Author Topic: A few questions from a 1st timer  (Read 1676 times)

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Offline JonathanBruner

A few questions from a 1st timer
« on: August 20, 2011, 12:51:13 pm »
I'm planning to do my first long distance trip, and a long distance it is, haha. I want to do the complete Southern Tier, and then almost the entire Pacific Coast, stopping in Washington. I am new to cycling (2 years) and have never done a long distance trip before. I am, however, trying to plan reasonably and will train properly so that I can achieve this goal. I have searched the forums but still have a few questions, so if you would be able to share some knowledge with me, and despite Hesse, attempt to share some wisdom with me, I would greatly appreciate it.

I plan to do this in 2012, or 2013, depending in if I get a study abroad scholarship for 2012 or not.


1. I am planning 80 miles a day ( I know that won't always be the case however), which puts the trip at around 2 months. What would be the best time of year to start, being that I also want to continue on the pacific coast?

2. Safety? I live in the south already, and being that I like soccer, biking and not being a cowboy, I've learned how to make people think I'm a "good 'ol boy from the south", so I'm not concerned with any confrontation from say a drunk redneck 8) . My real concern is motorists. When I ride, I ride on about 20 miles of the souther tier, and in that short time I get the honkers and shouters, luckily no projetiles yet. But on a longer trip, how often are you purposely put in danger by motorists? And also, what about the parts of the trail that are close to the Mexican border? (This question is more of just a curiosity, not neccesarily something I'm too worried about)

3. Protection? I was thinking about a tazer, compact and effective.

4. I plan to guerrilla camp as much as possible, though I'm not sure how the cycling world feels about this? By no means do I want to smudge the image of cyclists. Also, asking people if you can camp on the far borders of their property? Is this an option/something cyclists do. I figure in the south people might be more ok with this (I mean, we've all got guns ;D)

5. The routes provided by ACA, do all roads have bike lanes, or are they a mix?

6. I ride a Raleigh Grand Sport (2010) 53cm. I'm not sure if this is the bike I'll have on this trip, but would it be ok with a bike rack, front panniers and a handlebar bag? My gear would be more in the light side (sorry I can't be more specific)

 Once again, thanks for any input.
                     Jonathan
« Last Edit: August 20, 2011, 01:23:15 pm by JonathanBruner »

Offline Kittery Rider

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Re: A few questions from a 1st timer
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2011, 01:04:04 pm »
I am a backpacker and we carry bear spray for bears and crazy people as well.  Bears don't scare me, but people are less predictable.  Bear spray is a standard and it will stop anybody.  Safe too.  Always a good option. I think it works better than just about anything.  Counter Assault brand. 
"Too much of everything is just enough"
                 Jerry Garcia

Offline staehpj1

Re: A few questions from a 1st timer
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2011, 02:21:34 pm »
A few comments/suggestions...

80 miles a day is doable, but everyone is different.  Some enjoy that pace others not.

Safety?  I have never found touring to be especially dangerous.  I have found folks in rural America warm, friendly, and generous.  The biggest danger is traffic, but less so than at home.

Protection?  It never occurred to me that protection was needed.

Guerilla camp?   If you mean free camp, then you will find a ton of places you can camp.  I like small town picnic areas.  National forests, state forests and BLM land often allow dispersed camping.  If you mean stealth camping, I have generally found no need to stealth camp, but some people seem to prefer it.

BTW, on the Coast there are a lot of state parks that have very inexpensive hiker/biker sites (something like $4-6).

Bike lanes?  Pretty much none of them have them.  Some have shoulders some do not.  It is a mixed bag.

Your route?  It would be much more pleasant going the other way on the coast.  It is one of the few routes where almost everyone agrees that North to South is the way to go.  There are typically strong and reliable winds out of the NW.  Also the shoulder on the road is wider on the southbound side because they know folks usually go that way.  Additionally, there is a better view of the ocean on that side of the road.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2011, 04:10:21 pm by staehpj1 »

Offline John Nelson

Re: A few questions from a 1st timer
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2011, 03:30:27 pm »
I find safety to be a non-issue, and thus I find protection to be another non-issue.

98% of all motorists give you no reason at all to be concerned. Keep your eye on the other 2%. If you be considerate to the motorists and do everything you can to avoid inconveniencing them, they will generally do the same for you. Ride predictably and be visible.

Although many of the ACA routes have no shoulders, most are so low traffic that it's not a problem. Everybody is different, but I prefer low-traffic shoulderless roads than high-traffic roads with shoulders.

With camping, again consideration is key. Always ask permission if there is anyone you can ask permission of, don't climb over fences, and leave no trace. If you don't have explicit permission, staying out of sight as much as possible will minimize your chances of unpleasantness. You might want to wait until dusk to set up your tent and get up at first light. Many times you will find that your rights to camp where you are is ambiguous.

As Pete says, north-to-south is the highly preferred direction along the Pacific Coast in the summer.

If you're unsure of how your bike will handle the gear, the only way to identify problems is to load it up and try it out, early enough to have time to make an alternative plan if it doesn't work out.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: A few questions from a 1st timer
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2011, 06:26:18 pm »
Weather and time to leave. I would look that up on the internet.

Projectiles and problems from motorists. It happens. Someone threw a can of beer at me in Walker, Louisiana. I think it may have been Eileen Wuornos who threw a can of beer at me on highway 98 between Perry, FL and Wakulla Station, FL. It happens. I saw long-term stalking on the southern tier across state lines. Some idiot in a van tried to hit my girlfriend and me just east of Boute, Louisiana in 1984.

When you ride a bicycle across the continent many more people pass you than would if you were driving a motor vehicle and going at the speed of other motorized traffic. The more people who pass you, the bigger the possibility is that some nut-case will come along and see you and want to bother you somehow. In a car you are just another person in a car. On a loaded bike you stand out as somehow different, and you might possibly attract the wrong kind of attention. The USA has a major problem with crime. I think your chances of being bothered on a bike might not be any larger than when you are doing anything anywhere. It is largely a matter of chance.

Offline ronnie421

Re: A few questions from a 1st timer
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2011, 08:28:25 am »
Hey Jonathan, just curious.  How far south are you from? You can PM me if you like. Just wondering cuz Im from Corpus Christi, Tx, Just couple hrs from the Mexican border.

Offline tonythomson

Re: A few questions from a 1st timer
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2011, 09:42:00 am »
2. Safety? Never had any problems - couple of times some kids came a bit close and yelled out of the window, but that isn't going to hurt you. Go and talk to the guys - prove we aren't all weirdos and the next rider might get a better reception.

3. Protection?  The only protection you might need is some pepper spray for nutty dogs, but that should be the last resort, like the Red Necks stop and discuss the situation with the dog  ;D There are loads of hints on how to deal with wayward dogs, I always stop and command it to stop - always worked up to now.

4. I plan to guerrilla camp as much as possible, I never found the need to sneak in anywhere - always ask and never been refused.  But again masses of advice on here about best places. Churches - small towns ask in the town hall or the local deputy.

Go and have fun it's a great ride - even if you are going against the prevailing wind  :-\
Just starting to record my trips  www.tonystravels.com

Offline JonathanBruner

Re: A few questions from a 1st timer
« Reply #7 on: September 04, 2011, 10:17:50 am »
Thanks for all the advice. If you guys are ever biking the Southern Tier, it goes through my town Chipley, Fl. My old church is in the middle of town on a hill, great place to camp.

Offline Jambi

Re: A few questions from a 1st timer
« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2011, 03:11:39 am »
In terms of protection you want someting that wont be too bad if it is taken off you and used on you. If you pull a taser/ knife on someone and they manage to take it off you, you are in for bother. Mace is the only thing i would consider taking considering you will probably only get a chance to use it on dogs. Tasering a dog would be overkill just a bit.

Offline JonathanBruner

Re: A few questions from a 1st timer
« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2011, 08:53:11 am »
In terms of protection you want someting that wont be too bad if it is taken off you and used on you. If you pull a taser/ knife on someone and they manage to take it off you, you are in for bother.

Valid point, haha

Offline Shane

Re: A few questions from a 1st timer
« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2011, 11:35:10 am »
1. Do 50-60 miles a day instead and enjoy your trip, take time for a long lunch, hangover lie in or siesta. Its not the end of the world if you do the last 500 miles in a bus to save time if it means the difference between the trip of a life time or an injury that lasts a life time.

2. Helmet, something bright on your bike and a mirror.

3. Smelly socks. charm, charisma and a sense of humour have done me well so far.

4. I found this a little dodgy in the US because there's so many fences along the road with "private property"signs and the last thing i wanted was to piss off a redneck or cowboy:), but there's always room for a creative solution.

5. ....More rumble strips than bike lanes....

6. Any bike works, especially if its a bike your used too, dont be miss led into buying a new bike if yours works....

7. Just do it!!!!!