IT IS AN ADVENTURE
Be ready for an adventure! Unknown and uncontrollable factors are a part of bicycle touring. Remember, you’ll ride every scheduled day of the itinerary, regardless of the weather. Be prepared for rain, wind, cold, and an occasional problem – and then rejoice when the sun and good fortune shines on you almost every day.
Take as much time as you can afford each day. Take photos, meet people, and learn about this incredible country that you’re pedaling through. I’ve never met anyone (myself included) who didn’t return from his or her first bike tour with at least a little regret that they didn’t take their time and “smell the roses.” Too often we build up the habit in our daily riding of trying to reduce our time for completing a familiar route, and as a result we seldom see what’s around us as we focus intently on the road ahead.
Within the limits of safety, always be sure to look around you as well as ahead of you. And don’t forget to STOP occasionally. And when you stop, look behind you – there’s another whole 50% of the scenery back there that most of us never see. Remember — if we were really in a hurry, we wouldn’t be traveling by bike, would we? Enjoy!
TIPS ON CAMPING
On most trips, we use commercial campgrounds with showers, laundry and a store on the premises. Our backcountry tours may utilize primitive camp-grounds with only a pit toilet, picnic table and a water supply. Between these two extremes are campgrounds at county, state and national parks, which we utilize from time to time.
Food purchasing, preparation and cleanup are done by pairs of group members on a rotating basis. Normally, dinner and the next day’s breakfast and lunch supplies are purchased toward the end of the cycling day. If there’s no grocery store near camp, you’ll help carry groceries on your bike (spare bungies come in handy here).
Giardiasis, a debilitating intestinal illness, is caused by a protozoa that is found in surface water throughout North America. The clearest mountain stream may be contaminated, so never drink untreated surface water.
CHOOSING A SITE
Look for level, dry ground with natural cover (grass, pine needles, or leaves) located at least 200 feet from water sources (lake, river, stream). Avoid gullies and damp areas which are colder and harbor more insects. On warm nights, an open, breezy site will have fewer bugs. Check for trees and other objects around the campsite that gusty winds could send crashing down on you. If electrical storms threaten, don’t sleep near a solitary tree, as it may act as a lightning rod.
Never operate a stove on a table where you or others are sitting! Keep the fuel bottle closed and away from a lit stove.
Before washing dishes, scrape off remaining food residue. Carry water to your site for dishwashing (don’t wash under pumps, in bathrooms or in surface water). Dispose of your gray water in a service sink or toilet; if neither is available, empty it at least 100 feet away from your campsite. (Food odors from wash water can attract mice, chipmunks, raccoons and bears.) When leaving a campsite, make sure it is at least as clean as when you arrived.
Carry rain gear with you at all times – in a readily accessible place in a pannier or in a backpack. A raincoat and/or a windproof jacket can help keep you warm or dry in a number of different situations. A full rain suit can be even better.
Bring at least one set of warm clothing or layers, and a pair of full-fingered gloves or polypro glove liners. Even in the summer, it can be quite cold at the higher altitudes of the western U.S.at night, or first thing in the morning, or during a sudden weather change. Late-afternoon thunder showers with precipitous drops in temperature are a common occurrence there.