Poll

Is it possible to do Washington state to Washington DC in 30 days?

Heck Yes
3 (50%)
With luck
0 (0%)
It'll be fun to try
1 (16.7%)
You won't make it
2 (33.3%)
You'll probably die
0 (0%)

Total Members Voted: 6

Voting closed: October 10, 2013, 07:30:27 pm

Author Topic: coast to coast touring 30 days?  (Read 898 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline beechboywa

coast to coast touring 30 days?
« on: October 05, 2013, 06:22:07 pm »
Hi All,

I want to start off by stating that I am a total newb when it comes to long distance cycling. I have done a moderate amount of mountain biking, but only minimal road rides. I turn 30 next year and want to try for one of my life goals which I've had since I was a teenager. I want to ride across america from Washington state to Washington DC. I have been reading reviews, articles blogs etc, but am hoping for some direct feedback from people who have done it. I will only have 30 days before I have to be back to work (not counting 2 days to fly back, and plan on doing the ride either in April or September depending. What gear do you recomend, training, what surprises are out there. Is it even feasible or am I biting off more than I can chew. I know most folks spend a couple of months doing this, but it seems to be less direct routes and some sight seeing included. I plan on going fast and light. I would appreciate any thoughts you all have.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2013, 07:39:58 pm by beechboywa »

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: coast to coast touring 30 days?
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2013, 07:49:05 pm »
Not voting because of a lack of information.  Specifically, what touring and long distance riding experience do you have?  Have you ridden back-to-back centuries (100 miles) on the road, or back-to-back 8-10 hours on the mountain bike rides?  For most people, it's not the first or second day that's hard.  Rather, it's putting together four or five long days in the saddle, and knowing you've got to repeat that to make your goal.

Possible?  Sure, RAAM riders do it in less than a third that much time.  In most cases, they've been preparing for it for years.

Offline zzzz

Re: coast to coast touring 30 days?
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2013, 07:58:56 pm »
Hi:

I'm just going to comment on 1 part of your post.

Leave in September.

1) I can't imagine the passes you're going to need to go over will all be open in April.

2) It will give you 5 more months to get in shape. Get in lots of miles & seat time.

On the 2 trips I've taken I've  averaged a 100± miles a day which is what your going to need to do. But I travel really light and sleep in hotels and eat in restaurants so it's expensive. I also typically ride 5000 miles a year.

You're pretty young at 30 y.o. and that can make up for a lot but it's going to be a test.

Pete

Offline beechboywa

Re: coast to coast touring 30 days?
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2013, 08:13:12 pm »
Great questions, my rides lately have been one offs. So no too the 100 mile rides, and the several day rides in a row. I've been heading into the late 20s slump, I can still get out and go run for a few hours at a stretch, and have done 20 mile + rides without much discomfort the next day. The challenge I face is with family school and work my training time is pretty limited. My mindset at this point is I will ride as much as possible in the time I have and if I make it to Idaho great, or if I make it to Washington DC great. I just want to increase the odds, and how many miles I'll make.

Don't know if there is much that can be offered, but I've never had the opportunity to talk to someone who's done it so want to hear the thoughts of those that have.

Online John Nelson

Re: coast to coast touring 30 days?
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2013, 08:37:50 pm »
Do you have to go in April or September? I'd recommend June or July, because the days will be much longer, making the trip more feasible. Have you planned the route? What does the mileage come out to be?

A strong 30 year old with proper training can surely do 30 back-to-back 100-mile days. But you need to get in great shape before you start so you can hit the ground running. I'd suggest at least a few months of 200-mile weeks of training--as much to train your butt, back, neck and arms as your legs. Train at least one day a week fully loaded. Train at least two days a week on long, steep hills. If finances allow, I'd suggest staying in motels and eating in restaurants (or out of grocery stores) the whole way. Adding the stress of tearing down and setting up camp and cooking your meals each day will make a hard trip harder. Skipping cooking and camping will also help you keep your load lighter.

Offline beechboywa

Re: coast to coast touring 30 days?
« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2013, 08:52:33 pm »
I could do it at any point really, I was just thinking to avoid the worst heat of the midwest I'd hit late spring or early fall... My route takes me through the idaho panhandle and southern Montana, I want to drop down through wyoming as I've heard the pass there is easier than most, and it will allow me to go through KS City were I used to live. If I keep the northern route though and turn south in Wisconsin then I could probably do July and save myself about 300 miles avoiding the worst of the heat. I plan on camping 5 days a week to save money with 2 days a week at friends I have along the route or hotels. I appreciate the tips on the acclimating to the bike. I'm blessed with a 60 mile commute round trip so I plan on doing that once a week to start and ramping up to two or three.

Online John Nelson

Re: coast to coast touring 30 days?
« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2013, 09:34:38 pm »
One problem with campgrounds, or motels for that matter, is that they don't occur at exactly the intervals you want. So if you need to average 100 miles a day, you'll have some 70 mile days and some 130 mile days, because that's just where you'll be able to find a place to sleep. If you're willing to sleep by any random spot by the side of the road, whether completely legal or not, you'll have more flexibility. Since you're under tight constraints, I'd try to plan out the whole route in advance including researching places to sleep along the way.

Some people tolerate heat better than cold, and others cold better than heat. You know which group you fit into. I rarely get overheated while riding because you have a constant self-made breeze. If you don't like the heat, you can start at first light, which also helps avoid the winds too. Anyway, the closer you can center your trip on June 21, the more daylight you'll have. Riding in warmer weather also allows you to take a lighter and smaller sleeping bag.

Remember that crossing the continental divide is a trivial part of the climbing you'll do. With the exception of the center of the country, there are hills pretty much everywhere. I wouldn't go out of my way too much to find an easy crossing of the continental divide--it's just not worth it to avoid a few hours of climbing. Many cyclists feel that there are a lot of places more difficult than the Rocky Mountains.

Also, if you go in the summer, you can ride Going To The Sun Road through Glacier National Park, probably the most spectacularly beautiful road I've ever ridden.

Offline DaveB

Re: coast to coast touring 30 days?
« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2013, 05:44:41 am »
You are going to have to ride 30 centuries back-to-back with no rest days at all.  Have you ever ridden even one century?  How about a really hilly one like you will  encounter in TN, KY, WVA, MD, etc?

Sorry to be so negative but I don't think you have any idea what you are getting into and you better find out before committing to the trip. 


Offline indyfabz

Re: coast to coast touring 30 days?
« Reply #8 on: October 06, 2013, 07:14:44 am »
You are going to have to ride 30 centuries back-to-back with no rest days at all.

Sorry to be so negative but I don't think you have any idea what you are getting into and you better find out before committing to the trip.

+1. And I am inclined to think it would be more than 30. Per Google Maps, a direct Interstate route is nearly 2,800 miles.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: coast to coast touring 30 days?
« Reply #9 on: October 06, 2013, 07:48:51 am »
My mindset at this point is I will ride as much as possible in the time I have and if I make it to Idaho great, or if I make it to Washington DC great. I just want to increase the odds, and how many miles I'll make.

Just to clarify, is your intent to RIDE as much as possible or to EXPERIENCE as much as possible in a month?  Most of the people posting here are bicycle tourists, interested in the experience as much as the distance.  Many long distance cyclists tend toward the experience of a ride as much as the distance covered, although non-cyclists you talk to will be more impressed by the numbers.  As indy implies, you can make distance on an interstate shoulder (at least in the west), but you'll enjoy riding up a steep mountain on a quiet road far more than sharing the route with a succession of trucks.

As John noted, Going to the Sun Road is one of the more spectacular roads around.  If you're starting near Seattle, the North Cascades road across Washington Pass is another one.  Ride either, or both, and you'll remember the experience for a long time.  They're awe-inspiring; just try to tell somebody who's never been there about either road without sounding like a mushy nature-lover!

Offline beechboywa

Re: coast to coast touring 30 days?
« Reply #10 on: October 06, 2013, 08:08:11 am »
What I really want out of it is the sense that I've accomplished something outside of the ordinary. That I've pushed myself as hard as I can and had had an adventure. Sounds like I may be able to accomplish those goals even while being a bit less ambitious and improving the route by including some of the locations you all have suggested.

Offline RussSeaton

Re: coast to coast touring 30 days?
« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2013, 01:19:14 pm »
The Midwest is not that bad during the summer.  It can be hot, hot, hot in eastern Colorado and western Kansas.  And humid in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and points east.  But its not that bad.  You can comfortably ride just fine.  I do it all summer and don't suffer.  Leave early and get your riding done by noon and you have it made in the shade.

As for riding a century a day for 30 days straight.  Doesn't sound like much fun to me.  I could probably do it, but would not enjoy it much.  Why not pick something like the Pacific coast route and do that for a month.  Its an accomplishment and sounds impressive to nonbikers.  And is doable in a month.  And you would likely have fun and have lots of scenery.

As the others have alluded to, your goals for this ride are not right.  Just riding everyday is something RAAM racers do.  Its not what a bike tourist does.  A bike tourist sees the country and experiences things.  Your plan is just nose to the tire and pedal pedal pedal.  Big whoop.  You can do that by leaving home every morning and riding out 50 miles and back.  You'll see and experience as much that way as your plan of riding across the country.

Offline BikeFreak

Re: coast to coast touring 30 days?
« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2013, 11:27:04 pm »
Hi,

I managed to ride across USA 2 times in approx 30 days. I typically average at 125 mi/day because I follow the ACA routes.

Here are my comments:

1. 30 days is tight and you will constantly think about the time you have left. You will constantly think about your plane ticket which probably is already booked and paid for. I, on the contrary had buffer time at the end and was more relaxed: At the end I was just lucky that I made it within 30 days. I would not like that sort of stress.

2. Your biggest obstacle will be strong head winds. On bad days you will maybe only be able to do 30 mi. You might have several of these days. It just means that you need to have some 150-170 mi/days later on.

3. Another obstacle is the terrain. ACA routes preferably take you through very scenic but hilly and demanding roads. If you stick to large highways, they are made for heavy truck traffic: These roads are leveled out as much as possible and will drastically increase your daily mileage.

4. Do not count on cooking yourself. At the end of each day you will be so exhausted that you don't have energy for cooking - you just want to sleep. Besides that, you will be cooking in complete darkness.

5. If you are blessed with a good riding day (sunshine, tail wind, comfortable temperature) go as long as you can (that might be 200 mi/day) - because the next morning things might have changed awful.

6. I myself am blessed with a "special" body: Without any long distance training (except 2x5 mi commuting each day) I can pull off the first 125 mi on day 1 without any problem. Don't get discouraged by people saying you cannot smell the roses. Just go out and do it.

7. Routing: The Ozarks in Missouri are very hilly and annoying if you want to go fast. Likewise, the hills in Kentucky and Virginia are very demanding and will reduced your daily average. I would stick to the Northern Tier as much as possible (avoiding the Ozarks) and slip over the Appalaichians at a convenient place to reach DC. Reason: The strech from Cut Bank, MT to Buffalo, NY will be almost flat. And the temperatures will never be annoyingly hot.

8. Bike: You need a quality bike. A simple break down in the middle of nowhere can set you back many days. You need the best possible bike with the best possible tires. My impression is, that staying on large roads in the emergency lane (right hand side of rumble strip) there will be a lot of debris, litter, nails and all sorts of things that might result in flat tires.

Lucas

Offline DaveB

Re: coast to coast touring 30 days?
« Reply #13 on: October 07, 2013, 08:43:14 am »
I myself am blessed with a "special" body: Without any long distance training (except 2x5 mi commuting each day) I can pull off the first 125 mi on day 1 without any problem. Don't get discouraged by people saying you cannot smell the roses. Just go out and do it.
You do indeed have a "special body" if you were able to ride successive 125 mile days without problems on the practically non-existent training schedule you gave.  "BikeFreak" indeed.  That does not mean the OP (or nearly anyone else) can do it and it's irresponsible to tell him he can without a lot of saddle time to see if it's within his ability.   

Offline MrBent

Re: coast to coast touring 30 days?
« Reply #14 on: October 10, 2013, 05:43:33 pm »
You're getting good advice.  I think it will likely come down to a suffer-fest, which is fine if that's yer cup o' tea.  You'll need to put in monstrous saddle time before seriously considering it.  I'd want to try a few double centuries, certainly train up to it.  You'd want to be comfortable with hitting a century each day of the weekend, and more, of course.  As one poster said, most of us here are for a take-it-slower pace.  My own cross country pace was about 65 miles per day, give our take.  For what it's worth, a friend who did 90+ miles every day on his crossing regrets going so quickly and thought my pace was a better choice.  The pressure to finish would be immense at the pace you suggest.  I'd think the tour would become more like a job.  BUT!  And this is a big "but."  People are different.  Maybe training for and undertaking such a challenge is what will make you happiest.  For me, having time to meet some locals, check out different places, linger over coffee in the morning or a cold beer after a hot day, those are some of my most cherished moments--not the days I packed in the miles.  To each his own.