Author Topic: Hi Everyone! First Timer Cross Country Rider - ROUTES NEEDED  (Read 344 times)

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Offline Slowroll

Hi Everyone! First Timer Cross Country Rider - ROUTES NEEDED
« on: February 03, 2017, 02:30:10 pm »
Hi Everyone!
I am planning a monumental undertaking starting around April 1... OMG that is less than 2 months away!  :o  ;D

I've never traveled long distance by bicycle, although I've been riding for a long time and used to do some long distance racing, etc. But, without going into the gory details... I am fully embracing what appears to be by all symptoms the dreaded mid-life crisis lol... Got a go-nowhere job, with a go-nowhere relationship, living a corporate gerbil go-nowhere existence... and I need some kind of kick in the pants to accomplish several things. First and foremost - I want to get healthy again!! OMG. If I told you what I weigh, you would fall off your chair. It's a "I went to a Weight Watchers meeting once for help, and I ate the Presenter" kind of weight problem. Thanks to decades sitting on a plane, in a car, at a desk, or in a meeting, combined with regularly crossing time zones and eating at restaurants, I am not able to bring the weight under control or exercise regularly and I am not willing to wait for the heart attack that will inevitably either kill me or snap me out of my stupor. So I am taking control of my life starting NOW. There's also a little bit of a "Forrest Gump" aspect to this personal journey as well - but hey, we all have our tales of woe and have all at one time or another sang along with the country song on the radio about how "she done me wrong" lol... so I ain't going there, if you know what I mean.

What I DO want to talk about is HELP with a couple things. I need help ROUTE PLANNING! I would like to get a set of the AC Maps for the Southern Tier and the Northern Tier if anyone has a set they would like to donate to my "cause" or sell on the cheap. I also need help with route planning where the maps don't cover. I'm planning to ride from Salt Lake City, UT to Phoenix, AZ where I will connect up to the Southern Tier. However... there are some MAJOR mileages that need to be dealt with just to get to that point, across some rather foreboding landscapes... Does anyone have route suggestions, camping/lodging suggestions, etc. for getting out of Utah and down to Phoenix?

I'm looking at ways to save money and save weight, because I will be hauling all my camping gear and will be riding solo. Also to limit my need for electricity. I'm looking at using the "ridewithgps" app so I can consolidate as many functions into my phone as possible. If anyone has any gps routes that they would love to share in whatever format they have, that would be HUGELY appreciated as well as the maps.

Also (and I know this has already been a novella lol) but I am going to be flying some logos for the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Southern Utah, to help solicit donations and raise awareness. I will be setting up a blog and a will be collecting donations and blogging along the way. Any help anyone would like to offer in helping to keep the blog updated would be a super help!

Thanks for reading and any help / advice you may be able to provide!
« Last Edit: February 07, 2017, 11:41:36 pm by Slowroll »

Offline John Nettles

Re: Hi Everyone! First Timer Cross Country Rider - ROUTES NEEDED
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2017, 04:47:52 pm »
First word of advise is to get some STRONG wheels.  Since you are a "Clydesdale" rider AND you are adding gear, a standard set of wheels will most likely cause you trouble.  Unfortunately, good strong wheel are not cheap.  Look at 48 spoke wheels if you can find them.  Another option is to look at a recumbent trike.  Utah as a really good recumbent trike shop.  The three smaller wheels would not have to be modified to carry your weight.  Just some thoughts.

You might be able to find the wheels and the maps (and/or recumbent) on eBay.

Finally, consider taking a bus over to Phoenix (or any place further from home), so it is not as easy to bail after the first few days of hills.

Absolute worst case is just start riding around the neighborhood and go next year when you are in a little better shape and have the gear.

Best, John
Happy trails and may the wind be at your back!

Offline Slowroll

Re: Hi Everyone! First Timer Cross Country Rider - ROUTES NEEDED
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2017, 10:35:07 pm »
All great advice, thank you! You don't happen to have any route or lodging suggestions for getting out of Salt Lake down to Phoenix do you? I'm very conscious of some of the major climbs I could end up doing if I'm not careful about the route selection - and even then there will be some major climbs, and I'm expecting I'll need to keep my mileage short on some days because of that.

Offline CMajernik

Re: Hi Everyone! First Timer Cross Country Rider - ROUTES NEEDED
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2017, 10:14:21 am »
You can also get in touch with the bicycle coordinators for Utah and Arizona. Many have online resources as well as printed materials. Nearly every state publishes a bicycle map of some sort that they will send out for free and the coordinators often have more information they can distribute for no charge as well. And while the maps aren't as detailed as ours, they generally offer suggested roads for cycling through their state. Here is a link to the contact information for all of the bicycle coordinators and some online materials:

For more tips and ideas on how to create your own route, see this blog post on the topic:

For lodging, once you have determined your route, you can look at state tourism sites. In Montana, the tourism site lists towns and accommodations.

Since Utah and Arizona have smaller populations and less roads (as compared to states in the east) you'll most likely ride on U.S. and state highways with variable shoulder widths, and not county roads. It's possible you can ride on the interstates also, if you want to do that. They at least have wide shoulders. But check with the state bicycle coordinators to see if it's allowed. And I bet SLC and Phoenix have bike maps, google each city and see what comes up.

You can also go to and review online biking journals. Search to see if anyone has written about riding from SLC to Phoenix.

Carla Majernik
Routes and Mapping Program Director

Adventure Cycling Association
Inspiring people of all ages to travel by bicycle.
800/755-2453, 406/721-1776 x218, 406/721-8754 fax

Follow Routes & Mapping on Twitter: @acaroutes

Offline Bicycle Ranger

Re: Hi Everyone! First Timer Cross Country Rider - ROUTES NEEDED
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2017, 01:27:16 pm »
First of all, I want to welcome you to the 'over the hill mid life crisis club'!' I thought I was having one when I turned 40 when I found out that life did NOT begin to start at that age and they been lying to me all along. Then I turned 50 and from what you described, I experienced the same feelings!  :D

Secondly, I love your sense of humor and outlook and with that, you will go far!

Thirdly, last but certainly not least, please see a doctor and and get a physical. Even though bicycling is a healthy sport, it could also cause you to have what your trying to avoid and that is a heart attack. I heard of this happening to some folks on RAGBRAI. If you don't get a check up before you go, at the very least, condition yourself by taking it really slow and gradually work your muscles and strength up and NEVER ever over exert yourself training or while your on tour. I'm not a doctor but one must remember that living a certain lifestyle for a long time and then suddenly becoming physically active could cause alot of unseen problems. I don't want to rain on your parade or anything like that, all I'm saying is don't push yourself beyond your limits and take your time and enjoy the journey and celebrate the destination.

I wish you all the best my friend, happy and safe travels!

Offline Slowroll

Re: Hi Everyone! First Timer Cross Country Rider - ROUTES NEEDED
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2017, 11:33:57 pm »
Awesome, awesome, awesome advice guys! Thank you! I had no idea there is such a thing as bicycle coordinators at all, and this is a massive help I'm sure. I will get in touch with them ASAP and see what they have to offer. I also appreciate the words of inspiration and learning I'm not the only one who has felt this way - I had a sneaking suspicion I'm not the only one, but so good to hear first hand advice / observations. I have the same thought as you regarding being healthy BEFORE the ride kicks off, and am planning to just ride mellow and start off with small segments in the first weeks / months. It's the reason I'm flying solo actually, because I don't want ANY pressure to hit a mile mark or to feel like I simply *must* get to a certain place in order to stop. I am literally planning to just pull off the road and camp for the night if I am in between towns - and in Utah to AZ I'm pretty sure that will be a necessity. Some of the distances between towns are huge for a loaded bike with a fat guy on it, and just being conservative I think I may need +10 days just to get out of Utah.(!!!) a friend just told me about warm showers dot org and that was a HUGE find as well, but there are s lot of gaps in coverage where I'll be, so still need to be prepared.

I wonder if anyone may be able to chime in on route selection, for instance should I stay in the valley and ride down to st. George and then down through Vegas or should I go out through Panguitch and down through Page? (The way I'm leaning now)

I'm getting so excited and scared too to be honest.... I've never been without s job before since I turned 23 and the thought of actually walking away from my well paying and secured job seems like the dumbest thing in the world - next to committing slow suicide by heart attack that is. This is going to be a game changer for me, I can feel it.  :o ;D

Offline Slowroll

Re: Hi Everyone! First Timer Cross Country Rider - ROUTES NEEDED
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2017, 11:42:46 pm »
I'm adding a pic because I feel like the thread needs it. Spandex, God's miracle material....  ;D

Offline indyfabz

Re: Hi Everyone! First Timer Cross Country Rider - ROUTES NEEDED
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2017, 01:57:52 pm »
Where, exactly, are you planning to start from around April 1?

Offline Slowroll

Re: Hi Everyone! First Timer Cross Country Rider - ROUTES NEEDED
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2017, 02:16:59 pm »
Will be starting in Salt Lake City and heading south to Phoenix where I'll pick up the southern tier route to begin crossing the country. I'm oooking for route advice for SLC to PHx and maps on the cheap for the southern and norther tier routes.

Offline Slowroll

Re: Hi Everyone! First Timer Cross Country Rider - ROUTES NEEDED
« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2017, 03:28:17 pm »
HI folks!
It's been quiet around here!  :o

I have a concern I'd like to get some advice on from you experienced folks - how do you handle those distances that are too great to ride in a day? I'm going to be struggling especially in the first month to hit the mileages I need to avoid running out of daylight (or energy!) in between towns. What do you folks do to avoid attracting the attention of the po-po when you need to overnight in the middle of nowhere? In Utah for instance, there are places where you're basically riding through the desert or high plains areas and there aren't trees, houses, or even side roads to dip down to be out of sight... I'm concerned about getting arrested for camping on some ranchers land overnight close to the road.

So what do you all do? :-\

Still looking for route suggestions as well.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Hi Everyone! First Timer Cross Country Rider - ROUTES NEEDED
« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2017, 06:53:06 pm »
So what do you all do?
You pick the most out-of-sight place you can find and hope for the best. It's incredibly unlikely that you would get arrested, even if discovered. You might be at more risk from a bull.

Offline Slowroll

Re: Hi Everyone! First Timer Cross Country Rider - ROUTES NEEDED
« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2017, 12:59:38 pm »
Thanks for the info! LOL.. the idea of waking up to a bull is a whole lot scarier than waking up to a Utah or Indian Res cop! Could you imagine?? lol...

I'm hoping to minimize the need to camp in sight of the road or anything like that, but as I'm planning the route, there are just going to be some stretches I can't cover in a day, won't be near any water or even shade for that matter, and it's just going to be a fact of life for the first couple weeks at the least.

Offline mountainsara

Re: Hi Everyone! First Timer Cross Country Rider - ROUTES NEEDED
« Reply #12 on: Today at 01:01:15 pm »
I don't know if you've discovered the bike touring pro website, but he has some good tips for stealth camping.

Someone upthread mentioned getting a stronger wheel for your bike...could you pull a trailer instead of loading the bike w/ panniers? That might take some of the weight off your bike frame. I'm a plus sized woman planning a solo cross country trek for similar reasons as you, so I'm in the process of looking into all the pros and cons of different routes and different bikes and ways of carrying things.