To carry food or not to carry food?



gudujarlson

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Do you carry food on bike road tours? I've done four multi-day road tours. On my first 2 I carried food and cooking equipment with me. I rolled into a state park for the night (first experience with a state park), set up camp, took out my jetboil, cooked some dehydrated pasta whilst the other campers played loud music, drove their RVs up and down the road, and partied all night. I felt pretty silly. The next 2 tours, I left the jetboil and dehydrated food at home and bought food along the way. I came to the conclusion that carrying food with me did not enhance my enjoyment of the tour. It just doesn't seem necessary to carry food with me if I can get it in the towns I pass through. I suppose I could avoid all towns along the way, but that would remove part of what I enjoy about the tour. I like to stop in the small towns along the way, have some coffee, and read their historical markers. Why not just eat their food too?

In the back of my head, I also wonder why I bring camping equipment. I could just stay in hotels along the way. But for some reason this just doesn't seem right to me. I like the idea of sleeping outside. I like to experience the changes in temperature and sunlight during the cycle of the day. I also like the freedom it gives me. On my last trip, I didn't camp in official camp sites. I just road as long as I wanted and then I found a place to camp. It was about as close to being in the wilderness that I could get while not being in the wildnerness.

In the future I hope to do a bike tour in the wilderness where bringing food in a necessity. The challenge is finding a place where that can be done. There don't seem to be any such areas close to me.
 

vspa

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gudujarlson said:
In the future I hope to do a bike tour in the wilderness where bringing food in a necessity. The challenge is finding a place where that can be done. There don't seem to be any such areas close to me.
Patagonia, in the Chilean side, there is a gravel road taking you through complete wilderness (with no dangerous animals or insects as a plus) , small colonies of people along the road where you can buy your needed pasta, groceries and such. Water you can take directly from small rivers or streams, it is a perfect bike holiday except for mechanical problems, i have been there twice and i broke both times my rear rack, i kept weight below the limit specifications but the sum of weight and jumpy gravel roads made them fail. You cannot use a road bike, you need a MTB or a touring bike with wide tires, but i recommend the MTB, for this trip,
 
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Volnix

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On a tour I went I wasnt even carrying water most of the time. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif But I was staying in campings with mini-markets near cities (free camping is very very illegal here and usually associated with gypsies, allthough building stuff in random places, allthough illegal, you usually just get a fine. Maybe you dont care much about this but I just wanted to get it out of my system and this forum is cheaper then therapy! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif ).

Plus food can be very heavy. I was carrying a tent, a sleeping bag and everything else was a "multi-role item". (I love this word, they use it extensively in the military /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif ). So I had a blouse which was also a pillow etc etc.

As well as that, the only effort I could make after cycling 40 and 50km was either to make a sandwich with super market stuff which was sometimes "safer" then eating at the grill-places. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif

So no stray dogs where you live huh? I guess you wont be needing to carry pepper-spray with you either! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif

Its a good idea to get some company if you go on a tour like that. Last one I did I was alone since nobody came with me but I still had a terrific time. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif You just ignore the "social" people and try to have a nice time by your self. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif
 

gudujarlson

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In the USA, trespassing and vagrancy laws vary by state. In my state, it is legal to hunt on any land that is not posted with "no hunting" signs and is not near a building. I think I can thank the National Riflemans Association for this. I don't know if the same laws apply to camping, but I made that assumption. Most cities in the US have vagrancy laws, but for the most part there are no vagrancy problems in small town USA, so I don't think the small town police put a lot of effort into enforcement. I camped in a city park one night. I wouldn't try the same thing in a big city.

I have not seen any stray dogs around here. We do have black bears and timber wolves in the northern sections of the state though.
 

Volnix

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Originally Posted by gudujarlson .

I have not seen any stray dogs around here. We do have black bears and timber wolves in the northern sections of the state though.
Timber wolves, black bears and cycle touring dont mix! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif
 

danfoz

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Apr 12, 2011
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Originally Posted by Volnix .

Timber wolves, black bears and cycle touring dont mix! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif
Some folks have probably seen the ad with a piece of meat wrapped in ceran wrap with a tiger wandering around it completely ignorant. Well, I wrapped up a piece of tuna yesterday in the same and opened up the fridge this morning to an abundant smell of tuna. If camping, wrap that food well and by all means do not store it with you in your tent!
 

alienator

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danfoz said:
Some folks have probably seen the ad with a piece of meat wrapped in ceran wrap with a tiger wandering around it completely ignorant. Well, I wrapped up a piece of tuna yesterday in the same and opened up the fridge this morning to an abundant smell of tuna. If camping, wrap that food well and by all means do not store it with you in your tent!
Yup. Bears love to shred tents and the human bodies within. On the other note, while saran wrap may not keep the fish odor out of your whipped cream, it (or a form of it, saranex) is great for containing helium, which is why it's the material used to make the ballonet in blimps. This science moment was brought to you by the home of the Goodyear blimp and the publishers of nude, Scarlett Johansson pictures.
 

RSturm

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You're hanging out in the wrong forum, go to bikepacking.net for that community if you are serious about overnight trips away from congestion. There are lots of backcountry roads and trips almost anywhere where bringing your food is a necessity, MN included, but you have to be able to ride on gravel and dirt roads, not just pavement. You are never without a bailout in the US (other than Alaska), although you may be a day away from a town or a road with regular traffic. You can schedule a route so that resupply options are never spaced out more than a couple of days, but there is no reason to stick to congested parks for camping. In fact, National Parks, as attractive as they are for other reasons, are places to avoid for biking.

The grand tour for bikepacking in the US is the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, excellent for beginners because it is technically easy riding (mostly dirt/gravel roads, but also 400 miles of pavement - the worst part), but you'll get into some great wilderness with bears as well (Flathead in Canada, Montana, my favorite part of the stretch). Except for New Mexico (rough jeep trails), manageable with a road bike and wider tires (23s are not going to work on gravel and dirt), although almost everybody uses 29er 1.8+ tires. No need to look for campgrounds, just stay where you like - there are very few stretches where you're not allowed to camp and usually that is near towns - and use some basic backcountry preparation if in grizzly country, e.g. don't keep food in your tent and hang it up away from your campsite http://rolandsturm.blogspot.com/2011_07_01_archive.html
2750 miles from Mexico to Canada (the direction I rode) or the reverse (which most people use). And if you have to stay in commercial areas, you can probably manage to get to one every other night.

I also had great multiday rides more recently in California and Arizona. Yes, even in Southern California you can head out for bikepacking trips where bringing food is essential (although you could try the desert for overnight to minimize camping equipment, which reduces weight - but I'm happy with a 2 pound tent and 2 pound sleeping bagl). Now, these are no longer road rides, with about as much trail as road riding, so that may be beyond what you are looking for
http://rolandsturm.blogspot.com/2012/10/coconino-bikepacking.html
http://rolandsturm.blogspot.com/2012_05_01_archive.html
 

vspa

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RSturm said:
You're hanging out in the wrong forum, go to bikepacking.net for that community if you are serious about overnight trips away from congestion. There are lots of backcountry roads and trips almost anywhere where bringing your food is a necessity, MN included, but you have to be able to ride on gravel and dirt roads, not just pavement. You are never without a bailout in the US (other than Alaska), although you may be a day away from a town or a road with regular traffic. You can schedule a route so that resupply options are never spaced out more than a couple of days, but there is no reason to stick to congested parks for camping. In fact, National Parks, as attractive as they are for other reasons, are places to avoid for biking.  The grand tour for bikepacking in the US is the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, excellent for beginners because it is technically easy riding (mostly dirt/gravel roads, but also 400 miles of pavement - the worst part), but you'll get into some great wilderness with bears as well (Flathead in Canada, Montana, my favorite part of the stretch). Except for New Mexico (rough jeep trails), manageable with a road bike and wider tires (23s are not going to work on gravel and dirt), although almost everybody uses 29er 1.8+ tires. No need to look for campgrounds, just stay where you like - there are very few stretches where you're not allowed to camp and usually that is near towns -  and use some basic backcountry preparation if in grizzly country, e.g.  don't keep food in your tent and hang it up away from your campsite http://rolandsturm.blogspot.com/2011_07_01_archive.html 2750 miles from Mexico to Canada (the direction I rode) or the reverse (which most people use). And if you have to stay in commercial areas, you can probably manage to get to one every other night.  I also had great multiday rides more recently in California and Arizona. Yes, even in Southern California you can head out for bikepacking trips where bringing food is essential (although you could try the desert for overnight to minimize camping equipment, which reduces weight - but I'm happy with a 2 pound tent and 2 pound sleeping bagl). Now, these are no longer road rides, with about as much trail as road riding, so that may be beyond what you are looking for  http://rolandsturm.blogspot.com/2012/10/coconino-bikepacking.html http://rolandsturm.blogspot.com/2012_05_01_archive.html
i think this is the correct (sub)forum, so you recommend a backpack for a self supported tour where carrying food is a necessity ? good luck with that,
 

RSturm

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Originally Posted by vspa .


so you recommend a backpack for a self supported tour where carrying food is a necessity ? good luck with that,
Mmh, maybe reading comprehension is a challenge for some cyclists? Nobody has mentioned a backpack until you did, nobody recommended one either, so where is your backpack idea coming from? The original post was about being dissatisfied with the experience of starting a self-supported ride and then being stuck in the middle of the motorized party crowd and there actually is a better forum that discusses self-supported riding without that frustration (bikepacking.net)

Your comment also seems to imply some rather uninformed belief about backpacks when riding. I personally don't like backpacks, rarely use one, and in fact advice against them (feels unpleasant and is hard on your back and butt). However, many people on self-supported tours always use backpacks, especially with more technical riding, e.g. the Arizona crowd, very strong riders. I sometimes feel like I'm in a minority here. There are some unavoidable situations where I use a backpack myself, mainly with desert crossings (when you have long stretches without ANY resupply nor any reliable water source, lots of stuff to haul to survive).
 

RSturm

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Quote: Originally Posted by vspa .

what is your involvement with bikepacking.net ?
A forum that I use for information just like this one. Has a different focus on self-supported touring that isn't very well represented here. Similarly, you won't find any information or discussion of training with power meter there. So the two sites are good complements. But why do you keep posting off-topic?

The question was: do people carry food (or more equipment) on tours? My personal answer is, yes, and self-supported touring can be done with a good experience (e.g. without feeling silly at the campground as described in the original post), certainly when including some dirt and gravel roads (no need for trails, although I like that in particular). Some examples on my blog - and also on road tours with the family without carrying equipment but doing restaurants and hotels. However, as you demonstrate, heavy posters in this forum may not be the best source for information on self-supported touring.
 

gudujarlson

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Originally Posted by RSturm .

The original post was about being dissatisfied with the experience of starting a self-supported ride and then being stuck in the middle of the motorized party crowd and there actually is a better forum that discusses self-supported riding without that frustration (bikepacking.net)
I think you might have misunderstood my post. The question I am asking is, "Do you carry food on bike tours in areas where food is easily purchased at restaurants and grocery stores?" The question was in part a reaction to some posts on this forum that suggest that not carrying food is not "real" bike touring. From my limited experience, I haven't found that bringing food along enhances my enjoyment of such bike tours and it's not because I dislike "roughing it". I also enjoy canoe camping trips in the wilderness where bringing food is a necessity and water comes out of a lake.

Regarding your other post... I am aware of the Great Divide Trail and some other areas out west, but I'm not aware of anything approximating those areas in Minnesota. The area where I canoe camp, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, is far too rugged to be ridden on a bike unless the bike also doubled as a boat. There are some snowmobile trails in Superior National Forest, but I have not heard about anyone biking on them. Other areas are just too small to give that feeling of isolation. Rideable mountain bike trails and wilderness areas don't match up well around here. Rideable mountain bike trails are more often close to population areas than in the more remote areas of the state. I would love to be proven wrong.
 

vspa

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from the pictures you post on your blog and the pictures posted on bikepacking.net you came indeed to the wrong forum, those bikes are not fully loaded with panniers and all the necessary equipment for touring, as you put it those are rather "overnight trips away from congestion" i was not familiar with those and they look great, congratulations, the reason for the off topic questions is to avoid spam like posts, it happens every now and then,
 

gudujarlson

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Originally Posted by vspa .

from the pictures you post on your blog and the pictures posted on bikepacking.net you came indeed to the wrong forum, those bikes are not fully loaded with panniers and all the necessary equipment for touring,
Why do you need to be "fully loaded with panniers" to be considered to be bike touring? This is related to my original question. I have successfully used setups similar to those that are used for bikepacking, e.g. lightweight aluminum road bike, ultralight camping gear, and no food. I feel like I can cover more distance this way and also have a bike that handles much closer to an unweighted bike. All I seem to be giving up is eating dehydrated food in the RV parking lot.
 
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RSturm

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Quote: Originally Posted by gudujarlson .


I think you might have misunderstood my post. The question I am asking is, "Do you carry food on bike tours in areas where food is easily purchased at restaurants and grocery stores?" The question was in part a reaction to some posts on this forum that suggest that not carrying food is not "real" bike touring. From my limited experience, I haven't found that bringing food along enhances my enjoyment of such bike tours and it's not because I dislike "roughing it". I also enjoy canoe camping trips in the wilderness where bringing food is a necessity and water comes out of a lake.




Yes, I interpreted it a bit differently, more as dissatisfaction at being fully prepared for the backcountry and ending up eating your mushed food in parking lots. And there are two ways out of it:
1) Plenty of nice touring available where resupply is easy - and I won't bother with bringing food or camping stuff. Eat in restaurants, stay in hotels, as I did with the family this summer. So if that was your question, I'd say: Forget about the hassle of bringing equipment and food. We will do more of that next year, easier done in Europe (many long distance bike routes) than in the US I think.

2) Or stick with full equipment, but then head away from the civilization. That was my direction - and one that people don't seem to know much in this forum as you can tell from the responses about panniers. Obviously, you know better.

Don't know about Minnesota and my best bet would be National Forests and connect somehow. Even here in SoCal, nice routes can be created (e.g. Stagecoach 400), Arizona is brilliant, but obviously you know more about Minnesota - maybe it needs a bit of scouting, though? Designated wilderness areas (or National Parks) are a problem. Around here, it cuts off good touring through the Los Padres because there is only one big and dangerous highway left to go.
 

RSturm

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Quote: Originally Posted by vspa .

from the pictures you post on your blog and the pictures posted on bikepacking.net you came indeed to the wrong forum, those bikes are not fully loaded with panniers and all the necessary equipment for touring,
Understood about spam, a valid concern, but you still seem to miss the point about self-supported touring.

The main discussion on bikepacking.net is not about overnighters nor day rides (in contrast to this forum), but how to do something like the 2700 mile Canada-Mexico route self-supported. Even some of the shorter popular routes (Stagecoach in California, Coconino loop in Arizona, Colorado Trail) will take you 5-7 days unless you ride more than 10 hours per day. So this is serious self-supported bike touring and fully loaded bikes. To get through trips like that, you need to handle temperatures from well below freezing to over 100, need to be able to treat water, better be prepared for dealing with blizzards, snow storms, wild fire detours, lots of mechanicals days away from any bike shop - although the biggest danger is still cars. Why would you claim that the bikes on the pictures you saw don't carry the necessary equipment for touring? The pictures on my blog have my bike setup for all of those conditions, as will many of the pictures of setups on bikepacking.net. Plenty of tools, too, and I have dealt with slashed tires, broken derailleurs, multiple broken spokes, snapped cables, without having to bail.

It seems either bizarre or ignorant to claim that touring is defined by panniers and a rack as your last comment suggests. The best setup differs across the type of riding and most of us have multiple setups optimized for whatever bike tour we undertake. I ditched rack and panniers myself for serious touring years ago 6 years ago, they only come out for easy family rides, Danube Valley this year for example (and on my blog you can find pictures of that as well).
 
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gudujarlson

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Originally Posted by RSturm .


Yes, I interpreted it a bit differently, more as dissatisfaction at being fully prepared for the backcountry and ending up eating your mushed food in parking lots. And there are two ways out of it:
1) Plenty of nice touring available where resupply is easy - and I won't bother with bringing food or camping stuff. Eat in restaurants, stay in hotels, as I did with the family this summer. So if that was your question, I'd say: Forget about the hassle of bringing equipment and food. We will do more of that next year, easier done in Europe (many long distance bike routes) than in the US I think.

2) Or stick with full equipment, but then head away from the civilization. That was my direction - and one that people don't seem to know much in this forum as you can tell from the responses about panniers. Obviously, you know better.

Don't know about Minnesota and my best bet would be National Forests and connect somehow. Even here in SoCal, nice routes can be created (e.g. Stagecoach 400), Arizona is brilliant, but obviously you know more about Minnesota - maybe it needs a bit of scouting, though? Designated wilderness areas (or National Parks) are a problem. Around here, it cuts off good touring through the Los Padres because there is only one big and dangerous highway left to go.
I understand the ways out of it. That's not my question. On my last trip couple trips I didn't bring food, however I did bring camping gear. I still enjoy the sleeping outside aspect, but it seemed silly to carry food 100 miles when I can buy it 10 miles from the campsite. You seem to be of a similar vein. Is there anyone who does carry food that wants to share their thoughts? Or maybe I have made the false assumption that people carry food in those large front and rear paniers and trailers. If it's not food, what is it that is so big and heavy?

I have the visited Arizona/Nevada area twice and I can see how it is easy to bike just about anywhere there. There is tons of wide open land. It feels like a gigantic gravel pit to me. It's much different in Minnesota. Where there are no cities, there are either farms, forests, rivers, or lakes. It's not feasible to cross such terrain on a bike without a premade trail to follow and such trails are rare.
 

Volnix

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Originally Posted by RSturm .

The main discussion on bikepacking.net is not about overnighters nor day rides (in contrast to this forum), but how to do something like the 2700 mile Canada-Mexico route self-supported. Even some of the shorter popular routes (Stagecoach in California, Coconino loop in Arizona, Colorado Trail) will take you 5-7 days unless you ride more than 10 hours per day. So this is serious self-supported bike touring and fully loaded bikes. To get through trips like that, you need to handle temperatures from well below freezing to over 100, need to be able to treat water, better be prepared for dealing with blizzards, snow storms, wild fire detours, lots of mechanicals days away from any bike shop - although the biggest danger is still cars. Why would you claim that the bikes on the pictures you saw don't carry the necessary equipment for touring? The pictures on my blog have my bike setup for all of those conditions, as will many of the pictures of setups on bikepacking.net. Plenty of tools, too, and I have dealt with slashed tires, broken derailleurs, multiple broken spokes, snapped cables, without having to bail.
This doesnt sound like much fun... /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif