Tips for Long Distance Travels - ROUTES AND DESTINATIONS

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

  1. bamabikeguy

    bamabikeguy Active Member

    Well, its obvious I can't post pictures.....

    So, you are 49 years old, with fading reading vision, sitting by a campfire in Kansas. You're used to short windy afternoon thunderbursts in Alabama, and you've just been introduced to "High Prairie Winds".

    You squint and write down all those little "miles" numbers, figuring out alternate routes for the next day, (20+7+17+36.......) and find out HELL, 7 miles difference one way or the other. WHO CARES !!!


    I probably get 200 miles per gallon fully loaded down, and with my spare gas bottles, have about a 150 miles range. In Kansas I learned that 93 Octane is mythological, and who ever heard of "sweetened iced tea".


    Look at the map, note the Metro Areas, or High Traffic Vacation areas.

    For instance Atlanta-Columbus GA, Springfeild MO and Branson MO, Kansas City and Witchita, Birmingham-Huntsville.

    Then draw a line halfway between those two areas, and THAT'S where you aim, where you find the least traffic, the friendliest folks, the best shortcuts, the smallest newspaper editors to approach about "doing a feel good story" about this idiot on a bike.

    Quite honestly, all small towns look similar. I ALWAYS shop in the older downtowns, home owned businesses and buffet resturaunts. You will find out local histories and points of interest. You will find out about backroads that aren't on your AAA map.

    I went to Denver via MO, KS and a small chunk of NB. 10 days later coming southerly through Oklahoma I heard five times or more "We heard about you on Paul Harvey or Trucker's Radio". A guy on a bike in the HIGH PLAINS WIND is going to be talked about over the CB radios, truckers would stop and talk at Welcome Centers.

    SMALL TOWN avoiding the Metro Areas, news travels and that adds a safety factor, where locals could carry your broke down bike in the back of a pickup truck and relay you to the closest bike shop 150 miles away.

    BE FLEXIBLE. Coming out of Denver, I noticed the morning wind was always coming one way, then the afternoon it shifted. I also noticed less litter, figuring it all blew north to Canada. When I tried to "outguess" the wind, I got it bassackwards in Oklahoma. But hell, I enjoyed the tailwind so much, I went West one morning instead of east.

    NOBODY IS ON THE SCENIC BYWAYS- My uncle from Oakland CA went to his Marine reunion in Wash DC, visited me in NC, drove on the Blue Ridge Parkway for 50 miles "Too many goddam trees".

    There are so many cooool roads in the Ozark Mountains. Last trip around Talledega Forest territory, traffic was VERY LOW.

    NEVER CAMP NEAR RIVERS, LAKES OR CREEKS- whoever took those photographs on the calender of a tent on a lake is scamming you. Water equals insects. Mid afternoon, take a swim, cool off and clean off. But a couple of hours before sunset, make sure you have drinking water and head for higher, drier ground.

    Now that I am a member of this forum, and know there are members scattered around, future trips can be better coordinated. A virtual Buddy System.

    Likewise, if North Central Alabama is in YOUR routing, I have a hundred acres fenced, so you could camp on my place overnight or longer if you want.

    Here's the map:

  2. bamabikeguy

    bamabikeguy Active Member

    In that Kansas story, I sort of did an overview, 4 stretches of highway stood out as highlights. Maybe I'll make some sort of top 10 list, but one part, from Ottawa to Council Grove via Pomona Lake was the best.


    If I had KNOWN about the Pomona Lake layout, that would have been a lot better camping area than the one I found south of Garnett.

    Highway 56 is designated a scenic route, and on the entrance to Council Grove those metal sculptures on hills and knolls started appearing.


    Another opportunity you can have in this portion of Kansas is to meander north of this area, and cross portions of the Oregon and Sante Fe Trails. In Council Grove, the wagon trains forded the river up above the bridge in the picture.

    There are places along those wagon train trails where you can see the ruts carved out by oxen pulling those metal rimmed wheels, see grafitti carved in hillsides.

    The earliest "carved in rock" date I saw was 1847, about a mile off the highway (bikes can SO slip around gates), entering the Oklahoma panhandle.
  3. gone_fishin

    gone_fishin Guest

    bama'guy, you sure make "traveling by motor-bicycle" enticing...seems you like all the same aspects of travel & history as i do.

    i grew up in st. charles mo, the actual starting point of the lewis & clark trail. now i live on cape columbia, the end of the trail.

    i'd love to ship myself & bike to missouri, then come back home along the trail. would you have a look & share your thoughts about how and when one should attack such an endeavor?

    anyone have any long-distance experience with a chinese engine?
  4. bamabikeguy

    bamabikeguy Active Member

    Since deadthreads are being revived, maybe over here we can get a S. and C. American routing discussion going....

  5. bamabikeguy

    bamabikeguy Active Member

    Suggestions about bike friendly roads:

    All this is rule of thumb, because I don't carry a compass or watch, nothing but the final destination is concrete.

    And the first trip, 850 miles to Amelia Island and back, was where I gained 3/4 of everything I know.

    But that was January, so it had a clothing conflict once I got to the balmy south. It had tire/tube issues, I got 3 flats on day 1, learned "most" of that advise at the Bike Shop in Auburn. Amelia Island and Denver were "sans tent", 2 6x6 tarps were my shelter.

    850-1,000 miles is a good test of your machine and your improvisation, and before I did anything longer, I'd spend 3 days visiting grandma's house and 3 days coming home, in a semi-loop.

    This was all pre, so I didn't know about spoke ends rubbing a tube from the inside, nor about Serfas 4 ply tires, and all the other vast info we've shared.

    Everybody has a different interest, Native American history or Civil War, or music roots.....

    That's another good idea, head to a distant festival, like Suwanneefest or Merlefest, both over 500 miles from my driveway.

    But aim for a midway point of interest. Like on the Mobile trip, I really checked out Monroeville Courthouse and tried to catch Harper Lee at her favorite eating joint, ate breakfast and lunch there, with zilch-luck. But she surely heard later I was looking, the chef has known her for 50 years.*

    The mythical jackpot I aimed for on the return from Denver was Crater of Diamond Park in Arkansas.

    Rule of thumb:

    Hit major cities, if they are unavoidable, about mid morning. When you get within 100 miles of a metro-magnet, try to manuever it where you go waaaaay around it in the afternoon, or camp within striking range, so you can conquer it next morning at 10 a.m.

    Same goes for crossing the Mississippi River, hit it while you are fresh in the morning, not draggin' *** at 5:30 p.m.

    Aim for lakes and reservoirs around 2 pm, every two-three days. Take a swim, take a nap, then get away from that bug infested marsh for camping that night. Water = bugs and critters at night.

    I am unfamiliar with anything except my Nat'l Geographic impression of S. of the Border, and the movie about Che in "Motorcycle Diaries." Have you seen that movie? It makes me think not even once of trying it.

    Heck, Texas looks like Patagonia to me.

    But more power to you.

    What are some of the tentative places you want to see??

    Cuz' I doubt any of our bikes could climb Machu Pichu.

    *now that I think about it, I did a newspaper interview in Monroeville, so Harper Lee and everybody else KNEW I was hunting her autograph....
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2010
  6. bamabikeguy

    bamabikeguy Active Member

    The thinking about mid morning for metro areas goes like this...

    Same traffic maybe, but the real beer binging and batoutohells to get home doesn't commence till afternoon, and by that time I'm already an out of towner.....gone to points yonder.

    Once you've whupped a Mobile or Montgomery or Jacksonville, you've accomplished the danger zone early, leaving the rest of the day for leisure and sightseeing.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2010
  7. I have a lot of family from and still in Ameila island. Beautiful place. It's too bad you missed Harper Lee! Have you ever heard of If not you should check it out. Totally up you alley and I have made many great friends on there. Basicly a website for travelers to meet and find places to stay. This is my profile[skip]=1&view=detail&sid=21877ca8eddd37e56d2244c838eeed43
    I haven't updated it in a while.
    I'm planning on starting a therad with some general information about my trip, my MB setup from engine to drivetrain to wheels, frame etc. Just trying to get as many opions as possible. And Central and South America will pose many many problems that I probly can not begine to fathom. I don't kid myself about the difficulty of this trip. Gonna be eating more than my share of bitter.
    But while it is more about the trip, it is also a means to an end. I'm an MMA fighter (ever since I started this trip I've put that on hole. Need to save my knees!) and a good brazilian friend of mine lives in São Paulo, Brazil. He owns 2 differnt fighting gyms and trains fighters from all over the world I'm going to live with him a while and train and work there. And Explore South America!
    I'll have to figure something out about the mountains though. I'm using a CVT so maybe having a setup where you can shift driven sprockets? I'm playing with some stuff right now but I guess that's not for this thread.
    I really appreciate all your help!
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 17, 2015
  8. Also have you ever heard of geocaching? If so their website now has a feature that allows you to input a route and it will plot geocaches along the way!
  9. bamabikeguy

    bamabikeguy Active Member

    He who thinks, does.

    The gulf is full of barges and boats, that could get you a head start into friendly Costa Rica.

    That would be my plan, skip the weeks of hassle in Mexico, and get right into CoRica and spend those 3-4 weeks exploring THAT country, acclimating to the food, prices and accents.

    Same time frame, same explorability, but more fun by border skipping.

    The Pacific side is full of German and Canadian hotel-resort-fishing boat owners, and IF you went in with a superior 100++ mpg piece of rolling stock, you might trade MB.knowledge, have some kits shipped down there, barter a little free room/board or scuba diving time.

    Camping/shower privileges could be a trade.

    You want to leave some escrow money with your engine kit supplier, so IF you need a part A.S.A.P., they deduct it from your account and mail it to the General P.O., in XXX.pueblo where you sit.

    Julia at Golden Eagle has never failed me re: Air Mail, & your supplier needs to stay informed. They love the challenge of distance by us travelers.

    (As to geocaching.etc, I don't even use a cell phone.)

    I'm on farmer/varmit time, up at 2 a.m., favorite MB.rides start before 7 a.m.

    So even the couches I do use, while my hosts are sleeping late, I'm screwing up their coffee pot and t.v. remote, and waiting for the sun to rise.
  10. The boat idea is great! Might be pretty hard to pull off but definitely worth it. I have been checking out ways to skip to Costa Rica anyway. Funny you would mention that :grin5:
    I have some good friends in Texas and also I'm going to check for any boat owners on couchsurfing. Couchsurfers are usually quick to help other travelers and come in a wide range of different types of people. Mostly very good folks though. It has been a great network to call upon over the years. Also I'm a super hard worker so labor seems to be a fairly easily traded task. I'm pretty stuck on that idea not that you've put it in my head haha. sounds like a great solution!
  11. bamabikeguy

    bamabikeguy Active Member

  12. I'm going to send them an email after this. Maybe I can work my way for a ride. Also going to check out Here's hoping!
  13. bamabikeguy

    bamabikeguy Active Member

    Tip: Skip the Incan ruins !!

  14. Man thanks! Hope all that is cleared up by then. I haven't heard back from any of the boating websites I have emailed but I'm gonna keep trying! I think it's a great idea. Costa Rica!
  15. bamabikeguy

    bamabikeguy Active Member

    When contemplating a long distance journey, through unfamiliar territories, keep in mind the natural hinderances, the same ones that our ancestors had to cope with, except they used horses, mules and oxen.

    Here in the U.S. you have the big 3 mountain ranges, the Appalachians, Rockies and Sierras. BUT, now we have an MB.advantage, for example, riders in W. Virginia, Colorado and Oregon who possibly have crossed those mountains and can recommend routes.

    The evolution of a "road" began as a game trail, large animals traversing back and forth, sidewise along hills. (buffalo, deer, cows or goats don't go straight up a hill, they find the path of least resistance).

    Indian paths followed game trails, then came the pioneer roads. Finally the paving machine was invented, and they simply put a few layers on the established routes. Dynamite enabled engineers to create shortcuts, but there are few US or state highways that are severely steep.

    When in doubt, aim for a county seat, that's where the old time wagons headed on market days, you are less likely to hit any steeper than normal snags. Smile, don't dread the terrain, you most likely are on the best possible roads, even if you didn't know anything in advance.

    Plus, 30 miles a day is the best a horse owner could average, without killing his mount. If Kit Carson, Lance Armstrong or Forrest Gump eventually arrived, so will you.

    At the same time, once you get in altitudes over 3,000 feet, your carburation is going to be affected, at least temporarily. Tinkerers might tinker, while the rest of us merely cope......

    We are not MB.klingons. If you chose wrongly, there is no dishonor in finding a cafe/truckstop, taking out that Sharpie pen & pizzabox cardboard, and requesting assistance to toss the bike in the back of a pickup truck or lashed to a flatbed trailer, get a 30 mile jump over Donner Pass or the Sawtooth Range.

    I haven't had to do that yet, but always had it in the back of the mind IF I saw the trade-off, some 60 mph Ford Ranger propulsion replacing my 10 mph huffing/puffing.

    Very few of the roads I've seen are any steeper than Eureka Hill below my driveway, only longer. Rarely is a real steep grade over a mile long, and most are half that.

    Finally, if you are a tenderfoot like I was, on a cross-country adventure, nothing will prepare you for the high prairie winds....its windsurfing fun when you have a tailwind, but swimming against the current when getting hit head on. Best advise is flexibility, at sunrise plan to go north by northwest, but don't be surprised to find yourself waaaaay south of that target.

    Hey, one historical cow-town is as good as another, as long as you're not fighting mother nature to get there. Swap an Armarillo for a Dodge City, enjoy the tail wind surfing. I didn't end up in Red Cloud, NB because of pre-planning, that wind pushed me so far north I thought "what the heck, mightaswellmightaswell....."

    Mountain passes, extended periods in high altitudes, and those wagon-tipping breezes, keep them in mind when looking at your maps.
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2010