Some thoughts on where to stay

Mr. Coffee

Well-Known Member
I think a major challenge to someone wanting to bike tour, especially with an e-bike, is figuring out where to stay. This can be especially difficult if you are planning a very long trip to an area you aren't very familiar with, where you can't precisely plan your itinerary (which you can't anyway!), and where you lack the experience and judgement to determine what a reasonable days' ride will be.

A lot of states have state parks with hiker-biker facilities. These usually are quite reasonably priced ($5-$10 per person per night is common) and provide facilities that range somewhere between primitive and luxurious. My own personal experiences have been with Washington, Oregon, and BC parks and they all do a pretty good job. Generally at nearly all such parks you can find an outlet and charge your bike, and Oregon state parks often have 'hiker boxes' where you can securely keep your food from feeding the raccoons and they have outlets that you can use to charge your e-bike batteries and other electronics. A lot of these hiker-biker camps will have a basic work stand and a pump and sometimes other bike tools as well. Some states (Washington is one) have a "no turn-away" policy where they will always make room for a biker or two who show up at sunset, which can be very nice when plans go haywire.

More primitive campgrounds (e.g. most USFS and BLM campgrounds, as well as any stealth camping) can be challenging because there is unlikely to be any place to charge your bike. Depending on the nature of your trip and your equipment choices that may or may not be a problem.

Depending on where you are, some private campgrounds are very open to bike tourists and might provide very nice facilities.

Hotels and motels can be kind of a mixed bag. On or near popular cycling routes you generally won't have much problem finding a hotel that will let you keep your (hopefully pretty clean) bike in your room, that have ground floor rooms so you don't need to cram your bike into a tiny elevator or drag it up steep, narrow staircases. Often times the more bike-friendly hotels will have a hose available to clean your bike (and possibly you), will give you rags on request to clean your bike, and in some cases might provide access to more bike tools or even a bike mechanic.

There isn't really a "tripadvisor" for the bike tourist yet, some sites are trying to get there but for the time being it is kind of the wild west out there. You'll need to do some research and homework before and during your trip to find the best places to stay. Calling ahead never hurts.

Resources:

 
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6zfshdb

Well-Known Member
I usually take 4 or 5 multi day bike trips every year. I'm a member of the Choice Privileges program and usually stay at one of their branded hotels. https://www.choicehotels.com/ I've made several hundred stays in these hotels mostly in the northeast and mid Atlantic states over the last 30 years or so. I have never had a problem bringing my bike into any of their hotel rooms. I'm not aware of any official "biker friendly" policy at Choice but so far, they've never failed to accommodate my needs. It's a very competitive industry and other major hotel chains may offer similar biker hospitality as well.

I always plan my routes at home on my PC well in advance using Garmin's Basecamp , Google Earth and Google maps software. I take advantage of as many off road options as possible. https://www.traillink.com/ is a great resource for finding off road routes. I build my route in Basecamp https://www.garmin.com/en-US/shop/downloads/basecamp and check it with Google Earth https://www.google.com/earth/versions/ & Google Maps https://www.google.com/maps/@40.9766168,-75.9777438,14z. I make adjustments to minimize elevation change, heavy traffic areas, narrow bridges, road construction, etc. Once built, I use the tools available in Basecamp to divide the route into segments which can be ridden in a day. I then plot hotel locations at the end of each days ride. When the route is complete in Basecamp, I download it to my handebar mounted GPS. I also use Google Maps & Google Earth mobile versions on my smartphone as a backup.
 

Mr. Coffee

Well-Known Member
Stealth Camp it ! ??
My own strong preference is to sleep in the dirt. But it is a challenge charging your batteries overnight.

I usually take 4 or 5 multi day bike trips every year. I'm a member of the Choice Privileges program and usually stay at one of their branded hotels. https://www.choicehotels.com/ I've made several hundred stays in these hotels mostly in the northeast and mid Atlantic states over the last 30 years or so. I have never had a problem bringing my bike into any of their hotel rooms. I'm not aware of any official "biker friendly" policy at Choice but so far, they've never failed to accommodate my needs. It's a very competitive industry and other major hotel chains may offer similar biker hospitality as well.
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Generally I've had good luck with hotel chains as well for the reasons you specify. Where I've had trouble is at smaller boutique hotels and resorts, especially in areas that rarely see a cyclist of any kind. Some chain hotels, though, have a floor plan that generally precludes first-floor rooms and often have tiny elevators or stairs that aren't well-suited to hauling heavy e-bikes up and down them. So while I like Holiday Inn Express, Hiltons, and Embassy Suites generally they are contraindicated on a bike tour.

Hotel chains I've had good luck with include:

  • Best Western
  • Hampton Inn & Suites
  • Candlewood Suites
  • Marriott Townplace Suites
  • Marriott Residence Inns
  • Comfort Inn & Suites
  • Quality Inn (although they are often a bit dumpy)
Some hotels will have a secure room where you will be encouraged to leave your bike. Sometimes there is no choice and that is what you have to do. In general, I'm not a big fan of such situations. Hotels often have enormous staffs and you can't really know who will have access to that room. Worse, oftentimes when you leave in the morning it may take a while to find someone who can unlock that room and get your bike back to you and get yourself on the road.

Hostels are kind of a mixed bag. They often can be awesome (quite reasonably priced, access to decent kitchen and laundry facilities) and in great locations. The downside is they are often crowded, noisy, and it can be next to impossible to maintain the security of your bike or your gear. Some of them can also have insane and silly rules that make it almost impossible for a functioning human to stay there. Again, you just have to do your research.
 

Mr. Coffee

Well-Known Member
...
I always plan my routes at home on my PC well in advance using Garmin's Basecamp , Google Earth and Google maps software. I take advantage of as many off road options as possible. https://www.traillink.com/ is a great resource for finding off road routes. I build my route in Basecamp https://www.garmin.com/en-US/shop/downloads/basecamp and check it with Google Earth https://www.google.com/earth/versions/ & Google Maps https://www.google.com/maps/@40.9766168,-75.9777438,14z. I make adjustments to minimize elevation change, heavy traffic areas, narrow bridges, road construction, etc. Once built, I use the tools available in Basecamp to divide the route into segments which can be ridden in a day. I then plot hotel locations at the end of each days ride. When the route is complete in Basecamp, I download it to my handebar mounted GPS. I also use Google Maps & Google Earth mobile versions on my smartphone as a backup.
I'd add Ride With GPS as a great route-planning tool, and also highly recommend Adventure Cycling and their pretty cool maps as a good resource. The ACA routes are usually pretty well-researched and places to stay on those routes are usually familiar with bicycle tourists and do try to accommodate them.

Google maps on a smartphone is great when/if you have cell service, which you often don't. It can be very easy to set up Google maps on your phone with your destination for the day which means you can quickly figure out how many miles your tired legs need to carry you.

One great thing about Google maps is that you can often use Street View and to a lesser extent satellite images to figure out if there is a decent shoulder on that road and how much traffic you might see.

I usually start off with guidebooks and spend several evenings playing around with Google Maps and Ride With GPS and Garmin Basecamp trying to put together plausible routes.
I also like to grab a few guidebooks for the area, if available, to get some trip and routing ideas.
 

BBassett

Active Member
All these are good options for anyone that needs power outlets daily. That's the biggest inconvenience to ebike touring still. I'd like to see electrical outlets available on all new road infrastructure throughout America, along all intended hyperloop infrastructure, and God forbid... any southern wall America is dumb enough to build. But until someone learns how to make a ridiculous profit on it we won't see it. In Germany all along their autobahns they have emergency phones evenly spaced with markers pointing to the closest one. Something like that to provide power for ebikers. But... I won't live long enough to see or take advantage of that... probably. I like to get away from people, not gravitate to them, so I finally got a folding solar panel to take a great deal of the pressure off. Not All the pressure, but a lot of it. :) I use motels/hotels/B&B's/campgrounds when I need to fully clean and reset everything for the next leg. I also seldom plan out my trip, worry about elevation gain, or worry if I can find a place to pay to sleep somewhere.