Monday, April 7, 2014

Different types of touring cyclists

One size does not fit all, and this is especially true of touring cyclists.  Some travel the country as fast as they can because they've got to get back to work.  They self-fund their trip or have raised funds. Some have private sponsors, some have corporate sponsors.  Some raise money for charity, some don't. Some go for longer tours by saving up, maybe renting their house or subletting. Others may give up all they own, get on the bike with few resources, and just go and live a lifestyle of being on the road.  Some camp, some stay in hotels or hostels, some eat out every night, some cook at their campsite every night.  One guy I followed on Facebook last year even raided dumpsters behind grocery stores for all his meals just to highlight how much waste there is in this country (and he ate like a king, btw).

So when the question was posed recently in a Facebook group about financing a trip, well the answers were as varied as the types of cyclists who make those trips.  I have yet to start my big journey but no matter how you make the journey, you always have to have some preparation.  Some cyclists recommend travelling very light.  Some cyclists travel heavier.  There's no right or wrong way.  It is a minimalist lifestyle but you still have to be prepared.  If you're traveling in the summer, no need to have a heavy sleeping bag that goes down to 20 degrees.  If you're traveling in the winter, you need to have warm clothing to protect you, and you may need different gear.

I am starting my journey in the winter, but I am starting in southern California where the weather is moderate pretty much year round.  Nevertheless, I will be getting into higher elevations before Spring officially begins, and I may run into some cold temperatures and even very cold temperatures.  So I have to be prepared for that. Then as I head more towards summer and the country begins to warm up, I will store some of my warmer clothing and gear with a family member and have lighter gear.  Because for me it's going become more of a lifestyle.

So it's hard to tell anyone how to prepare for a journey because there are so many things to factor in.  However, I do recommend 2 things:

1.  Have a Paypal debit card.  That way people can put money into your Paypal account and you can access it instantly. INSTANTLY.  And sending money Paypal to Paypal as a personal thing does not get any fee charges.

2.  Send re-supplies ahead.  You may need them, you may not.  But to send yourself care packages to friends or family you will be visiting will help you.  If you don't need them, send them to another station.  I plan to travel with about 4 days worth of food, and that will get me through any patches where I might not have a host family, but I will also have food gift cards, maybe even some common grocery store gift cards. I even bought a little credit card wallet thing to hold gift cards.  Now I just have to stock it.

I am not expecting to leave California with any kind of real bankroll behind me that will fund me.  My "bankroll" is in being prepared up front and using Warm Showers and churches as much as possible.

God will provide.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Elusive sleep and alternate routes

Sleep has been elusive for days, so much so that I've had to indulge in some Advil PM to force myself to sleep.  One pill and I'm off in dreamland.  Last night's dreams centered on finding an alternate route from Pueblo, CO, up to the northside of Colorado Springs, a route I will be taking.  Having lived in Colorado Springs and the area until 1989, I know that area, and originally routed myself through some heavily congested parts of traffic.  My dreams kept telling me there is another way to the east, but even when I woke up at 6:30 and looked at Google Maps on my Iphone, I could not find that way.  It was only when I got onto a much larger computer screen that I found the path.  But it adds 14 extra miles on my route, and from Pueblo to Colorado Springs, at least the part I am going to, is an elevation increase of about 3800 ft.  Yes, it's all uphill from Pueblo... Still, traffic slows you down, so putting in extra miles on quiet country roads may get me there faster because I'll be able to maintain a good, constant speed. On the flipside, when I leave this area on my cross country trek next year, it is all downhill to the TransAm.  About 100 miles of pure downhill.  That will be one heck of a ride.  If I were going to be in Colorado longer than 4 days in June (and two of those are flying days), I would be seriously tempted to ride that route, but if I were going to be there longer, I'd also take my own bike on the plane.

The interesting thing is that in two months I'll be visiting that northern part of Colorado Springs, and I am going to do a bit of exploring via a borrowed bike.  How wonderful it will be to be on long, empty roads.  I hope to even ride for a bit on Hwy 24 going east towards Limon, but I won't go further than Calhan, because it's 33 miles just to get there, and Limon is 71 miles from my start place.  I'd gladly ride to Limon (it's all downhill!!!) if someone would pick me up but I don't want to put anyone out, so that's not going to happen.  At least, however, I will get just a taste of what I long for - to be on the open road.

In the meantime, my fenders have come in to at I. Martin Bicycles, and I need to pick them up, even though I won't have them installed until I also get the Surly front rack.

And in other big news... I have had overtures of a potential job in Scotland. It would be a private job, so I would only be able to work the max time my passport would allow me to be in the country - which is 180 days per calendar year.  So the possibility is to work the winter months there, like Oct-March, then use Britain as a springboard for touring in Europe or returning to the USA for some cross-country touring for the other months.  Might even be great to do the TransAm, then the Pacific coast, and by that time I might be looking at heading back to Britain.  I'd still like to do Nova Scotia to the Florida Keys, and I'd love to do the Mississippi River Trail.  Anyhow, the Scotland thing is a ways off.  We'll see.