Author Topic: Cross Country with a 13 year old boy  (Read 4188 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline askmeaboutmybeard

Cross Country with a 13 year old boy
« on: November 30, 2011, 06:56:03 pm »
Hi everyone,
I am new to the forum and am excited to begin consuming all the great information. Next summer my 12 (soon to be 13) year old son and I will be making a ride across the country. I am trying to figure out the best option for doing this while keeping the costs down. We have virtually all summer so we can take our time. Question is, would I be better of doing this as part of a supported ride or is it something we could safely do on our own?

Neither of us has ever embarked on anything like this but we are up to the challenge and committed to the ride  ;D

Thanks so much for this awesome fourm  :)
"A father and son bike ride across America" - http://www.askmeaboutmybeard.com

Offline John Nelson

Re: Cross Country with a 13 year old boy
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2011, 11:23:41 pm »
Most people do a cross-country ride without support. A supported ride will cost significantly more. I don't think you'll necessarily need support, even if your son is unable to carry any of the gear, as long as you are both in reasonable shape. Consider support only if you feel unable to physically carry your gear. I don't see how support would make the ride any safer. Just teach your son appropriate bike safety and make sure he rides enough to make it ingrained.

As to whether to tour with just the two of you or to travel with an organized group, that's kind of a personal decision. Traveling with a group will add a lot of moral support and relieve you of a lot of problem-solving. Traveling alone will give you more flexibility to cater to your son's interests and abilities, and the problem-solving may increase the bonding experience (as long as you don't kill each other).

Offline tonythomson

Re: Cross Country with a 13 year old boy
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2011, 03:15:55 am »
Just back from crossing Oz and out there I met a Mum and her 12 yo daughter on a tandem, doing the crossing unsupported and camping every night. In 2008 they did the ST - unsupported.

Ann (the daughter) is a great kid and really cool but I think Mum was doing most of the engine work.  They were averaging about 8 mph without any plan where to get to that day so no pressure on either to "do the miles" and if they didn't achieve the ultimate goal of getting all the way across in the time they would take a bus (they did make it) but the point being that they wanted to enjoy and savour the journey rather than wreck themselves trying to get the tee shirt.
I learnt a lot from their attitude.
Just starting to record my trips  www.tonystravels.com

Offline Tandem4Rider

Re: Cross Country with a 13 year old boy
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2011, 06:36:32 am »
First - welcome!  Hope you enjoy it.  More than that - I hope your 13 year-old enjoys it and carries it forward some day.

Second - you have found a very valuable resource.  The forum discussions will answer many of your inquiries and concerns.  There are also links on the ACA website that are really valuable.  I might also add a plug for crazyguyonabike.com and the journals and articles that appear there.  Another valuable resource.

Third - I suggest very strongly that you ramp up to the trip with shorter "shake-down" trips to work out some of the discomforts you "might" encounter.  There are a few facets to anything new that no matter how much research you put into it you will never figure it all out until you do it.  If some of those require adjustments in equipment or such things it is better to learn that over a short 3-5 day trip rather than once you're underway on the TA.

Fourth - Please, tell me about your beard.  (You did ask!?!)

Enjoy the trip!


Offline askmeaboutmybeard

Re: Cross Country with a 13 year old boy
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2011, 11:50:44 am »
Thanks everyone for the great feedback. I've read that the "southern route" is the shortest cross country route. Is this correct and would it be suitable for 2 rookies?

Regarding my beard...thanks for asking! I made an agreement with my son, that starting Nov. 23 I would not shave until we complete our ride next summer. We have put together a site for keeping track of how it's going (growing) and to chronicle our journey from training and on through the ride.

Please stop by the site if you would like to...the address is http://www.askmeaboutmybeard.com

Thanks again everyone  :)
"A father and son bike ride across America" - http://www.askmeaboutmybeard.com

Offline indyfabz

Re: Cross Country with a 13 year old boy
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2011, 02:13:58 pm »
I've read that the "southern route" is the shortest cross country route. Is this correct and would it be suitable for 2 rookies?

I would be hesitant about doing the southern tier in the middle of the summer unless you can tolerate extreme heat and, in some places, humidity.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Cross Country with a 13 year old boy
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2011, 02:27:48 pm »
I've read that the "southern route" is the shortest cross country route. Is this correct and would it be suitable for 2 rookies?

I would be hesitant about doing the southern tier in the middle of the summer unless you can tolerate extreme heat and, in some places, humidity.
+1

Do the ST only in the cooler months.  It looks to me like Feb or March is a better time to go for the ST (I am planning to do it starting Feb11).  December would be OK, but the days are super short.

The Trans America is a really nice route best started in the East in the Spring or in the West later in the Summer (at least early June and probably better to wait until late June or July).  Starting in the East in the Spring, you have the best chance of avoiding heat in the East and cold and/or snow in the Rockies.

Obviously there is a lot of flexibility, but the dates I mentioned are probably a good bet.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Cross Country with a 13 year old boy
« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2011, 03:15:44 pm »
Trans-Am / Western Express is shorter than the straight TransAm, if you're worried about distance.  (Though I think the Tetons are worth the diversion, not to mention some spectacular parts of Montana.)

Which raises a question in my mind; when's the best time to ride TA/WE?  In spring you've got melting water more places, and passes where the water hasn't melted; it gets hot in summer, and fall is the end of a long, hot, dry spell.  So do riders taking that route start a bit earlier in the east, or later and risk hot dry Nevada and Utah in the west?

Offline John Nettles

Re: Cross Country with a 13 year old boy
« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2011, 09:19:50 pm »
It is certainly doable to go self-contained.  I would like to strongly encourage you to do several multi-day trips before hand, perhaps a week-long trip over spring break.  I was 14 on my first "big" tour (1,000 miles) but had been on a couple of supported cross-state rides before then.  You don't mention if your son is a strong rider or an average rider.  The amount of gear you need is not that different no matter the size of the person.  I would assume your son would have a little more difficulty lugging 30 pounds of gear around compared to you.  Of course, a self-supported tour is easier to pedal but you loose a ton of freedom.

I would also strongly suggest you adhere to the rule "Each item must be at least double duty."  This means, you do not take an item if it can not be realistically used for two things, i.e.  your off bike shoes can be Crocs, i.e. you can walk around in them, shower in them, and use them as a "pillow".  Another example is that your rain jacket is your cool weather jacket.  Obviously, some critical items like a stove are rarely multi purpose, but try to keep the rule.  Otherwise, you end up shipping a ton of stuff home a couple of weeks into the ride.

Since you have all summer, IF both are strong riders, I would encourage you do to the TransAm.  It is easily doable during summer break.  I did it the summer after my junior HS year and loved it.  It is very educational, the scenery is great and changes often, and it has been around for over 35 years so the locals are used to cyclists.

Whatever trip you do, I wish you an enjoyable time!
Happy trails and may the wind be at your back!
John

Offline mucknort

Re: Cross Country with a 13 year old boy
« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2011, 11:08:49 pm »
Last year, my wife and I rode with our then 11 year old son (he turned 12 in WA) from Boston to Seattle on a modified version of the NT (we went across NY on the Erie Canal Trail crossed through Canada and then after MN dipped down through SD and WY to hit Natl Parks). Our son did great and loved it.

The first week we avg'd about 20 miles/day, 2nd week 30/day, 3rd week 40 or so/day. After that we avg'd 40 - 60/day and he did fine with that. In WA we stayed with a warmshowers family that rode the year before with kids on tandems. That worked for them, our son said no way would he want a tandem - he wanted to pedal the whole trip on his own power. My wife and I had trailers and carried most of the gear. We did give our son panniers to carry some stuff (mostly for his ego). Best wishes on your trip!

« Last Edit: December 05, 2011, 02:41:32 pm by mucknort »

Offline DaveB

Re: Cross Country with a 13 year old boy
« Reply #10 on: December 02, 2011, 10:19:11 am »
A lot of what you can do depends on your son.  Is he mature or "infantile" about responsibilities?  Is he big or small for his age?  I've seen 13 year olds who were under 5' tall and 80 pounds others 6' and 160 so how much he can carry will depend a lot on that.  Does he have a suitable bike with adequate gears?   

My preference would be an unsupported tour but possibly a "credit card" tour if you can afford it.  The lack of heavy camping and cooking gear will make the actual bike riding much more of a pleasure.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Cross Country with a 13 year old boy
« Reply #11 on: December 02, 2011, 10:56:35 am »
I understand and accept the previous argument in favor of a credit-card tour. Let me offer the counterargument. First of all, camping is one of the most perfect father/son experiences. Second, it saves you a ton of money, especially if you are willing to camp in unorthodox places. Third is that it considerably increases your options and flexibility. Fourth, it keeps you away from the television. Fifth, it gives you greater interaction with the environment, culture and people.

Offline jamawani

Re: Cross Country with a 13 year old boy
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2011, 09:25:21 am »
I looked at your website pic.
I see you are both redheads - so am I.
That means extra precautions - clothing and sunscreen.

Can you do the trip unsupported? Of course.
Should you consider the ST?  Probably not.
The Western Express also has some long, remote stretches.

I'm guessing you have early June to late August.
12 weeks max. Biking and travel time.
60 miles per day - starting more slowly.
Plus one day off per week - for fun or to chill.
That adds up to about 4200 miles.
So you could do the traditional TransAm.

The advantages of the TransAm are excellent maps and meeting others.
I would suggest an east to west ride starting in early June.
Still using mostly Adventure Cycling routes -
You could do a Combo Northern Tier & TransAm -
Maybe cutting across Iowa and Nebraska to the Grand Tetons.

I think camping would be an important part of the fun.
But you should allow yourself funds for motels, as needed.
You meet a lot more people camping -
Plus the grandmas and grampas in RVs -
Will take good care of you.

Have fun! - - J

Offline staehpj1

Re: Cross Country with a 13 year old boy
« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2011, 10:30:10 am »
I looked at your website pic.
I see you are both redheads - so am I.
That means extra precautions - clothing and sunscreen.

Can you do the trip unsupported? Of course.
Should you consider the ST?  Probably not.
The Western Express also has some long, remote stretches.

I'm guessing you have early June to late August.
12 weeks max. Biking and travel time.
60 miles per day - starting more slowly.
Plus one day off per week - for fun or to chill.
That adds up to about 4200 miles.
So you could do the traditional TransAm.

The advantages of the TransAm are excellent maps and meeting others.
I would suggest an east to west ride starting in early June.
Still using mostly Adventure Cycling routes -
You could do a Combo Northern Tier & TransAm -
Maybe cutting across Iowa and Nebraska to the Grand Tetons.

I think camping would be an important part of the fun.
But you should allow yourself funds for motels, as needed.
You meet a lot more people camping -
Plus the grandmas and grampas in RVs -
Will take good care of you.

Have fun! - - J
Good advice.  I would also add that some folks we met also did a Lewis and Clark and Trans America combo and seemed pretty happy with the route.  I have not done the NT or L&C options so can't specifically say much about them.  I will say that the TA was great.

I agree that camping is a big part of the fun and on the TA there is a ton of free or cheap camping.  Much of it is in places like town parks, churches and so on.  It is in towns so water, a store, and a diner are usually readily available.  We often had a picnic pavilion available to camp under or a church or fellowship hall floor to crash on.  So it isn't a ton of roughing it for much of the way.

WRT the "grandmas and grampas in RVs" taking good care of you...  I was touring with my 21 year old daughter and one of her college room mates when I did the TA and we were usually assumed to be a father and two daughters.  I think we received a lot more hospitality because of that.  People treated us very well sometimes inviting us to stay, offering a bottle of cold water out in the middle of nowhere, or a meal at their table.  I think you will get much of the same touring with a son.

The AC maps have quite a few free places documented and if you compare notes with riders going the other way they will point you towards more.

Meeting and camping with others going the same way was also a big plus for us.  A few of them we became quite good friends with.

Offline BikeFreak

Re: Cross Country with a 13 year old boy
« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2011, 03:35:52 pm »
2012 I'm doing TransAm myself. My biggest concern is the heat/temperature going E-W. I do bicycle 125 mi/day and with the snow in the Rockies I have to start quite late in June (in VA) in order to do the mountains without closed roads. That worries me a lot because I know the temperature in the Midwest can become very very hot. Still, I have not decided when to leave VA.

2000 I did the Northern Tier E-W. Like all ACA maps, these maps are also excellent. You will also be able to camp in plenty of town parks. However, you will not meet so many other bikers along the road - the route is not so popular (I guess). BUT, the summer temperature will be in your favor (you ride close to Canada all the time). My guess is, unless you start at 05 in the morning each day, you will not be able to do the Southern Tier - it simply becomes too hot during the day and you will not be able to do the miles. So, no matter what route you choose - don't underestimate the temperature.

And yes, of course you can do it yourself. In 2003 I did the Divide myself and met the ACA group along the way. In that particular group a family with their 12-14 old son was part of the team. That boy did very very well. And I would say that the Divide is the toughest of all routes in the US.

Lucas