Author Topic: 1st Trip Across America: Tips, Recommendations, and HELP  (Read 6226 times)

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Offline popeyespal

Re: 1st Trip Across America: Tips, Recommendations, and HELP
« Reply #15 on: January 04, 2011, 10:01:38 am »
Well.....I am just now going through the same process for a trip starting April 2011.
I chose a Surly Long Haul trucker.

In a nutshell there seemed to be a fist full of bikes that have EVERYTHING a touring bike should and still be a reasonable value. Strictly considering a new bike I found that quality deteriorated quickly below $800 and that cost/benefit ratio dwindled rapidly around the $1500 dollar mark.

I am also tall and weigh more than I should. 6'2" @ 250lbs.

So far my LHT 60cm with 26" wheels feels like the perfect bike for me. But like I said..there were other choices.

Offline John Nelson

Re: 1st Trip Across America: Tips, Recommendations, and HELP
« Reply #16 on: January 04, 2011, 10:49:56 am »
Are there any Bike pros who could give me some specific tips on bikes?
The how-to department right here on the ACA web site is the first place to start:

http://www.adventurecycling.org/features/buyersguide.cfm

Take this list and see if any of these bikes are in stock in your area (unlikely). Then ask which of these bikes can be ordered by your local bike shop. Ask if any of the staff at the shop is a touring cyclist. If so, ask for advice. Then ask if you are committed to purchasing if you have them order in a bike for a test ride. Find out how they will determine what size to order. And ask if they promise to work with you as long as it takes to make whatever bike you end up with fit well and be comfortable.

Make sure you understand as much as possible about what you plan to do with this bike. Most people are inclined to say "I want a bike that can do everything." This is a bad idea as that bike will probably not do anything well. If you are trying to buy a touring bike, e.g., don't try to also make it your "go-fast" bike. You won't like  it for either.
Here are some questions to ask yourself, and remember, try to make your answers narrow. Figure out what you will do with the bike most often, not everything you might do with the bike sometimes. Are you doing to tour mostly on paved roads or on dirt? Are you going to tour mostly in first-world countries, second-world countries, or third-world countries? What is your budget? Do you want something completely bullet-proof, or are you willing to risk some problems to save some money (note: some people like to solve problems)? Are you going to carry camping gear? Cooking gear? Do you like to take all the creature comforts, or run lean and light? Are you going to use panniers or a trailer? If panniers, two or four (I recommend four)? Are you also going to use the bike for commuting (that's about the only other purpose I'd suggest you plan for)?

Everybody has their own favorite bike, and we tend to naturally like the one we have. That's good news. If everybody likes the one they have, that means that all the bikes mentioned in the how-to department will do just fine. Very few people have ridden all these bikes and can give you an honst first-hand comparison. Don't try to find the "perfect" or "best" bike. Just try to find one that will work for you.

Buy it sooner rather than later. You want as much time with it as you can before your trip.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2011, 10:59:30 am by John Nelson »

Offline ronnie421

Re: 1st Trip Across America: Tips, Recommendations, and HELP
« Reply #17 on: January 04, 2011, 12:45:37 pm »
In my old riding days, back in the late 80's, I owned a Cannondale ST 1000. Back then it was the top of the line Cannondale for what they called "Sport Touring".  The bike, back then, cost me 1200 dollars.  I put lots of miles on that baby and did a few short tours, 3 and 4 nighters.  I never had any problems with the bike. I wish I still had it but it was stolen while I was in California. I also owned a Raleigh and a Trek, but (and I'm not trying to advertise) the Cannondale always had the upper hand.  Since then, I have been a Cannondale fan. I am purchasing the new Cannondale touring bike next month or early March, then start building around it. 

Offline DaveB

Re: 1st Trip Across America: Tips, Recommendations, and HELP
« Reply #18 on: January 04, 2011, 05:35:20 pm »
The real bargain in true touring bikes is the Surly Long Haul Trucker.  It isn't elegant but it's super functional and very versatile.  At a somewhat higher price point the Trek 520 has been a standard for decades and similar bikes from Cannondale and Specialized are also good choices.  If your budget is high enough, the Co-Motion Americano is a great choice too.  Co-Motion even offers custom frame sizing on that model.

There are lots of others but the above list is a start.   

Offline Stevenp

Re: 1st Trip Across America: Tips, Recommendations, and HELP
« Reply #19 on: January 05, 2011, 12:27:16 pm »
Fund Raising:

Does anyone have experience with fund raising for a trip? I am doing this trip as a "thank you" to the treatment center that helped me get back up and on my feet again, but I don't have experience with raising funds.

If there is someone who would be interested in giving me help, I would be very interested.

Thanks!

Offline John Nelson

Re: 1st Trip Across America: Tips, Recommendations, and HELP
« Reply #20 on: January 05, 2011, 12:57:39 pm »
Does anyone have experience with fund raising for a trip?

You might search the forums as there are already a lot of threads on this topic. Also, the ACA has how-to articles on most popular topics. Here's something to get you started.

http://www.adventurecycling.org/features/cyclingforcharity.cfm

Here's a repeat of some comments I made in another thread:

I believe the most important thing is to establish your ground rules very clearly right from the start. If you're not going to be taking a single penny from the donated funds, then say so very clearly. If possible, have the donations go directly to the charity without passing through your hands. Or have them give checks to you made out to the charity, not you.

On the other hand, if you intend to use a portion of the donated funds to offset your costs, then also state that very clearly. If the funds are given to you in your name, then the donors will not get a tax deduction and you will need to claim the money as taxable income. So this isn't the best idea.

The simplest way is to establish a journal somewhere (e.g., blogspot, wordpress, crazyguyonabike, facebook, etc.), and put a link there directly to your charity's donation page. Another alternative is that many charities provide a way to track donations from a specific fund-raising effort. Contact the intended charity for details. A third alternative are independent organizations (e.g., firstgiving) that provide a way to funnel money to charity.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2011, 01:07:16 pm by John Nelson »

Offline ducnut

Re: 1st Trip Across America: Tips, Recommendations, and HELP
« Reply #21 on: January 06, 2011, 03:30:31 am »
You've mentioned starting in MN and fundraising. QBP, the world's largest distributor of bike stuff, is based in the twin cities. You may knock on a door, or two, there. They have their own bike brands, including Surly and Salsa. Maybe, with some luck, they'd be willing to help out. They possibly could have some demo bikes lying around that need new homes. Who knows?

REI has the Novara Safari at a reasonable price. I see that a reviewer there has bought one to do the Northern Tier.

Search eBay for bike options, too.

Offline Stevenp

Re: 1st Trip Across America: Tips, Recommendations, and HELP
« Reply #22 on: January 06, 2011, 10:19:09 am »
ducnut,

Thank you for that! Very helpful and I really like the Novara Safari option that you told me about. As of today it looks like the bike I probably will be purchasing. It seems like an all around great bike, specially for the cross country trip I'm planning.

So, about raising money for a ride:
Would it be most recommendable to go to many of these stores in person with a proposal of the even or any thoughts on that?

Thanks again guys!

Offline mucknort

Re: 1st Trip Across America: Tips, Recommendations, and HELP
« Reply #23 on: January 06, 2011, 11:55:10 am »
3 tips I'll add that haven't been mentioned.

-Use warmshowers.org for a place to stay where you can. Great folks on it, nice break from camping, join up as a host yourself for good karma. http://www.warmshowers.org/

-I highly recommend considering a recumbent style bicycle for touring. Not for everyone, but after touring for years on a diamond frame bike I discovered there is little to none butt/neck/wrist/hand/chafing pain. My wife rode across the US twice in her twenties on a diamond frame bike and swore she'd never ride across again. We rode across this summer on recumbents and she enjoyed it and said being on a recumbent made all the difference. Good quality used ones can be found for between $500-1000. I prefer a long wheelbase version for touring, but each their own.

-Trailers vs Panniers is hotly debated, but after doing both I found I prefer pulling a trailer (with high quality high pressure tires) since my bicycle behaves more "normally" than when loaded down with panniers.

Offline jamawani

Re: 1st Trip Across America: Tips, Recommendations, and HELP
« Reply #24 on: January 11, 2011, 06:04:38 pm »
Steven -

Congratulations on being clean and sober. 
People who haven't been there can only guess.
Even if they are well-intentioned.

About your bike trip - -
Be aware that people who you may meet on the road or stay with may like to party.
It is better to be cold and damp and sober in your tent -
than to be warm and shit-faced in someone's living room.

About you timing - starting in August.
That is an excellent time to start -
Provided you plan to go west to east and diagonally, as well.
My first X-USA trip was from Astoria to Cape Hatteras in 1987 - in the fall.

You could start in the San Juan Islands or even out at Cape Flattery and do the Northern Tier to Glacier -
Then take US 89 southeast to Yellowstone and continue southeasterly on the TransAm.
(Although, by mid-Sept the high country of Colorado can get tricky)
I think you could continue on the TransAm all the way to Yorktown.
But I think heading out to the Outer Banks of NC is more scenic.

The key is to be flexible - not always easy for people in recovery -
Also, be aware that the days will really get short after September 21.
Early autumn makes for great riding in the east - but it can be changeable.

Feel free to ask me any specific questions.
Have fun. - - J

Offline sprocketman

Re: 1st Trip Across America: Tips, Recommendations, and HELP
« Reply #25 on: January 12, 2011, 02:15:22 am »
Hey Ronnie421,

Are you buying a Cannondale T2? I have one and have had some problems (purchased 02/10). My bike goes in the shop for the third time next week for repairs that are not routine. Customer service stinks.

Offline Stevenp

Re: 1st Trip Across America: Tips, Recommendations, and HELP
« Reply #26 on: January 16, 2011, 09:50:39 pm »
I believe I have been convinced to purchase the Surly LHT. From all of the feedback I have received it seems like the obvious choice for me. I would still be interested in hearing if someone's opinion differs from that.

Thanks!

Offline Westinghouse

Re: 1st Trip Across America: Tips, Recommendations, and HELP
« Reply #27 on: January 17, 2011, 04:24:18 am »
Deciding to cycle across the USA is a very healthy choice. Kudos for that. What is your route? I have much touring experience, but I am not much on highly technological information pertaining to bikes and bits and pieces. If you need to know something specific about certain routes, and about touring itself, maybe I can give you some useful advice.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: 1st Trip Across America: Tips, Recommendations, and HELP
« Reply #28 on: January 17, 2011, 12:35:24 pm »
Are there any Bike pros who could give me some specific tips on bikes?

Any frame with correct tube angles, made of chromolly steel, with good wheels, tires, and components, that fits you is good. Don't use Wally World bikes. They might get you there but so will hiking in lead boots, but what's the point? Of course, the frame must be a good one.

Offline 3781miles

Re: 1st Trip Across America: Tips, Recommendations, and HELP
« Reply #29 on: January 17, 2011, 07:23:21 pm »
STEVE!

Love seeing people clean up their lives and want to do something powerful. Congrats on that!

As for bike choice, I would go for the SLHT without a doubt. I rode across the US this past summer and all I saw on the roads were LHT's. It became a running joke. I saw every different kind of lht color out there.

fundraising; 3781miles.org heres my site if you want to get an idea for what i did

last but not least: be ready for "THE TRIP" of a lifetime

regards,
kevin