Author Topic: planning my first big trip to the U.S. might need some advice  (Read 2299 times)

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Offline wouterdhoye

Hi,

I'm Wouter. I'm a 29year old male from Belgium (yes, the land of beer, choclates, waffles and totally nuts politicans) I'm planning to make a roadtrip to the U.S. next year and at the same time visit a few friends i made over the internet in the last few years. (I just needed to get an excuse to justify this trip.. LOL)

Goal would be to ride from Nashville TN to Savannah GA then to Charlotte NC and back to Nashville TN. Total length of the trip would be more or less 2000km (1300miles) and i would have 3weeks to complete this trip. A total of 23 days including days for flights.

Since this is the first time I do this ( well i did a very small trip last year to ireland but that's not to be compared with this plan, though it got me hooked :) )  I was considering staying at Motels, B&B or other affordable lodging. For food I'd like to support local merchants. So i'd be travelling (very) light.

I'd like to gather as much information and advice to prepare for this trip and to organize things. Also i'd like to get as much info as possible on how to behave on the road (different countries might have different customs) and how to act towards other roadusers. (I'm looking for other advices than be polite and don't get in the way more than required, I have enough common sense)

For my bike i'd want to use my Scott CR1 roadbike. May fit it with a seatpost rack and bag and use a small backpack if that would not provide sufficient cargospace. A handelbar bag will be included to store some food for during the ride and other items like camera, phone,... For hydration i'd be using a bladder and two bottles.

I hope this provides you with sufficient info on my plans to help me ahead and be well prepared by the time I take off to the U.S.

Hope to hear from you soon,

Cheers,

Wouter.

Offline tonythomson

Re: planning my first big trip to the U.S. might need some advice
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2010, 08:07:22 am »
Hi
to start with you will really enjoy it.
Route - check out what ACA maps would help you out, they are very good.  Then go to Google maps and choose your route "by cycle" be careful because they take short routes sometimes not always through the best areas if going into larger cities.  Run the route through Google Earth and spot all the motels and services available en route.  Buying maps en route is not always easy and rarely detailed enough for taking smaller roads. Also check out Rails to Trails - I love cycling these. Well that's a start.

You will rarely need to carry more than 2L of water and when you do you can just stock up with extra water bottles from gas station etc
Most chain motels are often at major Interstate junctions but smaller ones can usually be found in small towns but best to research first.

Personally would never ride with a back pack, uncomfortable, makes you unbalanced(depends how heavy) get panniers including front one, loads of info in this forum on loading a bike.  Fit fenders if you want to stay clean & dry.

1300 miles I think is ambitious in 23 days when you take out the flight days and jet lag certainly slows me down for a couple of days plus visiting friends who will want to spend time with you.  To enjoy the scenery and the interesting people you meet I'd look to 60 miles a day but all that depends on how you personally like to travel.

On the road -GET A MIRROR - for me the most safety piece of equipment you can fit.  This enables you to "control" the road if necessary and if you do need to delay the traffic behind usually for your safety on tight bends etc give them a wave of thanks.  Mostly the drivers are very considerate but scary how many spend their time on cell phones and not really concentrating. 

Good luck and this forum is the best for info and I'm sure there are plenty more who know the area.

Didn't Belgium also give us the Smirfs or was that Holand.
Just starting to record my trips  www.tonystravels.com

Offline Tourista829

Re: planning my first big trip to the U.S. might need some advice
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2010, 09:39:49 am »
I agree with Tony, ambitious trip, won't have a lot of time to see much. Terrain will be mountainous in parts. The people will be nice with an occasional "RED NECK," in a pick up truck to contend with. Watch out for dogs on the loose. I'd pick up some pepper spray, when you get to the States. (or Halt at a local bike shop). You could save some money if you stay at some churches or colleges. (you could Google them and email your request, you might even get a dinner invitation) Savannah is beautiful. Here is an Option B plan. Do your route, and after you get to Charlotte, see how much time you have left, and rent a car, one way, and drive back to Nashville. (Avis has good one way rates, you just pay for petrol) You could also ride your bike to Asheville or Knoxville and rent a car from there. Fall would be a good time to ride, when the trees are turning colors. Sounds like a lot of fun. Good Luck. Bob

Offline wouterdhoye

Re: planning my first big trip to the U.S. might need some advice
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2010, 10:52:55 am »


Didn't Belgium also give us the Smirfs or was that Holand.

Thanks for the good advice.

The author of the smurfs, Péyo was a belgian.. Thoug a dutch artist made the smurf song.

cheers,

Wouter.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: planning my first big trip to the U.S. might need some advice
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2010, 09:46:19 pm »
If there is anything specific you want to ask, I might be able to tell you. It looks like you are pretty well set. I cycled through Belgium. It was a good ride. I have also cycled across Tennessee on a more southerly route than you might take, but the southern tier of counties was a good way to go, though it was like a roller coaster ride in some places. The weather in Tennessee can get extremely, lethally nasty very quickly. If you hear severe weather warnings, I suggest you take those as seriously as you possibly can and duck for cover. 57 tornadoes touched down in one day when I was there and hale was pouring from the sky. Miraculously, nobody was killed and property damage was minimal because they hit mostly in unoccupied areas.

Offline whittierider

Re: planning my first big trip to the U.S. might need some advice
« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2010, 01:33:54 am »

Quote
On the road -GET A MIRROR - for me the most safety piece of equipment you can fit.  This enables you to "control" the road if necessary

+1.

Quote
Personally would never ride with a back pack

Again, agreed.  Is your bike able to take racks?  I am familiar with seatpost-clamping racks, but they cannot handle the weight of a full touring load if you plan to camp.  If you want to go lighter and not camp, a bike that is not made for racks can still handle a big handlebar bag and a seat bag that's so big it's like having a small duffel bag back there, but made with an internal support mechanism to prevent sagging and swaying.  Having the load up so high at both ends is not ideal, but it sure beats a big back pack.





Offline Tourista829

Re: planning my first big trip to the U.S. might need some advice
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2010, 11:08:56 am »
Whittierider, an interesting name. I have a question for you. Using a handlebar bag and a seat bag that big, attached to the rails of your saddle, do you have any shimmy issues, at higher speeds? I know the late Sheldon Brown used one.

Offline whittierider

Re: planning my first big trip to the U.S. might need some advice
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2010, 08:02:08 pm »

Quote
Whittierider, an interesting name.

Whittier is a city near home.

Quote
I have a question for you.  Using a handlebar bag and a seat bag that big, attached to the rails of your saddle, do you have any shimmy issues, at higher speeds?  I know the late Sheldon Brown used one.

My seat bag is big (aout two gallons' worth of space) but not nearly as big as the ones I showed above.  But to get additional water-carrying capability, I put an XLab dual water-bottle holder on the seat rails, and that sits up even higher.  Two of the unusually large Zefal Magnum bottles of a quart (32 oz) each, including the drink, bottles, cages, and attachment gizmo, add about five more pounds up high behind the seat.  That's five pounds beyond the weight of the bag and its contents, and up even higher.  (There are two more quarts down on the frame for a total of a gallon, or 128 oz.)



It's the Mountain Wedge III seat bag from Jandd Mountaineering that I got for light touring.  It has enough room for a few clothes and things so you can hotel-hop, but only about a third as much room as what I showed further up.  It has 7.5 litres of space, compared to 24 litres for the biggest one I showed earlier.

I've used a handlebar bag before but not at the same time with this seat bag, so I cannot totally answer your question.  But with this bag and two full water bottles, I do get a minor shimmy if I take my hands off the bars.  Speed does not seem to affect this shimmy.  I feel the shimmy even at slow climbing speeds if I hold the bars with one hand near the stem while using the other hand to drink from a bottle from the frame.  Yet at high descent speeds (even in to the mid-50's of mph, and without clamping the top tube with my legs) I feel no tendency to shimmy with my hands on the bars the normal way.  When the bottles on the frame are empty, I swap them with the ones behind.  What minor tendency there was to shimmy with the full load behind is gone when even just one of the bottles is swapped for an empty one, meaning there's still one full bottle and the full seat bag.

I used a handlebar bag many years ago along with panniers, but had never seen a very big seat bag yet at that time.  I did not like the effect the handlebar bag had on the bike's handling, but there was never a shimmy with it.  I kind of expect that the bar bag would calm any tendency to shimmy, but I can't tell you for sure.  The big seat bag and the water weight up high behind has an effect on the handling, but it was easier to get used to and compensate for and forget about than the effect the handlebar bag had were.

One plus about the setup I have might be that I made an attachment between the seat bag and the extra water bottle holder so the seat bag cannot move side to side.  The water bottle holder does not support any of the seat bag's weight vertically, but it does keep the top of it from going side to side.  With the bungee cords that go down to the chainstays, the bag is very well behaved (as long as I haven't forgotten to close it!) and I have been very happy with it.  The only thing I could wish for is a tad more room, and you'll get lots more if you either get one of the bigger ones above or augment with a handlebar bag.

Offline JMilyko

Re: planning my first big trip to the U.S. might need some advice
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2010, 08:29:28 am »
Hi Wouter,

While Adventure Cycling doesn't have a lot of miles in Tennessee, you might want to take a look at our Route Network map found here: http://www.adventurecycling.org/routes/index.cfm and then downloading the Map of All ACA Routes.

You may also want to look at the Tennessee Department of Transportation website. They have a few documented bicycling routes and contact information in this page: http://www.tdot.state.tn.us/bikeped/routes.htm

Good luck and have a great ride seeing Tennessee and your friends.

.Jennifer.
*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*_*

Jennifer H. Milyko
Adventure Cycling Association
Inspiring and empowering people to travel by bicycle.
800/755-2453, 406/721-1776 x205
www.adventurecycling.org

Follow Routes & Mapping on Twitter: @acaroutes

Offline ducnut

Re: planning my first big trip to the U.S. might need some advice
« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2010, 12:27:22 pm »
Be cautious with your routing. The terrain that you're looking at traversing can be pretty mountainous. Therefore, the routes through there will be heavily travelled "main routes" that everybody has to use. I do think your mileage goal may be a bit ambitious, given the terrain. However, you do have a fast, comfortable road bike to do it on.

Convenience stores will be readily available. However, the more remote stores might be a bit lacking in selection of goods.

The bags that "whittierider" posted are good options, as a backpack is going to cause a lot discomfort. Think about it, with a backpack, you'll have the additional weight hanging off your back and applied to your arms, hands, and rearend. The seatpost-mounted, backpack and rack combos are, also, good options. They have a rack that affixes to the seatpost and the backpack just slides down over the rack.

Offline wouterdhoye

Re: planning my first big trip to the U.S. might need some advice
« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2010, 03:57:27 pm »
Thanks fot all the good advice.

I appeared to have a Topeak MTX seatpost rack.; (Didn't know i still had it) apparently fairly big bags are available for it (Up to 22L) add a hadlebar bag and i'd get close to 30L of storage space.; should be enough for the credicard traveller. LOL. Guess i just get the bags, fill em up and strain with loaded bags.; Suppose the bike will handle a bit differently loaded or not.. And it's good for the legs..

Think I'll continue training and see what kind of mileage i can get ,better do some good hill training too..  I'll see how fit i get by newyear and make final plans then. One option one of my friends gave was just to bike back and forth between Charlotte and Nashville. He'd than drive me back and forth between charlott and savannah to visit my friend living there. Creativity might go a long way. Another option would be to take greyhound between savannah and nashville.. so many options to explore.; make it fun.; planning and stuff.

keep the good advices coming..

thanks,

Wouter.