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My rants on bicycle touring after 6000 miles

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My rants on bicycle touring after 6000 miles

Old 09-19-08, 12:17 PM
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Dan The Man
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My rants on bicycle touring after 6000 miles

I have just finished my summer of bicycle touring, up central BC, down Vancouver Island, down the West Coast to Mexico, and across the U.S. to New York (I know it's not the most direct route), and these are just a few of the things I need to get off my chest.

I now realize that cars, trucks, and motorcycles are undeniably evil. A 20 ton truck going 60 mph has way too much energy. They will kill you in a second if you make a mistake, or if the driver makes a mistake, and the drivers are usually in a big hurry to get somewhere, especially near cities or big towns. They are everywhere, at all times of the day, and on even the smallest roads, and they are noisy as hell. There's nothing like a convoy of screaming transports, followed by tailgating angry motorists, and an unmuffled HD to ruin a nice scenic ride.

Why do cars honk at me? I realize when I get a little bip from 200 feet back, that it is just a heads up to tell me they are passing. But most of the time, I will get a loud honk, or a lengthy brrreeeeeeeeeeeeeeep! either right behind my ear, or as the car is driving past. Sometimes honks also comes from the opposing traffic. Do they think that I enjoy being honked at? Or is the 2 feet of shoulder that I am taking up so valuable, that they have to acoustically assault me to defend that extra space for themselves?

Why do dogs hate bicycles so much? Nine out of ten dogs that I passed went absolutely ape**** when they caught sight of me. The ones on leashes would strangle themselves trying to jump at me barking, and the ones not on leashes would usually run onto the road, snarling and barking until I gave them a spray of water and some angry commands to go home. On a side note, I really like those electroshock collars now. There is nothing as satisfying as hearing a snarling barking dog that is running at you suddenly yelp and squeal when it hits the invisible wall.

I noticed some interesting garbage on the side of the road. By far the most abundant was beer cans, which is somewhat worrisome. In the reserves in Arizona, I estimated there was about one can or bottle every foot for several hundred miles, just on one side of the road. The most interesting things I saw were probably some parts of a wet suit and a full barbecue set, still in plastic wrapping, but scattered across. Have you guys ever come across any remarkable stuff on the side of the road?

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Old 09-19-08, 12:25 PM
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interesting rants that can be applied to just local training rides too.

tools - i have bolstered my tool collection nicely over the years with all the ones I've found on the road. I've seen a fair number of smashed cell phones too.
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Old 09-19-08, 12:30 PM
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I hate you! Hopefully some day soon I will take myself from the Florida keys to Maine and experience those horrors too. sadly enough I only get 2 weeks vacation and spend my time safe from speeding honking beer can throwing cars up here in my 16th floor office.
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Old 09-19-08, 12:33 PM
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For trash, look for lead wheel balancing weights in between the cans and bottles. You'll find'em once you start looking.
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Old 09-19-08, 12:37 PM
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After a 4244 mile tour I came to entirely different conclusions. I found the vast majority of auto drivers to be courteous. I found that truck drivers are typically very professional and capable. I found motorcyclists to be extremely friendly (most of them waved) and saw them infrequently enough that the noise was no big deal. Of course there is always the rare a-hole, but they were the very small minority.

Honking... We had almost none of that on tour other than a toot and a thumps up or a wave. At home I get it more often. On the TA we knew we were getting close to home when the horns started and we were getting buzzed by cars. That didn't start until near Richmond and even then wasn't as bad as at home.

Yeah dogs hate bikes that is just how it is. We really only were chased in Missouri and Kentucky though and usually it was fun. Those two states are full of "free range" dogs.

Stuff by the side of the road... Every kind of road kill imaginable, lots of towels and washcloths, a real nice pair of gloves, a nice spork, and an ice cold unopened large bottle of blue poweraid on a 100F+ day (known as the "Blue Poweraid From Heaven" from then on).
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Old 09-19-08, 02:01 PM
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After a 4000 mile tour I gotta agree with Dan.

The number of trucks I saw was scary. Day or night the road was full of them, from the first mile to the last they were constantly with me. Crazy to see how much the world is consuming.
I got thousands of honks from cars, some friendly others not so friendly. It also never ceased to amaze me that when on a clear road, no traffic in either direction somebody would still pass within an inch of me.

Yep on the dogs, two chases, one uphill, kinda fun once it was over but I crapped my pants at the time and pedalled faster than I thought possible uphill.

Strangest things I saw at the side of the road. A full size radiator in perfect condition and a human body, I stopped by him thinking the worst as he wasn't moving, I said hello and he sat up said hello back and then lay back down and resumed sleeping literally at the side of the road.

Good times
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Old 09-19-08, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
After a 4244 mile tour I came to entirely different conclusions. I found the vast majority of auto drivers to be courteous.
It's not that they're aren't courteous. Cars are annoying by nature. Having 2 tons of metal passing by at 100km/h is never fun, even if they're 10 feet away. It's annoying when taking a rest a little off the road. The noise is incredible, you can hear them miles away and drivers still think they have to warn with a honk. I think most of the honks were "encouragement" but it's the most annoying think they can do. I even lost balance once while struggling up a hill and had to stop. Drivers have no clue how annoying their vehicule is. Did I mention that cars are annoying?

Here in Canada, Tim Hortons coffee cups are the favored litter. It's so bad I think they should have some kind of cleaning campaign.
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Old 09-19-08, 02:30 PM
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Congrats on doing a tour of that magnitude.. Such distances, its doubtful different routing would have reduced the number of rants. There are routes where such hassles as speeding trucks might be minimalized.
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Old 09-19-08, 02:34 PM
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If you are having issues with a lot of heavy trucks passing you perhaps you should consider alternate routes. Trucks tend to take the most direct high speed roads between major destinations. If you are even 2 miles off the main route you'll only see local traffic which shouldn't include a lot of transport trucks.
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Old 09-19-08, 03:08 PM
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Dan, you have highlighted the reasons that have caused me to choose gravel and fire road routes more and more often when I tour. The lack of vehicles changes the experience completely. A return to normal traffic is quite jarring.
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Old 09-19-08, 03:24 PM
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I found a chunk of flesh attached to a piece of fabric once. I was pretty sure it was human because of the colour of the skin, but who knows. It was about the size of a dollar bill. There were skid marks and broken plastic reflectors and stuff nearby, and there was a big blood stain in the road.

Another time, I found a bag of weed. I picked it up with the intent of giving it to the rightful owner, but I never tracked that fellow down.
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Old 09-19-08, 03:30 PM
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Originally Posted by El Pelon View Post
Another time, I found a bag of weed. I picked it up with the intent of giving it to the rightful owner, but I never tracked that fellow down.
that was mine. you can give it back if we ever meet
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Old 09-19-08, 04:54 PM
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Originally Posted by arctos View Post
Dan, you have highlighted the reasons that have caused me to choose gravel and fire road routes more and more often when I tour. The lack of vehicles changes the experience completely. A return to normal traffic is quite jarring.
Sounds like some nice quiet roads you travel... However, I think you can rid yourself of 95% of the heavy traffic by choosing paved secondary highways/roads. Often parallel to the main routes. Truckers aren't going to spend any more time on the road then they have to so they all end up on the fastest most direct roads between major destinations. The roads you definitely want to avoid....
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Old 09-19-08, 04:57 PM
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Honking? You don't know nothin' about no honking!

Try cycling oversees, Turkey and Nepal are two of my favorite countries for getting honked at. It seems that in some countries a vehicle horn must be used, because it's there, at all times.

In Romania folks seem to have changed there horn to "tweet" like a car alarm. A bit better on my ears.
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Old 09-19-08, 06:06 PM
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The vast difference in impressions makes me wonder if the roads traveled were that different, something about the cyclists made a difference, or the expectations of the cyclists were just different. I am guessing it is mostly the expectations, but maybe a bit of the other two.

I have to wonder if I would tour if I hated traffic as much as you guys seem to. I think I probably wouldn't, but since I love to ride at home, and since I have never found anywhere that the drivers were less friendly or courteous than here it is a no brainer.

I do not share the apparent hatred for cars. I would like to see folks make better choices in cars and use them less, but I have no animosity for them. The fact is that presently trucks are a necessity. Cars are also a necessity in many of the places we tour given the remoteness of the areas and the lack of alternatives. You might as well just accept them and relax. I guarantee that with a more tolerant attitude toward cars you would have a better time on tour.

Wow elduderino12 4000 miles and only chased by dogs twice! You sure must not have crossed Missouri and Kentucky I am pretty sure we must have been chased over 30 times in those two states, a few times by 3 or 4 dogs at once. Other than there I guess it might have been only once by two yappy little dogs in Idaho.
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Old 09-19-08, 06:35 PM
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You definitely can't travel the Middle East if you can't bear the honking. It's their way of saying they're going to pass and hello all in one go. We are sure that some buses in the Middle East must stop the journey if their horn breaks. Better call the AA, couldn't possibly drive without one...
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Old 09-19-08, 08:22 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
The vast difference in impressions makes me wonder if the roads traveled were that different, something about the cyclists made a difference, or the expectations of the cyclists were just different. I am guessing it is mostly the expectations, but maybe a bit of the other two.
staehpj1, if I remember correctly, you toured cross-country with your daughter and her friend?

Just a theory...

When I tour (or just ride) with my wife, the cars are definitely nicer to us than if I ride solo. When I complain to her about the cars that buzz me or drivers that yell/honk at me, she can't relate because it rarely happens when we're together.

Does being female bring out a kinder gentler side of (male or female?) drivers or is it my imagination?
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Old 09-19-08, 09:09 PM
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Originally Posted by vik View Post
I think you can rid yourself of 95% of the heavy traffic by choosing paved secondary highways/roads. Often parallel to the main routes.
The only problems are that there is usually less of a shoulder, and also people often speed more as the speed cameras tend to be on the main routes. I think some people also pay less attention to what they're doing as if they're locals they may feel they know the road and don't expect anyone else to be on it.

Still more pleasant though.
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Old 09-19-08, 10:00 PM
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Here in Washington State, trucks use back roads all the time. It really makes me mad.
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Old 09-20-08, 04:21 AM
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So, Dan, was there anything positive to come out of your tour? Or have you let what reallly are a very limited number of rant topics overwhelm you so you can't remember the positives?

We all have close encounters with motor vehicles/dogs/rubbish when touring or on country rides. Some of how we perceive these encounters is our mindset at the time. We know your tour didn't get off to the perfect start...

For most of my tours and randonnees, the positive experiences outnumber the negative memories by around... what... 1,000,000 to one.

I'm also finding that my cycle-touring is becoming so immensely more enjoyable because of my previous experience and experiences (if you can catch the drift of that).
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Old 09-20-08, 04:27 AM
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Originally Posted by ronzorini View Post
staehpj1, if I remember correctly, you toured cross-country with your daughter and her friend?

Just a theory...

When I tour (or just ride) with my wife, the cars are definitely nicer to us than if I ride solo. When I complain to her about the cars that buzz me or drivers that yell/honk at me, she can't relate because it rarely happens when we're together.

Does being female bring out a kinder gentler side of (male or female?) drivers or is it my imagination?
It isn't your imagination. I absolutely agree with that. For the TA we were an ideal group. Everyone assumed we were a middle aged guy with his two lovely daughters. This brought out the best in folks. We were both non threatening and approachable. We met and talked to more people that any of us would have alone and people were nicer than we could have imagined.

Still I don't think it counts for the entire difference in outlook. I just don't have the animosity toward motorized traffic that seems so prevalent among cyclists, I accept it as a given. When a car buzzes by at 60 mph 2-3' away it just isn't a notable event. Noise from traffic? Not a big deal. Does a driver tick me off once in a while? Sure, but it doesn't eat at me and it doesn't happen all that often.
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Old 09-20-08, 04:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Dan The Man View Post
I have just finished my summer of bicycle touring, up central BC, down Vancouver Island, down the West Coast to Mexico, and across the U.S. to New York (I know it's not the most direct route), and these are just a few of the things I need to get off my chest.

I now realize that cars, trucks, and motorcycles are undeniably evil. A 20 ton truck going 60 mph has way too much energy. They will kill you in a second if you make a mistake, or if the driver makes a mistake, and the drivers are usually in a big hurry to get somewhere, especially near cities or big towns. They are everywhere, at all times of the day, and on even the smallest roads, and they are noisy as hell. There's nothing like a convoy of screaming transports, followed by tailgating angry motorists, and an unmuffled HD to ruin a nice scenic ride.

Why do cars honk at me? I realize when I get a little bip from 200 feet back, that it is just a heads up to tell me they are passing. But most of the time, I will get a loud honk, or a lengthy brrreeeeeeeeeeeeeeep! either right behind my ear, or as the car is driving past. Sometimes honks also comes from the opposing traffic. Do they think that I enjoy being honked at? Or is the 2 feet of shoulder that I am taking up so valuable, that they have to acoustically assault me to defend that extra space for themselves?

Why do dogs hate bicycles so much? Nine out of ten dogs that I passed went absolutely ape**** when they caught sight of me. The ones on leashes would strangle themselves trying to jump at me barking, and the ones not on leashes would usually run onto the road, snarling and barking until I gave them a spray of water and some angry commands to go home. On a side note, I really like those electroshock collars now. There is nothing as satisfying as hearing a snarling barking dog that is running at you suddenly yelp and squeal when it hits the invisible wall.

I noticed some interesting garbage on the side of the road. By far the most abundant was beer cans, which is somewhat worrisome. In the reserves in Arizona, I estimated there was about one can or bottle every foot for several hundred miles, just on one side of the road. The most interesting things I saw were probably some parts of a wet suit and a full barbecue set, still in plastic wrapping, but scattered across. Have you guys ever come across any remarkable stuff on the side of the road?
Hi Dan,

I've come across a crutch, but little else that's remarkable. I'm sure someone is going to come across the camp towel I lost on the C & O Canal Towpath - it was drying under a secure strap on my trailer, or so I thought.

I agree with you about dogs. I like to tell myself they chase me to see what kind of clipless pedals I use, or that they are upset that I'm using the 'wrong' kind.

I don't view cars as evil. I realize that statement alone will keep me off the 'car-free' forum, but so be it. People sometimes honk to annoy a rider, but often it's either to encourage the rider, or more frequently, let the rider know the car is there.

BTW, your 'rant' was mild. Considering you were hit by a car on tour, and had your bike stolen, this is a very tame rant.
 
Old 09-20-08, 06:36 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
The vast difference in impressions makes me wonder if the roads traveled were that different, something about the cyclists made a difference, or the expectations of the cyclists were just different. I am guessing it is mostly the expectations, but maybe a bit of the other two.
I agree and must say that the vast majority of my touring miles have been positive and peaceful. Yes, on occasion a local blockhead will lay on the horn while passing, but aside from that...

As for the automobile, it is simply a machine. I own one and it comes in handy at times. My bicycle was delivered to me via truck.
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Old 09-20-08, 08:37 AM
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the roads

I have a male cycling friend that shares stories with me (and I with him). Our riding stories are vastly different. It seems being a woman does make a huge difference. Sure, every once in awhile someone will pass within 1/2" of me but it's usually because I was riding on the shoulder and not IN the road. And yes, there are times when someone honks or yells out of their window. I find though it really depends on the area. Some roads are "nice" and some are not. Before I moved to Mississippi, I lived in Columbus, Ohio. Grandview is an awesome little city to ride in. High street is fine especially in the Short North/downtown area. However, Long street east of !-71 is terrible. I've experienced more rude people on that road then anywhere else (very ironic too since there's an annual Long Street Ride). Bethel Road is also a very hazardous road. Here in Biloxi/Gulfport area, Pass Road is very unfriendly while so far, I haven't found too many others that are. What's really odd is that I have noticed in general, that two lane roads are more friendly then four lane roads.....

Items on the side of the road: Hangers, wallets, pipe wrench, chairs, pieces of hose, car parts, once I saw a toilet, a backpack, shoes, I'm sure there is more.
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Old 09-22-08, 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by El Pelon View Post
I found a chunk of flesh attached to a piece of fabric once. I was pretty sure it was human because of the colour of the skin, but who knows. It was about the size of a dollar bill. There were skid marks and broken plastic reflectors and stuff nearby, and there was a big blood stain in the road.

Another time, I found a bag of weed. I picked it up with the intent of giving it to the rightful owner, but I never tracked that fellow down.
I'm betting that the weed was tossed out of someone's window while they were being pursued, or at least pulled over, by the cops. Lucky you.

The human flesh? I don't even want to think about that one.
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