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Old 12-06-17, 11:25 AM   #1
Fredandsveta
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List of funny/silly questions from a French couple :)

Hi!!

preparing our adventure in US, we start a new post specifically for few questions, and to not overload the post we already started. Let's start with our questions, they are all serious for us

- about the lock for the security of our tandem, we never carried a lock because it don't protect the bags and what is inside, there is always a guys sufficiently equipped to cut it, it's 500gr minimum to carry, and always one of us always stay with the material (while doing shopping for ex.). For the night when we are in the tent we use a tiny thing connected to the smartphone, a kind of motion sensor which ring if the tandem is moved.
So, do you think a lock is essential in US for a touring?

- We have 3 flags on our bicycle, one yellow, to be visible, and two smaller which are the French and the Russian one. Is it better to hide the Russian one ?
look our blog here to see how it look like : next-way.fr
To give an idea, we will ride from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City.

- About primitive camping, we have the feedback of others travelers who report that it was never a problem in US, what do you think here?

- Mainly out of cities, in lost area crossing desert etc..., does it work usually to enter in farm/ranch and ask for water or anything else? is it welcome generally? Are people nice and open in the countryside?

- in March, April and May, is the solar cream necessary in the area of North Arizona / South Utah. (that a question from Sveta, my wife )

- We think better to buy a SIM card for our smartphone to easily have internet when we want to look for a WarmShower host mainly. I there a somebody to recommend a cheap SIM card please, with data and 1 or 2 hours to call.

Thanks!!!
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Old 12-06-17, 11:49 AM   #2
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- We think better to buy a SIM card for our smartphone to easily have internet when we want to look for a WarmShower host mainly. I there a somebody to recommend a cheap SIM card please, with data and 1 or 2 hours to call.
Roam USA is a good option. You can have the SIM delivered to your home, and select from their plans menu. Major benefit is that your phone can connect while you're on the tarmac.
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Old 12-06-17, 12:43 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Fredandsveta View Post
Hi!!
- about the lock for the security of our tandem, we never carried a lock because it don't protect the bags and what is inside, there is always a guys sufficiently equipped to cut it, it's 500gr minimum to carry, and always one of us always stay with the material (while doing shopping for ex.). For the night when we are in the tent we use a tiny thing connected to the smartphone, a kind of motion sensor which ring if the tandem is moved.
So, do you think a lock is essential in US for a touring?


Overnight, probably safe outside cities and larger towns. There, you may want to take the bike into a motel or a friendly local's garage and keep it locked.


Quote:
- About primitive camping, we have the feedback of others travelers who report that it was never a problem in US, what do you think here?
Rarely a problem outside of cities. If you're going to spend a night in a town of >5,000 people, you might want to think about getting a motel room, warmshowers host, etc. Many Americans are afraid of homeless people, and campers might be homeless, so call the cops to have the bums run out of town. In smaller towns, where people will talk to you, you should have no issues.


Do note that camping is prohibited in national parks outside of designated campgrounds (where they charge you to spend the night).

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- in March, April and May, is the solar cream necessary in the area of North Arizona / South Utah. (that a question from Sveta, my wife )
Sunscreen is a very good idea for uncovered skin (think face, neck, and hands if you'll be wearing long sleeves). You'll have lots of bright sunshine to burn you, and particularly when climbing towards Salt Lake, the air thins at higher altitude.
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Old 12-06-17, 12:44 PM   #4
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Knocking on the door of a farmers/ranchers house can be a problem. They have dogs.
Asking for water if you are desperate means you might have to kill the dogs or get bitten.

Passing motorists is a better idea to get water from if you are about to die.
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Old 12-06-17, 12:47 PM   #5
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- in March, April and May, is the solar cream necessary in the area of North Arizona / South Utah. (that a question from Sveta, my wife )
I don't ride there but I do ride in Texas, so comparable as far as sunshine is concerned.
I would say you will absolutely need sunscreen in that area of the country during those months.

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- Mainly out of cities, in lost area crossing desert etc..., does it work usually to enter in farm/ranch and ask for water or anything else? is it welcome generally? Are people nice and open in the countryside?
I wouldn't hesitate unless there was something that prevented me from going in. No trespassing sign, angry dogs, etc. Probably very similar to your home country in this regard.

Hope you guys have a great trip!!

Last edited by pvillemasher; 12-06-17 at 12:52 PM.
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Old 12-06-17, 12:49 PM   #6
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Hi!!

- about the lock for the security of our tandem, we never carried a lock because it don't protect the bags and what is inside, there is always a guys sufficiently equipped to cut it, it's 500gr minimum to carry, and always one of us always stay with the material (while doing shopping for ex.). For the night when we are in the tent we use a tiny thing connected to the smartphone, a kind of motion sensor which ring if the tandem is moved.
So, do you think a lock is essential in US for a touring?

- We have 3 flags on our bicycle, one yellow, to be visible, and two smaller which are the French and the Russian one. Is it better to hide the Russian one ?
look our blog here to see how it look like : next-way.fr
To give an idea, we will ride from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City.

- About primitive camping, we have the feedback of others travelers who report that it was never a problem in US, what do you think here?

- Mainly out of cities, in lost area crossing desert etc..., does it work usually to enter in farm/ranch and ask for water or anything else? is it welcome generally? Are people nice and open in the countryside?

- in March, April and May, is the solar cream necessary in the area of North Arizona / South Utah. (that a question from Sveta, my wife )

- We think better to buy a SIM card for our smartphone to easily have internet when we want to look for a WarmShower host mainly. I there a somebody to recommend a cheap SIM card please, with data and 1 or 2 hours to call.

Thanks!!!
-I don't think you need a lock for a tandem given what you've described.

-People here actually love foreigners and talking to them, much moreso than anywhere else I've been. You can show your flags with pride.

-Your route has A LOT of government land to camp on. Stealth camping shouldn't be a problem at all. The only issues you might have are sand, barbed wire (for cattle), and a lack of resources like water.

-While people are generally nice and welcoming, you are underestimating the desolation and remoteness of the South-West US. I'm sure if you could find a ranch, farm, etc. they would be happy to give you water, but you likely will find times with nothing, except the occasional car on the road. Along that route you may need to carry water for yourselves for at least a day sometimes.

-Yes "sun screen" (solar cream) is probably necessary.

-I don't know about the sim card.

It would also help to know what route you are thinking about.
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Old 12-06-17, 12:53 PM   #7
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Knocking on the door of a farmers/ranchers house can be a problem. They have dogs.
Asking for water if you are desperate means you might have to kill the dogs or get bitten.

Passing motorists is a better idea to get water from if you are about to die.
Is this actual experience or are you making up stories? I've never experienced that or anything remotely close. Dogs tend to reflect the behavior of people, and even if there are dogs that start barking, normally the owner will come out and see whats up.
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Old 12-06-17, 01:01 PM   #8
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Is this actual experience or are you making up stories? I've never experienced that or anything remotely close. Dogs tend to reflect the behavior of people, and even if there are dogs that start barking, normally the owner will come out and see whats up.
oh it is real, alright.
I've made it half way down the driveway of a ranch outside Las Cruces, NM before I saw the dogs. I didn't wait to see if they were friendly. They were in a full sprint. It was fun to spray pepper spray in one of the dogs face as they were chasing me down the state highway. That stuff works.

I've been bitten by dogs on several occasions as I was passing farm houses without stopping.

One of my personal fantasies is to kill a dog in front of it's owner.
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Old 12-06-17, 01:08 PM   #9
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One of my personal fantasies is to kill a dog in front of it's owner.
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Old 12-06-17, 01:20 PM   #10
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In America, there are no silly questions.
--Locks? Generally no need. At grocery stores, have someone watch the bikes as the other one shops. No one will be interested in stealing your bike. If it was a Harley-Davidson, maybe. Or a Dodge truck. Not a bicycle.
--Russian flag? No one will know what a Russian flag looks like. Story from last year's election: Democratic pranksters infiltrated a Trump rally and passed out Russian flags to hundreds of people, who all waved them enthusiastically. The red-white-and-blue color looked American to them.
--Primitive camping? You must mean what we call "stealth" camping. Depends on where. National and State parks, wooded with lots of space, you can generally do it. Some places you will have to get away from the road to be inconspicuous, because it may be against the rules. Some states allow you to camp in any park, some don't. National Forests have different rules than National Parks (two different government agencies) and there may even be another category of national preserves. Don't camp on someone's property without asking permission, and expect permission to not be a big deal, but you should ask. Nothing more awkward than being woken up at dawn by a fellow on a tractor who wants to know what the hell you are doing in his cornfield.
Asking for water/directions/help: I'd say the vast majority of people are very friendly and will be helpful. You will be a novelty, and you will charm them. Being on a tandem will add to that charm. That said, you must be aware that a) not everyone is a law-abiding citizen and might be skeptical of your coming up their driveway, b) some people in the countryside are scared of strangers, and should be approached gently, i.e. not by walking up their 1/4 mile driveway and surprising them. Best to approach people in towns, at stop signs, at gas stations, somewhere where they could not possibly be mistaken that you are a bad guy. Unlikely on a tandem, I know, but this is not Europe where everyone knows someone from someplace else and it's not a big deal.
Sun screen in Arizona? Oh my god, yes. You will fry, and there aren't trees or shade or clouds or anything but the open sky and The Sun.
SIM cards: Best to buy a cheap pre-paid phone at a large "big-box" store (like Wal-Mart). Trying to buy a SIM card puts you into a phone company store, and you never know for sure what you just bought or how much it should really cost.
Other considerations: There are vast areas outside of cities with no cell service. Do not rely on a phone to navigate. The distances between towns can be enormous, not like Europe, and finding food can be a trick in the most remote places. Also, out west, there are often no roads except the big highways, and you could spend dozens of miles on the shoulder of an interstate. Not fun. Plan accordingly.
Have a good trip! The landscape is every bit as stunning as you've herd. You won't forget it.
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Old 12-06-17, 01:22 PM   #11
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Knocking on the door of a farmers/ranchers house can be a problem. They have dogs.
Asking for water if you are desperate means you might have to kill the dogs or get bitten.

Passing motorists is a better idea to get water from if you are about to die.
Actually, I did knock on the doors of a few isolated houses when I did a cross country tour back in the '80s. If there were dogs, I did not cross into the area, but not everyone is an isolated paranoid person... and some folks were downright friendly, even inviting me to camp in the yard for the night.

I was always cautious though.

Oddly the strangest experience was when approaching an isolated place in AZ, and seeing someone there and calling out... only to discover he was an undocumented alien seeking water also. (speak a bit of Spanish...)

Usually I was able to find water at gas stations and shops, but a couple of times I was too far from any source and thus had to "knock on the doors" for water. I do recommend caution though.
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Old 12-06-17, 02:37 PM   #12
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--Russian flag? No one will know what a Russian flag looks like.
Heh. That is the first thing I thought when I read that question but didn't want to go there.
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Old 12-06-17, 02:40 PM   #13
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Oddly the strangest experience was when approaching an isolated place in AZ, and seeing someone there and calling out... only to discover he was an undocumented alien seeking water also. (speak a bit of Spanish...)
If you were near Area 51, that alien probably wasn’t speaking Spanish.
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Old 12-06-17, 03:33 PM   #14
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As you travel out of bigger town, in some areas, your skin colour might dictates whether you get help or get hassled by the law enforcement. I know nobody likes to talk about this, but it's true.

Last edited by linus; 12-06-17 at 05:28 PM. Reason: Missed a word
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Old 12-06-17, 03:43 PM   #15
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Note as a terminology comment.

"Stealth" camping, as it's known here in the US, means pulling off the side of the road and camping, usually trying to be not noticed. It can be on about anybodies property and may sometimes be illegal. If it's on private property, it's trespassing, but sometimes the owners are OK with it if it's on some huge range, miles from the ranch house, etc... As SD noted, some states prohibit camping outside of designated campgrounds and that can vary from state park to state park. Ditto the federal lands and in the Southwest most of the land is federal. It can vary as to which area allows stealth camping. National Parks pretty much do not allow it and are often on a permit system and require camping only in designated locations, primitive or developed.


"Primitive" camping might be something else, typically it's an official designated campsite with usually no provided water source, might only have a place to pitch a tent, might have a picnic table and sometimes an out-house (privy). It's different than the established campgrounds in state and national facilities. Primitive campsites are also typically first-come first-served with no reservation system.
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Old 12-06-17, 04:26 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fredandsveta View Post
- about the lock for the security of our tandem, we never carried a lock because it don't protect the bags and what is inside, there is always a guys sufficiently equipped to cut it, it's 500gr minimum to carry, and always one of us always stay with the material (while doing shopping for ex.). For the night when we are in the tent we use a tiny thing connected to the smartphone, a kind of motion sensor which ring if the tandem is moved.
So, do you think a lock is essential in US for a touring?
Yes, I do. Probably don't need a big heavy lock, unless you are locking it up outside at night in cities, but there is almost no downside to having some sort of lock to attach it to something while you are sleeping or eating.

Quote:
- We have 3 flags on our bicycle, one yellow, to be visible, and two smaller which are the French and the Russian one. Is it better to hide the Russian one ?
look our blog here to see how it look like : next-way.fr
Nah, you'll be fine. Anyone that is going to get worked up over that would be too dumb to respond when you say it is actually a Dutch flag

If anything, it will probably be a conversation starter.

Quote:
- About primitive camping, we have the feedback of others travelers who report that it was never a problem in US, what do you think here?
It is a topic of much arguing here. I assume by primitive camping, you actually mean camping outside of an established campground? Primitive or rustic camping generally refers to established campsites without electrical or water hookups, which generally have a pit toilet and hand pump water.

Do remember that the US is a collection of 50 individual jurisdictions, what is legal/acceptable in one may not be in another. Also remember that acceptability may change based on land designation. National Forest land is generally free to camp wherever without permit outside of campgrounds, National Park land generally requires permits even if you are in the backcountry. In many states camping on state land is free contingent on some rules. There are no universal rules, though, it is something you must research for every state in your trip.

Quote:
- Mainly out of cities, in lost area crossing desert etc..., does it work usually to enter in farm/ranch and ask for water or anything else? is it welcome generally? Are people nice and open in the countryside?
Use common sense, but most of the time you'll be fine.

Quote:
- We think better to buy a SIM card for our smartphone to easily have internet when we want to look for a WarmShower host mainly. I there a somebody to recommend a cheap SIM card please, with data and 1 or 2 hours to call.

Thanks!!!
I use Cricket Wireless, it is a prepaid monthly service. You can get cards starting at $30 a month, depending on how much data you need. All of their plans are unlimited talk/text, some include free texting to numerous foreign locations. https://www.cricketwireless.com/cell-phone-plans
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Old 12-06-17, 04:32 PM   #17
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If you were near Area 51, that alien probably wasn’t speaking Spanish.
He did look odd...
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Old 12-06-17, 04:40 PM   #18
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I would hide the Russian flag.

We refer it as sun screen, not solar cream, and yes you would want it.

I would bring a lock. Not a heavy one, but I would bring one. I usually use one that is about 1.8 meters of coiled steel cable.

Another company you could get a sim card from is PureTalk.
https://www.puretalkusa.com/cell-plans.php

But part of your route would not have coverage.
https://www.puretalkusa.com/coverage.php

You should check coverage maps before you get a plan. Some of the areas that are sparsely populated might not have any coverage from anyone.

Some areas near deserts can have a lot of thorns that can cause tire punctures. Once you have a route planned you may want to ask about that from others that have ridden it. A friend of mine told me that in some areas in the SW part of USA that he had up to seven punctures per day. Also, how much water you might need to carry each day could be an issue, but water was already mentioned by others so I won't elaborate.

You should be ready to show your passports if asked to do so.
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Old 12-06-17, 04:46 PM   #19
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I've lived in that area before. I would strongly advise that that you carry enough water for the 2 of you for 24 hours and keep it topped off. The farmer's doors are miles off the road down gravel roads and few and far between. Stores are also few and far between. There are long stretches of desert highway with nothing but dirt and rocks and cacti.
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Old 12-06-17, 04:50 PM   #20
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On farm dogs. Some will be mean, some will act mean but dogs are as individualistic as people. Years ago my Dad and I were driving up a road in remote Arizona and came to a ranch. The ranch compound straddled the road and a gate was closed across it. He wasn't trying to keep people out. I think he just wanted to know who was in his "back pasture". There were 2 huge dogs laying in the shade right out front. Nobody was in sight.

We pulled over, parked and got out of our vehicle. One of the dogs reached over and grabbed a softball. I knew then they were going to be friendly. He came over and dropped the ball right on my foot. This he did several times when he thought he was being ignored while we were talking with the rancher. Eventually we drove on thru and the dogs went back to lazing in the shade.
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Old 12-06-17, 05:22 PM   #21
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As you travel out of bigger town, in some areas, your skin colour dictates whether you get help or get hassled by the law enforcement. I know nobody likes to talk about this, but it's true.
True, on all three sides of the borders, none anywhere close to where they are riding.

Brilliant.
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Old 12-06-17, 05:30 PM   #22
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True, on all three sides of the borders, none anywhere close to where they are riding.

Brilliant.
Sounds like a true American.
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Old 12-06-17, 05:41 PM   #23
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Sounds like a true American.
Again, brilliant comment.
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Old 12-06-17, 05:44 PM   #24
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Again, brilliant comment.
Thank you.
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Old 12-06-17, 05:50 PM   #25
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Thank you.
And thank you for answering exactly none of the OPs questions and showing a distasteful attitude that has become so common among your country-folk. Too bad, you guys used to be nice people.
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