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'around the world' tour

Old 03-07-21, 11:48 PM
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'around the world' tour

Sort of a wistful thread, but have many taken off for a couple years on a bike without much planning? I've had touring on the mind for years and years but have yet to do an overnight trip. I've spent 15 years working seasonal jobs, worked internationally, lived in a sedan for a summer, spent time in developing countries, but never travel by bike. It interests me because it's cheap and slow. Granted I would do a couple shakedown rides before setting off on something like this, I just have zero desire to ride to the other side of my state for a couple days then turn around and come back.

I read tour journals and look at routes, and have a general idea of where I'd like to go. I figure I'll just talk to people along the way and go from there. With covid I don't expect to leave the US anytime soon, but there's a lot to see here first anyway and it would be a better location to get everything dialed gear-wise.

Anyone been there?

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Old 03-08-21, 05:33 AM
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I have not and have no desire to do so. After about five weeks, I start thinking of going home. Two of my trips were a bit over five weeks, that is long enough for me.

But I met the gal in the photo in a campround in California on the Pacific Coast in 2014, at that time she was on year seven of her trip.



Her bike was covered with location stickers, her front panniers (Ortlieb) had been on the trip for all seven years. Almost every part on her bike had been replaced at least once, her tent was a couple years old and she was thinking of replacing it. She guessed that her bike frame had 100,000 km on it. Her front rack (Tubus Swing) was no longer produced, so she had to keep getting it repaired since she could no longer replace it.

Started in S Africa, went up to Europe, then Asia, down to Australia, back to Asia and China, then to N America where I met her.
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Old 03-08-21, 08:07 AM
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My longest tour was 18-months. I've crossed six continents on bicycle. However, I do it with a fair amount of planning.

Not the same planning as for a short trip where I might have a good guess of overnight stops. On these longer trips, most often I won't know *exactly* where I stay until I arrive, but sometimes work out rough destination locations a week or so ahead and general routes longer than that. However, the planning I do in advance is of four general categories:

1. I will read many journals and books I can find from other cyclists who have traveled through the area. This is mostly so I expand my knowledge of both possibilities and dangers.
2. I will research general things that could be show-stoppers, e.g. consult with travel clinic on immunizations or with knowing required visas. I'll understand climate ranges so I have reasonable gear.
3. I will take some language classes so I have at least basic communications in dominant language in areas I go through.
4. I have taken advance trips in same area, e.g. (a) week and a half in Tasmania prior to eight months in Australia (b) six weeks across Ukraine/Southern Russia before crossing all of Russia (c) trip on Dalton/Alaska Highway before trip across all the Americas.

Some of this advance planning is years in advance and also generally a different way of anticipating or planning the trip. Once I am on the road, I can and do modify things, but have a general base to make those changes.

So the completely fly wherever the wind takes me approach isn't for me, but I do like the sense of freedom from an extended trip where one can take things slower and as they come.

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Old 03-08-21, 09:45 AM
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Thanks for the posts, interesting to hear both of those stories!
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Old 03-08-21, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by surlylhtfan
...
I read tour journals and look at routes, and have a general idea of where I'd like to go. ...
Are you familiar with this website?
https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/

This magazine only comes out a couple times a year but it and past editions would give you more reading material.
https://www.bicycletraveler.bicyclingaroundtheworld.nl/

But, you really need to do some trips, even if they are to the other end of the state and back.
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Old 03-08-21, 10:22 AM
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Back in the day (í78-í84) I lived on the road, hitch-hiking and finding work when needed mostly in Europe but ended up in other parts of the world too.

Finding casual work like picking grapes in France or factory work in Germany for a few weeks or months is much harder nowadays, so unless you have a very specific skill set or can work online, I donít think it is a viable way of life in Europe nowadays.

Am I correct in thinking casual work is easier to find in the USA? I actually worked for a week in a car wash just north of San Diego in 1980 and slept on the nearby beach. Good times!
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Old 03-08-21, 10:45 AM
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Tourist in MSN, I have absolutely heard of CGOAB! I've been following a bit of what's been happening recently - I hope the site can stay up, it's such an amazing resource. I hadn't yet seen that Bicycler Traveler e-zine though, it's great! Actually I've spent the last hour reading the latest issue.

imi, there is a LOT of seasonal/tourism work in the USA in the spring/summer/fall seasons. Winter is a little more difficult. I don't know about under the table work though, for someone without legal means to work in the country. I've been living in the rocky mountain region for most of the last two decades and I feel like you could roll into any of the mountain towns and get a job washing dishes or selling t-shirts. Same with Alaska and the Southwest in the summertime. I'm less familiar with the East Coast/New England/South.

WWOOFing still seems to be going on around the world (well, pre-covid), which I think could open some doors for under the table temp/seasonal work.

But anyway, I'm not concerned so much with being able to find work on the road. Still an interesting topic of discussion. I've certainly thought about the option of staying put in one particular area for a little while if a work opportunity arose and the housing/camping/lodging situation wasn't a hassle.
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Old 03-08-21, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by imi
...
Am I correct in thinking casual work is easier to find in the USA? I actually worked for a week in a car wash just north of San Diego in 1980 and slept on the nearby beach. Good times!
Since I have only lived in USA, I can't compare. But low pay work here won't include paid sick time off, paid vacations, paid holidays, health insurance, or other such benefits. In many cases it won't include any form of unemployment insurance either. In urban settings, landscape work or part of a crew for re-roofing buildings comes to mind. In more rural areas, some agriculture work.

Back in the 1980s when unemployment level here was over 10 percent, that included me. I was paid by check, not cash. And years later I learned that my payroll deduction for social security taxes was pocketed by the employer too.
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Old 03-08-21, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by imi
Am I correct in thinking casual work is easier to find in the USA?
I don't know because I haven't tried. If I were looking now, I would be tempted to try Craigslist "gigs" listings, e.g. here is what I see right now in Austin area. Bunch of things to weed through but perhaps also some prospects - https://austin.craigslist.org/d/gigs/search/ggg
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Old 03-08-21, 06:07 PM
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It's a wonderful idea and you wouldn't be the first to come up with it.

Can you do it without experience and with little or no planning? Yes. The question becomes will you be successful and enjoy it?

I've read of people with the "ultimate" touring bike having to stop and return home due to mechanicals.
I've read of people flying into Central America in the middle of the rainy season and being stuck in mud.
In both cases, a bit of planning or practise would have saved a lot of money.

​​​​​Once out of your own country work can be difficult to get - the degree of difficuly depends on the country.
Visas for certain parts of the world are impossible to get at borders - they need to be applied for in advance, normally in your home country. When one country follows another that imposes a strict schedule. There's a documentary on Netflix of two guys who rolled up to the Russian border expecting to get a visa. Niet. Their route was thrown into chaos. They split up just after.
Vaccinations can be required depending on where you go.
insurance, especially health, may be required. That can be difficult to get or expensibe without a home address.
Finances and access to finances probably deserves a bit of planning unless you want to find yourself without access to cash abroad.

Then there's Covid and nobody knows what effect that is going to have in the medium term. Clean test? Vaccination? Will a vaccination from one country be accepted in another? I've seen some countries insisting on proof of medical insurance to enter post Covid.
Even simple things like bike components are in short supply. Then there's added risk when people are more desperate and there's a smaller pool of tourists, not to mention that one shop/filling station/hotel in the middle of a desert that has been a saviour to bike tourists for decades may not be there anymore.

Personally, I'm of the opinion that what goes on between our ears is more important than what's happening under our ass. Bike touring can be a fantastic, life-affirming, wonderful experience. It can also be Hell on earth. Not everybody can handle long trips. There's only one way to find out!

Good luck!
​​​​​​
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Old 03-08-21, 07:36 PM
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Originally Posted by surlylhtfan
....I've had touring on the mind for years and years but have yet to do an overnight trip....
this seems like a good place to begin. a journey of a thousand overnights n'all, y'know.

Originally Posted by surlylhtfan
....Granted I would do a couple shakedown rides before setting off on something like this, I just have zero desire to ride to the other side of my state for a couple days then turn around and come back.....
well that's not an encouraging sign.
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Old 03-08-21, 07:58 PM
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Originally Posted by saddlesores



well that's not an encouraging sign.
That was my initial thought when I read that.

My first tour was nearly 4 months in the US. Not every day was remarkable. I went through Indiana and Ohio, after all. A long trip is going to have ho hum days and even days you wish you werenít having.
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Old 03-08-21, 08:06 PM
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It's more the act of knowing I'm just out there for 2 days, rather than anything having to do with my home state. I don't feel like I'd get an experience with only 200 miles of riding. Granted I understand it's necessary before setting off on something big. To me it seems like apples and oranges though. If short-ish tours close to home are what excites you, or all that you're able to fit in, that's great! I just don't think I'm getting into the hobby, or have been dreaming about the hobby, for those types of tours.

But indyfabz, that's cool to hear your first tour was 4 months.

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Old 03-08-21, 08:16 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
That was my initial thought when I read that.

My first tour was nearly 4 months in the US. Not every day was remarkable. I went through Indiana and Ohio, after all. A long trip is going to have ho hum days and even days you wish you werenít having.
days???? nah, think in terms of weeks!

let's say the west coast of oztrailia, broome to geraldton: 1200 miles of flat, mesquite scrubland on a highway too far from the ocean for other than occasional views, all against a constant headwind, with the only significant point of interest being a visit to the site of 3.5-billion year old funguses.

at least with a trip to the other side of your state, the return views are different, or an alternate set of roads can be taken.
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Old 03-08-21, 08:26 PM
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Originally Posted by HobbesOnTour
...
I've read of people with the "ultimate" touring bike having to stop and return home due to mechanicals.
...
​​​​​​
I am often surprised at some of the stuff on newer higher end touring bikes. I see some pretty expensive stuff that I would not want to tour on.

I built mine up to be robust, easily repairable, parts are easily replaceable, and reliability was considered for every component.

One of my bikes has a Rohloff hub, that is not user serviceable but the probability that I would have to stop rolling is extremely low.
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Old 03-08-21, 08:53 PM
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Originally Posted by surlylhtfan
It's more the act of knowing I'm just out there for 2 days, rather than anything having to do with my home state. I don't feel like I'd get an experience with only 200 miles of riding. ....
Not every mile has to have a purpose. You want to go bike touring, but you would consider a 2 day trip to be a waste of time, I suspect that you will not enjoy bike touring.

I have been too sedentary this past winter, chose not to go to the gym for the past year due to covid concerns. I have an indoor trainer setup but there are too many distractions around home so it did not get much use. So, today temp was in the 50s (F), light wind, perfect time for an exercise ride. (I am retired, employment not part of my schedule.) So, decided to do a 70 mile exercise ride. But, had to turn around when I discovered that a bike trail I planned to ride was still snow covered. Thus my exercise ride was only 51 miles today. I did not get the amount of exercise that I planned, but it was still a good amount of exercise, it was not a wasted day.



A friend of mine wanted to do another cross country trip with ACA four years ago. He had changed the shifters on his bike, new dynohub wheel, new tent, wanted to do a five day shakedown test of his equipment. And I had just built up my Lynskey, so I had a light touring bike that needed a test. Five days sounded good enough.

If you would consider a two day tour to find out what bike touring is like a waste of time, you certainly would consider our five day trip to test equipment a waste of time to. But we both had a good time, so it was worth it.


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Old 03-08-21, 08:57 PM
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Originally Posted by saddlesores

at least with a trip to the other side of your state, the return views are different, or an alternate set of roads can be taken.
Thereís also the option of renting a car or taking public transportation to one side and riding home. Iíve crossed PA four times that way. Would have been five but I had to abort in 2018 due to weather and other problems. Iíve also taken Amtrak to New England twice and ridden home to Philly.

Speaking of weather, every day in IA, IL and IN was in the 90s or 100s and humid, and corn provides no shade. Sleeping in a tent when the low at night is a humid 85 with no breeze sucks. The heat finally broke the morning we crossed into OH.
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Old 03-08-21, 09:06 PM
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Originally Posted by tourist in msn
not every mile has to have a purpose. You want to go bike touring, but you would consider a 2 day trip to be a waste of time, i suspect that you will not enjoy bike touring.
+1.
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Old 03-08-21, 09:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
I

One of my bikes has a Rohloff hub, that is not user serviceable but the probability that I would have to stop rolling is extremely low.
Ironically, the guy was on a Rohoff hub!
There was a compatibility problem between bike & hub (either frame designer or Rohloff) had changed something, exacerbated by a belt as opposed to a chain.
There were problems almost from the first week, but it took several weeks for things to get so bad he had to go home.
It was just one of those things easily identifiable and solvable with some shakedown trips
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Old 03-08-21, 09:17 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz

My first tour was nearly 4 months in the US. .
How much planning and prep did you do? Were you solo and self supported?
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Old 03-08-21, 09:23 PM
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Originally Posted by surlylhtfan
It's more the act of knowing I'm just out there for 2 days, rather than anything having to do with my home state. I don't feel like I'd get an experience with only 200 miles of riding. Granted I understand it's necessary before setting off on something big. To me it seems like apples and oranges though. If short-ish tours close to home are what excites you, or all that you're able to fit in, that's great! I just don't think I'm getting into the hobby, or have been dreaming about the hobby, for those types of tours.

But indyfabz, that's cool to hear your first tour was 4 months.
I've done many, many one/two/three night tours. I was never much more than 10 minutes from home before I donned my touring head. I could cycle 90km to a campsite 10km from my front door because I had to be back early the next day.
Sometimes I'd speak a different language for the full tourist experience.
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Old 03-08-21, 09:24 PM
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Touring doesn't have to be an around the world trip or nothing. If you aren't interested in an overnight or riding across the state you probably aren't going to have a good time touring the world all at once. Touring solo can get lonely, some days and some parts of the ride can be utter absolute garbage and I had a mental breakdown on a tour and just couldn't leave the campsite via bicycle and had to abruptly end my tour. However I still love bicycle touring it didn't set me back but it helped me realize what I am capable of and what I enjoy doing and who I enjoy doing it with. Plus I still had a rad time in what I did do and ended up visiting the family I was biking towards and took a lovely train trip to visit them.

I personally have no desire to do any major world touring there are places I would love to explore but I don't know that I want to tour everything by bicycle. I would love to do some bike touring with some folks in Scotland and maybe enjoy some uisge beatha straight from the source (purely for research purposes of course as a lover of history I feel it is my duty to try historical beverages of Scotland) However some countries just don't sound pleasurable to ride through and I have other things I really want to do that involve biking but may not involve me wanting to carry a bunch of gear.
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Old 03-09-21, 05:39 AM
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Originally Posted by HobbesOnTour
How much planning and prep did you do? Were you solo and self supported?
I did an ACA tour. Northern Tier unsupported, although we started in Seattle and rode up to join the route near Anacortes, WA. Then I rode home solo from Maine to Philadelphia and then to Ocean City, NJ.

While I had been a long time roadie I had never even slept in a tent. Test pitched it once before the trip and took one fully loaded day ride of 65 miles a week before I took Amtrak out to Seattle.
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Old 03-09-21, 06:07 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
I did an ACA tour. Northern Tier unsupported, although we started in Seattle and rode up to join the route near Anacortes, WA. Then I rode home solo from Maine to Philadelphia and then to Ocean City, NJ.

While I had been a long time roadie I had never even slept in a tent. Test pitched it once before the trip and took one fully loaded day ride of 65 miles a week before I took Amtrak out to Seattle.
Thanks.
I think that detail is useful to the OP.
Part of a group, ACA maps and info. And road bike experience.
It wasn't a case of picking up a bike and rolling away.
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Old 03-09-21, 07:39 AM
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Originally Posted by HobbesOnTour
Ironically, the guy was on a Rohoff hub!
There was a compatibility problem between bike & hub (either frame designer or Rohloff) had changed something, exacerbated by a belt as opposed to a chain.
There were problems almost from the first week, but it took several weeks for things to get so bad he had to go home.
It was just one of those things easily identifiable and solvable with some shakedown trips
Usually an incompatibility between bike and hub means it won't work at all or a weakness in the frame becomes evident when the frame fails.

I use chain drive on mine, I have no interest in belt drive for my particular application. But I have heard that belt drives have to have a perfect beltline, with my chain drive system I have about a 4 or 5mm chainline error that was intentional. A few years ago Rohloff changed how the rear sprocket is mounted on the hub, that changed the chainline somewhat and if someone mixed an old design frame or hub with a newer designed one, I could see how that would cause a belt line problem. In this case I would blame the mechanic for not knowing what they were doing.

There have been a small number of reported problems where the hub has to go back to the factory when an incorrect shim was used, those problems usually become evident very early on. I built up my Rohloff bike in April 2013. Did a week long bike tour in May 2013, but I decided to use a tried and true derailleur bike that I had toured on before, just in case. If I had one of those bad shims, I wanted to learn about it near home. But my Rohloff has been trouble free so I could have used that bike, but why take the risk?

Occasionally you read of a shell flange failure on a Rohloff what can really mess up a tour, factory repair is needed. But a few years ago Rohloff came out with some flange support rings that won't prevent a flange failure but would allow you to keep rolling. I added those rings to mine, just to make sure. If I am going to be far from help, that is the bike I would take, thus I want that bike to be my most durable and reliable bike.
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