So we decided that since we are nearing the end of this adventure we would share a bit of the wisdom we have gathered over the last month or so and from our last trip. Before we go any further we have to declare our disclaimer. *We are not professionals and all the advice we are about to divulge should be considered suggestions. We still consider ourselves to be amateurs and if you're looking for advice about bicycle maintenance you probably won't find it here.* Ok, now that we've said that here we go! One more thing...these aren't in any particular order.
1). Outlets - if you are relying on electronic devices (cell phone, GPS device) to navigate, for emergencies, or other important reasons make sure you always have these things charged. This seems simple enough, but if you are on a budget you'll likely be camping in the cheapest places, which rarely have electricity. Along the west coast we have stayed at one campground that had electricity at the site we paid for. Most of the state parks don't even have electricity for motor homes. So you have to resort to finding a working outlet whenever you can. This can sometimes lead you to very odd places. For example we have found outlets outside grocery stores and gas stations (they use them to light up signs, etc), in restrooms, restaurants, laundromats, public pavilion areas, & neighboring RVs in campsites (it never hurts to ask). Probably the most interesting place we've found a plug was outside a subway/gas station across the street from Lambeau Field in Green Bay. It was cool. Pretty much every time we walk into a store or restaurant we look around for a plug. If we plan on eating there we find a table with a plug or ask someone. People are usually pretty understanding when it comes to charging things. At least most everyone we have encountered seems to understand that we need our phones to be charged and we're not just weirdos loitering around for no reason. We generally are paying for something where ever we end up charging so it's not usually a problem.
2). Rewards - At the end of your day feel free to reward yourself. Biking every day is awesome and getting to your destination is rewarding, but sometimes giving yourself a little something extra makes it that much more worth while. For example, we reward ourselves with food. We'll get cookies, pop (or a beer), candyand even make extra food for dinner. It works for us because we love food and we need to replenish calories anyway. Two birds, one stone. We'll also reward ourselves for reaching our smaller goals, like getting over a giant hill or going a certain number of miles over a certain period of time. Rewards can be anything you want as long as they are something that makes your hard work worth it at the end of the day.
3). Swallow Your Pride - this mostly refers to dealing with motorists, but can be applied to other facets of biking. When dealing with motorists it is best to let whatever stupid thing they did go. Unless they hit you. Then get mad... After you get any necessary medical attention of course. For example, we've been honked at, flipped off and yelled at, which sucks, but we don't react to it. You never know when this person may be driving behind you later in the day. You will also not likely see this person ever again so getting mad is not worth your energy. Save it for the ride... You'll probably need it :]
4). Be Flexible - Having a plan is always a good idea (stay tuned for more on this topic in the actual Top Ten Bike Touring Tips). But sometimes your travels call for a change in plans or something happens where you need to be able to adapt to the situation. You never know what is going to happen and you just need to OK with changing the plan a little. Also, when things don't go exactly according to your plan, often times there isn't much you can do about it. You will also need to be able to change your plan depending on how your body reacts to the big change in diet and exercise. If you're really sore or something hurts, it can't hurt take a day off (if you have time) or maybe split a long day in half.
5). Wake Up And Get Going - sleeping in is awesome, but it's important to get on the road early. We didn't really learn the importance of this until more recently. We thought 10 am departures were plenty early, but have discovered the benefits of getting out even earlier. For one, there are far fewer people on the road. It's nice not to worry about car after car after car. It also feels good to know that you can break early and often along your route and that you have plenty of time to explore if you find something interesting. Also, it is a great feeling getting to your campsite earlier so you have time to unwind. It's annoying and boring when you only have time to set up camp, get dinner going, and hit the sack.
Stay tuned for the top ten...