Author Topic: Hi, I'm a newby after advice!  (Read 2672 times)

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Offline sj_sands

Hi, I'm a newby after advice!
« on: November 15, 2011, 03:43:26 am »
Hi there,

I am moving to America in January and hoping to do a cycle tour from either San Francisco to New York or San Francisco to Austin around next August. I have never been to America and know next to nothing about bikes but that is my dream! I'm also hoping to do some filming along the way.

I have a light-weight, one person tent (I work in a camping store part-time), a water-proof jacket and a pocket full of dreams at this point. I am planning to buy a steel-frame touring bike (maybe from Surly or Soma) once I get to the states, and as I'll be living in San Francisco, I'll have lots of nice hills to train on.

I have a few questions/ concerns:

1. Does anything about this stand out immediately as being unachievable/ dangerous/ stupid? I've never been to America so I'm not sure what the terrain is like.

2. Where do you camp? My biggest concerns are affordability (unfortunately) and security, so campsites would be ideal. Are there usually towns within a day's ride of each other? In Australia something like this would be nearly impossible because you would simply run out of water, but America seems more populated so I could perhaps alter my route to go through as many small towns as possible to get supplies and find places to camp?

3. What sort of things should I do to train in preparation? I'm young and reasonably healthy, and intending to ride 50-100 km a day, so I'll be going very slowly so I can see things and meet people :)

Any other advice you have, feel free to throw my way. Thanks for you help :)

Offline Tandem4Rider

Re: Hi, I'm a newby after advice!
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2011, 04:43:04 am »
Hate to answer a request this way, but the search function will do just about everything you have asked.

Welcome to the United States.  Enjoy your ride!

Offline Fred Hiltz

Re: Hi, I'm a newby after advice!
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2011, 05:14:04 am »
Welcome! In addition, check out the How To section at the web site, http://www.adventurecycling.org/index.cfm. Between that and an hour or two browsing this forum, you will find 99% of your questions answered. Do write back for the rest, and let us know how it goes. We are always interested in what others are thinking and doing about bike touring.

Fred

Offline mucknort

Re: Hi, I'm a newby after advice!
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2011, 07:04:24 am »
You can also read journals of previous trips on the crazy guy website.


Here's results of a search with the words SF and NY:
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/search/?type=journals&query=san+francisco+new+york

and SF and Austin:
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/search/?type=journals&query=san+francisco+austin

Offline valygrl

Re: Hi, I'm a newby after advice!
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2011, 10:15:12 am »
Howdy & welcome!

Nothing wrong with your plan.  Good time of year for touring.   There are mountain ranges to cross, but nothing a normally fit person can't handle, and they are the most beautiful parts of the country in my opinion.

Most of the USA is safe to travel, big cities can be scary - traffic, people - but most places are fine.  I'm a small woman and I tour alone, without too much worry.  Picking roads is pretty important, as you can be miserable or overjoyed depending on if there are too many cars & not enough shoulder or the opposite.  Once you decide your general route, you can do some research here and elsewhere to get the details figured out, and ask specific questions if you need to.

You should have no problem with town spacing.  There are a few places out west where you might have to go 60-90 miles between towns, but a little planning can let you avoid that sort of thing most of the time.  Mostly you'll be through a small town at least every 30-50 miles.  You just have to pay attention to your maps and carry enough food & water to get you to the next town - usually less than a day.

Since you are on this site, I assume you've seen that they sell bike maps?  If you choose to use one of the Adventure Cycling routes, the maps show you details along the routes of town locations, camping, places to get food/water, bike shops, and elevation profiles.  If you don't use one of their routes, you'll have to figure it out yourself from other maps & resources (like state Dept. of Transportation bike maps, AAA maps, brochures you pick up along the way at the towns' Chamber of Commerce/Tourist Info places).  The A.C. maps are great to get you started, once you use them for a week or two you'll get a sense of how to plan it for yourself and can more easily wander off the map's route.  Most places outside of big cities you can camp for free (on wilderness / forest service land) or cheaply in campgrounds (services range from a pit toilet to full showers, store, etc).  Prices are $6-$30/camp site for pay sites.  In summer in National Parks you may need a camping reservation, but I rarely make reservations otherwise, a little planning day by day is enough to find camp sites. 

For preparation, I would say just get your bike as soon as you get here and start riding around your new home area (lots of great riding north & south of the city) to get used to riding and get the bike fit dialed in.  Buy a bike with low gears. There's endless gear shopping here too, including used gear and outlets, so I wouldn't buy anything more until you get here.

You'll also have to learn about safe food storage, since we have some creatures here that want to eat your food when you're camping - raccoons and bears mostly.  Don't *worry* about bears, but do educate yourself about how to keep a clean bear-aware camp.  This mostly applies in the mountains.  Raccoons are at most camp sites in the west, and are really clever.  Do some googling on this topic.

Welcome to the US and I hope you have a great trip!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did my tour in Victoria and Tasmania a few years ago.

Offline BikeFreak

Re: Hi, I'm a newby after advice!
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2011, 10:40:50 am »
1. No.
2. Campsites only (private, state parks, national forests etc). I spend on average 20 dollars a day. There will be remote stretches of more than 100 kms - especially in the West.
3. I'm also young, I never train and I do 200 kms a day.

Lucas

Offline sj_sands

Re: Hi, I'm a newby after advice!
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2011, 03:29:55 pm »
Thank you so much for all your advice, especially VlyGrl! It really helps a lot. I'm also a young girl, and people had told me it wouldn't really be safe to travel across America without a gun, because of bears and bikie gangs. But it doesn't sound like that's true. Very excited now, I'll definitely check out the other things on the site :)

Offline pptouring

Re: Hi, I'm a newby after advice!
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2011, 03:49:00 pm »
... people had told me it wouldn't really be safe to travel across America without a gun,

well.... it never hurts to be prepared!  ;)

Welcome aboard and where are you coming from?

Offline sj_sands

Re: Hi, I'm a newby after advice!
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2011, 04:39:47 pm »
Melbourne. No one has guns here, but I was told most people carry them in the States, especially in the south.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Hi, I'm a newby after advice!
« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2011, 04:45:58 pm »
Melbourne. No one has guns here, but I was told most people carry them in the States, especially in the south.
That is definitely not true.

FWIW, I have met quite a few women touring solo here in the US and having a great time.  I am pretty sure they were not carrying guns.  In some cases on more popular routes they tended to not remain solo but rather wound up touring with others they met along the way.

Offline pptouring

Re: Hi, I'm a newby after advice!
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2011, 05:12:50 pm »
Melbourne. No one has guns here, but I was told most people carry them in the States, especially in the south.

Oh don't believe everything you hear and/or read. You should be fine, but watch out for those folks in the West and up North, they're usually not as nice as the folks from the South!  ;D

Offline Tandem4Rider

Re: Hi, I'm a newby after advice!
« Reply #11 on: November 16, 2011, 04:54:07 am »
Go Aussie!

My wife is from Oz and has discovered that collectively we fit the preconceived notions about Americans, but individually we break away from that stereotype - a very odd situation.  You'll find that we are warm and welcoming, for the most part; and perhaps willing to help anyone who looks like they need it (as long as you are a healthy distance from big cities - sorry to those urban dwellers among us, just my experience).

Don't worry about guns...  many more people carry extra weight than firepower.  Being young and female and perhaps on your own you ought not to be paranoid or anxious.  However, you should be cautious.  I doubt you have much to fear from wildlife - I'd be more alert for distracted motorists as you'll see more of them and get hurt by them.  When crossing roads look left last - not right!

Again, welcome and enjoy!

Offline yumadons

Re: Hi, I'm a newby after advice!
« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2011, 08:11:01 am »
Be sure to sign up at warmshowers.com, a network of people who host cyclists in their homes overnite. Americans love all things Australian, you'll find plenty of takers!