Hey folks, yes, I’ve used the search function, and I can’t seem to find what I need. . . maybe I need more practice at searching O.o or maybe it’s not there. Either way. . . here goes. . .
So I’m planning on touring the US via the transamerica trail next summer (2011) and I would like some tips from people who have done unsupported uni touring. I’ve read a few blogs, Grace’s blog from her trip in 2006 gave me a lot of information.
I’m working on a way to attach a bicycle rack to the 36er (right now, a nightrider frame) Has anybody successfully done this with a full rack? not just a seatpost clamp (I’m too short, it won’t work) I’d rather not consider a trailer. . . because then it’s not a uni is it ; )
I’m even considering a custom frame that will fit one, or at least custom brackets that will mount to the existing frame.
What do you bring? how do you carry enough water? What If I don’t like bladders and think they mold too fast? I want the weight to be on the frame obviously, right? though i still need to be able to mount it.
WHAT ABOUT BEARS??? O__O (what about teenage punks with paintball guns?. . . I wouldn’t say that if it hasn’t been an issue already) what about dogs? . . . without hurting them
what about cleanliness? and do ‘cycling’ socks make that much of a difference than regular socks?
super-lightweight tents to suggest? preferably freestanding. I think I’ve got cooking equipment stuff down. super-lightweight and super-tough backpacks to suggest?
how do I get all this stuff and still stay on a budget? . . . what will the trip cost? this should vary wildly I’m sure.
and lastly . . . would anybody else be interested in this tour as well? I imagine it would be 3 to 3 1/2 months on the road without a whole lot of breaks, it’s 4200 miles total. east to west route.
I think Unicycle Max (Max Milner??) attached a full bicycle rack to a unicycle on a tour that he did. You’ll have to do a search for that. I used a seat post rack that I attached to the frame and not the seatpost. So, unless you’ve cut your frame down, you could fix it on to the frame. I had a problem with that though as after two months of riding with the frame and rack (carrying 4 kg rack included), my knees really began to hurt. I did try to pack it as close to the centre of the uni but it still hurt. I then, decided to go even more lighter, and dump the rack and put everything in my backpack. It worked but I went so light, that was not comfortable for a long trip, especially one like yours.
For future rides, I am thinking of attaching a rack on the rear, cutting it down to half its length and just hanging stuff off it (and securing it with a rope) and having the same attachment in the front under the handlebar. This utilises the room between the saddle and the wheel (there isn’t much especially if you’re short but that’s where having lightweight gear and packing well will be handy). Your legs may hit the gear on the front, if it is too wide. I also attach really small stuff like tent poles to the handlebar. I know that’s not a lot of weight but every small adjustment counts.
Search for ultralight camping and you’ll be able to get lots of information and tips. Ultralight gear in general, is expensive. I carried all my water in my backpack (someday I will experiment with carrying in the way described above). I trained myself to drink only about 1.5lit for 100km. This came in handy on the remote sections. In the not-so remote sections go light and fill up at every town (so know your route).
Dunno about bears but kangaroos and emus just hop/run away, and the dead camel I saw…was dead I’ve heard that if you’re camping in bear country, keep your food away from your tent, unless you want a midnight surprise.
Depending on the weather, cleanliness is important. In winter, I was fine without a shower (in the remote areas) but in the summer…saddle sores and dirt and grime and sweat…
I also carried many items with dual purposes. Hand sanitizer is also good to clean wounds. I used band aids as duct tape. Never carried deodorant and toilet paper and lots more. Every bit of weight saving counts (even cut the tags off my clothes).
And do a search for unsupported touring on this forums.
Sounds like you have a lot of planning to do. There are a few threads if you search for unsupported touring, ultralight, etc. I had a seatpost rack set up and I was planning on doing a self supported trip with a tarp for a tent, and a light weight sleeping bag, and I put that on the seatpost rack, and had a backpack for the rest. It sucks. I ended up hurting my knee because of the awkward weight (just like sid mentioned), and you get a lot of saddle soreness from the backpack.
Unicycling is awesome, but self supported trips are just masochistic. Gracie is a superhuman for doing the continental divide trail, and her trans america trip.
Bicycle touring is SO MUCH better for self supported trips. It is so much more comfortable and fun and you don’t feel the weight you are dragging along that much.
Anyway, I would suggest the following:
-bring very little clothes, and do not bring any cotton.
-cycling socks are way better than regular socks, especially smart wool, something that will dry fast, keep you warm, and not smell.
-wet wipes do wonders
-make a soda can stove and get a lightweight titanium pot, or buy a trangia set up (You can buy heet and that kind of alcohol to burn at any gas station).
-a tarp /tarp-tent with guy lines is much lighter and packs better than any tent.
Try to do a few weekend trips first, and see how it goes and if you enjoy it. I love self supported cycle trips, they are a blast and the most free you can feel, but, they are really meant for bicycles - I bought a surly long haul trucker and I have never been happier with the purchase and I have become a bicycle touring convert.
Or find a friend who likes bicycle touring and have him go with you and carry most of the weight (a shared tent, your sleeping bag, a cooking set, etc).
; ) yup, that’s my exact camp stove idea. I’ve made a few pop can stoves, one is sitting on my desk now : )
and that uni pic of your touring setup has been in my wallpapers folder for a few months now : P lol
for a tent, I’ve thought about using a henessy hammock before, but when you get out west where there are no trees, you have no way to hang it up. I’ve heard some people will get a single a frame pole and set it up pup tent style.
yea, I’m going to have to figure out some way to put weight on the uni, but I haven’t thought about needing to balance the weight for knee issues. Perhaps you could solve the water problem and the weight issue with having some sort of water supply mounted under the handlebar. Of course that may be catastrophic if the uni falls. : ( . . . what about a custom bag with 2 1 liter water bottles in it, strap that under a coker pi bar, and you’d be good to go. . . until you ran out of water of course.
I’m dead determined I’m going to do this unfortunately. . . I know it’s going to be a painful trip. Keep the ideas comin’ : )
I like the idea of having 2 small racks too, one in front and one in back, but it may not be possible with knee clearance.
When I first went unsupported, I thought that would be slow, boring and painful. The first few days were painful and it took a while to get used to it. When I did, I had a blast…and now if I had a choice between supported or unsupported (with no time constraints), I’d go unsupported. There is still a lot of chopping and changing and balancing required to get the right gear for the trip…but if you can do it, its great…Overall, unsupported is way better than supported…on one wheel or two (though I have never done two wheel touring ever)
Cool, yeah that set up I had didn’t feel too bad on my test runs, but the first day of my trip after 10-15 miles my knee was killing me. Longer cranks may be the answer.
If you have a t-7 bar, you can fit two water bottles securely on the handle and probably strap a sleeping bag under it.
As far as a tent goes, don’t get a free standing one. They are great, but take up so much space in your bag, I went with a sil-nylon tarp that I got at REI and bought some guy lines to tie to trees/benches/sticks you can put in the ground, etc. I bought the lightweight foam ground pad because sleeping without a ground pad is sooooo cold! Down sleeping bags are usually the best, but I hate them, I bought a lightweight synthetic bag, but it was quite a tight fit and not too comfy. This is why bike-touring is more enjoyable, on the bike I was able to bring a free standing tent, an inflatable ground pad, and a nice wide synthetic bag.
I would say the hammock isn’t the best idea, they are also a lot colder than sleeping on the ground on a pad.
A custom frame sounds like a good idea, maybe something designed for ortlieb paniers would be cool…it would probably handle really weird though.
You should try out two wheel self supported touring, it is so much more fun than unicycle touring. I love supported unicyle tours, the new zealand trip was amazing and all of Ken/Nathan’s trips look like great fun. If I were to do a supported trip, I would love to do it on a uni, if I was going to be carrying my own camping equipment and gear I would do it on a bike.
I love the T7, I just wish it weren’t so underbuilt : ( I have one, but it’s started to bend a little. Mainly because I used it while I was learning and it took a few good falls.
I actually like the idea of a hammock, you can also set up a hennessy hammock on the ground too, if you choose to use a slim sleeping pad. I was thinking a super thin wool blanket and a space blanket wrapped around that. . . hot is the thought that comes to mind : P far beyond warm.
I’m talking to a few folks about a custom frame, but we’ll see how that goes O:-) may be too pricey
I’ve done quite a bit of self contained bike touring, but no uni touring. I have always tried to keep my bikes packed light, and so I can’t imagine going with less. That being said I think a tarp with some cord is the way to go for a shelter. You don’t need trees or uprights to set it. You can use your uni on one end and guy it to the ground on the other.
For a super lightweight bag/shelter you might consider a bivy sack, half ensolite pad, and wear your fleece inside for insulation. I did this for a trip a while back and it got comfortable after a few days. I find inflatable pads much less comfortable than a thin piece of ensolite. I have a Thermarest ultralight 3/4, that I won’t take unless I’ll be on the trail for more than a week. It takes that long for my body to get used to it. It packs a little smaller, but it’s not much lighter than the ensolite.
I’d bring two pairs of socks so that you can rinse one pair every night and have a fresh pair to sleep in, and for the next day. Bring a small bottle of baby powder to sprinkle in your shorts, trust me.
I’m curious to find out how this goes for you. I love bike touring, and uni touring intrigues me. I suspect that if I ever do a uni tour I’ll plan a trip that has me in a hostel every night, and drinking coffee in a cafe every morning.
I find that on longer trips, I prefer a tent over a bivvy or a tarp. I’d put up with more discomfort on shorter trips and overnight trips. Tarps and bivvies can be comfortable but on longer trips, weather will be an issue. Depending on the weather, you could try a lightweight down jacket and a sleepsheet, instead of a sleeping bag. The down jacket has dual purposes as it can be worn when you’re chilling and when you sleep. The sleep sheet is optional but for me I feel a lot warmer with a sleepsheet than without. I have tried the space blanket and its sweaty. Your sweat does condenses on the space blanket and overall its a nasty feeling.
That’s funny. I go the other way. On short trips I’m willing to carry more and try to maintain my comfort with the knowledge that I don’t have to carry it for very long. On longer trips I sacrifice comfort for weight, and learn to re-define comfort. Granted my longest self contained bike tour was just under a month, and my longest single trip on the trail was 5 weeks. In that regard I’m surely not as well traveled as some, but I have enjoyed my trips, and I imagine that if I had carried more I would have suffered far more.
I agree that any kind of vapor barrier is awful. That is where I draw the line for comfort/weight. I’ve read about people who swear by them, but I tried one years ago, and I will never use one again. I probably still have it around somewhere if anyone wants it. It’s very light and will keep all of your sweat close to home.
well I keep hearing a lot about bivy sacks and tarps. Any pictures of an example of how to set this up? I’m particularly worried about out west where there may not be anything to pitch up cords to.
If I go with a bivy sack (which appears to be my best option to keep weight down) I can just use a hennessy hammock as a hammock if I like, and as a bivy sack when I don’t have anywhere to pitch up. The other option is to send the hammock home when it gets flat and grab a true bivy sack along the way.
I’m with jtrops on this one : P if it’s going to be long, I want lightweight. But if I were on a bike, it would be the exact opposite. Heck, if I were on a bike, I’d get a bob trailer and be in fat city with a decent sized tent and full kitchenware : P even if the weight slows you down a little, you’re still moving at a comfy pace on a bicycle.
Never heard of ensolite, just gave it a google. That sounds like a good option as well : )
Have you ever slept in a bivy sack before? They aren’t bad if it isn’t raining, in the rain, it is bad times, I would prefer to have the sil-nylon tarp for more options. Also, I find I can’t sleep in a hammock.
I wouldn’t worry about not having places to tie the tarp, you can get creative. Find a park with a bench, or a table, or I have even heard of some bicyclists seeking playgrounds and sleeping in those play tubes or under the equipment.
Maybe I’ll throw up a tarp with my Coker this afternoon and put up some pix. I’ll do it with just my uni, and the ground. I enjoy figuring out how to set a tarp with what’s available. You get pretty clever after a few weeks on the trail.
I did this in about 15 minutes. It would have taken much less if I wasn’t thinking about how to explain it and take pictures.
I used a 50’ length of cord, and 5 tent stakes along with my tarp. In this case I used my tent drop cloth as i couldn’t find my ripstop tarp, and so it doesn’t look as taught as it should, but you get the idea.
I started with putting stakes out to guy my coker, and locked the brake on my uni.
Once I had the stakes in place I tied a figure 8 loop on one end of the rope, and brought it across to the other stake which I connected with an adjustable taught line hitch.
I then brought the rope up to the seat tube of my coker and tied it at the middle.
Then I put a stick on one side of the tarp, and tied a slip knot in the rope to secure the tarp to the cord. This is the ridgeline of the tarp. Secure it on the other end of the tarp in the same way. in order for it to work right you need to make sure that the cord has some slack in it as it goes between the two attachment points. when you pull the cord to a stake at the end you want to be pulling the tarp, not the cord under the tarp.
Now stake the corners down or guy them out as you see the need. I used the same stakes that held my uni to guy out the front of the tarp.
I’m sure I’ve left out vital info, but just ask and I will be happy to help.
Ray Jardine’s guide to lightweight hiking
I spent about an hour browsing it and it has a ton of good information about light hiking, gear, resupply, finding water, all kinds of stuff for long distance hiking. It is NOT filled with a bunch of expensive things to take. Some things wouldn’t apply for a unicycle trip since I don’t think anyone here will be worrying about how to do a snow arrest, but it is filled with lots of good info.
The guy who wrote it has thru hiked the PCT (3 times) the Appalachian Trail and the Continental Divide. On his last trip on the PCT his pack (without food or water) weighed NINE pounds! He has hiked over 12,000 mile so the info in the book is based on experience and it shows.