I am a senior in high school, 18 years old, and I am planning a bike trip across the country this spring. I am flying to Oakland, CA next week, and I will be biking from there to San Diego with a friend of mine, an 18 year old guy. However, he is not likely to continue biking with me past San Diego, so I will be doing most of the Southern Tier on my own. My dad will join me in Texas for a few weeks, but for the most part, I will be traveling alone using warm showers and camping. I am planning on about $20 a day, though I do have some money in a CD which I can access if I need to. I have until June 10th or so to get back to my home in Northern VT and I am hoping to do the majority of the trip by bike, though I am also committed to not rushing and enjoying the experience.
I intend to go further north from San Diego on rt. 67 and 78 through Julian CA and take 86 past the Salton Sea. I will go East on I 10 until exit 168, then bike up through Joshua Tree National Park as I want to avoid I-8 and I would like to see Joshua Tree. Past Twentynine Palms, I will take 62 to Parker, then 72 to 60 and on into Phoenix. I know this section is quite remote. I will be carrying my food, stove, tent, etc. with me, so I should be pretty self sufficient, but I am wondering about safety as a young woman. It seems like traveling in more populated areas is probably safer, but larger roads are also more dangerous and I would much prefer to be in less traffic.
I may take the Natchez Trace Parkway up from Louisiana rather than going all the way to St. Augustine and up the Atlantic Coast route, because I want to go through Asheville NC and the Parkway seems like great riding. I don't have an exact route for this part of the trip, so if you have any suggestions, I would appreciate hearing them. Is there a good way to get from Tupelo, Mississippi to Asheville North Carolina? I want to go up the East coast somewhere between the Atlantic Coast adventure cycling route and the Underground Railroad route through Eastern Kentucky, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, and Vermont.
My touring experience is pretty limited, I spent 8 days biking in Ecuador this fall with a group, but we were riding mountain bikes and mostly on tiny cobblestone roads way up in the Andes. I feel comfortable camping, cooking on a camp stove and generally living sparsely, but I haven't done a lot of traveling alone so I don't really know what to expect as a young woman. I've also never been in the South before, so it's a totally new culture to me. If you have any experience traveling alone as a young woman, or have any insight about my situation, I would appreciate your advice. Are there generally a lot of bikers doing the Southern Tier at this time of year (March-May) or will I likely be unable to find companions to ride with during the day? Should I stay away from remote areas? And fundamentally, are the risks of riding over 5,000 miles as an 18 year old woman with limited touring experience in an area of the country I have never been to before too great to balance the benefits of challenge, adventure and learning how to live in a self sufficient manner? I know that's a hard question to answer because it depends on a lot of factors, but it would be helpful to hear several opinions on this issue. I love biking, challenges, meeting new people, adventure, seeing new perspectives and inspiring people, but am I banking on these passions too much to warrant putting myself in a lot of danger?
Thank you so much, I have already learned a lot from reading through this forum. It is an incredible resource and I'm extremely grateful for it.