How much food to carry for an expedition?

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
vegan dog
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How much food to carry for an expedition?

Postby vegan dog » 11 May 2020, 1:00pm

I know this question is a bit like how long is a piece of string and it depends on where you are going / your purpose for travel, but I am interested in peoples experiences when touring in non western countries. I plan on doing one of the silk road routes and exploring Turkmenistan,Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and maybe Afghanistan (have not pinned down an exact route yet). The aim will be to camp every night and keep moving everyday (about 50 miles a day). I definitely don't plan on camping and chilling out in one space for days/ weeks at a time. My thinking is to always have about 5 days worth of food on my bike at any given time, as my experience of touring, even in very remote places is that sooner or later you come across a small village, where locals will often sell you things. Is 5 days worth of food a good safety margin? Would you take more, would you take less?

mercalia
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Re: How much food to carry for an expedition?

Postby mercalia » 11 May 2020, 1:10pm

good luck if any one can help you here for such exotic places

djb
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Re: How much food to carry for an expedition?

Postby djb » 11 May 2020, 6:52pm

if you are at all serious about the Stans, go to CGOAB and check out detailed trip journals from those questions. There you will find proper, experienced info about these places and specific routes.
Your question is pretty far reaching, and you should be able to realize that as you say, "it depends"

read up on folks who have toured through these countries

oh, and you'll need to know and read and find out about the "Alice in Wonderland" aspect of getting visas and the oddball restrictions on some of them--all pretty serious things that you need to responsibly find out about long before you start getting into how much food to carry and all that.
Unless things have changed, the visa thing has always been a big issue in all the trip journals Ive read of that part of the world--after that is also serious stuff about distances and having to be rather self sufficient and responsible for water etc etc, ie a trip in these countries aint no walk in the park.
Ive biked through a good chunk of Mexico and Central America, and consider these countries (the 'stans) much more challenging logistics wise than latin america (from reading trip journals only of course over the years).
Last edited by djb on 11 May 2020, 11:35pm, edited 1 time in total.

PT1029
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Re: How much food to carry for an expedition?

Postby PT1029 » 11 May 2020, 9:25pm

Some friends did the Stans 2 years ago. Not sure about food carrying.
Visas, the Chinese visa they had to apply for in Tiblisi I think, otherwise it would have expired before they got there. They got there on the last possible day, were told the (newly rebuilt) crossing was closed/not reopened. They managed to collar some Chinese official who it turned out had considerable clout - it ended up they were the 1st to use the new crossing (bubblewarp still on the barriers), and had photos taken with some big wig who had come from Bejing for the opening.
Paperless visas. At one of the stan boarder crossings, NO WIFI - so no visa. A young Russian chap waiting at the boarder navigated their phone through a whole lot of cyrillic script websites and made one ot 2 calls, otherwise they would have been stuffed.
Also look up if you need to use the Caspian Sea ferry - Professor Gull I think its called, customer service of the Soviet era continues!

If you want to see some of their pictures - minimal text/info, see here, but it takes a while to load up :
https://www.polarsteps.com/jamieandmari ... ew-zealand
As an envious onlooker, the above made compulsive daily viewing!
Some blog here :
http://biketour.mariayoung.co.uk/follow-the-dot/

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matt2matt2002
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Re: How much food to carry for an expedition?

Postby matt2matt2002 » 11 May 2020, 10:21pm

I did the Pamir Highway 4 years ago. No problems with food or water.
I did the main M41 road. I guess if you pop down the valleys you'll need a few days supplies. But I was always struck by how many folks we around, even in remote areas.
Btw, don't expect much variety in food.
2017 Ethiopia.5 weeks.
2018 Marrakech 2 weeks.
Lots more in hot countries.
Always on a Thorn Raven/Rohloff hub.

vegan dog
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Re: How much food to carry for an expedition?

Postby vegan dog » 11 May 2020, 10:57pm

djb wrote:read up on folks who have toured through these countries
a trip in these countries aint no walk in the park.


Well I am not totally inexperienced, I did travel across Russia, Kazakhstan and into Xinjiang over 15 years ago, but the wold has changed a lot since this time. Also I mainly travelled in cars, so cycling is a new experience.

I am indeed prepared for Visa hell, and think I will be very lucky to make it into Turkmenistan.

vegan dog
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Re: How much food to carry for an expedition?

Postby vegan dog » 11 May 2020, 11:01pm

matt2matt2002 wrote:I did the Pamir Highway 4 years ago. No problems with food or water.
I did the main M41 road. I guess if you pop down the valleys you'll need a few days supplies. But I was always struck by how many folks we around, even in remote areas.
Btw, don't expect much variety in food.


How much food did you carry out of interest? I know what you mean about variety and being vegan can be difficult. I remember in Kazakhstan, I basically just eat rice, bread and fruit. It was not very good for a vegan diet.

djb
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Re: How much food to carry for an expedition?

Postby djb » 11 May 2020, 11:42pm

I reread my post above and realized I wasnt clear so edited it---I should have written that I consider that biking through the "stans" would be more challenging than my latin america trips.

and you being new to cycling, I would want to get as much bike mechanical experience under your belt, to be self sufficient and knowledgeable about bike mechanics so as to avoid having mechanicals from being fully aware of your bikes condition, plus of course the means and knowledge to fix stuff.

and it goes without saying to have equipment that is very sturdy and known for being tough, not to mention a bike that can take 2in wide tires as a minimum, which from my experience, is a real plus when riding over lots of rough roads over a long time period.

as for your diet...heck, you're going to have to read up on these countries to see what you'd be up against.

with bike touring, you gotta fuel the motor properly, aint no way around that.

vegan dog
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Re: How much food to carry for an expedition?

Postby vegan dog » 12 May 2020, 9:28am

djb wrote:being new to cycling, I would want to get as much bike mechanical experience under your belt, to be self sufficient and knowledgeable about bike mechanics so as to avoid having mechanicals from being fully aware of your bikes condition, plus of course the means and knowledge to fix stuff.
.


I'm not really new to cycling, just I have not toured off the beaten track for a good 12 years. My last serious tour was Nigeria, Benin, Togo and Ghana over 12 years ago. Although these countries have their challenges, food was not an issue. They are densely populated countries, where I could buy food pretty much anywhere.

As for bike mechanics, I have been working on cars since I was 15. Rebuilt many engines, gearboxes and everything else. But my main worry with maintenance is if you don't have the spare parts / tools there is very little you can do. Aside from basics like cables, chain etc, there is little I can do if anything else goes wrong. Yes I could take spare bottom bracket, headset, chain wheel etc - but I just don't want the extra weight / bulk. So if anything major happens with the bike, I am pretty much out of the game. In my opinion (apart from the basics) knowledge of maintenance is not that important, unless you are willing to take many spare parts / tools. I have mitigated a lot of possible problems by replacing many parts with brand new parts prior to the trip. But if I have to end the trip because of catastrophic failure it's not the end of the world. It's just a holiday for me.

djb
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Re: How much food to carry for an expedition?

Postby djb » 12 May 2020, 1:55pm

vegan dog wrote:I'm not really new to cycling, just I have not toured off the beaten track for a good 12 years. My last serious tour was Nigeria, Benin, Togo and Ghana over 12 years ago. Although these countries have their challenges, food was not an issue. They are densely populated countries, where I could buy food pretty much anywhere.

As for bike mechanics, I have been working on cars since I was 15. Rebuilt many engines, gearboxes and everything else. But my main worry with maintenance is if you don't have the spare parts / tools there is very little you can do. Aside from basics like cables, chain etc, there is little I can do if anything else goes wrong. Yes I could take spare bottom bracket, headset, chain wheel etc - but I just don't want the extra weight / bulk. So if anything major happens with the bike, I am pretty much out of the game. In my opinion (apart from the basics) knowledge of maintenance is not that important, unless you are willing to take many spare parts / tools. I have mitigated a lot of possible problems by replacing many parts with brand new parts prior to the trip. But if I have to end the trip because of catastrophic failure it's not the end of the world. It's just a holiday for me.


oh heck, you have tons of real life experience traveling by bike in far off places, and tons of hands on mechanic experience, more than me. I mucked around with cars and motorcycles but not to your extent.
re bike mechanicals and failures--from my experience of touring over the decades, what has been pretty clear is that if your bike is in great shape, and especially if you know the parts are in great shape and greased and adjusted properly, as I do because I do all the work, then this hugely reduces the chance of anything going wrong mechanically because its in great shape to begin with.

clearly, having good quality parts like headset, wheel hubs, bottom bracket, pedals are a logical thing, simply because they are made better than cheap stuff and so last longer.This goes for panniers and racks too of course.

the main thing for me is that by being intimate with your bike innards, it means that when you go over your bike regularly (I do it about once a week) and you check rack bolts, clean drivetrain (maybe more often if in on dirt and with wet of course) and check everything---if you have done the work yourself, you'll pick up on any little thing before it gets to a big thing.

example- Ive been taking apart and regreasing my wheel hubs for ages, so know how to properly adjust the cones for the ball bearings. On one of my trips, when looking at my bike, I noticed that the front hub had a bit of play in it, ie the cone was not adjusted properly.
I guess I didnt do it properly or the rough roads loosened it, but this was a first for me, but the main thing is that I picked it up early. I've never carried cone wrenches on a trip since my first trip about 30 years ago when I carried simply waaay too much stuff and too many tools. Here though, at least I caught it and we were having a day off anyway in this Mexican town, so I tracked down a bike shop and the owner quickly reset and locked the cones properly, and I watched and hand checked it to be sure it was like I would have done.

re bottom brackets, dont know what type you'd be using, but my experience shows that a good quality square taper by shimano like a UN-55 properly installed will last for ages, like 20,000 kms for me, and my newest bike that has outboard external bearing bb, Hollowtech 2, has been great for my last three trips and must have 8000kms on it, and I installed it myself (but got a good mechanic to check it as it was my first time working on an outboard bearing type)

being in very dusty and dirt conditions is always harder on bb's and wheel hubs, why better quality stuff is worth it just from the seals angle. I've always found higher end stuff keeps the crud out better whenever I regrease stuff, the grease seems to be cleaner on better made stuff.

re tires, I've really noticed that wider tires at not too high pressures makes a big difference to putting less forces into your wheelset, racks and you. You must have had wider tires for your Africa trip no?
A good tire will still roll efficiently at lower pressures and the suspension effect is significant.

and heck, we havent even touched on COVID19, which will probably have a much bigger impact on decisions and assessing risk than any of this.
Pretty serious stuff, and I sure wouldnt want to be traveling in far off countries with this thing still a factor.....

well, the idea of your trip is exciting, I hope the world situation sorts out so that you can actually think of doing it.
cheers

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simonineaston
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Re: How much food to carry for an expedition?

Postby simonineaston » 12 May 2020, 4:01pm

Would you take more, would you take less?
It's questions like that, which mean I always cycle-tour in France! :wink: These are some days when it is truly difficult to maintain any progress at all, what with all the patisseries and traiteurs en route... :D
byyeee,
SiE

simonhill
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Re: How much food to carry for an expedition?

Postby simonhill » 12 May 2020, 6:57pm

Unless you are planning on going away from all habitation, I reckon 5 days food is far too much.If going completely into the wilds, then obviously take as much food as you need so its not really a piece of string, but dependent on where you are going.

I haven't ridden in the Stans (doesn't appeal), but from the number of cyclists doing it, it sounds a bit like a cyclists highway. I've not heard of people having trouble getting supplies, although maybe of dubious quality.

A lot depends on how the local people eat. In much of Asia, people don't always cook at home and rely on small local foodstalls/restaurants so basic meals are often available. Get to know when they eat - tends to be more morning and early lunch, which is a problem if you like to have your main meal in the evening.

I'd certainly carry a meal or two as an emergency and then suss out what's available locally from other tourists you meet and what you find on the ground.

As an aside, I've taken to carrying porridge oats and raisins for my first breakfast (just add boiling water). In an emergency these would do to tide me over in the evening if nothing else available.

vegan dog
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Re: How much food to carry for an expedition?

Postby vegan dog » 12 May 2020, 7:40pm

simonhill wrote:As an aside, I've taken to carrying porridge oats and raisins for my first breakfast (just add boiling water). In an emergency these would do to tide me over in the evening if nothing else available.


Porridge oats are perfect. I often eat these even without water. I don't take any cooking stuff at all and tend to east about 1kg of nuts and seeds a day, plus whatever fresh fruit / vegetables / bread I can get my hands on.

eileithyia
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Re: How much food to carry for an expedition?

Postby eileithyia » 12 May 2020, 8:43pm

Some years a cycling colleague of mine was pretty remote in Alaska / Canada, his strategy was when stopped at a shop, take his map in with him, show the shop keeper his route and ask where the next shop was / how far.... to give him some idea of how many days supplies he needed.

I have certainly fallen back on the porridge option when for what ever reason we had not managed to find food for the evening. We once camped at a cherry farm among the cherry trees in cherry season. We were about to leave to ride the 2-3km back into town for a meal (end of tour meal) when the heavens opened... having barely dried out from the day's earlier rain, we opted to have porridge and cherries for tea.....
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nsew
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Re: How much food to carry for an expedition?

Postby nsew » 12 May 2020, 11:11pm

vegan dog wrote:
djb wrote:being new to cycling, I would want to get as much bike mechanical experience as possible....
.
vegan dog wrote:
I'm not really new to cycling,


“Not having cycled since a child, I have decided to embark on a world tour......“ (November 2019)