I cycled Toronto to Miami 2x as well as across the Gulf coast and the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico to Guatemala. As well as across Tasmania 2x. From that knowledge base I am happy to share the following tip sheet I wrote up when teaching touring workshops, full of tips and strategy recommendations. But also if anyone would like personal help preparing their Bicycle/gear or to talk strategy I am happy to help! I also offer Lead/Mobile Mechanic services to cyclists going few day or week or so cycling trips in Canada. Have fun! Touring tips--https://docs.google.com/document/d/14SrYlZ1KCHeImRQh7G9l0ol-pt9Yd3DNcO3Wpj9he-4/edit?usp=sharing
From the ages of 19-23 i lived out of my 1979 Raleigh Grand Prix, tent/hammock. I cycled Toronto to Miami, to then fly to Haiti to volunteer, with the intent of practising asceticism (self imposed poverty) to teach myself to appreciate life/poverty, I lived off of less than $1000 a year, dumpster dived, fished, foraged (and fell in love with climbing coconut trees). it became 4 years, 2x trips to Miami from Toronto different routes, cycled Gulf coast into Mexico and into Guatemala, visited hippie communes/eco villages/ intentional communities. Volunteered at Permaculture projects/ NGO’s, reforestation project in Haiti. thus my education. Contrary to my generations tendencies (1991) i didn't even think to bring a camera First year, brought other years but didn't use...but at the bottom of the page are a few of the many stories from the life on the road written out and luckily some photos that managed to come out of that period regardless of my lack of self documentation.
Didn't take as much video as I should have, but here's the little I do have in this channel to the left. This video particularly touches on a very important concept in touring, when in high speed/high traffic roads with little shoulder, with little to no other cyclists on the road; best to ride against traffic in shoulder or take lane if with traffic. Safe Zone helmet mirror recommend. Love how this video ends with me about to mention the Cosmic convergence Permaculturfestival I volunteered at.
While cycling north From Key West I picked up some work cutting mangroves with a machette for a trailer park.
I was completely unaware with the density of Mangrove wood, and assumed it to be as thick as "normal wood" not the case for me that day...
First swing of the afternoon, swung through the thick branch and blade continued farther than expected.. cut my big toe at a 45% from the nail, right until the beginning of its growth.
I duck taped my toe together and worked the afternoon. I had hoped to cross the Everglades In one full day, as there is really no where to camp on the side of the road in that swamp. However riding with my toe was slow, I pushed on as long as i could..probably finally gave up around midnight or so.
Struggled for 30 min looking for enough solid ground to lay my tent off the side of the road. I finally found a section of dry ground I had to wade into with my boots..that was large enough that my two person tent just had the corners dipping in the water. Knowing that Alligators have a great sense of smell for blood, and that the everglades have an issue with exotic Constrictor type snakes released from pet owners homes due to...lack of wish to own them anymore.
I proceeded to tie my machette to my right wrist, and my 6' fishing spear I tied to my left wrist....and lay there..barely asleep ready for the moment an alligator made the 1' leap from the waters edge onto my toe through my tent....
Somehow I slept! and woke and pedalled off in the morning!
So, another story from the Florida Keys, when I started out south of Miami, I fully recognized I was much more excited about spear fishing than rod fishing. So habituated this exciting food finding method. One such afternoon, I slunk around the edge of a fancy Hotel's property, and arrived to their section of beachfront unnoticed with my 6' spear and a plastic bag for my catch.
I had learned that its very easy to find prey under docks, as schools of fish will congregate there away from the suns revealing rays and Sea birds.
So as I was happily stabbing at some Lobster under a rock in about 10/15' of water..I suddenly felt as if something was behind me. I was at the edge of the docks shadow...so I was able to see clearly below me on the sea floor, my shadow and the shadow of a HUGE fish shaped blackness behind me. I opened my mouth as if to scream, letting out bubbles that I realized might mask me visibly I continued letting out bubbles to help me drop more quickly while thrusting the spear around and behind me as fast as my arms were able. So fast! that I almost stabbed this HUGE Manatee that was directly behind me! It had been sniffing my long hair as it floated behind me..perhaps wondering if it was a form of sea grass (probably was dirty enough even in the sea lol) I was so relieved I swear I almost laughed under water. It was so close that I reached out my hand and stroked its (shoulder?) chest area, it made a rabbit like wiggle of its nose (whisker section of face) and turned to swim away. I let my hand drag across its body as it went, one of the most beautiful moments I have ever had with an Animal :)
While cycling South from Columbus Ohio, I noticed on the side of the road several brightly coloured old mennonite style painted Caravans. I stopped to knock and inquire, I learned that the owner ran an exotic animal sanctuary on his property!
He had supposedly worked in film/television in his youth, but was so disgusted when he found out that exotic animals used in the industry were often put down as soon as they became to old/violent/sickly that he opened a sanctuary. I truly had no real understanding of his level of ethics and practice. But I continued to look around as I was very happy/sad to visit the animals. He housed wolves/kodiak bear/lynx/lions/tigers and this White tiger and I really had a great time (the lion almost bit my hand off when i tried to pet it through the fence)
This White tiger would chase me as I ran around its 1000sqf enclosure, and when i jumped up on the fence, it would jump up onto the fence on its hind legs as well!
I was literally so giddy with happiness playing with such a beautiful creature, that my mouth hurt for a while after from smiling so big lol!
So My first year Cycling South to Miami, my pal Orion joined me as far as Atlantic City. While we were in New York for 2/3 weeks, we tried couchsurfing for the first time. We stayed with a wonderful man by the name of Tom, no furniture, slept on the floor himself, in his 60's, retired lawyer with back issues. One morning he turned to Orion and the two German girls staying as well, and asked us "I have a friend who lives upstairs who wishes to visit for tea, he's a nudist..is that okay?" we all said yes. My first instinct when seeing him was How liberating! Then insecurity crept in, than Lauryn Hill's quote "every time you do something or don't do something based out of fear, you let a little bit of yourself die..and if you habituate that self murder..than you will never live!" So i promptly disrobed.
Tom had a pretty tight curfew for when we had to be out in the morning and back in the evening. And after one interesting evening where I was out too late to return to Tom's...ended up sleeping in a park only to be surrounded by Rats the size of skunks....I convinced Orion that we should stay with Paul (the nudist) for the rest of our stay. It was great, in this photo above we are eating a meal that Orion and I dumpster dived most of, his apartement was always full of travellers. AND he got us all a commercial job making $50/hour one morning doing (Guess what?) being naked! It was a commercial wherein the actors were meant to be part of a *Nude video gaming* club so we sat around naked playing video games eating free snacks and drinking free beer. It was a great way to make a few hundred dollars in a morning.
Funniest part was It then was ALL over the internet as people thought it was an ACTUAL nude video gaming club and not a fictious part of the commercial, and i was given a speaking role in the commercial so when my friends back home saw it they started messaging me saying "thought you were on a bike tour? you gave up to join a nudist video gaming club in Manhattan???" lol so good. oh I actually found the youtube link still on the internet lol! https://youtu.be/wms0VV5Bozw
So while in Mexico I caught wind of "Project Nuevo Mundo" a group of folk that were a part of organizing the Cosmic Convergance festival in Guatemala who taught Permaculture workshops and did such works in the community around the concert. So I arrived to volunteer for the concert and their projects therein. I assisted building a Solar oven & Solar Dehydrator for a local community centre, translated english to Spanish for my friends talks on how to modify a diesel motor to run off Vegetable oil, helped build composting toilets & earthen benches as well as just helping set up the concert. It was truly a blast.
But after a month volunteering at a local NGO (Maya Pedal) cutting up old steel bicycles and turning them into Bicycle Machines ( bicycle blenders/concrete vibrators/water pumps/corn huskers etc) My friend Joe and his veggie oil school bus pictured here with the bus welded on its roof (his bedroom) needed a Spanish translator for their return trip from Guatemala back to Texas. So I Spent a month helping to collect veggie oil from the tourism town of Antigua..and once I had collected 300 gallons of veggie oil. that was enough to take us the 4000 miles back to the USA. I threw my Faithful Steed *El Rocinante* onto the roof of my friend Cobra's (Cobra bus a Burning man fire spinning camp bus with Flame throwers on roof) and we proceeded north. I stayed on the roof of Cobra bus for ALL of those few thousand miles from Guatemala back to Texas..and let me tell you...best seats in the house!!! (all the mango trees we drove under left me gifts :)
So, Often while cycling through the country side, there just was forest or bush somewhere on the side of the road and I could just dive in and set my tent up and it was fine. But every so often it was too densely populated and I would have to ask some random residents after knocking if they would let a tired cross country cyclist set their tent up and id be gone early in the AM.
One such evening i spotted a church, churches often being friendly citizens i assumed it would be find to set up on the lawn as no one was around to ask.
So i set up my hammock and prepared for good nights rest.
I woke up to a Police officer, tapping at my Hammock, I crawled out, and listened to him explain that a local had "witnessed" me break into the church, steal the golden church chalice...and then proceed to fall asleep right next door the church.....
I literally had to try SO HARD not to laugh in the Georgia Cops face...as he obviously believed the story enough to wake me up at 6 am....
I told him he could look through my 4 saddle bags...and that im sure he wouldn't find anything.
So he did, and found nothing...and i wished him goodluck on his search for the golden chalice lol