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Where do I start?

Old 06-29-13, 12:36 AM
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Where do I start?

Hello folks,

First a brief introduction: I'm a college student who likes bikes, motorcycles, science, philosophy, and many other things. Up until now I've used bikes for transportation at school and home, and recreational rides. Most recently, I have acquired a nice 1986 Miyata six ten. I bought it partially because it was a nice bike at a good price, but also because the idea of touring has become more appealing to me. I've poked around and it appears that most people here starting touring with very little specialized equipment. I have a capable bike, I have a rear rack and panniers I use to cart books and groceries around and school, and a desire to go places and see things. I figure I should get a tent and sleeping bag, but even that appears optional to some people. I feel a bit lost getting into something as atypical as bike touring, so I had a few questions.

First, what advice would you give someone in my situation? I'm not entirely sure what to ask, so tell me what you think I need to hear.


Second, where do I start? I would speculate that close to home test trips is a decent idea, but for the most part home is surrounded by suburban sprawl that will not tolerate camping, or even comfortable bike travel on public roads. Would it be a bad idea to just jump into it and get someone to drop me off at a more interesting location and disappear on the roads for a few days?

Lastly, since traveling on the cheap is high on my priorities list, camping is a definite yes. Do most of you really just camp anywhere you think you will go unnoticed? I know that in some parts of the country there are plenty of koa or similar government owned campgrounds, but that's not always an option. I know most of the land outside of cities and towns goes largely unnoticed by most people, but the concept of just settling down for a night on some unknown land without permission seems alien to me.

Thanks to all who respond.
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Old 06-29-13, 01:04 AM
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A) you stay in motels or hostels,.. or B) you are camping.. A, has little need to buy camping gear .
... or carry it.

B, you have to make an up front investment in the camping equipment.
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Old 06-29-13, 01:24 AM
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Originally Posted by kinetic energy
I feel a bit lost getting into something as atypical as bike touring, so I had a few questions.

Second, where do I start? I would speculate that close to home test trips is a decent idea, but for the most part home is surrounded by suburban sprawl that will not tolerate camping, or even comfortable bike travel on public roads. Would it be a bad idea to just jump into it and get someone to drop me off at a more interesting location and disappear on the roads for a few days?

Lastly, since traveling on the cheap is high on my priorities list, camping is a definite yes. Do most of you really just camp anywhere you think you will go unnoticed? I know that in some parts of the country there are plenty of koa or similar government owned campgrounds, but that's not always an option. I know most of the land outside of cities and towns goes largely unnoticed by most people, but the concept of just settling down for a night on some unknown land without permission seems alien to me.

Thanks to all who respond.
Cycletouring is atypical?

1) There are many styles of cycletouring ....

-- hub and spoke ... you could drive to a scenic area, spend a long weekend, and cycle in different directions each day.

-- credit card ... you don't have to carry much with you because you'll be eating in restaurants and staying in hotels.

-- supported ... you go with a touring group of some sort who carry your bags and provide you with lunch, etc.

-- self-supported ... you travel with panniers, tent, cooking equipment etc.

-- and other options

-- or any combination of the above.


2) So yes, if you wanted to drive, take a train or bus, or get someone to drop you off somewhere ... go for it. You could opt to go the credit card route and stay in hotels, B&Bs, hostels, etc. ... or you could get a tent, sleeping mat, and sleeping bag and camp. Your choice.

3) With a few exceptions, I prefer to camp in campgrounds. The only time I've camped elsewhere has been when there's nothing else available.
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Old 07-04-13, 01:51 AM
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First Advice : Go for it!!!!

Where to start? Don't spend time on this question. Just start and you will figure out if it is what you want. So any direction toward your idee of traveling: That can be camping with friends, back packing, day trip with bicycle, weekends… Ask people you know (old friends, parent’s friends, neighbor friends, cousin…) living 40 miles away from your home if you could spend one night at their place, in their garden… If someone is driving out the city ask them to drop you 100 miles away and come back.
Sign in in coutchsurfing or warmshower, get into contact with people hosting and once they agree, go there for a night. Borrow equipment for a weekend and then try it and figure out if you really need it.
Spend some time on Craigslist to find some cheap but good gear, read reviews. Try to know what is the value of the items and buy it if it is worth it. Don’t hesitate to spend time inspecting that thing you want to buy. If you find a scratch or little default, mention them and ask for a lower price. Anyway even if it is perfect, always offer less than the price, if they accept it is good for you! Sell thing you don’t need.
Consider getting a bike trailer, Monowheal are the best but the one for carrying children may be find. You can carry a lot with them and people like to get rid of them once children are too old.
Each time you will do one of these things, you will get more confident and know better what you like or not.
Sleeping outside, the same: try it out and you will get more confident. Two advices: be invisible and do not trespass: Be quiet, try to find a place before the night but arrive there only when it is getting dark. Do not do anything else than sleeping there (eat before, no light, no reading…) and then get out when you hear the first birds in the morning. If your night was too short, ride and once it is warm, take a nap.
For finding a place, do not trespass: what I understood, trespassing happens if you were advised not to enter a place. That can be a sign, a fence or oral notice or anything else... If none of them are present, you can probably sleep there without any risk. Accept to go away if someone told you so. Avoid places with dogs around. If you feel that the place is not good but you don’t know why, go away and find another one.
Consider a hammock, only two trees are needed then and it is easy to set it up. Steep woods can be a good place to sleep then and no one expect you to sleep in there.
And one more things: keep exploring this forum there are a lot of info and tricks…
Good luck!
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Old 07-04-13, 02:11 AM
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It would be an excellent idea to just disappear for a few days, yes. And that need not involve getting dropped off anywhere. However urban your environment, if you ride fifty miles you're likely to find yourself in more open countryside - and it is very easy to cover fifty miles in a day on a bike.

You don't have to make a binary choice between camping and not camping. I will often do both when on tour, camping when I feel like it and where the circumstances seem appropriate, and using motels/hostels/B&Bs at other times. Plus there are organisations like warmshowers which put you in touch with friendly cyclists who will give you a bed for the night.

Don't think too hard about this. It's an adventure. You don't have to plan it in detail, you're in the middle of one of the most civilised countries in the world, you won't come to any harm.
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Old 07-04-13, 03:17 AM
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My first overnight cycle camping trip was very primitive. I took a tarp, mat and sleeping bag, a sterno alcohol gel stove and an army cookset. I used my old 5 speed racer with thin, bendy rack and some cheap, nasty panniers that i used for commuting. I camped wild and illegally in a small wood by a coastal cliff. It was great fun and a total success.
I think I cooked up a packet of quick-cook rice and a tin of baked beans.

Just get the basics and get out.
I did this in the pre-internet days so there was no-one to ask how to "do" touring.
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Old 07-04-13, 04:35 AM
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k e, Some general advice is a good service of the bicycle and then making sure that it's comfortable for at least two long days in the saddle. The more weight you plan to carry, the better your carriers will need to be. Once you approach 40 lbs. of gear it's time to consider using front panniers, IMHO. Logistics are up to you.

Brad
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Old 07-04-13, 02:52 PM
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Just poked around a bit on the net concerning camping at Illinois State Parks and the fees:

https://dnr.state.il.us/lands/Landmgt...ndex.htm#Sites

Seems like B/S sites for $10 are quite a deal, here in California coastal hike and bike sites are $10 a person in some areas. You can also check out commuter or Amtrak train service in your area to get closer to campgrounds if none are nearby.

+1 on a hammock. Just started using one myself, and it's a tool of the devil, being so comfy that it's hard to get out of it to finish setting up camp. Most are natural colors to blend in with the woods if you stealth camp.

Or you just may camp in plain sight without trouble! I was amazed when reading this guy's journal, I live in this area, and never thought one could get away with just camping anywhere, but he had no problems: https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/p...id=283107&v=WV
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Old 07-04-13, 03:40 PM
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kinetic_energy,

Welcome to the Touring Forums!

Like many have said... just jump into it. Like Machka said, there's an initial investment in some specific gear, but once you have that then it's all a matter of getting out on the road.

Load the bike up and drive out of town, if you have to. Start out with what's called a "Sub 24 hour ride", or S24HO...

(from the Rivendell Bike Works website):

"... Most of us here have toured on bikes. Maybe everybody. Touring is fine, but it’s often inconvenient to the point of it just not happening. Jobs, families, school, work… it’s time-intensive. Blessed be the frequent bike tourists, good for you if you’re one of them, but you know what’s so much easier and available? The S24O: Sub-24-Hour Overnight.

It’s local bike camping, where you leave after work, ride 1 to 3 hours, find a spot to sleep, and ride home in the morning. It’s minimally invasive to your family and work life. The ride is short, and if you forget some “essential” piece of gear, what’s the big deal? You’ll live through the night without it."


Camp where you feel comfortable... as you gain more experience you'll start to figure out what works best for you, because "there isn't a best way; there are many different ways" to bike tour.

If you have a question, just ask. We don't bite, and LOVE to tour!
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Old 07-04-13, 09:37 PM
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Definantly do one overnighted to inventory what gear you'll really need and what should be left behind. As for overnighting, wild/stealth camping is nearly always possible with some imagination and ingenuity. Just avoid posted, fenced land or otherwise obviously private property. Be as invisable as possible.

As others have noted, Just Do It. What you don't know or have before leaving, you can figure out/pick up as you gain experience. Where you leave from is strickly your business.
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Old 07-04-13, 10:54 PM
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First, congrats on a damn nice bike. The 610 was one step lower than the 1000, but it has a stiffer fork I believe, so it was arguably better in that regard. If it has the forty spoke rear thirty six front with the sansin sealed bearing hubs, which is what it should have come with stock, then possibly they might need some greasing. You can gently and with care pry off the dust covers and pack grease into them, then pop the dust covers back on. Other wise replacement of the bearings is in order(I have two of these wheelsets, and have done the regreasing thing, but will be replacing bearings before my next 2000 mile trip)

Hammocks are great for stealth camping, its a method that I use in the mix of campgrounds, state parks, and Hotel/motel. Try to keep a little money set aside for a room if you can, sometimes there is just no where to camp that feels right, or that big huge storm is rolling in over night and four walls feels better than crouching in a tent or whatever. But be prepared to deal with the unexpected. Like many my first tours were with a pletcher rack and a couple of cheap bags.
One last thing, if you do stealth camp, and have a green tarp/tent/hammock, whatever, be sure that when you go to get water or food or even take a pee, you can find it again...
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Old 07-07-13, 12:21 AM
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Thanks everyone for the information! I'm glad to hear such positive feedback. I'm currently playing around testing new gear on my bike. I bought a front rack to compliment the rear rack I already have. I have panniers for the rear, but I also found some surplus milatary waterproof bags from god knows what at a local store. I greedily bought two small ones and two large ones for a grand total of $20. The small set easily strap onto the front panniers with no modification, but I am still tinkering with the rear set.

After lurking around the forum and following many links to other sites, I have very much considered the hammock over a tent/sleeping bag/pad. Seems like that might save a lot of equipment. I am open to staying in a b&b or hotel if needed, but I would like to shy away from it. Either way, I have some time to comtemplate those options. The next free chunk of time I have is two weeks in August after I stop working for the summer and before my next academic year starts. I hope to go on some sort of trip then. The details remain to be explored, but as many have said, not all aspects of an adventure can or even should be planned.

Thanks again for the information and welcomes. If and when a trip happens, I will post updates.
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Old 07-08-13, 02:01 AM
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When sleeping in the hammock, you still need a sleeping bag and pad. Your answer seemed to say that the hammock would replace everything. The pad provides insulation under you since your sleeping bag is compressed and therefore does not really help keeping you warm.
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