Author Topic: Coast to Coast with child  (Read 3160 times)

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Offline Mr Lahey

Coast to Coast with child
« on: October 04, 2010, 03:04:44 pm »
I am looking to do the coast to coast with my 9 year old son, both riding separate bikes and so there are a few things which are important to the route we choose.
First of all we have 8/9 weeks from July - September and so naturally (distance wise) i was considering the Southern Route, i  know that during the summer months the sun will be pretty brutal for the largest part of the route and so am wondering if that really would be the best option?

I guess my question is, what would be the best route taking into account distance/gradient/climate in terms of a child tackling those issues.

We are in the UK and will fly out to the US in February to drive the proposed route to ensure it suitable and whether or not it can be improved upon.

Any help/advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks


Offline whittierider

Re: Coast to Coast with child
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2010, 04:19:43 pm »
I can't answer the questions you wrote, but need to make a comment as the father of two avid cyclists whom I got started at very early ages.  (Now they are 19 and 22 years old and still neither one has bothered to get a driver's license.)  They were heavily into cycling before the age you cite.  The summer the younger one was going into 2nd grade, we regularly did 50-mile rides, and he rode 170 miles in a 3-day stretch that summer, in spite of still being on a single-speed with fat, knobby 20" tires.

It was not until they were about 11 however that something seemed to click and there was an almost sudden ability to make good decisions in traffic.  Until then, I occasionally took them on rides that required a little more traffic skill at some point in the ride, thinking they were ready for it, and then some scary situation would arise, telling me they needed more time before we try that again.  Then for the next few months, I would keep them on paved trails and roads that had little traffic, but continued to coach them on safety issues.  They knew they were way ahead of their peers in cycling (and were proud of it), but they also knew they still needed the coaching, and did not resent it at all.  Fortunately there were no actual accidents, but the need for more brain-development time really showed.  After they were able to be on the streets and roads regularly, I still coached them a lot, and they did not go out on major rides by themselves until about age 15.

Since I don't know you two, I won't say "don't do it," but I would definitely advise caution.

Edit:  Another thing comes to mind about safety, although not traffic-related:  Our younger son (I don't remember about the older one) definitely could not handle nearly as much heat before puberty, as he did not sweat much.  A ride in slightly hot weather was no fun for him and he would be unable to perform, and crying.  Some parts of the coast-to-coast ride will definitely be hot.
« Last Edit: October 04, 2010, 04:29:41 pm by whittierider »

Offline CMajernik

Re: Coast to Coast with child
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2010, 04:43:07 pm »
I would be hesitant to undertake the Southern Tier in the summer, even without a child. Temperatures in the southwest can easily be over 100 degrees for days on end. On the ACA tours we've had instances of folks dealing with heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Of course you could try getting around some of the heat by riding from maybe 5 AM to 10 AM but you need to stay well hydrated. And once you get farther east you have to contend with the humidity along with higher temperatures also.

Have you thought of going coast to coast north to south - Canada to Mexico - via the Pacific Coast Route? That would fit better with an 8/9-week time frame. Our executive director, Jim Sayer, recently completed that trip with his family (daughters aged 13 and 11) and was gone 2 months from mid-June to mid-August. The weather along the coast is normally very good during the summer months though there is more traffic on that route then. Jim wrote several blogs about their trip - you can find them here and search his older posts: http://blog.adventurecycling.org/search/label/From%20the%20Executive%20Director

Otherwise, with the weeks you have I don't think you'll be able to get all the way across the country going east to west (or vice versa). You'll have to adjust your abilities to what your son can accomplish (and young kids can do wonders) but what's important is that you and your son have a trip of a lifetime.
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
www.adventurecycling.org

Follow Routes & Mapping on Twitter: @acaroutes

Offline staehpj1

Re: Coast to Coast with child
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2010, 07:44:51 am »
The ST at that time of year sounds like a death march for most adult cyclists.  I wouldn't do it myself and definitely wouldn't subject a 9 year old to it.

If you could get more time off, the Trans America or Northern Tier would be great options, but I really think that 9 weeks would be way too little time especially for a 9 year old.

I agree that the Pacific Coast might be a better option given your time frame.  You could either take it fairly easy and do the necessary 30-ish miles per day average or you could take some detours inland to lengthen the trip.  I would think that taking it fairly easy would be preferable with a 9 year old along.  I'd be inclined to even leave the option of not finishing the whole route as a possibility.

Offline leicrao1

Re: Coast to Coast with child
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2010, 10:56:15 am »
I am from the UK, have a nine year old boy, and have just returned from doing LA to NY in August. This summer broke all sorts of records for temperature and we regularly had 105 degrees to contend with, plus the humidity. Long stretches have absolutely no trees or natural shade at all.

Your offspring are no doubt well in advance of mine cycling wise, but I simply would not dream of doing it with my son.

Another reply mentioned decision-making. I can only re-iterate this. The ability, almost subconsciously, to compute the sound of an approaching vehicle from behind, it's speed and size, with the likely passing point with a car approaching from ahead, along with an approaching pot hole and narrowing of shoulder etc. takes so much concentration. Tiredness is lethal. I can remember some of the decisions I made as a cyclist/pedestrian as a boy and I still feel lucky to have made it into adulthood.

What about combining the Great Allegheny Passage with the Chesapeake and Ohio canal trail. About 350 miles of traffic free riding all the way from Pittsburgh to Washington? Thinking about taking my boy on that in two or three years.

Offline tonythomson

Re: Coast to Coast with child
« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2010, 11:08:02 am »
Hi, having completed the ST starting in Feb last year I would go along with what has already been said about the heat but would also ask you to consider the time scales  and that you would need to do approx 50 miles per day which is an awful lot for an adult every single day without a break, you will also need to factor in losing a few days due to jet lag, especially if planning to start in San Diego, whereas if you fly to Orlando it wont be so bad - but then you pick up some tough head winds ( maybe I was unlucky but certainly had several days when it was unsafe & too miserable to ride due to wind and weather conditions)  You also need to factor in some days for sight seeing.  Does it have to be across USA whereas there is some excellent riding possibly in a circular route which will give you and your son a great experience of USA and not become too much of an endurance test.

I'm in Southampton UK and if you are close by be happy to talk things over with you or call me on 07736364570 for a chat.
Tony
Just starting to record my trips  www.tonystravels.com

Offline Mr Lahey

Re: Coast to Coast with child
« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2010, 11:33:16 am »
First of all a huge thanks to all the replies, they are exactly the sort of comments I was hoping for and ultimately it has confirmed what I suspected.
I have been looking with great interest at the Pacific Highway, I feel perhaps I could extend the time scale to 10 weeks, if we did the PH that averages about 26 Miles per day, a distance that even now would not require any training to achieve, albeit we would train to meet the requirement of cycling that distance daily which I am very aware is far different to being able to do it as a one off so to speak.

Having my son in tow I am very aware of the safety risks involved and I would always be willing to call the journey off at any point should that be the best thing to do. For now though I have him enrolled on a 'Bikeability' course, when I was a child it was known as cycling proficiency but it helps children learn how best to cope/ride on roads. I will of course endeavour to build on that between now and partaking in the trip.

Having travelled just about every country in Asia and Europe we are now turning our efforts West Bound and whilst we have visited the States many times we have never cycled there. But I love the country and cannot think of a better, more memorable time to spend our summer in the States, whilst of course achieving something great.

Continued comments, inspiration and criticism is more than welcome and appreciated, Tonythompson - I have taken note of your number and thank you for taking the time to offer your valuable advice to me. I will no doubt end up giving you call in the near future.

Thanks again

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Coast to Coast with child
« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2010, 12:10:31 pm »
I wonder if you would be willing to consider a half a transcontinental ride?  I jokingly said last summer  the ideal way to ride the TA would be to start in Wichita and head west, then fly back from the coast to Wichita and head east.  I'd suggest the western half of the U.S. for generally wider roads, better sight lines, and lower traffic density.  (Having said that, I don't think those apply to the Pacific Coast Highway.)  A week of Kansas will help you and your son appreciate the scale of the country, without major climbs, get into long distance riding shape, and then you get scenery.  And by starting in July, you may miss the wheat harvest and the traffic that entails.

As you're coming west, you may have better luck getting your son out of bed for an early morning ride, which will also give you a chance to get into camp (or motel) before the wind and heat get too bad.  I think your son would enjoy the town parks in Kansas.  And after a week of heat, you'll hit the mountains and things will cool off a bit.  On the flip side, you'd go from potential stopping places every 15-25 miles (except for the ride into Larned) to 30-50 miles spacing.

You might also try something similar on the Northern Tier -- start in the middle of the country and head west.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Coast to Coast with child
« Reply #8 on: October 05, 2010, 12:15:52 pm »
Maybe it's just me, but driving the route before I bicycled it would take a lot of the fun out of it by removing too much of the wonder.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Coast to Coast with child
« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2010, 12:41:18 pm »
I wonder if you would be willing to consider a half a transcontinental ride?
Not a bad idea.  If doing that I'd be inclined to start in the West and go east myself.  There are some pretty long stretches between stops though so be prepared for that.  If memory serves the longest was about 80 miles, but there are a number of them about 40 miles.

Offline whittierider

Re: Coast to Coast with child
« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2010, 02:39:22 pm »
Quote
I have been looking with great interest at the Pacific [Coast] Highway.  I feel perhaps I could extend the time scale to 10 weeks, if we did the PH that averages about 26 Miles per day, a distance that even now would not require any training to achieve, albeit we would train to meet the requirement of cycling that distance daily which I am very aware is far different to being able to do it as a one off so to speak.

Going down the west coast is one of the most beautiful rides you could want.  It is hilly and some of the climbs are rather steep for a child, but none of them are very long.  As long as you go south (not north), you will have tail winds, often very strong.  The temperatures will be mild too.

Offline tonythomson

Re: Coast to Coast with child
« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2010, 12:19:46 pm »
Also the east coast is pretty - not as spectacular as the west but a lot flatter and I think the roads are a lot quieter and safer for a child.  It was the rented RV's that used to frighten me on the Pacific coast.

The Atlantic coast would be much easier to get to and from from the UK. Plus you could include the C&O Canal - as previously suggested that plus the river (which name has slipped my mind ) give you around 300 miles of traffic free cycling plus plenty of places to stay.
Just starting to record my trips  www.tonystravels.com

Offline staehpj1

Re: Coast to Coast with child
« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2010, 01:01:55 pm »
Also the east coast is pretty - not as spectacular as the west but a lot flatter and I think the roads are a lot quieter and safer for a child.  It was the rented RV's that used to frighten me on the Pacific coast.

The Atlantic coast would be much easier to get to and from from the UK. Plus you could include the C&O Canal - as previously suggested that plus the river (which name has slipped my mind ) give you around 300 miles of traffic free cycling plus plenty of places to stay.

My perspective may be a bit slanted by having grown up on the East Coast, but I personally find it less desirable for touring than the West Coast.  I would have said that traffic was worse based mostly on the portions of the route near my home and other portions that I have driven.  I would have also said the hills were steeper, but shorter on the East coast.  It may be an "eyes of the beholder" thing though.

The extension of the C&O you are referring to is probably the Great Allegheny Passage or GAP trail.  The two really don't do much for getting you down the coast since they run pretty much E-W.


Offline tonythomson

Re: Coast to Coast with child
« Reply #13 on: October 06, 2010, 02:10:42 pm »
Yes that's the river thanks, must be my age forgetting things!  Was only suggesting that the C&O etc could be added to the Atlantic not that it was part of it and yes there are hills further up north - just trying to come up with rides that I would consider if my son was that age.  Whatever they choose I'm sure Mr L will have done a lot more research into all aspects and they will have a great time.
Just starting to record my trips  www.tonystravels.com

Offline TimTyler

Re: Coast to Coast with child
« Reply #14 on: October 06, 2010, 06:46:23 pm »
Have you considered a tandem?
Tim