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Be prepared for the worst case scenario.

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Be prepared for the worst case scenario.

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Old 07-07-10, 04:20 PM
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nwmtnbkr
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Be prepared for the worst case scenario.

I live on the Northern Tier route in the US. I live about 9 miles outside a very small town, that at least has a small hospital with a heliport that can get people to a bigger trauma center. However, there are no car rentals and the Amtrak station (Empire Builder line) is never staffed so you can't get bikes on board the trains here. Today I had ridden into town. I saw a gentleman in cycling clothes walking when I was riding down the main street. I stopped in the park near the train station to take some photos of main street and he walked up to me to chat, as a fellow cyclist. It seems he and a friend were headed from the coast of Washington to some point in Michigan on his tandem. This morning, they crashed near this town and so they came to the local hospital. Fortunately neither were seriously injured but the doctor recommended that the friend stay off the bike for 5 days or more so they've decided to cut their journey short. People from Oregon that one of them knew were driving an RV in support. After the accident, this support team decided to go no farther but to head back west to Oregon. The gentleman speaking to me was frustrated, trying to figure out how he and his riding buddy would get the bike and themselves back home to coastal Washington. The best suggestion I could give was for they to hitch a ride back west to the Spokane/Coeur D'Alene area with the people in the RV. That's a major urban area with car/van rentals as well as a staffed Amtrak station where you can check bikes (although I don't know if you'd have problems checking a tandem). This got me thinking about how well prepared one should be with contingency plans for aborting your tour early. I definitely would suggest that you know what major centers on your route have modes of transportation that you can use to get you and your bike back home if you have to cut your tour short. Hopefully, these two cyclists were able to get their RV buddies to drop them off in the Spokane/Coeur D'Alene area.
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Old 07-07-10, 06:06 PM
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spinnaker
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None of my tours have ever been extensive as a cross country tour but alternative transportation is always a part of my tour plans.
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Old 07-07-10, 06:37 PM
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Bacciagalupe
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You can't possibly plan for every adverse contingency.

It really shouldn't be that hard for the RV drivers to drop 'em off at the nearest city with a major car rental. From there, they can do a one-way car rental back home.

The real key is not to get frustrated by this stuff, certainly not to the point where it interferes with your ability to think clearly and get out of a jam.

On a side note, while I don't fault people who use support vehicles, one advantage of a self-contained tour is that they could've just taken the 5-day delay in stride and soldiered on, rather than cut the tour in half. C'est la guerre.
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Old 07-07-10, 07:04 PM
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There is a fine balance between preparing for contingencies in advance vs. just problem solving them as they arise. I might have anticipated some in advance, but the example you cited would be more in the problem solving category. For better or worse, in a lot of the world you can at least get partial assistance to drive at least yourself to somewhere.

On past trips:
- My rear rim failed near mile 500 of the Alaska Highway. Problem solving mode - I called bike shop 400km away and had a new wheel sent up via Greyhound bus. It took 6 days, but that was part of the adventure and I continued on once I had the wheel.
- My rear hub failed cycling across North Island of New Zealand. Walked along until a local delivery truck gave me a ride ~60km into Napier. It took a few days for a wheel to be sent from Wellington, but continued from there.
- My right pedal pulled out of the crank arm as I was cycling through Paris, TN on a Saturday afternoon. Waited until Monday and rented local car to drive bike to Jackson TN bike shop to get new crank.
- My right pedal snapped off ~25 miles before Houston, MS on a Saturday afternoon. Cycled 25 miles to Houston and bought a spark plug there which I threaded into the socket and cycled on to Jackson, MS, ~120 miles further where I found a bike shop. Didn't cost me much extra time, though I was a lot happier once I had a real pedal.
- My rear hub failed cycling in southern Thailand near end of a 10-month trip where I was going home in ~2 weeks. Altered plans to stay in local town for ~5 days and then took train to Kuala Lumpur to spend last week there. Could have gone to Bangkok - but decided to alter my plans instead.

None of these were anticipated, they typically involved some extra time which I took from contingency time I had budgeted and typically needed some problem solving. At time they were sometimes frustrating, but took stock of the situation, sorted things out and they became part of the adventure.

Some things I will typically do:
- budget extra contingency time
- occasionally check a yellow pages
- (sometimes) have a more open-ended trip ending
where I know I'll take Amtrak back - but not decide on the
city (with baggage station) that I depart from
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Old 07-07-10, 08:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
You can't possibly plan for every adverse contingency.

It really shouldn't be that hard for the RV drivers to drop 'em off at the nearest city with a major car rental. From there, they can do a one-way car rental back home.

The real key is not to get frustrated by this stuff, certainly not to the point where it interferes with your ability to think clearly and get out of a jam.

On a side note, while I don't fault people who use support vehicles, one advantage of a self-contained tour is that they could've just taken the 5-day delay in stride and soldiered on, rather than cut the tour in half. C'est la guerre.
Well put! Horrible things happening are part of the adventure. At least, I chose to look at it that way. If I didn't, I probably wouldn't ride very far...Maybe horrible isn't even the right word. It's enjoyable in a way to know that you can handle the situation after pushing through it.
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Old 07-08-10, 01:19 AM
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Sometimes the worst-case scenarios create the nicest memories. You are forced to rely on the kindness of those around you and also to come up with a creative solution to the problem.

Once we had a bike repair problem (multiple flats caused by too-narrow rim tape, though we didn't know that at the time) and we were more than 1 day's walk from the nearest town of any sort. We ended up meeting a couple in an RV, who drove us and our bikes to the next town. Lovely folks, who we wouldn't have met had the problem not come up in the first place.

In our experience, there is always a solution. As long as it's not life threatening, don't worry too much. Just relax, keep an open mind and wait for the right opportunity to present itself.
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Old 07-08-10, 04:56 AM
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Sounds like they need a better support team, IMHO.
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Old 07-08-10, 06:43 AM
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You can't plan for all contingencies so I figure it is best to just be flexible and improvise as needed. The uncertainty is just part of touring and what makes it an adventure IMO.
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Old 07-08-10, 07:52 AM
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Originally Posted by nwmtnbkr View Post
The best suggestion I could give was for they to hitch a ride back west to the Spokane/Coeur D'Alene area with the people in the RV. That's a major urban area with car/van rentals as well as a staffed Amtrak station where you can check bikes (although I don't know if you'd have problems checking a tandem). This got me thinking about how well prepared one should be with contingency plans for aborting your tour early. I definitely would suggest that you know what major centers on your route have modes of transportation that you can use to get you and your bike back home if you have to cut your tour short. Hopefully, these two cyclists were able to get their RV buddies to drop them off in the Spokane/Coeur D'Alene area.
You gave them good advice. A tandem on Amtrak might be a problem, but surely there is a bike shop that could pack and ship the bike for them. That would make transporting themselves a lot easier. And I sure hope their support vehicle driver(s) would have the dedency to not leave them stranded.
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Old 07-08-10, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
You can't possibly plan for every adverse contingency.
...
The real key is not to get frustrated by this stuff, certainly not to the point where it interferes with your ability to think clearly and get out of a jam.
...
Yes, exactly. In the cases where you can't figure it out yourself, you have to rely on help from others, whether strangers or your tour partners/group.
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Old 07-08-10, 07:56 AM
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Bekologist
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I was going to say, some support team THAT was! (I honestly wonder if he was a grifter?)


worst case scenario is you grab a grocery cart, throw your bike into it, and start walking The Road.


Nothing wrong with thumbing a ride somewhere, a lot of folks have gotten around on bike tours by riding in cars and trucks when emergencies arose
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