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Touring Comfort

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Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.
View Poll Results: When I'm on Tour, I like to
ride as far as I can each day. The tour location is just a backdrop to riding my bike.
15
16.13%
ride along highway shoulders...it's the fastest way to cover long distances.
6
6.45%
take things slow with lots of rest and relaxation. Distance is of minimal concern.
47
50.54%
camp every night.
36
38.71%
explore local B&Bs and boutique hotels.
11
11.83%
stay as much as possible on greenways and back roads.
65
69.89%
get lost.
19
20.43%
explore the local cuisine.
35
37.63%
other: please comment.
6
6.45%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 93. You may not vote on this poll

Touring Comfort

Old 04-25-13, 12:07 PM
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Touring Comfort

I've noticed most of the conversation on this forum talks about a kind of bike touring that I don't derive much enjoyment from. Camping, long distances, that sort of thing. As someone who prefers a bed at night, shorter days with a focus on sightseeing rather than riding, and staying off major highways, I'm curious about what other participants think about these sorts of comfort issues.
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Old 04-25-13, 12:34 PM
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excellent thread, for me it's great scenery sun and wind on my back staying well away from main roads camping in quiet 5 star camsites where ever possible .
pocket full of money bike and rider in top condition one other person to share the craic (fun) hassle free tour.
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Old 04-25-13, 01:26 PM
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The tours I have fond memories of : get out of the Country. land at airport . sleep off jet-lag . go Buy a Map.

pick a direction and go .. ride a while .. sleep , get up and see where I want to go The next day..


lodging was usually camping or Hostels .. Craic, was getting out my Mandolin
and playing in some Pub session. sometime staying on for a while if the picking was good.

Comfort? Down Filled [insulated] airmatress..


& earplugs..

Last edited by fietsbob; 04-27-13 at 08:23 AM.
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Old 04-25-13, 02:23 PM
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I typically plan my tours and stick to that plan. I look for interesting place to ride through (parks, bike trails, along rivers, etc) and stopping points where I can get hosted for the night or have cheap lodgings. While I will camp if necessary, I don't sleep well in a tent (I'm finding out) and would rather avoid it.
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Old 04-25-13, 02:31 PM
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Little bit of all you mentioned, but lots of camping whereever and little or no pressure to make a certain # of miles/day. I don't much mind busy highway shoulders for a day or two. I do want to pedal enough to be pretty tired at days end. With a bent, that means longer saddle time than on a DF, not necessarily longer miles.
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Old 04-25-13, 03:00 PM
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I enjoy cycling partially as a physical challenge, and I prefer to tour inexpensively. I enjoy multi-month tours and just don't have the budget for lots of motel and B&B nights. I do not set a schedule, and have no idea where I'll be sleeping when I start riding in the morning. Scoring a good stealth site is a real good feeling for me. I'm typically on the bike for just about every daylight hour, so I usually get in a lot of miles without really trying very hard. Camping only means sleeping. During the day, I stop at every point of interest that appeals to me, and talk to everyone who has the time.
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Old 04-25-13, 03:00 PM
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I'm very leisurely with my tours. Rather than going out with a 'I'm going to ride from A to B in 2 days' thoughts. I set out with 'I'm going to head toward B and look at all the things to see in between!' Then I proceed to zig-zag along, taking plenty of time to take pictures every time something catches my eye and walk around exploring landmarks.

The main reason I camp is that when I'm tired, I don't want to struggle along for another 10-15 miles to a B&B. As soon as I find someplace that fits my tent and such, I'm set up, eating and crashing.
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Old 04-25-13, 03:00 PM
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My trips are generally short and with fixed end. I also try to stay in a campground. As a result, I tend to have a minimum distance to travel and to have at least two potential stopping points planned out. I have found that I have comfort range in terms of miles where if I go beyond it, I will enjoy the ride less and be more stressed about making my goals. Too few miles, and I get bored. Being on the bike is its own amusement, but if I get to camp, set up, and the sun is still high in the sky, then just end up antsy, waiting to be able to go to bed.

Exploring B&Bs and hotels sounds nice, but conflict with my thrifty side. Also I feel like I wouldn't want to gamble on a vacancy, but if I book in advance, I lose some of the flexibility.
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Old 04-25-13, 03:52 PM
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I like to rack up fairly serious miles and do not like a nailed down schedule. I generally much prefer point to point trips rather than a loop. I know that it is the going and not the getting there, but I still need a destination rather than just meandering.

On some tours I only camp and some I get a room once in a while. When camping, I like to camp for free in plain sight where possible, for cheap in plain sight next (hiker biker sites are great), for free using stealth, or in an expensive campground only as a last resort. In fact I'd usually rather get a room than spend $30 to camp. Tour length for me tends to be between 10 days and 3 months. Living on the road for a year or doing S24O to several day tours are both generally unappealing to me. That said I may do some short bike legs of one to a few days on a mixed mode trip as a shuttle for a backpacking portion of the trip.

As far as comfort in camp... I like to have a very simple lifestyle with quite minimal gear.

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Old 04-25-13, 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob
The tours I have fond memories of : get out of the Country. land at airport . sleep off jet-lag . go Buy a Map.

pick a direction and go .. ride a while .. sleep , get up and see where I want to go The next day..


lodging was usually camping or Hostels .. Craic, was getting out my Mandolin
and playing in some Pub session. sometime staying on for a while if the picking was good.

Comfort? Down Filled [insulated] airmatress..
quick question do you always take the mandolin, kinda thinking of buying one only problem i busted my finger 3 months back lost the nail and a lot of feeling in the finger find it hard to hold down the strings on my guitar.
sorry dont mean to highjack the thread .

Last edited by antokelly; 04-25-13 at 03:58 PM.
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Old 04-25-13, 04:20 PM
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1) I chose both the main highways and the backroads ... both can be nice. Last weekend we did a day-ride and it was all on main highways (and not always with shoulders). Yesterday (Anzac Day) we did a ride entirely on the local rail trail. The same sort of thing happens on our tours ... some days on main highways, some days on quiet backroads, some days on trails and cycling routes.

2) I chose B&Bs, etc. but your question of accommodation doesn't really provide a check-box choice that applies to us because we camp, stay in hostels, stay in B&Bs, stay in relatively inexpensive hotels, stay in rooms above pubs, stay with friends and family ... or whatever grabs our fancy at the time.

3) Regarding the allusion to route planning in a couple questions, we go where the wind takes us. There's very little planning involved in our tours and travels. We'll rough out a basic plan ahead of time (i.e. as detailed as: catch plane, land in London, spend 2 nights in London ... go elsewhere ... return to London, spend 2 nights in London, catch plane), but for the detail, we'll decide as we go along. So one day we might ride a fair amount (I've done centuries in the middle of a tour), and the next week, we might not ride much at all. Just depends how we feel. And we might decide to go over there and see what's there ... and halfway there we might change our minds and go elsewhere, or we might actually follow through with our idea and go there after all.
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Old 04-25-13, 04:56 PM
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Originally Posted by raybo
I typically plan my tours and stick to that plan. I look for interesting place to ride through (parks, bike trails, along rivers, etc) and stopping points where I can get hosted for the night or have cheap lodgings. While I will camp if necessary, I don't sleep well in a tent (I'm finding out) and would rather avoid it.
if I can ask, why don't you sleep well in a tent?

Also, I like your website in the signature line.
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Old 04-25-13, 05:35 PM
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I don't sleep well anywhere so I'm more and more leaning toward using hotels and B&B but I also like camping. I tour "both ways" that seem to be set up as a false dichotomy here. I can plod along at 15 km/h for 14 hours without much effort and that pace affords me all the sight seeing I'd want to do. Touring in Ontario can be a bit boring... there are large amounts of corn and cattle outside the cities here but up north it's nice. I avoid busy roads in the south here since there are plenty of ways around but up north one is often on the only road with every other type of vehicle. I like to have it both ways myself.
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Old 04-25-13, 05:49 PM
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I like to get lost and talk with locals about road information.

I like to ride hard, get tired as it helps to quickly go to sleep.

I like the tent sleeping, but you need a good air mattress and be sure to set up the tent away from bright direct lighting.
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Old 04-25-13, 06:06 PM
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I have done a variety of tours, currently my wife and I do hub and spoke tours, which is much more to her liking, no camping for her. We will pick a boutique hotel or a B&B and have at it. Mileage for us is usually very modest, 40 miles is a long day. Sometimes we will pack a picnic lunch other times plan to eat somewhere local along the route. Our plans are usually very flexible and we will alter routes at the suggestion of locals.

When I do tours by myself it is 50 miles a day max and I usually camp. Out and back or point to point with plenty of meandering along the way.

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Old 04-25-13, 08:11 PM
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If highways and covering the most distance was the objective - I'd take a car! I take a bike because it covers less distance per minute - which gives me the chance to look around, get distracted, and look for interesting things off the bike.

Camping, B&B's, motels, hostels, picnics, restaurants, cooking - its all good. And I'm more likely to bring a few maps and a compass than a bunch of electronic stuff.

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Old 04-25-13, 08:54 PM
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Originally Posted by chefisaac
if I can ask, why don't you sleep well in a tent?
I don't sleep particularly well in a tent either, although I will occasionally have a good night.

Even with good mats, good sleeping bag, etc., it's just not as comfortable as a bed. You do your best to pitch the tent on a clean, level piece of ground, but sometimes that's just not possible and you end up sleeping on a slope, or sleeping with an acorn lodged in a kidney. And I often wake up with aching hips or back.

Plus, when I lie down in a tent, I get congested. I don't know if it is the dampness, the dust, the pollen, the grass, or what, but it happens in every tent I've ever slept in. So I have tried several complex pillow arrangements to keep my head up as much as possible, and that helps to some extent, but some of those pillow arrangements haven't been overly comfortable either, and I sleep restlessly then wake up with a stiff neck. I've got a pillow arrangement now that's not too bad, but I still end up taking allergy tablets and using my inhalers in order to be able to breathe enough to sleep.

And it is down on the ground, so there's the whole crawling in and out of the tent thing which isn't as easy as it was 10 years ago, especially after a day's ride. And it can be quite chilly on a cold night, and very, very hot if the tent is not located under trees and the morning sun shines on it.

And some campgrounds are just not comfortable ... noisy party-ers going on all night, not secure, near busy roads or clattering and clanging factories, located in questionable neighbourhoods, etc.



As I've mentioned before, the whole camping thing is not for everyone. You've got to try it out a few times and see if you really like it before dropping a lot of money on camping equipment.

Last edited by Machka; 04-26-13 at 06:34 AM.
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Old 04-26-13, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by chefisaac
if I can ask, why don't you sleep well in a tent?
I am a light sleeper and rarely sleep through the night, even at home.

I currently on tour in Big Bend, TX. For 3 of 4 nights I slept in a tent. Night 1 was in Marfa with train horns every couple of hours. Night 2 was in Stillwell Store with a gusty wind all night that shook the tent (occasionally hitting me in the face) and making enough noise to wake me up when I dropped off. Night 3 was at the campground in Chisos Basin (a beautiful place, by the way) where someone was snoring so loud that it woke me up at various times through the night. The nearest tent was 30 feet away.

Even on nights without all the noise and wind, I don't find tent sleeping particularly restful.


Also, I like your website in the signature line.
Thanks!
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Old 04-26-13, 09:12 AM
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Remote, primitive, unexpected.
The mileage is secondary, although I usually enjoy the process of getting there - wherever "there" is.
The are times when I love getting a pizza at the cafe at Many Glacier,
But for the most part I prefer the sounds of a isolated stream to the noise of a campground.
In a similar vein, dirt roads lead to places magical and seldom visited.
The ease of a paved road is often bought with the rumble of traffic.
(Of course, getting "dusted" on a dirt road by Bubba in his pick-up ain't fun, either.)
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Old 04-26-13, 12:34 PM
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I like to take things slow, 30-50 miles per day. I don't like biking all day, every day. I like to mix in other activities such as sightseeing, short hikes, or just hanging out and resting in a nice spot for a day or two.

I prefer to camp most nights, with the occasional recharge at a hostel or hotel. Sleeping in a tent is not a problem for me, and sometimes I sleep better this way, especially in a quiet spot after a day of riding.
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Old 04-27-13, 03:19 AM
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Originally Posted by raybo
I currently on tour in Big Bend, TX. For 3 of 4 nights I slept in a tent. Night 1 was in Marfa with train horns every couple of hours. Night 2 was in Stillwell Store with a gusty wind all night that shook the tent (occasionally hitting me in the face) and making enough noise to wake me up when I dropped off. Night 3 was at the campground in Chisos Basin (a beautiful place, by the way) where someone was snoring so loud that it woke me up at various times through the night. The nearest tent was 30 feet away.
I've been in those situations ... the municiple campground in Golden, BC is right next to a track and at 4 am, the trains start coming in and shunting. To make matters worse, there's a cliff right next to where they shunt, so the noise echos off the cliff walls. There's no sleeping after 4 am.

Here in Australia, wind brings an extra worry ... you carefully placed your tent under a tree so it wouldn't be 35C at 7 am in the tent, then the wind picked up and now you've got to worry about a branch coming down onto the tent. Branches here tend to do that.

And ... in addition to wind, there are thunderstorms! Rowan and I have had a couple hair-raising experiences with thunderstorms!!


As for the snorers, that's happened a few times too. In one case the guy planted his tent almost on top of ours and then roared and rumbled all night. In another case, a couple in a tent about 20 feet away played a tag team game of snoring and sleep apnea. I've never heard anyone with sleep apnea that bad before ... I almost wondered if I should call an ambulance!!
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Old 04-27-13, 03:28 AM
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Touring Comfort

Haha, the joys of campsites!

"From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!"
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Old 04-27-13, 05:26 AM
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Originally Posted by imi
Haha, the joys of campsites!

"From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!"
That is the truth!

I love camping, always have, but finding the right QUIET place to camp is becoming more of a challenge. I live on what is left of my wife's old family farm. When we first moved out here 14 years ago it was peaceful. I would quite often grab a sleeping bag and bivy sack and head out into the wooded part of the property to spend the night, best sleeping ever. Now the area has become suburban, traffic and neighborhood noise makes it not a nice place to camp anymore. In fact we have discussed adding a white noise generator to our bedroom to counteract the sounds of motorcycles and traffic at all hours of the day and night. FWIW the vehicle count on the road in front of the property went from ~800 in 1998 to over 6,000 in 2012.

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Old 04-27-13, 08:08 AM
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I can't pick from these. It depends on where I am and how I feel that day. Even so it's rare (but sometimes) that I would want to "ride as far as possible". It's also rare that I feel like I want to "take things slow" (all day). But even then sometimes my rest days are really just slow and less distance. Usually if the area is really beautiful I slow down some and enjoy it. If I'm just getting from point A to point B on a busy road I'm likely to fall into the drops a lot and give it 80% but make sure I don't ride too hard where I don't keep a tight and smart line in the traffic.
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Old 04-27-13, 08:09 AM
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It has been awhile since we've toured, but when we did, we camped most nights, but threw in a motel about once a week to catch up on laundry, get a good meal, charge phones and cameras, or in many cases, get out of a rainstorm. We are in the planning stages of doing a European tour next year, and camping will most likely be a big part of it.
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