We started our tour up north on mostly paved roads (with the notable exception of the Dalton Highway), and have slowly transitioned to more dirt riding. We've changed our gear and bikes around so that we have the ability to explore more remote, wild areas away from traffic.
Check out below for some FAQs and additional information.
What do you eat?
Though our diet is limited by vegetarianism and the fact that we don't carry a stove, we eat really well! Different foods are available in different places, but the same basic ideas apply.
North America and Ecuador: PB&J
Central America and Colombia: cheese and avocado on bread or tortillas
Peru and south: oatmeal, powdered milk, dark chocolate shavings, chia seeds, peanuts, and natural protein powder
|Arepas, Colombia's version of the quesadilla|
North America: cucumber, cheddar cheese, and hummus on flour tortillas
Mexico: double cream cheese and avocado on fresh corn tortillas
Central and South America: tomato, avocado, and queso fresco on bread rolls
a base (instant pasta, mashed potatoes, couscous, etc) garnished with one or all of the following: seasonings, nuts, vegetables, olive oil and/or balsamic vinegar, beans, whatever salty snack we have on hand, and chia or flax seeds
nuts, fruit, cookies, crackers, whatever the local store has, or whatever someone happens to be selling on the side of the road.
For more information on what we ate in a certain area, click on a specific country from this page. For more specifics on why we don't carry a stove and how we do it, see here.
How much food do you carry at a time?
In Alaska, Canada, and the U.S., we would frequently go numerous days without seeing a grocery store. The most memorable place was northern Alaska. We went three weeks without seeing a store -- but there was a post office, so we mailed ourselves a food package. In those areas, we simply carried what we carry when backpacking: dense, calorie-rich foods including peanut butter, olive oil, couscous, tortillas, nuts, chocolate, and cheese.
In Latin America, there are people and stores everywhere. Even in the middle of nowhere, basic items are available (only basic items), so we carry numerous days of specialized items like olive oil, couscous, and chocolate from cities and stock up on ubiquitous basics like vegetables, instant noodles, and bread from tiny local stores.
Where do you sleep?
Camping is our go-to. We have camped in churchyards, pastures, city parks, backyards, fire and police stations, abandoned buildings, schools, closed campgrounds, and, whenever possible, in the middle of nowhere. In big cities, often we contact a host through warmshowers.org, a worldwide online community of cycle tourists and hosts. In really hot areas, or if it's been raining a whole lot, we'll find a hotel. Interesting fact: we paid more to camp at Lake Louise in Canada than we've ever paid for a hotel.
|Camped in the Cordillera Blanca, Peru|
How much do you ride? (kms/hours per day and days per week)
Typically we're pedaling for maybe six hours a day, though every day is different. In that time, we might go ten miles or we might go 100. Distance is influenced by tons of variables: topography, how we're feeling that day, weather, road conditions, where the next food supply is and how much we have, what off-bike destinations are nearby, and unanticipated randoms like unexpectedly meeting a friend on the road. Rest days happen whenever we feel like it, usually one every five days or so.
How much does it cost to travel like this?
One of the great things about bike touring is that it's one of the least expensive methods of travel. We spend money on food, the occasional hotel, bike repairs, and little else. We budgeted for roughly $1,000 a month, each, and so far we´ve managed to spend much, much less.
|However frugal we are, roadside strawberries provide an irresistible temptation!|
We worked for a few years after graduating from college and were able to save enough to fully finance our few years of wandering. Here´s how:
1) We were both fortunate enough to not have college loans.
2) Housing and meals during the week were provided by our employer.
3) We lived very simply -- no TV, no heating, no beer, and free activities (climbing, hiking, biking) on the weekends.
How do you choose your route?
At first we would choose places we wanted to visit and simply connect them. We call this destination-based travel; it's based on the destinations rather than the places in between, the journey. This type of travel works for most people, but not for us. No matter how awesome the destination, it's not worth battling hordes of trucks or suffering in intense heat for days. So, after a while we began to choose our route based on whichever roads would be best for cycling, with any destinations to visit as a bonus.
|Hmm... maybe we'll go the other way|
The Adventure Cycling Association has great resources for cyclists in the U.S; we vaguely followed one of their routes through northern California.
What do you use to navigate?
The Google Maps app for iPhone is what we use when we're on bigger roads and around cities. Because it lacks many back roads, however, we use satellite imagery or OpenCycleMaps, a topographic rendering of the free, open-source OpenStreetMaps. A number of apps can provide OpenCycleMaps; we've used and enjoy MotionX-GPS for that, and we switched eventually to Gaia GPS, as it can also accommodate satellite imagery and other platforms. We also sometimes follow route notes provided by other cyclists, and we frequently ask locals for route information.
We carry larger paper maps for route planning and large-scale navigation. We've always been partial to National Geographic's Trails Illustrated maps, mostly because they're waterproof and pretty (and about as accurate as most other large-scale maps, which is, unfortunately, not very).
How did you learn about bike maintenance?
When something breaks, we learn how to fix it! A bike maintenance book serves as reference, and we've picked up almost all of our knowledge along the way.
Special kudos to Carlos Tacuri at Construbicis in Quito, Ecuador, who helped us rebuild our bikes and taught us so much about them. See his facebook page here.
|With Carlos at his shop in Quito|
How did you get in shape for this trip?
Tamara biked every day for a few weeks prior, 10 to 50 mile rides, to get into the mode of biking every day. Danny slept and ate a lot, with the theory that he should be as rested as possible. We were both generally active people, but we weren't super athletes. You build strength and muscle as you go.
Would you recommend bike touring?
YES! We believe that it is the best way to travel. Feel free to contact us if you have more questions or are wondering about how to best prepare for a trip.
|Life is good. Kluane Lake, Yukon, Canada|