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Living on your bike...

Old 12-21-05, 06:22 PM
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Living on your bike...

My dream is to "live off my bike" across the country. I eventually want to build a touring bike with low gears and lots of pannier bags. I want to tour up to canada, then ride to vancouver, come back down to portland, OR. Maybe check out some nice cities in Cali, then go to denver, CO, then come back to Pittsburgh. Not all of this will be bike riding, some will be hitching, greyhound, etc. I have here a list I have composed for touring supplies. Let me know if this list is pretty complete, feel free to add to it.

- 0 - 10 degree sleeping bag
-swimming pool raft - cut off the pillow section and take that (is very compact & lightweight, but you will have a very nice pillow that is inflatable)
- Lightweight Parachute Hammock
-About 180 double AA batteries (I am hearing Impaired, and have a cochlear implant that uses one double AA battery a day. I figure I would stock up on them, then when I almost run out, I'll go to the local sam's club and buy a bulk box again.
-Headlamp / Flashlight
-Matches
-Good Knife / Multi-Tool
-Cheap Poncho
-United States Map (detailed)
-lamp oil for lighting in the woods
-a spoon/fork (is a spoon with cutouts like a fork)
-first aid kit
-wicking types of clothing
-bike pump
-bike lock
-extra tube, tire patch kit
-chain tool with extra bike specific tools with it
-duct tape
-helmet

What do you think in this list is not needed?
What else could you add to this list?

Chad
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Old 12-21-05, 06:40 PM
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For lists of what people who have toured use, and some touring journals go to this web site, there is alot of good information for the aspiring bike tourist.
https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/
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Old 12-21-05, 06:53 PM
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Is there any way to use rechargable batteries and a solar panel to save the weight of 180 batteries?

William
West Mifflin (suburb of Pittsburgh)
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Old 12-21-05, 09:22 PM
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Titanium Spork Eats Your Face Off!!!
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Old 12-21-05, 09:30 PM
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Originally Posted by wht23
Is there any way to use rechargable batteries and a solar panel to save the weight of 180 batteries?

William
West Mifflin (suburb of Pittsburgh)
try a search about this, i know it has been talked about before (in short, yes you can to a certain extent)
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Old 12-21-05, 09:58 PM
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I was referring to the original poster's list of items that he intended to take on his trip. He indicated that he planned to take 180 batteries for his cochlear implant. I am aware that some electronic equipment is sensitive to the type of batteries used. I do not know if a cochlear implant is in this category.
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Old 12-21-05, 11:41 PM
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Originally Posted by wht23
Is there any way to use rechargable batteries and a solar panel to save the weight of 180 batteries?

William
West Mifflin (suburb of Pittsburgh)
Hey, I have grandparents who live in west mifflin and munhall. Your idea wasn't something I considered, for some reason, but It seems like a good idea. Carry like 10 batteries and recharge them by solar power. Solar panels on top of my rear rack and recharge the batteries sitting in the panniers. Something I'll definitly consider.



Originally Posted by wht23
I was referring to the original poster's list of items that he intended to take on his trip. He indicated that he planned to take 180 batteries for his cochlear implant. I am aware that some electronic equipment is sensitive to the type of batteries used. I do not know if a cochlear implant is in this category.
I imagine my equipment wouldn't be sensitive to this, as long as the battery was a double AA, no matter how it's charged, should work perfectly fine.
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Old 12-22-05, 12:20 AM
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Lithium AA batteries are becoming widely available, they last a good bit longer than alkalines. The extra battery life just about offsets the extra cost, and you could get by with a lot less than 180 of them, saving a bunch of weight.

Unless you plan on touring in the winter months, or are much more sensitive to cold than the average person, I would get a lighter sleeping bag rated to 25 - 30 deg F. There's another thread on this that discusses how to get maximum warmth from any sleeping bag.
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Old 12-22-05, 08:01 AM
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why anyone would need to carry over a gross of batteries in America is completely beyond my comprehension.
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Old 12-22-05, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by markf
Lithium AA batteries are becoming widely available, they last a good bit longer than alkalines. The extra battery life just about offsets the extra cost, and you could get by with a lot less than 180 of them, saving a bunch of weight.

Unless you plan on touring in the winter months, or are much more sensitive to cold than the average person, I would get a lighter sleeping bag rated to 25 - 30 deg F. There's another thread on this that discusses how to get maximum warmth from any sleeping bag.
I did search before and it seems like layers layers and layers are what you do to keep warmth. is this right? I figured I would start off my tour maybe going west in august, then being somewhere warm in cal/arizona for the winter, then go up to vancouver when it starts warming up for the spring? in that case, i get a lightweight compact sleeping bag, and im sure i can deal with being a LITTLE cold at night.


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Old 12-22-05, 09:26 AM
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Instead of carrying an extra tube and a patch kit, put Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires on your ride. You won't get any flats. But to be prepared for the unlikey, get the self sticking patches. They save an immense load of effort. (I used them before I got Schwalbe Marathon +'s
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Old 12-22-05, 12:59 PM
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Originally Posted by becnal
Instead of carrying an extra tube and a patch kit, put Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires on your ride. You won't get any flats. But to be prepared for the unlikey, get the self sticking patches. They save an immense load of effort. (I used them before I got Schwalbe Marathon +'s
What sizes do they come in and how much cost? I figure good money for tires will save me headaches in the future. I imagine I would want 32c tires.

Chad
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Old 12-22-05, 01:44 PM
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You don't mention shelter or a small stove and pot. I should think you need both, especially given your anticipated window. Fall/winter in California is quite moderate -- you certainly won't need that 0-10 degree bag if you plan clothing well. But the weather alternates between mild and calm and wet and windy. You mention lamp oil for the woods, presumably to start fires? In the dry season in western states there are many campgrounds where open first are not permitted. Moreover, scrounging fuel can be difficult to impossible. When you most want something warm to eat will be when you're least inclined to go looking for wood.

Do spend some time online at crazyguyonabike.com and biketouring101 and you'll be set.
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Old 12-22-05, 01:53 PM
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Originally Posted by wht23
Is there any way to use rechargable batteries and a solar panel to save the weight of 180 batteries?

William
West Mifflin (suburb of Pittsburgh)
- i bought a small solar panel for $10 at Harbor Freight that will recharge two AAs, along with powering up small 3, 6, 9, or 12V devices - works great and i use it every day! ... a very small and lightweight unit, too!

(the device puts out 75mW [spec'd as 50mW] on peak sun, so i have to use several together for radios w/350mW receive requirements, such as the Yaesu FT-817)
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Old 12-22-05, 02:38 PM
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Judging from your user name, are you planning to ride a fixed gear bicycle?
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Old 12-22-05, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by BostonFixed
Judging from your user name, are you planning to ride a fixed gear bicycle?
No, but I have two fixed gears - one track and one conversion. Fixies are my favorite, but I have had this touring thought in the back of my head for a few months now and am just fascinated by it. I would definitly build up a touring bike with lots of gears.
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Old 12-22-05, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by linux_author
- i bought a small solar panel for $10 at Harbor Freight that will recharge two AAs, along with powering up small 3, 6, 9, or 12V devices - works great and i use it every day! ... a very small and lightweight unit, too!

(the device puts out 75mW [spec'd as 50mW] on peak sun, so i have to use several together for radios w/350mW receive requirements, such as the Yaesu FT-817)
I remember some dude who lives in Northside who supposely bought a huge solar panel, and he was swatting this house. He'd put this solar panel on top of the house to power most of his electronic items. I never saw the setup, but he wanted this big one for convience, cause he had something like 10 small solar panels to power his radio and lighting. Also had solar panels to power amps for guitar and drums, but that didn't work too good. The big solar panel would fix all the low-wattage problems he was having with the small solar panels.
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Old 12-22-05, 02:59 PM
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Originally Posted by paxtonm
You don't mention shelter or a small stove and pot. I should think you need both, especially given your anticipated window. Fall/winter in California is quite moderate -- you certainly won't need that 0-10 degree bag if you plan clothing well. But the weather alternates between mild and calm and wet and windy. You mention lamp oil for the woods, presumably to start fires? In the dry season in western states there are many campgrounds where open first are not permitted. Moreover, scrounging fuel can be difficult to impossible. When you most want something warm to eat will be when you're least inclined to go looking for wood.

Do spend some time online at crazyguyonabike.com and biketouring101 and you'll be set.
Well, you can make a cooking stove by getting the "right sized" aluminum can and punching holes at the top. Filling the insides with propane or lamp oil and closing it, it will shoot out flames around the punched-out holes and a little on the top. I've seen it boil water before, so I know it works. You can do it with large coffee cans too. I figured I would carry lamp oil, and go buy any pop can for 50cents and use that for the base of cooking. I just don't know if I want to carry a pot, they are so heavy.

Shelter will be the hammock. I will have the regular parachute hammock, and then have a tarp or even another hammock on top to use as a roof.

Do the western states allow fires if you do it right...as in building a rock foundation around and putting the fire in the middle? You can even use old truck tire rims - they work WONDERFULLY for fires.

Chad
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Old 12-22-05, 04:11 PM
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no, many times in the west you cannot have fires, period. 500 dollar fines, even if you don't start the forest on fire. There are fire restrictions for good reasons. Some lunkhead was burning a campfire in the middle of a WA state fire restriction, and started a big fire, and the feds charged the guy one and a half MILLION dollars in fines and cleanup costs. I've seen fire restrictions SO tight, you cannot have ANY open flame, even a camp stove or a candle....

And no offense, Nimbus, but if you think you can burn lamp oil OR propane in a popcan stove, you seriously need to wrap your head around some backpackpacking or bike touring books or websites before you continue "planning" your trip...

this thread even vaguely feels like a troll, because NO ONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND would even THINK of carrying 180 AA batteries anywhere, for ANY reason, unless they are a battery salesman...and, how, PRAY TELL, do you think you will cook without a pot?

did you know some towns have public libraries? Did you know, you can go there when it's rainy out? Perhaps you didn't know they have books on camping, 'dirtbagging' vagabonding, AND bike touring??? Did you know you can check them out sometimes, and almost always free of charge?

Best of luck!

Last edited by Bekologist; 12-22-05 at 04:17 PM.
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Old 12-22-05, 04:25 PM
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I'm familiar with the soda can stoves. Try to Google "pepsi can stove". Also, you might surf to trail journals.com for lots of good tips about inexpensive superlight stuff. All soda can stove users power them with alcohol. Doesn't leave an oily mess and plenty of btu's for boiling water. Outdoors stores sell outrageously priced titanium pots. Mall Wart has a cheap small pot that weighs about the same or less for, like, $3. It gets talked about on the trail journals site.

Best of luck with your adventure. The earlier poster is right: fire is a touch-and-go proposition in the dry season out west.

Do spend some time at crazyguyonabike.com. Lots of people have been where you want to go, and their experiences are very instructive.
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Old 12-22-05, 04:43 PM
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Sorry, one more thing. There are spots where it's very difficult to find a place to hang a hammock. One of the nicest places to camp on the Big Sur coast has sites right atop a cliff at the edge of the Pacific. It's usually not a problem, but you may want to be ready to spend a very occasional night on the ground.
Just so many places to ride on the west coast you could spend years. Think about the desert in winter, some Sierra passes in summer, the coast route...

I hope you actually do this starting next August.
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Old 12-22-05, 06:31 PM
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Soda can stoves are easy to build and run on denatured alcohol, which is available at virtually any hardware store in the US. Alcohol does not burn as hot as a white gas stove, but the soda can stove is so simple and light that it's a good tradeoff, especially if you cook foods that require only that you boil water.

Your plan to use a parachute cloth hammock will be fine in warm weather (lows above 65 deg F) but in cooler weather, you will freeze. No matter what the temperature rating of your sleeping bag, the insulation below your body will be compressed and provide almost no warmth. Since there will be cold air circulating below the hammock, your back is going to get very cold. There are ways to remedy this, but they involve suspending insulation below the hammock and/or using a sleeing pad inside the hammock. In the end, unless you are a dedicated hammock user, you may find a tent or tarptent a more versatile solution.

Foget about carrying 180 AA batteries. I estimate that six months worth of batteries will weight about 12 lbs! That's a lot of weight to haul around that you won't use for months. AA batteries are available everywhere so buy them 8-10 at a time and save the weight and space.

I suggest you do some more research on bike touring. You have a great idea and a good start on brainstorming your gear list. Check out www.crazyguyonabike.com and www.kenkifer.com for a good start on bike touring.

However, the best advice I know is to put together a list of everything you think you need to take. Add up the weight of everything. (It's a good idea to know the weight of each item you plan to take). Then, cut that weight in half and start selecting things to leave home and find lighter weight alternatives. Many, many first time bike tourers send home a big box of stuff after the first week. Save yourself the postage and leave it home from the start.
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Old 12-22-05, 08:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Bekologist
And no offense, Nimbus, but if you think you can burn lamp oil OR propane in a popcan stove, you seriously need to wrap your head around some backpackpacking or bike touring books or websites before you continue "planning" your trip...
Why the negative attitude? Maybe you need to check out the libraries on the soda can stove method before you start ranting towards me for asking a question of what this forum was meant for, which is touring a bike, am i wrong?


Originally Posted by Bekologist
this thread even vaguely feels like a troll, because NO ONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND would even THINK of carrying 180 AA batteries anywhere, for ANY reason, unless they are a battery salesman...and, how, PRAY TELL, do you think you will cook without a pot?
I THINK I want to carry 180 batteries because I am hearing impaired, and I depend on those batteries to hear, something that a lot of you take for granted.

Originally Posted by Bekologist
did you know some towns have public libraries? Did you know, you can go there when it's rainy out? Perhaps you didn't know they have books on camping, 'dirtbagging' vagabonding, AND bike touring??? Did you know you can check them out sometimes, and almost always free of charge?

Best of luck!
Do I know some towns have public libraries...sure I do, been there many times. But also, do you know that the value and wisdom of others can be much greater as they can answer your questions on a deeper level than a book can?

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Old 12-22-05, 08:14 PM
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Originally Posted by paxtonm
Sorry, one more thing. There are spots where it's very difficult to find a place to hang a hammock. One of the nicest places to camp on the Big Sur coast has sites right atop a cliff at the edge of the Pacific. It's usually not a problem, but you may want to be ready to spend a very occasional night on the ground.
Just so many places to ride on the west coast you could spend years. Think about the desert in winter, some Sierra passes in summer, the coast route...

I hope you actually do this starting next August.
It's funny as in how I think about this. I wouldn't be looking at this bike tour as a vacation, but I would be looking at myself as a traveler. Arizona in the winter, california for a year, vancouver in the summer, denver in another summer, toronto in another summer. It's an awesome thought really to imagine being at those places. I know in my mind that my life will head in this direction, It's just a matter of when and how much cash I've saved up. I'm thinking of saving like $15,000 in the bank then taking off. I could live off that money for quite a time independantly. If you go to the docks to work in the east coast, a lot of them make over $15/hr, and a few friends of mine went up there (massachusetts) from August to October and brought home over 6 grand. They did work 60 - 70 hour weeks, but for them, to work 2 months and bring home that kind of cash is nice.

Chad
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Old 12-22-05, 08:22 PM
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Originally Posted by supcom
Soda can stoves are easy to build and run on denatured alcohol, which is available at virtually any hardware store in the US. Alcohol does not burn as hot as a white gas stove, but the soda can stove is so simple and light that it's a good tradeoff, especially if you cook foods that require only that you boil water.

Your plan to use a parachute cloth hammock will be fine in warm weather (lows above 65 deg F) but in cooler weather, you will freeze. No matter what the temperature rating of your sleeping bag, the insulation below your body will be compressed and provide almost no warmth. Since there will be cold air circulating below the hammock, your back is going to get very cold. There are ways to remedy this, but they involve suspending insulation below the hammock and/or using a sleeing pad inside the hammock. In the end, unless you are a dedicated hammock user, you may find a tent or tarptent a more versatile solution.

Foget about carrying 180 AA batteries. I estimate that six months worth of batteries will weight about 12 lbs! That's a lot of weight to haul around that you won't use for months. AA batteries are available everywhere so buy them 8-10 at a time and save the weight and space.

I suggest you do some more research on bike touring. You have a great idea and a good start on brainstorming your gear list. Check out www.crazyguyonabike.com and www.kenkifer.com for a good start on bike touring.

However, the best advice I know is to put together a list of everything you think you need to take. Add up the weight of everything. (It's a good idea to know the weight of each item you plan to take). Then, cut that weight in half and start selecting things to leave home and find lighter weight alternatives. Many, many first time bike tourers send home a big box of stuff after the first week. Save yourself the postage and leave it home from the start.
After some time reading on this forum, It seems like the highest I would want to go is roughly 45 - 50 lbs? I really am diggin the idea of solar panel recharging double AA's, very convienent.

What do you think of a teepee style tent. I would have one really long pole that can be broken down into 3 or 4, then have like 6 anchors for tieing down parachute material. that pole could be like 2 - 3 pounds, anchors being half a lb, and parachute material being a half lb.

Chad
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