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Learning how to live on the road.

posted Aug 6, 2010, 12:09 PM by Matthew Gorzlancyk
Since my last post I have learned a ton about living on the road. I was feeling very disorganized and weighted down by the fact that I was carrying everything I need to live and survive with on my bicycle. With time and the aid of fellow travelers, I have now learned how to be much more efficient and effective in the lifestyle I will be keeping while on the road.
    Life on the road has become very interesting since I first got on the road. From sleeping on the side of a highway (or in a housing development on an indian reservation), to meeting people who have given me a bed to sleep in, things have been very different from the lifestyle in which I was accustomed.  I have learned who to approach in finding accommodations, how to pack, and how to cook on my MSR Whisperlite camp stove. This knowledge can be attributed to experience, along with the aid and experience of my current riding mates and other fellow travelers. A special thanks to my current riding mates: Paul and Lily, and everybody else who has passed a hint or a tip along the way. I think you all know who you are.
    Here are a few things I have learned along the way:

    I generally wake up now around 600a-645a, pack up the tent, the sleeping bag, bedroll, and the book or journal I brought in the tent with me from the night before. I have been using my coat in the tent as well, as a pillow, in order to reduce my load. Following the packing of those items I will get my stove out and fire it up. I get some water boiling right away so that I can get a strong cup of instant coffee into my system. The remaining water that is not used for coffee is used for a big pot of oatmeal. Sometimes I will even sneak a little fruit into the morning mix as well. I always take my multivitamin in the morning though! (Just so you know: Mom n' Dad)
    Following breakfast I get the dishes done somewhere (a sink, hose, etc.). I then gather any scattered belongings, brush my teeth, check over the bike, reset the odometer, and hit the road by approximately 730a most days.
    Lunch comes around 1130a and consists of tortillas with peanut butter and nutella, granola, fruit, or something quick and easy. Some sort of caffeinated drink is also a staple with the lunch menu.
    Usually after lunch I will get back on the road so that I can find a place to camp by 500p-600p. This has not always, or will not always, be the case, due to varying distances and/or whether or not I am riding in a group. This may also be changed up due to varying road conditions, and evening opportunities in certain places.
    Once a place to stay/camp is found I usually get the tent setup, sort my supplies, and make dinner. Anything from chili, ramen, sausages and cheese, or tortillas with refried beans, may be eaten. Sometimes it is just ice cream and chips!! Occasionally dinner is accompanied with a 6-pack of PBR pounders... mmm.... So yummy with chili!!!
    Bedtime is usually around 1000p-1030p, unless there is something happening at night. Sometimes new acquaintances are made at a hiker/biker campsite, a bar, or on the road. Recently I have been in the tent early though (Thanks riding buddies!). Most nights I will journal and/or read for a couple of hours before falling asleep on the nice hard ground.
***This has become my most recent average day. Riding with Paul, Lily, and Kristi has gotten me into a much better and healthier routine. We get up before it gets too hot, and setup camp earlier in the day so we can enjoy some sunlight before crashing for the night.
***Early on I had been accustomed to a later night and a later start. This will still occur on occasion, but an early routine seems to work a ton better. Don't worry, there will still be some stories...

    I have become much more efficient in loading the bike up and filling my 4 Ortlieb panniers/bags. I have one pannier designated as my kitchen. This pannier is used to store food, my stove, and my cooking gear. My other front pannier is used as my clothes drawer and hamper. I keep my clean and dirty clothes, as well as my rain gear in this bag (The rain gear on the top for those rainy day occasions). One of my rear panniers is used as a toolbox for frequently used items such as tubes, patches, and other bicycle tools. My fourth pannier is used as a library/toolbox. I keep my books and rarely used items in this bag. I also keep my sleeping bag in this bag as well. I generally only need to strap-down my bedmat and tent to my rear rack unless I have taken a large shopping trip or need to dry some clothing.

    It is really amazing how you must adapt to changing conditions and the road lifestyle. My house is my bicycle. I must keep everything I need to survive on it. A traveler in my capacity must be able to deal with rain and changing environmental conditions, varying sleeping conditions, and a wide variety of personalities. Sometimes you need to swallow your pride or your views in order to get along without trouble. I knew this would be the case, but now I am walking in the shoes of a traveler, it has become a reality.

***I am currently running behind as to my experiences from Grand Forks, ND on, but this will be remedied soon. The reservation story, my night in the kill room, and the Trailer Park boys scene in Williston, ND, will soon be shared. No need to worry.