will be hitting bags carried on a rear rack.

  14. #14
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by m_yates View Post
    +1 on the warmshowers recommendation. A student of mine did a 400 mile tour last summer on a racing bike. He did the whole trip only carrying a couple of water bottles and one small bag. He stayed with people he contacted through warmshowers and told me it worked out great. He just bought food and drinks along the way.

    I disagree with the suggestions of modifying an old mountain bike or your existing road bike to make it into a tourer. You do that sort of thing if you have money, love the bike frame, and enjoy being a bike mechanic. It won't end up saving you anything. In the end, you are better off buying the $600 Windsor Tourist if you really want a bike capable of hauling a load.

    For example, if you upgrade to 36 spoke wheels, that will cost you ~$250. A new cassette with bigger gears is ~$30 at least, you'll probably need wider tires to go with the wheels (~$60 for two), might need new tubes to go with the tires (~$15 for two). Oh, then you probably need a long cage rear derailleur to go with the new cassette (~$60). If you decide to install a triple ring crankset to give lower gearing, it will be around $120. You'll probably then need a new bottom bracket (~$30) and front derailleur (~$30) to go with the new crankset. I could go on, but you get the point. The parts I just listed cost around $600 and doesn't include the cost of tools or hiring someone to install them. Even if you did all of what I just said, you are still left with a frame that probably doesn't have braze ons for mounting racks, and probably doesn't have a long chainstay so your heal will be hitting bags carried on a rear rack.
    I somewhat agree, but will raise a few issues with some of this. On the warmshowers part... There are very few warmshowers hosts on much of the rural US they are few and far between on routes like the TransAmerica for example. Use them when you can, but don't expect to find them in rural Wyoming and similar places. It looks like couchsurfing.com has more hosts in the rural US. I did a spot check the other day and on the TA for the towns we went through in Wyoming the count was zero warmshowers hosts and four couchsurfing hosts. I imagine it would be similar in the rest of flyover land, but I did not check.

    On the upgrades part... I agree that you are better not to do a ton of upgrades to your existing bike. Either load it very lightly and use it with minimal changes or don't use it. That said if you use a trailer and/or pack very lightly it can work out well with a bit lower gearing.

  15. #15
    Senior Member m_yates's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    I somewhat agree, but will raise a few issues with some of this. On the warmshowers part... There are very few warmshowers hosts on much of the rural US they are few and far between on routes like the TransAmerica for example. Use them when you can, but don't expect to find them in rural Wyoming and similar places. It looks like couchsurfing.com has more hosts in the rural US. I did a spot check the other day and on the TA for the towns we went through in Wyoming the count was zero warmshowers hosts and four couchsurfing hosts. I imagine it would be similar in the rest of flyover land, but I did not check.

    On the upgrades part... I agree that you are better not to do a ton of upgrades to your existing bike. Either load it very lightly and use it with minimal changes or don't use it. That said if you use a trailer and/or pack very lightly it can work out well with a bit lower gearing.
    Good point about warmshowers. The student I mentioned was traveling through fairly heavily populated areas on the east coast. I'm sure it is a different story out west in rural areas.

  16. #16
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by m_yates View Post
    Good point about warmshowers. The student I mentioned was traveling through fairly heavily populated areas on the east coast. I'm sure it is a different story out west in rural areas.
    Yes, still even if few and far between it is worth checking on. I just think it is important to not set expectations too high at least in rural areas.

  17. #17
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    Plan a route that includes fruit picking

  18. #18
    Day trip lover mr geeker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jordanrodgers View Post
    I was hoping I could get some good friendly internet insight from folks who have done this sort of stuff before. Me and my two roomates when our lease runs out are looking to up and head to Vancouver via bicycle. There's a few issues though I would love some insight on.

    1-we don't all have touring bicycles neccessarily. I have a 87 Fuji Roubaix road bike, another one of us has a Giordana road, and the last of us is still looking for a new bike. Though the components are all good and fancy on these, and the frames steel, I feel like the geometry on these bikes seem a little too aggresive to be riding on comfortably for two months with panniers and trailers. However, I'd still like to know if this can be done safely and efficiantly on road bikes, or if we should just invest in touring specific bikes. Keep in mind now, we're poor so if the latter is the smarted option whats some good buys on touring bikes where we can get the most bang for our bucks?

    2-How do we make this trip as easy on ourselves monetarily speaking. We plan on camping pretty much the whole way when not staying with old friends and family, and we plan on bringing along lots of peanut butter and superfoods like spirulina, different proteins and what have you (get those at wholesale cost). It's mostly those uncontrolable out of your hands bike or human mechanical maintenance problems I'm worried about. I hear there are ways to get your trip sponsored through different causes or organizations but really know nothing about that sort of stuff. Any recomendations?

    3-finally, if anyone has done a trip like this before from Austin towards the Northwest, any recomended scenic routes, or places to stop at?

    Any feedback on this would be very appreciated by us; Ben Josh and Jordan, Bike Gang
    you could always buy a seatpost mounted rack, they're designed to cary 20-25 lbs. of stuff. that'll cary the tent and sleeping bag, clothes can go in your backpack, along with a small suply of food. you can get the rack at kmart/target/walmart and quite possibly the tent and sleeping bag. under a hundred bucks invstment. if you don't have a backpack, one can be baught there too.
    instant human: just add coffee
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  19. #19
    rwp
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    Quote Originally Posted by LeeG View Post
    I'm not familiar with that Fuji but if it's got 23yr old wheels I'd be inclined to replace the rear rim/wheel

    When I had a shop on the coast in the 80's I replaced a lot of rear wheels on bikes people had for ten years but never loaded up with gear. They loaded it up and rear spokes started breaking a week into the trip. So the short answer is "it depends" on the size of the load, you and your gear whether the bikes you have can work.
    Very good idea to get all the wheels checked over carefully. Straight, true and properly tensioned wheels are goning to be important.

    If two of you already have lightweight bikes, pool your money and get the third a real touring bike, then make him carry most of the gear.

  20. #20
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    Found on craigslist:

    Austin Frankenbike Swapmeet Feb 27:
    http://austin.craigslist.org/bik/1615312602.html

    $850 REI Tour bike for $500 in Austin:
    http://austin.craigslist.org/bik/1610180480.html

    Craigslist Austin Touring bike search:
    http://austin.craigslist.org/search/...min&maxAsk=max
    Last edited by EriktheFish; 02-24-10 at 12:31 PM.

  21. #21
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rwp View Post
    Very good idea to get all the wheels checked over carefully. Straight, true and properly tensioned wheels are goning to be important.

    If two of you already have lightweight bikes, pool your money and get the third a real touring bike, then make him carry most of the gear.
    Maybe, but I can see that leading to blood shed unless he is a lot stronger than the other two. A slower bike and a heavier load will be a huge handicap in the mountains. In flatter country you could help a bit by letting him draft.

    Another approach is to take turns pulling a trailer. I met a father and son who were doing that successfully.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    A few random thoughts for you.

    It's possible to eat cheaply on the road. For lunches, stop at a grocery store and get what you need to make some sandwiches. That's the cheapest bang for your buck. For suppers, cook some dried lentils, drain and add a bit of deli ham to the mix. Dried lentils are chock full of protein and they're one of the cheapest foods you can find. Bulk food stores are wonderful.

    If possible, check out the farmers' markets in towns and cities. Also, look for farmers who are selling fruit or produce from their farms. You can often save a bit of money that way.

    To save on weight, buy a small amount of food each day. Carry a few days' worth of dried foods and staples. For anything fresh, buy what you need when you stop for the night.


    If you find yourself short of money and you're traveling in summer, it may be possible to find a bit of temporary work picking fruit. You won't get rich, but if you need, you may be able to pick up a bit of extra money for the trip.


    You had asked about route information as well. I can give you some information about the roads in British Columbia from Nelson to Vancouver. (I've ridden those roads more than once.) Let me know where you're going to come into Canada and I can help you from there.
    Life is good.

  23. #23
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    Riding a bike from point a to b is cheap. Keep away from sites like this that have it all broken down by product. Just get a bike and go. I would check out ultralite camping sites for tips on what to take to keep all your gear under 10 pounds, add a patch kit and hope for the best. The real gear, which is expensive is what you get after you have slummed it a few times first and really want to specialize.

    http://www.rayjardine.com/papers/treadwheel/index.htm

    http://www.rayjardine.com/adventures...Bike/index.htm

  24. #24
    Walmart bike rider gpsblake's Avatar
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    I tour cheap myself, in fact, I use only department store bicycles. The biggest trap are gas stores and buying junk and drinks from them. As long as you buy from super-markets, avoid restaurants for the most part, and free camp, you can tour very cheaply. While the warm showers idea is a luxury, it won't save you any money if you planned on free camping in the first place. In fact, you're have to be on some sort of schedule or base your route on warmshowers if you go that route. Best wishes.

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    A lot of the common trailer designs are HUGE. Really really really huge volume. If the 3 of you are bike mad, that might be the way to go... not because trailers are awesome for bike touring, but because they make living with a bike as your only transport much easier. Even a used Burley kid's trailer can do the job for massive hauling.

    Sharing a trailer between 3 bikes is pretty easy.

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