Tips for Long Distance Traveling- WEIGHT CONTROL

Discussion in 'Travelling, Commuting & Safety' started by bamabikeguy, Nov 29, 2006.

  1. bamabikeguy

    bamabikeguy Active Member

    In March of 2006 I took an 850 mile round trip to visit a friend on Amelia Island, Florida, preparing for my 2 week round trip to Denver, where a friend was promoting a Bob Dylan 65th birthday concert.

    Things I learned on the first trip made the second one pretty much of a breeze, and now I go on monthly jaunts of 500 miles or so.

    The tentative challenge is to "Cross America" in 2007". I calculate 15 to 16 days minimum to go from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, (Charleston, SC to the LA/San Diego area, where my son lives).


    (NOTE- I just discovered HOW to post pix)
    I am going to split this in three parts- WEIGHT, ROUTE and MISCELLANEOUS

    BIKE PREPARATION- Elsewhere in this forum I've described how to make your rear tires and wheels "flatproof". My rear tire with triple lined protections, mounted on a 12 guage wheel weighs about 9 lbs.
    My 12 inch gel saddle with shock absorber seat post, that deep Ward basket carrying my Marlboro travel bag, plus the backpack carrying more clothes and my camera......there isn't much room for "extras".

    KEEP IT CHEAP AND EASY- The only "valuable" thing I took along was my digital camera. When I hit a rainy patch in Missouri, I pulled into an open garage at a "House for Sale", DUMPED the heavy thread count bedsheet, those clogger type $10 sandals, the 600 page paperback book I was going to read. They were all in my basket, and the 5-8 pounds made a difference in my steering. Next Dollar General store I got LIME GREEN shower shoes for campsite use.

    Note-if you look at pictures of my trips, I DON'T EVEN KNOW HOW TO CLEAN THE LENS ON THAT VALUABLE CAMERA.......

    SHOP AT GOODWILLl/SALVATION ARMY. For 5O cents I got an umbrella in a zip up carrying case. I tossed the umbrella in a closet, used the case to put my "tools", adjustable wrench, 6 way screwdriver, Swiss army kind of allens wrench thing, A FEW FEET OF DUCT TAPE WRAPPED ON THE END OF A PENCIL. AirPump... The "kit" fit in that area between the seat and handlebars, 10 pounds of metal NOT in my basket or on my back.

    I got a leather black "purse" for a buck, to carry my printouts of newspaper articles, to leave along the trip "spreading the word". Unneeded weight, but I shipped via UPS a boxfull of stuff to Denver, including a new supply of "advertising" to disperse on the return trip.

    For a couple of bucks, I got windbreakers and warmup pants. "Dress in layers", don't bring bulky jackets and sleeping bags. On solo trips, TWO 6' x 6' tarps, a $10 fleece blanket from Dollar General. When in colder climate, put a couple of plastic grocery bags over your socks, then put a second set of socks on. Next day, it starts warming around 11 a.m. you take off the inside socks and bags, you can rotate 4 pairs of basic white socks, that sell for $2.

    I have a Dome Tent- have taken it on the Local 400 mile runs. GREAT if traveling in a group-to split the weight. I take out the bag of rods and attached that part to the bike frame with long zip ties. You DON'T HAVE TO SET UP THE TENT, it doubles as a tarp if you want to watch the stars, and can be a "sleeping bag" when the morning FOG rolls in, getting everything wet.

    MORNING DEW MAKES BLUE JEANS HEAVY. Hard to dry, and then that extra weight sits rolled up in your basket, not drying and twice as heavy as normal. You can get 5 days journey before hitting a laundrymat rotating t-shirts, long handles, sweat shirts and pants, windbreakers and that fleece blanket. You DON'T want the backpack over 20 pounds, and in Denver my friend bought me a better deluxe 5 zipper backpack for $2.

    Somebody could steal my bag out of the basket, and I could replace the kit and kaboodle for $10. BIKE RIDING IS ABOUT PEACE OF MIND, don't sweat the little stuff......

    So my backpack is basically "quick items", the blanket, the sweatshirts, the camera, notebooks, maps, pens and mini-flashlight, things to TAKE INTO THE RESTURANT.

    The basket is "camp supplies", the tarps, BUG REPELLENT, tarps/twine/ZIPTIES/flashlight, candles. But even the weight of the bug repellent comes into play, don't take a FULL bottle (2 month supply). Two squirts in the evening, PLUS A FEW SPRAYS AROUND THE TARP PERIMETER, a half bottle will more than do you. I take 7 assorted bungie cords, ZIP TIES are the ducttape of the 21st century.

    Speaking of Bungie Cords. To stabelize (sic) the "basket full of camp stuff". I looped a 4 footer from both sides of the basket around the seat post frame, adding a touch of "firmness" to my steering.

    GROUP RIDING- The principle is the same as Boy Scouts or Army. Two buddies can split 10 pounds of weight (tent on one bike-rods and pegs on the other).
    "PATROLS" of 5 to eight riders could bring along cooking supplies, food and utensils for more elaborate trips.
    "TROOPS" of twenty could even arrange to have musical instruments (but you can get a 5 string guitar at Goodwill, donate it back the next day).

    THE MAIN THING I HAVE NOT FIGURED OUT is air mattresses. I've bought two of those cheapies at Dollar General. I saw one in Oklahoma that looked good for $12, but it weighed too much. When Family Dollar rotated summer to autumn, I JUST MISSED a box full of those cheapie air mattresses for half price. That is the only solution I've figured out, with the bike air pump they are easy to inflate, TWO cheapies that both have slow leaks is better than nothing........ well, it's next to nothing.

    FINAL TIP- Before you do a 2 week trip, do a 2 night trip. You will figure out a "wish list", ("TIME/LIFE foldup razor thin radio", binoculars, better dual purpose shoes). I wear Chuck Taylor All Stars, but just ordered some LL Bean Snow Sneakers (p. 39, $59 bucks). I figure they will be good in winter, PLUS good for hiking in the Rocky Mountains. Combined with those Lime Green Shower shoes nobody would steal, rotating those socks, my feet are good to go......

    Dear Reader-
    You can help by using the e-bay search bar at the top of the page, & it doesn't cost a cent

    Please read Tom's post about e-bay:

  2. So Jealous B - you have the wanderlust... some great tips if I ever need to get lost for a while. being a boy scout these are the kinds of things that you learn when young and then promptly forget.
  3. bird

    bird Guest

    u should get a trailer if your going cross country. you can bring more stuff and make your bike alot less top heavy.

  4. very cool trailer
  5. bamabikeguy

    bamabikeguy Active Member

    I buy the heaviest and deepest Ward Baskets. Since the Sun Alum 7 has no front shocks, the legs of the basket stay sturdy.

    But the curved handlebars are foam lined:


    So, I wrap a couple of rounds of black electrical tape where the basket attaches, to keep the foam from tearing.

  6. bamabikeguy

    bamabikeguy Active Member

    Part of the reason why I got into promoting bikes with engines was IT WORKS.
    You get so tired of that cheap crap Wal Mart sells, like rubber boots that rip in less than a month.

    Part of the WEIGHT CONTROL part that is important is having shoes that a:) stay warm and dry and b:) don't weigh 10 pounds. This may only be pertinent to us southerners who barely winterize, but for Christmas I got a pair of "snow sneakers" from LL Bean THAT REALLY WORK. Toasty warm, waterproof and not all that heavy.

    I figure on future long trips I'll use these, and carry those shower shoes and one pair of Chuck Taylor hightops.

    Another Christmas gift were 2 "fleece hoodies".

    I found those cheap $10-12 fleece blankets that roll up, fasten with velcro, were the best solution for weight/bulk, and these fleece hoodies ARE WARMER when riding in December. My other ones were made out of regular athletic sweatshirt material, and fleece seems better, and I think these were on sale for like $6 each.

    Fleece seems to be the weight/bulk/dryness leader, unless you spend megabucks for that Mt. Everest capable gear. Those rollup fleece blankets are the only substitute for a bulky sleeping bag.
  7. uncle_punk13

    uncle_punk13 Guest

    Great stuff Bama!
    I need to pay close attention here.
    When I did my trek in 2003, I had a Pick up truck for support vehicle which was pulling a pop up camper. This next one, my friend will have his car as a support vehicle, but much less room for tools and such.
    Your solo trips, are great for getting me prepared to do mine...
    Loving the great info, thanks!!!
  8. uncle_punk13

    uncle_punk13 Guest

    I had minimal supplies with me, and on this day I learned a valuable, though nearly disasterous, lesson about keeping my gear close.
    I had had a heck of a time getting out of Evanston, (breakdowns, lost my cell, etc.) and by the time we could finally get rolling, I was frustrated beyond reason. I had decided to ride a small dirt road through the desert that should have hooked up with the highway 80 at exit 'X'. I threw my back pack in the support vehicle instead of strapping it on my rack like usual. It had my water, emergency survival kit, first aid kit, rain gear, and emergency food rations.
    I also forgot to fill the beast up on fuel.
    I was lost in the desert with nothing. six hours later, towing the bike with a yamaha scooter, and well after dark, I found the highway; TEN MILES ahead of where the map had led us to believe we would be. No support vehicle to be seen.
    A passing vehicle allowed me the use of a cell phone to call Dad, and it ended up okay. But in those hours many things had happened (including multiple crashes, the worst of which took out my lighting)


    The lesson here:
    NEVER let your emergency pack leave your person, remain collected at all times and if you can't then wait until your frustration is done and reason has returned, and ALWAYS do your pre-ride check of the bike and supplies!!!
  9. jaker

    jaker Guest

    heres some other stuff to take with you a small chunk of sandpaper to clean sparkplug small peice of baleing wire or an extra masterlink for chain.
    small section of electrical wire for whatever..and the duct tape on a pencil i love it :) i did the same thing with my dirtbike's kit. saves so much space and 100mph tape is so handy :)i usually keep a hose clamp in there also they just come in handy :D
  10. bamabikeguy

    bamabikeguy Active Member

    Monday morn, I went 30 miles to Decatur, to see my bike shop. He was out, so in the meanwhile, I stopped at the Goodwill, picked up this bag of stuff for $4.50.

    The most valuable thing I carry are tent and camera, every thing else is "disposable".


    In the bag was (I forgot to rotate the photo) a fold up mat, which takes care of my "cheap air mattress problem". 3 zip up plastic clothes covers, a plastic tarp thing, another carrying bag, a leather purse to carry the camera, some plastic carry stuff, misc. plastic bags. $4.50.


    Then I went to K-Mart, thermal stuff is on sale, $20 gloves are $9, thermal beanies are $4, and I got the 3 peice rain suit, in bright red, for $9. The rain suit will double as wind breaker in the coldest part of the morning......

  11. psuggmog

    psuggmog Guest

    I like your philosophy. I don't like to travel without a musical instrument, but I don't like the bulk of most of them. I usually carry only a pennywhistle, or a harmonica. I've been known to remove my hand grips and play my handlebars like a bugle.
  12. bamabikeguy

    bamabikeguy Active Member

    LAST WEEK- First day, fully loaded.......

    In the basket are the tarp, that folded pad I got at Goodwill, the Marlboro Travel bag full of sweats and longhandles, 1 extra gas canister, camerabag, water bottle.

    IF YOU LOOK CLOSE there is a 4 foot, red bungie cord, hooked to the basket and looped around the other gas canister, which not only stablizes the steering, but keeps the saddlebags off the front fender.

    The double saddlebags (black) are bungied forward to the basket, and the dome tent is seperated, tent on top, poles and pegs on bottom. I also have my backpack, with the fleece stuff and other lighter weight goods.


    At the end of that first day, I noted that the tent poles had sagged thru the zipped-tied water bottle carrier I had mounted on the frame bottom-


    So I cut a bottle in half, and started inserting the poles into that bottom plastic part, which solved everything.


    NOTE: First camp- I had a choice, straight shot or curvy Alabama River run, and took the shorter route.

    I was 10 miles from anything, including the lumbermill I passed earlier, and the one 10 miles up the road. That night, there was a constant hummmmmmmm caused by those mills, the sound carrying through the valleys and hollers.

    If you plan a route, and notice those big timber mills, figure out a way to get far, far, far away by nightfall. It wasn't loud, just a little irritating. Of course, two nights spent in Mobile meant police sirens, so the hum was minor comparitively.

    Oh yeah, twice I found myself near these deer blinds, and so twice I had use of a chair, and in exchange, took out a plastic bag of litter found around each site. That is kind of a guiding principal, taking out twice as much litter as taken in, depositing it in the first receptacle the next morning....

    If it had been a weekend, I would have avoided deer shacks, but you go a mile down a dirt path and find one, whatchagonnado??
  13. uncle_punk13

    uncle_punk13 Guest

    This is great stuff!
    Also, I believe that the spirits of travel will always shine and smile upon you when you do good things such as pack out twice as much as you brought in.
    I really dig your style Bama...
    Keep on Keepin' on,
  14. stick

    stick Guest

    If you want to save a little more weight, you can try this. I only use a cheap tarp, 4 stakes, some parachute cord, and an army surplus mosquito net. the whole thing might weigh a pound. you could bring poles too if you want but, unless you are in a desert, trees are every where.
  15. twinkiex

    twinkiex Guest

    I got a new bike pump that weighs just 147 grams!
  16. bamabikeguy

    bamabikeguy Active Member

    Yo stick,

    I used 3 tarps, laying in my basket, in the beginning, and on the Denver run. The dome tent was only used once by a friend, and he sent it to me last Autumn. But my birthday is next week, I've put the word out about a good pup tent, and if I get more dumb t-shirts, I'll hint hint hint all the way till Christmas.

    Have a model, purchase location? Will it do an air mattress? thx!
  17. twinkiex

    twinkiex Guest

    Have a model, purchase location? Will it do an air mattress?

    Its a Hurricane, dont know the model # but a friend at work today pulled out and even smaller lighter bike pump, so tiny it fit in his fanny pack. I guess it could fill an air mattress, dont see why not it fits either type of valve stem.
  18. bamabikeguy

    bamabikeguy Active Member

  19. az cra-z

    az cra-z Guest

  20. DougC

    DougC Guest

    I don't have any experience myself with overnight riding, but a couple points I'd still share:

    trailers--it has been mentioned that trailers make carrying stuff a lot easier, and it is true. The problem you can run into {particularly in some western states} is that some highways have narrow 1-ft shoulders, and the highway dept's have cut rumble strips across them. They are very irritating to have to ride on for hours on end, and they are much easier to avoid on a 2-wheel bicycle. People who like trailers and recumbent trikes both hate rumble strips, and tend to avoid highways that have them entirely--but out west, the major highways are the only ways across country. There are one-wheel trailers available but they are rather expensive, and present special problems of their own.

    clothes--don't take anything cotton at all. Synthetic clothes marketed for bicycling or hiking tend to be overpriced, but these things can be bought cheap as exercise/fitness clothes at sporting goods stores. They are better pretty much every-which-way. ...Wool works better than cotton too, but I haven't found much wool clothes that weren't itchy, or inexpensive.