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  1. #1
    What??? Only 2 wheels? jimmuller's Avatar
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    Seeking input on tour support, Northeast US

    My wife and I have been riding a tandem this year and are thinking of trying a short/medium length camping tour this summer or fall. Unless one uses a trailer a tandem doesn't have a lot of space for carrying gear. So a supported tour would be ideal. Adventure Cycling has "van-supported" tours where the group collectively is responsible for their own meals and gear, but AC provides a van to carry all the luggage from one evening's location to the next.

    This would seem ideal except for one thing. She has some food alergies so she eats entirely gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy-free. This rules out most shared meals and shared cooking equipment. We can always ship food, small pots, and even a backpacking stove with our gear, but much of the cost of tours like theirs seems to be in a communal food budget. We'd be paying for food we wouldn't share.

    I can contact AC about a special arrangement. But I'm wondering if there are alternatives. One possibility is that local cycling clubs might hold supported tours with a different food arrangement. They might be more flexible than a for-profit company.

    Any suggestions? Do any of you know of such clubs here in the Northeast?

    BTW, I did see the suggestion a day or so ago about using a courier service to shuttle gear for a trip in Maine. Good idea. However it doesn't provide the pre-trip route planning or during-trip emergency support one might expect in an organized tour.

    Thanks.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    There are, of course, other touring companies, but most use motels instead of camping. If you were interested in something like that, you might try the Vermont Inn-to-Inn that Adventure Cycling puts on.

    AC also runs the fully-supported tours, like the Blue Ridge (slightly south of New England, I suppose). You might write them and ask if they could support your wife's meal requirements on those.

  3. #3
    Bike touring webrarian
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    Why not simply carry some of your own cooking gear and food (maybe just pots and use AC's cooking stoves?) and let your wife prepare her own meals? AC would still carry all the gear and provide all the support you want.

    While it would be a bit more costly and bother, it isn't a showstopper.
    Visit the on-line Bike Touring Archive at www.biketouringtips.com

  4. #4
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    This bicycle tour company is located in the same town I live in here in northern Vermont. I see them leading tours throughout the summer. They are small and so may be more flexible about meeting your criteria.

    http://www.pomgbike.com/

    From their site:

    "
    Dietary Information:
    Each inn has a different dining set-up. Some inns operate restaurants on their property; others serve dinner and breakfast just to us. Some meals are served family style, others off of a menu. For dinner, you will always have at least a three-course meal with vegetarian and meat entrée options. Each inn serves a full country breakfast with hot and cold options always available. Dietary restrictions are accommodated by all of our inns. Alcohol is never included. See your confirmation packet for further details."
    Last edited by VT_Speed_TR; 03-14-12 at 02:15 PM.
    1965 Moulton Speed 4, 1974 Fuji 12 speed, 1987 DB Ascent EX, 2006 Dahon Speed TR, 2009 Salsa Fargo, 2011 Gravity 29.4, 2011 Salsa Casseroll, 2012 Surly Moonlander

  5. #5
    Senior Member Rob_E's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by raybo View Post
    Why not simply carry some of your own cooking gear and food (maybe just pots and use AC's cooking stoves?) and let your wife prepare her own meals? AC would still carry all the gear and provide all the support you want.

    While it would be a bit more costly and bother, it isn't a showstopper.
    The OP covered this. A large part of the expense of most organized tours seems to be tied up in the food. It's more than "a bit" more expensive to buy your own food if you've already paid for all the food that you're not eating.

    Some things to look at when scoping out tours: I seem to recall a supported trip around me that had different levels of food options. You could opt to pay more to have more meals provided, or you could wing it most of the time. I also seem to recall that with that trip or a similar one they discouraged or forbid stoves. If I had to guess, I'd say they were maybe concerned about spilled fuel in the support vehicle. With hundreds of riders, I can see that being a concern. I believe the work-around is to carry your stove with you.

  6. #6
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    You don't need a lot of gear to tavel by tandem. Personally, If I was touring with a group it would have to be for the company. Otherwise it is almost always easier to do your own thing, set your own pace, etc...

    Check out:

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

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmuller View Post
    Adventure Cycling has "van-supported" tours where the group collectively is responsible for their own meals and gear, but AC provides a van to carry all the luggage from one evening's location to the next.
    Doesn't appear that AC is running any van supproted tours in the northeast this year:

    http://www.adventurecycling.org/tour...trix/index.cfm

    The three supported tours in the northeast (C&O, Philly Flyer and Blue Ridge) are "fully-supported," which means you don't share cooking duties. A caterer does all the shopping and cooking. Their inn-to-inn tours are "credit card" style tours with no support. You carry your gear and eat at restaurants.

  8. #8
    What??? Only 2 wheels? jimmuller's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the input. This site was interesting.
    Quote Originally Posted by MassiveD View Post
    It would have been nice to see more about their packing, which did seem quite minimal. They appear to have done no food preparation.

    Though all the advice here is great and the premise of "working out the details with the various inns ahead of time" is nice, the problem isn't that simple. One thing about, say, a gluten or soy allergy is that one can get a reaction from eating food cooked on the same equipment used for "normal" food, or from minor ingredients which contain trace amounts of something. How many inns or restaurants have certified gluten-free meals? How many can you name which do not serve toast or pancakes for breakfasts, for example, where crumbs could be accidentally spilled from one plate to another? Prepared sauces and even veggie "fake" cheeses often contain soy. So avoiding these things required watching ingredients lists. "Eating out" isn't easy the way it is for most people.

    However I like the idea of taking our own stove if necessary, and shipping our own food with our baggage.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmuller View Post
    It would have been nice to see more about their packing, which did seem quite minimal. They appear to have done no food preparation.
    These people crossed the country on a tandem without a trailer, camped and cooked:

    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?...c_id=3686&v=gw

    Look at their equipment list. For a short tour, you could do without a lot of the extra parts and tools they brought. As they note, much what they brought went unused.

    One idea that comes to mind is AC's Green Mountains Loop. I did it with AC supported in '10. You pass through enough developed areas (including some very "crunchy" ones like Burlington and Middlebury) that finding a wide variety of food shouldn't be a problem. However, you might have to carry food for in camp longer distances since most of the places we camped were not close to food sources. We also went off route two day to find camping. Overall, it's a very pretty route. We stayed at four state parks (one off route) that were very nice. All on lakes. There are several route options to shorten or lengthen the trip.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmuller View Post
    Thanks for all the input. This site was interesting.

    It would have been nice to see more about their packing, which did seem quite minimal. They appear to have done no food preparation.

    There is about a 1000 pages in their various books, that are quite worthwhile. As a guy with a mountaineering background, I always saw their stuff/ultralite in a performance to weight way. But some of their later writings hammer home that their choices are comfort oriented, they are not asking you to suffer for higher performance. Which makes sense, since I don't recall suffering myself... Of course lowering the weight is a huge benefit when it comes to comfort also. RJ didn't invent this stuff it has been around for decades, but is currently HOT.

    The overview is in this book. The basic idea is to get all your basic gear down to one small pack that weighs about 8 pounds, each. All your questions will be answered in this book though it is mostly from the backpacking perspective. But it is much easier for a cyclist to do since the cyclist normally passes shops and supplies. Though you need to have some minimal supplies/tools for the bike, that a backpacker would not have an equivalent list for.

    Over the last 30 years there has been an inversion. Backpackers used to have the heavy gear. If we sold a special tent for a cyclist back around 1980, it would have been the lightest one in the store by a margin, yet the backpacker actually carries his gear on his back. Today, the backpacker's gear can be featherweight. The cyclist, on the other hand can have racks and bags, before anything actually gets on the bike, that weigh 20 pounds by themselves. That makes a certain amount of sense given that a bike is a rolling wheel barrel of sorts, but it is also a little odd that weight management has slipped that far.

    http://www.amazon.com/Trail-Life-Jar...1846177&sr=8-1

    This book seems like the definition of overkill, but it is actually quite worthwhile in giving a graduate level course on sleeping in a tent/tarp. Pricing is better on the Ray site

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Ray-Way-Ta...1846177&sr=8-4

    This book has a lot of practical advice, some of it a little gritty. There is an interesting section on food, and the approach might be adaptable to your needs.

    http://www.amazon.com/Ultralight-Bac...1846177&sr=8-5

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