It looks like my managers may soon grant me an 8-week sabbatical. I'm hoping to use that time, plus a few more weeks vacation, if needed, to ride across the U.S.
I was hoping you kind folks could help fill in the gaps for me as I prepare to do this. I've read to about page 30 of the General Discussion board, and the books "Across America by Bicycle" and "Life is a Wheel," as well as bicycling magazine's long-distance cycling book, so hopefully my questions haven't been covered.
About me: I'm 40 years old, exercise regularly. I did triathlons for a decade, even an Ironman, but for the past year I've primarily been working with a coach to be a faster runner.
I still ride for fun. My training peaked last year at about 40 miles running and 50 miles cycling per week. The last big ride I did was this month, from San Francisco to Stinson Beach and back, about 40 miles and I think 3000 ft in elevation.
I'm not very experienced in camping, or much of a gearhead though. I can change a flat and adjust brakes, but it's been more than a decade since I fixed a chain, and I have little experience beyond that.
First, timing --
I have classes until May 11, so I'm planning to leave May 18 or May 25. I'm thinking I'd like to go east to mirror the westward expansion of the country.
I could go later and ride from the west, but there's an event I have in mid-August in San Francisco that might interfere, and besides, I'm always for moving towards my goals earlier rather than later.
Does that departure date sound good? Should I budget more time? I could use as little as 8 weeks and probably as much as 11, but I don't want to overbudget either. I guess the time depends on...
The route --
I live in New Jersey and work in New York City. It seems that for most people, the TransAmerica route is best for the first time. I think I could ride from New Jersey, where I live, to Virginia and pick up the trail from there.
However, I'd really like to wind up in San Francisco, where my grandma lives. How difficult would that be? I see from the interactive network map http://www.adventurecycling.org/routes-and-maps/adventure-cycling-route-network/interactive-network-map/
that there is a route directly west out of Colorado. I read that southern Utah is beautiful, and that's where this route would go.
I also have friends in Chicago, Minneapolis and Oregon that I'd like to see. Would it be possible to see them as well? Is the Northern Tier a better option?
But those are secondary concerns. I think my primary concern would be safety and then secondarily, sights to see.
I've read tales of danger coming from coal trucks in West Virginia and Kentucky on the TransAmerica trail, and danger from oil and logging trucks in the Dakotas and Washington on the Northern Tier, so I suppose there's no way of avoiding them.
Among my notes from the forum, I read: "ACA routes preferably take you through very scenic but hilly and demanding roads … When considering among paved roads, the ACA will almost always pick the lowest traffic roads, even if it considerably increases the hills and distance (up to 50% longer) and sacrifices the shoulder."
That sounds good to me!
I was also given this route as a suggestion. Does it make any sense to you?https://www.google.com/maps/dir/New+York,+NY/San+Francisco,+CAfirstname.lastname@example.org,-97.5508665,5z/data=!4m14!4m13!1m5!1m1!1s0x89c24fa5d33f083b:0xc80b8f06e177fe62!2m2!1d-74.0059413!2d40.7127837!1m5!1m1!1s0x80859a6d00690021:0x4a501367f076adff!2m2!1d-122.4194155!2d37.7749295!3e1
What is the Cowboy Trail?
I have two bikes: a time trial bike that would obviously be a poor fit for this venture, and a Trek 1200 2003 that I'd love to ride cross-country, since that bike and I have a lot of history. However, I'm open to getting a proper touring bike if really necessary. Novara Randonee or Surly Long Haul, right?
I suppose this depends on the route and the style of travel. I'm waiting to hear about the route from you guys! The style of travel -- well, I'm not a very experienced camper, and I could probably do credit card touring, but it seems like camping is more common.
With credit card touring though, I probably would be more comfortable on the road and off. I could travel more lightly without camp equipment and sleep in a real bed. I can imagine traveling with a backpack, a change of cycling clothes and a change of regular clothes, and a light laptop, like a MacBook Air.
What strategy would you suggest (buy a bike or not? credit card tour or not?), and is this more possible on one route versus another? And how does this affect my bike choice?
If the weather was nice, and I was feeling brave, I think I could jump on my bike and head out tomorrow. But seeing as I have about 4 months to go, what should I spend my time on?