Tent sleeping in tours

Discussion in 'Touring and recreational cycling' started by Mariusroxana, Jan 4, 2006.

  1. Mariusroxana

    Mariusroxana New Member

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    I read a lot about camping in North America tours. It is my impression that campgrounds are too far appart in most of cases.
    Is it legal to put up a tent in public places, like parks, church or office hall backyard, under a bridge etc., as I read in this forum?
    What about the dangers? Like "bad guys".......
    I plan on touring NA, and any answer from experience will be appreciated.
     
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  2. SteveFox

    SteveFox New Member

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    everything is legal until you get caught..and if you get caught.."Me non speaka englais"...just play the dumb tourist...

    steve
     
  3. captn willard

    captn willard New Member

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    First off, most people in rural areas will happily allow you to camp on their property (and give you water and even let you shower) if you ask and share stories about your trip and where you come from. Also, public parks and churchs are good places to ask. In small towns, ask the local police if you can camp and they will help you find a safe place. They will also be called IF there is a problem so it is good to let them know you are there.

    If that is not available, there are national and state parks EVERYWHERE. Many have camping facilities, but if they don't, you can sneak in and find a secluded spot.

    Finally, if you have not been to the States, there is SO much wilderness, forested land and unattended land that you can always find a spot for rogue camping. Farms are very large and are not attended as often as in other countries so there is a good chance no one will come across you for an evening of camping.

    Be smart, no big lights or open fires and never leave trash.

    Public lavatories can be found in all petrol stations, public buildings and parks, shopping centers...just about everywhere. Pay showers are rare except at large truck stops on major interstates (which you won't be travelling on) but showers can be found at pay campsites and in many parks.

    As for "bad guys", I find there are far fewer here than in most countries I have travelled. Americans don't cycle tour or tent camp very much and most people won't be bothered with you. You are not an attractive target for robbery. Only problem you may have is the car drivers who are not comfortable with cyclist on the road and can be unthoughtful.

    Food in our markets (supermarkets here) is inexpensive. Fast food (if you eat that garbage) is everywhere. You can't escape it.

    Most mid-sized towns will have a decent bike shop for repairs or parts but simple things like tubes and 26, 27 and 700 tyres can be found at almost any large departments store like Walmart or Target. They aren't quality but will do in a pinch.

    Cyber cafes are rare here since a majority of the people have home computers. You can however access the Internet free of cost at most public libraries.

    Here's the best tip. Road maps are free in most States at the state welcome centers (at state boundaries) or at tourist info centers. Many states also provide free or low-cost bicycle road maps that show you the smaller side roads, provide road conditions and estimated traffic volumn.

    Good luck. I hope you have a wonderful experience touring in the States. I think you'll find that if you stay out of the large cities, this country and the people can be a wonderful and welcoming place.

    Steve in Baltimore
     
  4. waterford-camel

    waterford-camel New Member

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    Nice post Capt Willard. I'll just add that there is a Hostel network in the US as well (although not near as many as in some countries).

    Some rather incredible ones I've stayed at were on Martha's Vineyard (an Island off of Cape Cod in New England), and just outside Yosemite National Park (in California). Note that as Capt wrote there are hiker/biker camp spots available in National Parks, but a nearby hostel also makes for a great stopover before camping again.

    There is a site that lists the hostel locations in the US (google Hostelling International or some such).

    The Yosemite Hostel (Yosemite Bug), is one of my favorite ones out of all the ones I've stayed at, including European ones.
     
  5. Dieseldan

    Dieseldan New Member

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    Don't forget the almost equal number of privatly owned campground to public run campground (municipal, county, state, and fedral) One cavet with free state highway maps is most state "welcome centers" are on controlled access interstate highways. South Carolina still maintains on on US 17 at the North Carolina border, and another on US 301 on the Georgia border, but the rest are on the interstates at the state line, except one on I-95 at marker 99 near Santee, SC.
     
  6. stokell

    stokell New Member

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    I assume you are in England. I'll speak of my experiences in Canada.

    Yes, it is true that often campgrounds are miles apart. They are made for people with cars and cater to them, offering electrical and sewage hook-ups. I wouldn't want to spend another sleepless night beside a Winnebago when the air conditioning unit goes off and on all night. That's not camping.

    Usually I stealth camp, that is I camp out of sight on unmarked, unimproved and unfenced land. Usually in remote parts of Canada, it is Crown land. It belongs to the Queen officially and I'm sure she doesn't mind if I stay one night and leave no trace.

    Under bridges is alright if you are caught out in the rain with a bivi sack, but bridges tend to concentrate noise and that makes for an uncomfortable night. I've heard cemeteries are good, but I've never tried.

    From my experience it's not the bad guys but the fauna that cause the most trouble. If you are in bear country you shouldn't cook at your campsite and you should take precautions around storing food. Even raccoons (a badger-like nocturn) can do a lot of damage and disturb your sleep.

    I use a Hennessy camping hammock so I'm not on the ground. Using a hammock means I don't have to worry about if the ground is uneven, rocky or wet. Also smaller animals can't access the hammock to disturb you.

    You can understand why I tour in England. I've never met any wild animals in the woods and there is a pub every couple of kilometres. How civilized!
     
  7. AndrewA

    AndrewA New Member

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    When I cycled across America starting in Yorktown, VA and followed the TransAm bicycle route, I needed no hotel until I reached Kansas. I stayed in various state parks, private (commercial) campgrounds such as KOA, hostels, and homes of generous people. Though this route is an established pilgramage for cyclists, you can usually plan your trip carefully, so that public campsites are in abundance. Note that it is always wise to check with local police before camping in municiple (town) parks, because depending on the part of the country you're traveling, this type of camping may not be allowed. For example, it is much more common in the western U.S. to allow this than in the south and east.
     
  8. poweredbysweat

    poweredbysweat New Member

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    It's been a while since I've done this kind of biking, but I'll relate some experiences. I would usually just pull off the road, and put out a sleeping bag on the ground. This usually worked out OK. One morning I woke up in an anthill. It was raining one day, and I slept in a farmers out-building. This worked out OK, but I don't think I'd want to make a habit of it.

    I didn't do much advanced planning, like some of the other posters did. If and when I do this again, I'll heed that advice.
     
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