Instructables
Are you bogged down with life? Do you need some adventure? Want to do an amazing feat with your body? Try a bicycle tour!
Simply pack up some gear and hit the road and see where it takes you! That is exactly what I did last summer. I was bored with life and decided to quit my job and hit the road. I didn't make it as far as I would have liked to, but I have no regrets. I will be back out there again soon but hopefully my experience may help somebody else to have a great time too!

This instructable will document some of the things that I learned from my first bicycle tour (RI to SC in one month).
Oh, and please vote for this Instructable on the Bicycle Challenge! Thank you!
 
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Step 1: Your Bicycle

As you could probably guess, your bicycle will be one of the most important pieces of gear you will need for your trip. I'm not saying you need the most expensive top of the line bike though. With how easy it is to find information on the internet nowadays, it is very easy to get stuck in the trap of over thinking what you need. If you venture to any web site where enthusiasts hang out you'll quickly start to think you need top of the line everything to survive. This is nowhere near true though. People have been riding long distances by bicycle for ages now and used whatever they had on hand. I know of one guy out there on the road recently who was crossing the country on a department store bicycle and was making good headway. If you can afford a brand new Surly Long Haul Trucker, Trek 520, Fuji Touring, etc. I highly recommend investing in one. A bike set up for touring will make your journey so much easier on your body. If you can't afford a brand new bike, it's time to hit up garage sales and craigslist or make do with what you have.

Here are some simple guidelines for what will make your life easier:
  1. Good fit. Having a bike that fits you properly is probably the most crucial thing to look for in a bike. A bike that is not the right fit for you will start to give you pain in your hands, back, shoulders, etc. in no time, especially when you are doing 50+ miles a day. You can search online for the guidelines on what is a good fit (REI has a pretty good short video on it here) You can also have your local bicycle shop do some measurements on you to find what you need. Bicycle shops run on very low margin though, so if you don't buy a bicycle from them please go back to them for service or buying accessories so we can help support local business.
  2.  Gearing. If you will be riding up any hills at all you will want a bike with a triple chain ring (The sprockets up front). I myself did not heed this advice and climbing hills was gruesome at times. I could just imagine if I were riding in mountainous terrain.
  3. Braze-ons for accessories. If your bike did not come outfitted with fenders and racks you're going to need them. The fenders will help to keep you dry in the wet and the racks will give you a place to strap your panniers and other stuff to. To add these accessories though, your bike is going to need to have the bolt holes (braze-ons) to attach them with. 
  4. Multiple hand positions. When riding long distance you're going to want a bike that has handlebars with multiple places to put your hands. This will allow you to switch up your stance as you are riding for different comfort levels
  5. Wide Tires:This is something I wish I had thought about more. I took off on my first trip on standard road bike 700x23 skinny tires. Although they may roll a lot quicker, you have to be super careful with every pothole, rock, storm drain etc. Also you can not ride over bridges with metal grating. Get yourself some wide tires.
For more information on buying a bicycle please check out this other great Instructable http://www.instructables.com/id/Buying-used-bikes-for-beginners/
l8nite1 year ago
Did you mean 3 DAYS of scruff? This was an interesting read,and brought back some ancient memories. "stealth" camping was a LOT easier 25-30 yrs ago but you still had to be careful. Living on a jar of peanut butter for 3 days while collecting bottles to trade in for some better food wasn't great but the scenery in Tennessee was..... There are several places to hide a cash stash on a bike, handlebars, tire liners 2 name a couple. It doesn't matter if you're walking or riding the main thing is to enjoy yourself
mdamaso (author)  l8nite1 year ago
Haha I wish I could grow that much facial hair in 3 days! If only I was born a couple decades earlier that would be a treat. It always sounds like much simpler times where people were less suspicious, more generous, and we were a lot less dependent on luxuries.
I wouldn't recommend hiding money in the bicycle though. Sure, a $20 emergency stash is fine (I usually keep that in my handlebars regardless if on tour or when at home), but bikes are prime for theft. It's much safer to keep it all in a checking account and use your debit card for most transactions.

And you are 100% correct with just enjoying yourself. No matter what all the gear snobs tell you, people have been able to do stuff like this for thousands of years with MUCH less.
zhubert1 year ago
What about toilet paper??
mdamaso (author)  zhubert1 year ago
For the most part I was always able to use a restroom. When you use a public restroom just make sure to take a wad of TP and stow it away incase you need it for some other time. You could try taking a full roll, but you probably won't use it as much as you think (I only had to "go"outside twice), it's way to bulky, and it will probably get wet before you know it.
you should post a little google map with a trace of your journey.

What did you do for cash did you just pack a debit card and hope that no one kicks your head in and take it?
mdamaso (author)  thematthatter1 year ago
I wish I could figure out how to make a custom Google Map but I could never figure it out. Plus, I really didn't want this to be about my specific journey as much as what I learned about how to actually begin a trip like this. If you want to see more about my trip you can go to my Facebook page for it at www.Facebook.com/30spokes

You're pretty much spot on. I carried a $20 bill just in case I ran into a place where they only took cash and resorted to debit for any other transaction. It's a lot less of hassle to make a phone call when you lose your card than to lose a whole wad of cash. Not that I really had enough money to make wad in the first place.