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Any good tips for solo tourers?

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Any good tips for solo tourers?

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Old 08-12-12, 05:25 PM
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gordyb
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Any good tips for solo tourers?

I'm a newbie to touring and loving this forum - very helpful
but I wondered if anyone had any tips or tricks specifically for Solo tourers starting out?
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Old 08-12-12, 05:50 PM
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andrewclaus
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I just finished my first solo tour, 4400 miles (7100 km) across the northern US. I wasn't sure how I would handle it, either, and it turned out great. The advantage for me was meeting more people nearly everywhere. My tour was really defined by those people I met. But on the other hand, I missed an incredible bonding experience with another cyclist, so there are trade-offs for sure.

It was good setting my own pace and making my own decisions. I spent more time seeing the museums and sites I enjoyed, skipping those I didn't want to see. I skipped all the dinosaur stuff, but really soaked up the Native American culture wherever I could.

I think some people kind of felt sorry for me and I received more road magic that way, even a spontaneous invitation into a home in the Adirondacks.

Warmshowers.com is a good resource to meet people, but you need internet access to make it work. If you're not a member, take a look and join up.

I tried to ride with a couple of groups if it was clear I was welcome, but I had a hard time adjusting my pace to theirs and it never happened for more than a few miles. I really enjoyed my pace.

Hopefully you're very self-sufficient in bicycle repairs, navigation, first aid, setting up camps, dealing with harsh weather, handling logistics, etc. Make sure your gear is tried and true, since you'll have no buddy backup if things break.

For free time, instead of books which are heavy and don't last long, I brought challenging puzzles like Sunday crosswords and extreme Sudoku. One sheet of paper would last days. I picked up a few used books along the way, though.
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Old 08-12-12, 06:14 PM
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What kind of mileage are you looking to do? From what I can tell, this forum includes people like AndrewClaus who make us all jealous by doing 4400-mile trips, and people like me, who regularly take two-day tours of 50-100 miles and can't stop smiling for weeks afterward.

If you're just starting out, I assume you're more like I am. That said, my first bit of advice is to plan only as much as you need to ensure that you have a place to sleep every night. Being a solo tourist gives you the freedom to "explore" a whole lot more and to find nooks and crannies you might zip right past if you are riding with other people. Biking and bike touring are about freedom, so don't limit yourself by mapping too many things out!
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Old 08-12-12, 06:40 PM
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Before entering a larger town or city, and before leaving a train with a bike, have a pee. You figure out the logistics of bike security and using a public toilet.
Carry a small, lightweight tripod so you can get some pics with you in the frame.
Ride very conservatively, don't take chances which bike handling, there is no-one to pick you up. Helmet and gloves are much more important for solo riders. Some of the riding I've done may not sound conservative, eg solo over forested trails and over foggy mountain tracks, trying to navigate with a photograph of map, but really I take very few chances.
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Old 08-12-12, 06:50 PM
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Map out your pub stops first, the rest will follow.
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Old 08-12-12, 08:33 PM
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Almost all of my longer tours have been solo. These trips have been, in about equal measure, lonely, exhilarating, scary, exhausting, and totally in-the-zone. In other words, well worth it!
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Old 08-12-12, 09:00 PM
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post
For free time, instead of books which are heavy and don't last long, I brought challenging puzzles like Sunday crosswords and extreme Sudoku. One sheet of paper would last days. I picked up a few used books along the way, though.
Or buy an Amazon Kindle 3rd Gen (the one w/ keyboard) which will let you read and download books in lots of countries. It is super light and small. It will also allow you to access the internet to read newspapers and emails for FREE (anywhere with a 3G connection.) It's got a very slow and rudimentary web browser but it works.

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Old 08-12-12, 10:49 PM
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I have just finished a 2600 mile trip to Northern Canada, 700 on dirt roads. I believe nothing special is required for solo trips, however if you do hurt yourself in a remote area, you are the one that cares for you. A greater level of self sufficiency is suggested in bicycle maintenance over trips with a partner.
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Old 08-13-12, 12:26 AM
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Me raised in the boy scouts, veteran ofthe US Navy, bike mechanic and wanting to spend time
in several European countries.. I just showed up in the airport, with my kit,
then sought out paper maps, in bookshops.

and headed off to look around, and meet people..
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Old 08-13-12, 04:56 AM
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azesty
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I did one short solo tour, three days, with rest days between day one and two and day two and three.

Now I am riding from China to Turkey solo. I spent about a week with a German/Austrian couple who have done 14,000 km, and a couple of days with a Korean who has done 5000 km. Learnt a lot from them.

I agree with the Kindle suggestion, I have over 1000 books on my kindle, and read a book every few days.

I am more conservative with my riding when I am out there on deserted dirt roads by myself in China, it might be hours before help comes along.

You need to carry more going solo, a whole cookset if you are going to cook, not just half, a whole tent, etc. No sharing of tools.

I tend to talk a bit anyway, and talk to my bike a bit. It doesnt answer. Yet.

z
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Old 08-13-12, 11:52 AM
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Did my first tour a few weeks ago. Really hadn't thought twice about that fact that I was going solo. Really kind-of thinking it was the norm (i'd like to know what percent of tours are done solo).

What I was most shocked by was the response I got from people I mentioned it to in conversation. Many expressed the thought that I was somehow being reckless by going-it-along.

Solo, in a very remote area would obviously require a lot of research, preparation and experience. Part of my bike went through a national park but even then it wasn't remote. I don't think I really even thought about the fact that I was going solo. I just made sure I packed everything I thought I might need. Even at that, you can always buy something a long the way.

Buying a book a long the way and then just giving it away, especially if you cross a thrift store, would be a good way to go too. I really enjoyed having a book on the ride.
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Old 08-13-12, 01:30 PM
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gordyb
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Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
What kind of mileage are you looking to do? From what I can tell, this forum includes people like AndrewClaus who make us all jealous by doing 4400-mile trips, and people like me, who regularly take two-day tours of 50-100 miles and can't stop smiling for weeks afterward.

!
thanks, I'm planning on doing Vancouver to LA so about 2,000 km. It's a long way for a first trip but I'm not setting myself ay deadlines.. If I'm knackered and injured I will just stay put somewhere until I can move on again. I'm confident in my ability to set up camp, navigate and meet people. My biggest worry is going to be the logistics of sometimes having to leave the nbike and panniers. (oh, and being eaten by a Grisly Bear) I will take the obvious precautions but I have only ever been to the east coast of USA so not exactly sure on the facilities/ living environment etc that I might come across
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Old 08-13-12, 01:31 PM
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gordyb
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Originally Posted by LAriverRat View Post
Map out your pub stops first, the rest will follow.
good thinking
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Old 08-13-12, 01:34 PM
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gordyb
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Originally Posted by Northwestrider View Post
I have just finished a 2600 mile trip to Northern Canada, 700 on dirt roads. I believe nothing special is required for solo trips, however if you do hurt yourself in a remote area, you are the one that cares for you. A greater level of self sufficiency is suggested in bicycle maintenance over trips with a partner.
I can repair a puncture and consider myself to have a decent level of common sense which I hope comes in handy for a lot of basic bike repairs is about.. But I will insist that whoever I buy my LHT from gives me a good lesson in the basics before setting off.
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Old 08-13-12, 01:47 PM
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I'm planning on doing Vancouver to LA so about 2,000 km.
the pacific coast route is so popular , it's not like Crossing the Gobi,
there will be many others on the same route.

Pre Electronics, visiting book shops,
I just picked up paperbacks for reading material, then left them in the Hostels when I finished them..

Gave one to the concierge at a Hotel in Warsaw Poland ,
he was working on his reading in English and was happy to have it.

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Old 08-13-12, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by gordyb View Post
thanks, I'm planning on doing Vancouver to LA so about 2,000 km. It's a long way for a first trip but I'm not setting myself ay deadlines.. If I'm knackered and injured I will just stay put somewhere until I can move on again. I'm confident in my ability to set up camp, navigate and meet people. My biggest worry is going to be the logistics of sometimes having to leave the nbike and panniers. (oh, and being eaten by a Grisly Bear) I will take the obvious precautions but I have only ever been to the east coast of USA so not exactly sure on the facilities/ living environment etc that I might come across
Perfect first tour. You will not be alone for long, it's very popular. You will not be eaten by a Grisly Bear, you may have your food eaten by a black bear, but it's much more likely your food will be eaten by a raccoon. Learn how to identify Poison Oak and don't touch it.

Bring a light weight cable bike lock (better for around trees & picnic tables), and don't leave your bike unattended for long in big cities. Have one thing (handlebar bag, tiny backpack, fanny pack) that functions as your purse - for your actual valuables like wallet and phone - and keep that with you at all times. Try not to bring a computer and other expensive stuff that will make you worry about it, because worrying about your stuff is a mental energy drain and not how you want to spend your trip.

Keep the ocean on your right.

Have fun!
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Old 08-13-12, 02:17 PM
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Don't know if you'll be riding offroad, but some solo MTBers wear a whistle in case they run off the trail and are too injured to get help.
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Old 08-13-12, 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
Keep the ocean on your right.

Have fun!
top tip of the day ha thanks
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Old 08-13-12, 06:00 PM
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Taking a couple of week long adventures will help for a start. After that you'll have a better idea how you personally want to handle it, that is what it is all about. Everybody approaches these trips a little differently. Here is what I take whether it's a weekend or a 2 weeks. Some people carry more, some less. Some trips I like to rub elbows and other times it's just nice to get away. Crazyguyonabike is an enormous resource to peruse, but you really need to take off for few weekends or week long trips to find out how you like to travel.

Marc
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Old 08-13-12, 06:34 PM
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Doing my first on monday,going to bear mountain from nyc, 50M trip.And from there see how far i can go staying on the west side of the hudson,wallkill trail to the kenneth wilson or north and south campground.
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Old 08-13-12, 09:18 PM
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Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
Perfect first tour. You will not be alone for long, it's very popular. You will not be eaten by a Grisly Bear, you may have your food eaten by a black bear, but it's much more likely your food will be eaten by a raccoon. Learn how to identify Poison Oak and don't touch it.

Bring a light weight cable bike lock (better for around trees & picnic tables), and don't leave your bike unattended for long in big cities. Have one thing (handlebar bag, tiny backpack, fanny pack) that functions as your purse - for your actual valuables like wallet and phone - and keep that with you at all times. Try not to bring a computer and other expensive stuff that will make you worry about it, because worrying about your stuff is a mental energy drain and not how you want to spend your trip.

Keep the ocean on your right.

Have fun!
Great advice....pertinent to his chosen route.
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Old 08-14-12, 04:59 PM
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I have considered taking a tent big enough to fit my bike inside the front section. Does anyone else do this or Is it a good/bad idea ?
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Old 08-14-12, 06:02 PM
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Originally Posted by gordyb View Post
I have considered taking a tent big enough to fit my bike inside the front section. Does anyone else do this or Is it a good/bad idea ?
That will be a large tent.

That would be a heavy tent.
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Old 08-14-12, 06:13 PM
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Originally Posted by RWBlue01 View Post
That will be a large tent.

That would be a heavy tent.
Not to mention a tent that would be hard to exit when you needed to take a leak in the middle of the night.
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Old 08-14-12, 10:22 PM
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There aren't any grizzly bears in the coastal states, at least not any proven populations. And these days with the number of remote cameras hunters have out, you can be pretty certain that if there were bears there would be photos.

There are lots of grizzlies in BC, but not south of Vancouver on your proposed route.

I have some UK relatives to who visit Toronto periodically and they live in terror of the wildlife, that we take for granted. Black bears can be deadly, but I live on a farm with a good population, 53 years, and have never seen one. The first one I saw was in Oregon, largely because the steep valleys make spotting them easier. In certain areas where they are habituated, they can be easily seen, but for the most part you will not see them. And they will be headed in the opposite direction. There is really very little dangerous wildlife in most of the US, and you should not worry about it. Be a little cautious, and do not underestimate deer, people take quite silly risks around them, like walking up and touching them.

Basically solo bicycle touring is car camping without the car. If you know how to ride a bike, and how to camp, it is a nothing activity, unless the terrain makes it extreme, but one well traveled graded roads it is pretty much nothing. It is a lot of fun though and that is really why people should try it, not because it is a sport, or extreme activity. The only thing that makes car camping, or other camping a challenge is the presence of kids, but nothing like that in solo touring, so back to the pure pleasure.
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