Adventure Cycling Association Forum

Bicycle Travel => General Discussion => Topic started by: tswhosonfirst on December 05, 2013, 10:52:01 am

 
Title: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: tswhosonfirst on December 05, 2013, 10:52:01 am
Hello everyone,

I have been hanging around this forum for a little while as I plan a cross-country bike trip with a couple friends. We are planning on going from Savanna to San Francisco this summer. This trip is going to be a charity ride. We are new to this so we are looking for all the help we can get.

With our route we are planning on hitting the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and a few other locations. Do any of you have any suggestions about this route?

We do not have bikes. Because this is a fundraiser and we are college students we do not have a lot of money to spend on bikes. We are trying to not spend over $800 on a bike but preferably less. Do you have any tips for getting a good bike in our price range? What would you recommend for a cheap touring bike, or would you recommend that we try a different type of bike. Could we get a hybrid or mountain bike to work well for this trip? We also heard that you could take a normal road bike if you pulled a trailer. Is that true? We could probably get a nice used road bike for cheap.

If a couple of the guys were to get mountain bikes while the others had touring or road bikes would the mountain bikes be able to keep up? Would it take a lot more work to stay with them or with smooth tires could they ride with the road bikes just fine?

Have any of you done a fundraiser trip where you were able to partner with a LBS and they provided gear for you? We are hoping that we can get some good deals because it is a fundraiser but we are wondering what we should expect. We are students in Chicago but live in Ohio and Michigan; let me know if any of you are from that area and have had luck with a specific bike shop.

If you have any other tips or comments that would be awesome too. We are getting really excited about this trip but there is a lot to figure out. This forum has already been a lot of help and I am sure that I will be seeking more advice in the future.

Thanks,
Tim
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: RussSeaton on December 05, 2013, 02:28:32 pm
I plan a cross-country bike trip with a couple friends. We are planning on going from Savanna to San Francisco this summer. This trip is going to be a charity ride.

We do not have bikes. Because this is a fundraiser and we are college students we do not have a lot of money to spend on bikes. We are trying to not spend over $800 on a bike but preferably less. Do you have any tips for getting a good bike in our price range? What would you recommend for a cheap touring bike, or would you recommend that we try a different type of bike. Could we get a hybrid or mountain bike to work well for this trip? We also heard that you could take a normal road bike if you pulled a trailer. Is that true? We could probably get a nice used road bike for cheap.

If a couple of the guys were to get mountain bikes while the others had touring or road bikes would the mountain bikes be able to keep up? Would it take a lot more work to stay with them or with smooth tires could they ride with the road bikes just fine?

Where did this idea of a cross country bike ride come from?  Charity ride?  Do you ride a bike now?  Have you ever ridden a bike over long distances?  A lot of your questions about bikes implies you know nothing about bicycling.  I'm not a fan of giving bike buying advice to someone who knows nothing about bikes.  I'd suggest you postpone your cross country ride for a few years.  Buy a road bike now.  Ride it for a half dozen years.  Ride 5,000-10,000 miles a year for the next half dozen years.  Learn about bicycling.  Then ride across the country.

I rode an entire summer immediately following college graduation.  But I had been riding for 10 years and knew what bicycling involved.  Touring for a summer wasn't much of a stretch for me.
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: DaveB on December 05, 2013, 05:14:15 pm
Where did this idea of a cross country bike ride come from?  Charity ride?  Do you ride a bike now?  Have you ever ridden a bike over long distances?  A lot of your questions about bikes implies you know nothing about bicycling.  I'm not a fan of giving bike buying advice to someone who knows nothing about bikes.  I'd suggest you postpone your cross country ride for a few years.  Buy a road bike now.  Ride it for a half dozen years.  Ride 5,000-10,000 miles a year for the next half dozen years.  Learn about bicycling.  Then ride across the country.

I rode an entire summer immediately following college graduation.  But I had been riding for 10 years and knew what bicycling involved.  Touring for a summer wasn't much of a stretch for me.
Thanks for writing this as you saved me a fair bit of typing.  My first reaction on reading the OP was incredulity.  These guys don't own bikes, don't know what type to buy, don't currently ride and don't say what, if any, charity they are trying to assist.   Amazing.
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: John Nelson on December 05, 2013, 05:25:24 pm
Tim,

Okay, let me try a more upbeat reply.

Let's say that you're already in great shape because you do lots of other sports. And lets say that you've got plenty of time to do this, at least four months. When you get to Savanna, go down to the local Walmart and buy a bike for $100 (don't buy it earlier, because it will cost you as much as you spend on the bike to get it to Savanna). Load it up and off you go. Plan your route to go past as many other Walmarts as you can. That way you can buy another $100 bike if the one you have dies. You can probably get across the country on two or three bikes. That's probably cheaper than many other options. When you get to SF, donate your bike to Goodwill (it'll be more economical than getting it home). Start out by riding 10 to 15 miles a day. Take some days off when you are tired. Gradually build up to riding 50 miles a day in about a month. Try not to get killed while you're learning safe cycling.

You're young. You're flexible. You're broke. You've got perseverance. You don't mind discomfort. You're not above taking a handout. You're willing to hitchhike if necessary. You'll make it.

Your chances of getting cheap/free stuff from your local bike shop is zero--come up with another plan. No, the mountain bike guys will not be able to keep up with the road bike guys. Yes, you can pull a trailer--that might be your best bet. Make the road bike guys pull the trailer(s) to even things out. Pack light--very, very light.
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: tonythomson on December 05, 2013, 10:09:46 pm
I'm with John on this, your young give it a good shot - in the end there is nothing mystical about riding a bike or long distant touring - you just keep going. Don't let anyone put you off.
 Do your research on your route and time of year. Take a tent and your set to go.  My advice would be not to go down the mountain bike route and whatever you buy put the best tyres around on it.
We need more youngsters like you willing to go out there and have an adventure - get out of your comfort zone.  Should be made compulsory  ;D  Most of all have fun.
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: zzzz on December 05, 2013, 10:35:49 pm
Hi Tim:

I'll also give you a little encouragement and advice. I had a friend who when he graduated from college decided to ride his bike across the country over the summer with little more experience than you apparently have and he made it. He started out doing 30-40 mile days and rode himself into shape and by the end of the trip he was doing 4-500 mile weeks. You all are young and if you're not playing video games all day and you start taking your prep seriously NOW,  you should be okay.

I think your inclination to go with a used road bike is a good way to go for the amount of money you want to spend. Reading this is probably a good place to start:

http://www.adventurecycling.org/default/assets/File/AdventureCyclist/OnlineOnlyFeatures/BuyersGuide/TouringBike_Shurbert.pdf

Alternatively, you can also buy a used cyclo-cross bike and that can work very well for touring. I was recently looking into buying a used 'cross bike and there were several pretty nice ones for around $800.

Whatever you buy you need to get it sooner rather than later and start getting out on the road. More than any issue with getting your legs ready, you need to get used to dealing with traffic and you need to get your backside prepped for being perched on a bike seat all day, every day.

I think it would also help you to find a local expearienced cyclist who is willing to go for a 1/2 dozen rides with you and explain the do's and dont's of being on a bike and out on the road.

Also take note of the of the "How to Department" on the ACA web site for lots of information you will find useful for what to pack.

Good luck,

Pete
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: tswhosonfirst on December 05, 2013, 10:42:16 pm
Russ and Dave, I see where you are coming from. It would probably be the smart thing to wait a few years and gain some experience and then go on a trip but we have found that we have the time to do it this summer and it may be our only shot. We may be novice bikers but we have plenty of experience in camping and backpacking; there are plenty of skills that should transfer over. We are also in pretty good shape (we are on the college soccer team) and we have the next six months to train.

I have done plenty of research on touring bikes to know what is a good touring bike but most of them are out of our price range. What I have not found much information on is what would be a good cheap bike to do a trip like this on. Posting on this forum is part of my research. I am perfectly ok with you saying that I should not take a mountain bike. I will trust your opinion; that is the reason I am asking people on this forum.

Our idea came from us wanting to do something crazy and different. We are willing to step out of our comfort zone and try something new. We also have friends and teachers that have done the same thing and they have influenced it.

The organization is A21. They work toward ending human trafficking and helping the women that get stuck in these terrible situations. We decided on this organization because our school had a conference on human trafficking awareness and it really affected the four of us.

John, Tony, and zzzz I thank you for your support. I do not think that we want to be so unplanned as you mention John, but we are definitely willing to learn things as we go; that is part of the adventure.

zzzz your information is really helpful, I thank you. I will definitely check out those links.

I thank all of you for your comments but I am looking for helpful information that would help us with this trip because we are pretty set on doing it. The people that we know that have done it are completely supportive and almost as excited as we are about it. I have no doubt that it will be a challenge and there is plenty to learn and prepare but all of us are willing for the challenge and the challenge excites us.

Thanks again,
Tim
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: CanvasAndSteel on December 06, 2013, 08:58:40 am
Stalk craigslist. It's astonishing what kind of deals you can find on nearly unused vintage tourers: miyata, bianchi, Raleigh, univega, etc. Expect to spend under $300 and then repack bearings and replace cables and housing, buy new tubes and tires (plus an extra one of each), get racks and panniers from Craig's as well and you're set. Should be able to outfit bike and carrying for under $600. Have fun, go slowly and carefully as you're learning. When you get to SF you'll be pros and you'll have fabulous memories.

Sent from my HTCONE using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: DaveB on December 06, 2013, 09:08:22 am
Forgive  me for originally thinking this was a completely hairbrain idea.  Your second posting sounds a lot more reasonable and more like you've really thought this over. Your current physical conditioning and outdoor experience should allow you to get into "cycling shape" fairly quickly.

As to a source of reasonably priced bikes (I assume the Walmart suggestion was a joke, I certainly hope it was! :) ) do you have a local Craig's List?  That can be a source of very good bikes at low cost.  Also, post WTB (want to buy) notices in local bike shops specifying what you are looking for.  Most have bulletin boards for this type of posting.

I would avoid mountain bikes unless you can find decent quality rigid fork/hardtail  (i.e. no suspension) model and put slick tires on them.  They will have a weight disadvantage but will have appropriately low gearing and most have rack mounting eyelets.

Otherwise road bikes are preferable for their reduced weight but pure racing/sports bikes will have too-high gearing and lack mounting eyelets for racks.  The suggestion for a cyclocross bike is a good one as they are rugged and can be regeared rather easily. Obviously, a real touring bike would be ideal but used ones are rare.

Finally, no matter what, get bikes that FIT.  Bikes are like shoes, you want the right size.  If you have a knowledgeable friend or if there is a bicycle club at your school or in town, by all means get their help with choosing and setting up what ever bikes you buy.  Then ride, ride, ride.  And enjoy.   
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: staehpj1 on December 06, 2013, 09:27:48 am
Thanks for writing this as you saved me a fair bit of typing.  My first reaction on reading the OP was incredulity.  These guys don't own bikes, don't know what type to buy, don't currently ride and don't say what, if any, charity they are trying to assist.   Amazing.

Not sure why that is amazing.  I met lots of folks who were on long tours that they started as non cyclists especially on the Trans America.  My two companions on the TA had almost no miles under their belt at the start and one was never a cyclist previous to the TA.  They both did great.  Being young and in generally good shape helps but even being older of somewhat sedentary doesn't mean someone can't start a coast to coast trip if they either train a bit of take it easy for the first 10 days to 2 weeks.
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: indyfabz on December 06, 2013, 01:07:18 pm
One of the guys on my Northern Tier group tour was a non-cyclist right out of college. He did great as he was in shape from being a runner who lived at high altitude in CO. He once joked that his house was higher than the highest pass we crossed.

At the risk of stirring the "strike out on your own" crowd, I am going to at least suggest that you consider chaning your starting and ending points and follow the TransAm route. It would take care of a lot of the planning and the map list the valuable resoruces you will need. If you have the time and really want to end in Frisco, you could ride down the coast from Florence, OR.
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: John Nelson on December 06, 2013, 01:23:46 pm
I second the idea of considering using the TransAm/Western Express if you're not firmly committed to the route you mentioned in your first post.
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: DaveB on December 06, 2013, 01:38:02 pm
Not sure why that is amazing.  I met lots of folks who were on long tours that they started as non cyclists especially on the Trans America.  My two companions on the TA had almost no miles under their belt at the start and one was never a cyclist previous to the TA.  They both did great.  Being young and in generally good shape helps but even being older of somewhat sedentary doesn't mean someone can't start a coast to coast trip if they either train a bit of take it easy for the first 10 days to 2 weeks.
Read my second posting.  As to my first one, yes, what you describe can be done and has been done but that still doesn't make it a good idea.   

One difference is in your example, your non-cycling companions had you as a guide to both bike choice and riding.  Based strictly on the OP, these guys have absolutely no knowledge of bikes and anything related.  I'm sure they can and will learn but, at first blush, it really did sound like a poorly thought out idea. 
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: tswhosonfirst on December 06, 2013, 03:02:39 pm
I am sorry that I made my first post unclear, I guess I did make myself sound pretty uninformed.

About the route, I will look into other routes like the TransAm. We decided on our route because we know some people along the way and we have all dreamed of some of the sights (Grand Canyon, Yosemite). I will discuss it with the other guys.

So more about bikes:

If we were to get used bikes, how old is too old. I have seen a ton of bikes from the 80s and early 90s on ebay and craigslist for $200-400. At what point would we have to upgrade too many parts/components that it would no longer be worth it. I guess I'm asking would an older bike's components work well or would we basically have to build a new bike?

I looked more into hybrids(thanks zzzz for the link) and they seem like they could work. If we were to go that route would the wheels work? I noticed that they have 32 spokes whereas most touring bikes have 36+ spokes. I don't want to be constantly changing spokes along the ride. Also would the upright seating position make it that much more difficult because of the wind? Are there any other pros/cons about hybrids?

It looks like I would have to change the gearing of a cyclocross bike whereas a hybrid should be ok where it is at. How much would it cost to make that change?
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: staehpj1 on December 06, 2013, 03:06:15 pm
it really did sound like a poorly thought out idea.

I agree with that, but lot's of folks do something similar and they typically get along fine.  Also since they are starting to plan about 6 months out they have plenty of time to get it all sorted out.
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: John Nelson on December 06, 2013, 03:22:49 pm
Tim, if finances are tight, pretty soon you'll want to start investigating the costs of getting your bikes to the start and home from the finish. It can be a sticker shock and a budget buster if you don't plan for it.
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: RussSeaton on December 06, 2013, 03:31:53 pm
If we were to get used bikes, how old is too old. I have seen a ton of bikes from the 80s and early 90s on ebay and craigslist for $200-400. At what point would we have to upgrade too many parts/components that it would no longer be worth it. I guess I'm asking would an older bike's components work well or would we basically have to build a new bike?

I looked more into hybrids(thanks zzzz for the link) and they seem like they could work. If we were to go that route would the wheels work? I noticed that they have 32 spokes whereas most touring bikes have 36+ spokes. I don't want to be constantly changing spokes along the ride. Also would the upright seating position make it that much more difficult because of the wind? Are there any other pros/cons about hybrids?

It looks like I would have to change the gearing of a cyclocross bike whereas a hybrid should be ok where it is at. How much would it cost to make that change?

Early 90s bike would be OK.  It will have a 7 speed cassette.  These are still common.  I rode around Europe on a 1991 Trek 520.  And rode it many years later.  Bikes don't wear out.  The parts more or less last forever.  But all of the consumables, chains, cassette, cables, handlebar tape need replacing.  Adds up.  Then to get the bike to fit with new bars, new stem, saddle, tires, tubes.  Adds up.  Labor cost to do the servicing and parts change.  Adds up.  Buying a used bike may or may not save you money.  Unless you get really lucky (perfect fit, perfect maintenance) it will not save you very much.  Working under the assumption that a used bike will be 50% of new price.  Then add 25% of new price for new parts to make it fit and get it in working order.  So you are looking at a $1200 new bike or $900 used bike for ones that are pretty similar in the end.  Unless you are really lucky, used won't save you much money.  Used allows you to get an old bike that you always wanted and now you can.

I'm not a fan of hybrid or mountain bikes because of the seating position.  Upright.  And straight bars with no other hand positions.  Uncomfortable over long distances.  Drop handlebars have been used on road bikes for about 100 years now.  There is a good reason for that.

Changing gearing on a cyclocross bike?  Maybe long cage rear derailleur to handle the bigger cassette.  $50-80.  Bigger cassette.  11-34 or 11-32 teeth.  $30.  New chain.  $20.  Tools to break the chain and take the cassette off.  $30.
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: RussSeaton on December 06, 2013, 03:45:32 pm
Not sure why that is amazing.  I met lots of folks who were on long tours that they started as non cyclists especially on the Trans America.  My two companions on the TA had almost no miles under their belt at the start and one was never a cyclist previous to the TA.  They both did great.  Being young and in generally good shape helps but even being older of somewhat sedentary doesn't mean someone can't start a coast to coast trip if they either train a bit of take it easy for the first 10 days to 2 weeks.
Read my second posting.  As to my first one, yes, what you describe can be done and has been done but that still doesn't make it a good idea.   

One difference is in your example, your non-cycling companions had you as a guide to both bike choice and riding.  Based strictly on the OP, these guys have absolutely no knowledge of bikes and anything related.  I'm sure they can and will learn but, at first blush, it really did sound like a poorly thought out idea.

I'll agree with DaveB.  This action of waking up one morning and deciding to ride across the US has been done many times and will be done many more times.  Probably most do OK.  But I still don't think its a good idea.  I don't climb mountains.  If I decided to climb Everest tomorrow I would need to be put away in a locked cell.  Maybe not quite the same, but its better to have experience at something before jumping into the deep end.  I'm pretty sure the US will be here for a few more years.  You can ride across the US 5-10-15 years from now.  What is wrong with riding your bike for five years and learning about bicycling before riding across the US?  Get some experience.  Whether you ride next summer or ten summers from now, it will still be memorable.
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: CanvasAndSteel on December 06, 2013, 04:18:50 pm
I am sorry that I made my first post unclear, I guess I did make myself sound pretty uninformed.

About the route, I will look into other routes like the TransAm. We decided on our route because we know some people along the way and we have all dreamed of some of the sights (Grand Canyon, Yosemite). I will discuss it with the other guys.

So more about bikes:

If we were to get used bikes, how old is too old. I have seen a ton of bikes from the 80s and early 90s on ebay and craigslist for $200-400. At what point would we have to upgrade too many parts/components that it would no longer be worth it. I guess I'm asking would an older bike's components work well or would we basically have to build a new bike?

I looked more into hybrids(thanks zzzz for the link) and they seem like they could work. If we were to go that route would the wheels work? I noticed that they have 32 spokes whereas most touring bikes have 36+ spokes. I don't want to be constantly changing spokes along the ride. Also would the upright seating position make it that much more difficult because of the wind? Are there any other pros/cons about hybrids?

It looks like I would have to change the gearing of a cyclocross bike whereas a hybrid should be ok where it is at. How much would it cost to make that change?

A few months ago I purchased a mint 1985 Miyata 610 for $150.  I'm repacking the headset, getting new tires and tubes and putting new tape on the bars. That's all it needs. In the end I will have $300 in a bike that in every way will be as capable a tourer as any new $1,500 bike. It doesn't have indexed shifting, bit I actually prefer suntour friction.

Today I picked up for a friend a 2008 Bianchi Volpe for $200. The Volpe, like the 610, has midfork mounts on the front fork for low rider panniers. It also has mounts for three bottle cages. The tires are in great shape. It needs new bar tape. That's it.

The point is, you can get a very good 1980s tourer for little money. You can find a fairly recently produced bike for very little because someone wants to unload it. Anyone who tells you that $1,000 is some kind of reasonable minimum just hasn't taken the time to shop around. Educate yourself on what's out there, stay away from the bikes that demand a name brand premium, or find a friend who is knowledgeable and is willing to do some looking for you, like I've done for the friend for whom I bought the Volpe.

This is a great time of year to buy a used bike.

Lastly, as others have said, make sure that whatever you buys fits. You'll be spending a lot of time on the thing.


Sent from my HTCONE using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: rondickinson on December 06, 2013, 06:32:39 pm
Very entertaining read.
Tswhosonfirst might be young, but he came back with a very professional response to some obvious knee jerk reaction post.  Good Job.

You might have a lot to learn, but my guess is you will do just fine.

btw: I'm (age 54) doing the TransAm next summer with my son (age 23) for our first riding experience in excess of 7 days.  I have done a ton of research and can afford to buy good stuff, but if I had to bet, I would bet on you and your friends over me.
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: jamawani on December 06, 2013, 08:02:25 pm
Let's see here -
One person has more than 1000 posts on a whole range of subjects over 10 years -
And another has 14 posts and almost no experience.

Who's calling the other what??
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: tonythomson on December 06, 2013, 09:40:37 pm
Another thing you might like to do as part of your prep is to find any abandoned bikes - unclaimed etc - just old junk ones and learn your mechanics by pulling them to pieces and putting them back.  Cheap way to learn. 
Buy the bike you decide on asap and as far as possible have your co-rider get similar - then figure out what tools you need and can double up.  Although I always want to have a full set of my own because people do drop out.
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: pptouring on December 08, 2013, 02:53:39 am
...I'd suggest you postpone your cross country ride for a few years.  Buy a road bike now.  Ride it for a half dozen years.  Ride 5,000-10,000 miles a year for the next half dozen years.  Learn about bicycling.  Then ride across the country....

Thanks for writing this as you saved me a fair bit of typing.  My first reaction on reading the OP was incredulity.  These guys don't own bikes, don't know what type to buy, don't currently ride and don't say what, if any, charity they are trying to assist.   Amazing.

Well it's a good thing that these two did not ask for your advice. Dave and Loretta, with no cycling experience, bought bikes and gear and have been traveling for several years now.

Dave -> http://www.tiredofit.ca/
Loretta -> http://www.skalatitude.com/p/about.html
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: pptouring on December 08, 2013, 04:04:27 am
Hello everyone,

I have been hanging around this forum for a little while as I plan a cross-country bike trip with a couple friends. We are planning on going from Savanna to San Francisco this summer. This trip is going to be a charity ride. We are new to this so we are looking for all the help we can get.

With our route we are planning on hitting the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and a few other locations. Do any of you have any suggestions about this route?

Sounds like a fine plan to us. Enjoy and have fun.


We do not have bikes. Because this is a fundraiser and we are college students we do not have a lot of money to spend on bikes. We are trying to not spend over $800 on a bike but preferably less. Do you have any tips for getting a good bike in our price range? What would you recommend for a cheap touring bike, or would you recommend that we try a different type of bike. Could we get a hybrid or mountain bike to work well for this trip? We also heard that you could take a normal road bike if you pulled a trailer. Is that true? We could probably get a nice used road bike for cheap.

During our travels, we have come across all types of bikes and bike riders. We hosted a girl from Vienna that traveled from Vienna to Spain, then crossed the Atlantic on a sailboat, cycled Cuba for a couple months, then jumped on another sailboat to Florida. She then crossed the US on her MTB bike. After reaching California, she sent the bike back home to Vienna and then put together another bike, piece by piece and proceeded to cycle up to Canada and back down to LA on it. We also hosted a guy from Canada that flew to Florida with a backpack. He then decided he wanted to give bike touring a try, so he bought an inexpensive hybrid bike and toured across the US wearing a backpack. We met a British couple in Spain that decided to buy a pair of very used commuter/hybrid type bikes and tour around Europe. He wore a backpack and she had a pair of cheap panniers. In France, we met an English chap touring on a Specialized Roubix (road bike) wearing a backpack. We met a French guy traveling on a "Walmart" type bike dragging a homemade trailer. I guess what we are saying is that you can tour on just about anything and still have a good time. I would not wear and/or recommend the backpack route, but it can be done and they didn't seem to mind. They were all having a great time.

If a couple of the guys were to get mountain bikes while the others had touring or road bikes would the mountain bikes be able to keep up? Would it take a lot more work to stay with them or with smooth tires could they ride with the road bikes just fine?


You're bike touring, not racing, so the stronger rider(s) will have to adjust their speed to the weaker rider(s). We are touring on 26" wheels and we have no problem keeping up and/or dropping folks riding on 700c wheels. Smoother tires would not be a bad idea.

Have any of you done a fundraiser trip where you were able to partner with a LBS and they provided gear for you? We are hoping that we can get some good deals because it is a fundraiser but we are wondering what we should expect.

Can't help you here, but we have come across several other long distance tourists that have. They sent out sponsorship type letters telling the company what they were doing and asked for some help. In return, they agreed to advertise on their blog (company logo) and to do some sort of product review. In exchange, they either received the item for free or at a really good price. Remember though there are a lot of folks out there doing this, so have a good letter and good luck.

If you have any other tips or comments that would be awesome too. We are getting really excited about this trip but there is a lot to figure out. This forum has already been a lot of help and I am sure that I will be seeking more advice in the future.

To help with your budget, check out Warmshowers.org for lodging and support. Do a search on bicycle touring or something similar and reach out to individuals with blogs for help. Go over to crazyguyonabike.com and read through some of those travel experiences. Forums are ok, but many times you'll get responses from folks that have limited experience.

Oh and have at least enough money for a bus ticket home should all else fail. Get out and have a great tour.
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: DaveB on December 08, 2013, 09:28:46 am
[Well it's a good thing that these two did not ask for your advice. Dave and Loretta, with no cycling experience, bought bikes and gear and have been traveling for several years now.
This is not an analogous situation at all.  The OP and his group have limited time to tour and will have to maintain a fairly demanding schedule.  The couple you reference apparently has indefinite time, no other demands and can do 10 miles a day if they want. 

Also, those examples you guys give of people who have toured successfully starting with little to no cycling experience are cherry picking the "winners".  We haven't heard about the ones who tried the same thing and wound up way over their heads and abandoned the idea very quickly.  I think it's unfair and misleading to imply that because a few carefully selected examples succeeded that everyone can too.
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: staehpj1 on December 08, 2013, 10:09:44 am
This is not an analogous situation at all.
Maybe, but it is closer than your Everest comment.

Also, those examples you guys give of people who have toured successfully starting with little to no cycling experience are cherry picking the "winners".  We haven't heard about the ones who tried the same thing and wound up way over their heads and abandoned the idea very quickly.  I think it's unfair and misleading to imply that because a few carefully selected examples succeeded that everyone can too.
Well I can't avoid not mentioning those who bailed before I met them, but I met quite a few folks on the TA doing it as their first tour.  Some were previously cyclists and some not.  I personally had done a lot of biking, but it was my first tour as well.  I have to think that given the number I met there are probably thousands who have done the TA as a first tour since it started in 1976.

I only met one first time tourist doing the TA who bailed and he bailed due to a knee injury.  He was an avid cyclist before the trip but on his first tour.

I think that level of determination to finish is the primary predictor of success.  Resourcefulness comes next.  Some experience with packing for  and living with their gear on some form of extended travel (backpacking, canoe camping, etc.) is quite helpful, but not absolutely necessary.  Bicycling experience comes in at a distant fourth in my estimation.

BTW, even among those who tried a big first tour and failed to finish many probably had a positive experience.  What is the big danger, that they might have to pack up and go home without reaching the other coast?  That is not exactly the end of the world.
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: pptouring on December 08, 2013, 11:36:13 am

I think that level of determination to finish is the primary predictor of success.  Resourcefulness comes next.  Some experience with packing for  and living with their gear on some form of extended travel (backpacking, canoe camping, etc.) is quite helpful, but not absolutely necessary.  Bicycling experience comes in at a distant fourth in my estimation.

BTW, even among those who tried a big first tour and failed to finish many probably had a positive experience.  What is the big danger, that they might have to pack up and go home without reaching the other coast?  That is not exactly the end of the world.

Exactly!

BTW - DaveB I could list several more folks that we have met over the years that started out with absolutely no idea or very little of what they were getting into and still made it. You act as if they are heading down to cycle the Atacama Desert in Bolivia or something. They are crossing the US, they understand the language, they are a phone call away from help, they are young, and they sound as if they are in great shape. They'll be fine and who knows, maybe after they land in California, they'll either turn around and head home or cycle towards South America.  8)
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: Pat Lamb on December 08, 2013, 11:52:12 am
Old fart here; I've refrained from commenting for a while because I just don't "get" the fund-raising part of a bicycle tour.
Why should people sign up to give money or gear for you doing something many other people do for fun or for the experience?
Are you skimming the first X dollars of contributions to help pay for your expenses, or do you have money budgeted and set aside to pay for your own costs, and all money pledged will go to some charity of your choice?
Is your total budget on the order of $3,000 to pay for food, camping, and emergency shelter, and you figure you can do it with $2,000 and have about $800 to spend on a bike?  Does that $800 include racks, bags, tools, spare tubes and other parts, etc.?

Those questions aside, used might be an option if you have a friend who can check it out thoroughly (or room in the budget for a bike shop to go over it with a fine toothed comb).  I lean heavily to directing newbies to a local bike shop (LBS) otherwise.  A good LBS can help fit you, show you how to fix minor things like flats and shifting adjustments, take care of any unexpected problems that pop up in next spring's training, and give the bike another thorough once-over before you leave.

I think the Fuji is the only new touring bike close to the $800 bogey.   Slick tires on a mountain bike gets you about 80% of the benefit of a touring bike -- everything but multiple hand positions.  Hybrids are all over the place now; some are re-branded MTBs without offensively lugged tires, some are road bikes without drop bars.  So my non-Fuji recommendation would be to find a good LBS, get a solid MTB or hybrid without any suspension "features," preferably with low gearing and mounting points for racks, and start training ASAP.  Two or three weeks before you're ready to leave, take the bike in for a checkup or overhaul.  In between, collect something(s) to haul the gear.

And have fun, however you do it!
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: RussSeaton on December 08, 2013, 03:03:22 pm
...I'd suggest you postpone your cross country ride for a few years.  Buy a road bike now.  Ride it for a half dozen years.  Ride 5,000-10,000 miles a year for the next half dozen years.  Learn about bicycling.  Then ride across the country....

Thanks for writing this as you saved me a fair bit of typing.  My first reaction on reading the OP was incredulity.  These guys don't own bikes, don't know what type to buy, don't currently ride and don't say what, if any, charity they are trying to assist.   Amazing.

Well it's a good thing that these two did not ask for your advice. Dave and Loretta, with no cycling experience, bought bikes and gear and have been traveling for several years now.

Dave -> http://www.tiredofit.ca/
Loretta -> http://www.skalatitude.com/p/about.html

I would have given them the same advice.  Get a bike and ride for a half dozen years.  The US and the rest of the world will still be there 6 years from now.  When you know what you are doing, then ride across the world.  It will be easier and more fun because you won't have as many problems.  You will know what you are doing.  Your advice reminds me of something.  People win the lottery about everyday.  You apparently would recommend the lottery as a retirement method and a way to accumulate wealth for a living.  Of course people who know how the world works, would not recommend the lottery as a financial strategy.  Lottery and waking up tomorrow and riding across the US with no experience.  Pretty similar to me.
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: staehpj1 on December 08, 2013, 03:28:13 pm
People win the lottery about everyday.  You apparently would recommend the lottery as a retirement method and a way to accumulate wealth for a living.  Of course people who know how the world works, would not recommend the lottery as a financial strategy.  Lottery and waking up tomorrow and riding across the US with no experience.  Pretty similar to me.

First...
As someone who successfully and happily rode across the US on my first tour, subsequently did a number of other long tours including another coast to coast one, and faithfully saved for my retirement that sounds downright silly to me.

Second...
They are not talking about tomorrow, they are talking about going 7 months or so from now.  That allows for a ton of research and learning before their tour.  Which sounds entirely reasonable to me.

And Third...
There really is pretty much no penalty, if they fail they just go home.  They get a real adventure and risk pretty much nothing.

Folks do it all the time as an after college fling before donning the chains of the work force.  It isn't rocket science, it doesn't require a lot of skill or specialized knowledge, and doesn't even require much athletic ability.  Mostly what it requires is determination and the desire to do it.  Part of the attraction may even be the adventure of not knowing what to expect.
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: zzzz on December 08, 2013, 03:50:31 pm
Well Tim, I'm sure you didn't mean to but it looks like your post opened up a can of worms on the normally staid and friendly ACA forum.

Must be the short cold days are making everyone cranky.

Pete
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: DaveB on December 08, 2013, 06:06:43 pm
This is not an analogous situation at all.
Maybe, but it is closer than your Everest comment.
I never made any comment about Everest or anything like it.  Please quote me correctly.
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: staehpj1 on December 08, 2013, 06:31:08 pm
This is not an analogous situation at all.
Maybe, but it is closer than your Everest comment.
I never made any comment about Everest or anything like it.  Please quote me correctly.
My apologies, I am sorry for attributing that to you.  The statement was made but not by you.
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: BobG on December 08, 2013, 10:04:04 pm
Tim-

I think that any bikes you come up with will do the job. The wider the gear range the better. Mountain bikes with lighter tires should work just fine. Road bikes pulling trailers should work fine. Who keeps up with who probably will depend more of the fitness of each individual.

My first extended bike trip (over 2 weeks) was in 1968 when a high school buddy and I rode from Arlington VA to Land 'o Lakes WI. We had no bicycle travel experience aside from membership in our high school youth hostelling club which involved short overnight bike trips on the C&O canal and an occcasional week trip of hostelling in the PA Dutch country.

We just did it. There was no Adventure Cycling Association or Bikecentennial to go to for information. There was no internet with multiple discussion boards to ask others how to do it. We used whatever 10 speed bicycles we had. (10 speed then meant 2 chainrings up front and 5 cogs in the rear). I think I was riding a rather high end Schwinn Paramount with sew up racing tires, a Campagnolo racing crankset and a 14-24 freewheel. My buddy probably had a low end 10 speed Gitane or Frejus. That's all you could find those days in the DC area. We had a blast!
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: pptouring on December 09, 2013, 03:42:40 am
Your advice reminds me of something.  People win the lottery about everyday.  You apparently would recommend the lottery as a retirement method and a way to accumulate wealth for a living.  Of course people who know how the world works, would not recommend the lottery as a financial strategy.  Lottery and waking up tomorrow and riding across the US with no experience.  Pretty similar to me.

What in heck are you talking about? Are you serious? Tim (if you're still with us), don't listen to the overzealous worry wart naysayer "bike touring" experts. You and your mates will be fine, get some bikes and gear and go have a great adventure. You'll be fine, just like the 1000s of others without any experience were. Expect some rough days, but in the end you will sit back, laugh and have some great stories.

And RussSeaton.... you know what they say about assuming? We do not play the lottery. We believe in the old school methods, like saving, living within your means, being debt free... etc. Anyway ya'll have a great day, we're going for a bike ride now in some pretty crappy German weather. :-)
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: DaveB on December 09, 2013, 08:29:38 am
OK, the responses here have tended to be polarized as:

A) Don't do it with out a LOT more experience or you will be sorry.  You have no idea what you are getting into. 
B) Sure, jump in with both feet and you will be fine. I (or someone I know) did it with no prior experience and had a great time.

I think a reasonable approach is something in the middle.  First, find suitable bikes and get some significant saddle time before you go.   You have the time before your planned departure to get into riding condition and become familiar with the bikes and minor repairs.  This will make the trip, particularly the early part of it, a lot more enjoyable.   

I agree the type of bike isn't essential and anything decently made and with adequate gearing will suffice.  Used or low to middle line new bike shop quality bikes will do fine if they fit.  And yes, the guys on MTBs will be inherently slower than the guys on road bike.  So what?  Keep together or regroup frequently.

Let us know how this develops.

Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: staehpj1 on December 09, 2013, 08:48:36 am
OK, the responses here have tended to be polarized as:

A) Don't do it with out a LOT more experience or you will be sorry.  You have no idea what you are getting into. 
B) Sure, jump in with both feet and you will be fine. I (or someone I know) did it with no prior experience and had a great time.

I think a reasonable approach is something in the middle.

I think all three are valid and reasonable choices that can lead to a good outcome.  Which one best suits any individual depends on their personal style.
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: tswhosonfirst on December 09, 2013, 12:05:15 pm
Sorry for not responding in a while.

Thanks everyone for being interested in this forum and willing to help but I did not intend to start an argument.

I agree with both sides. This does seem like a rash decision, but we are willing to make mistakes and learn, and we are dedicated to learning as much as we can over these next few month including doing some short tours. We probably won’t be as prepared as many of you because you have been doing this for many years but we think we will be able to do it.

I thank everyone for the support you have given. Knowing that people have done it with even less preparation is uplifting, but we are not going to expect the same result for ourselves; we will prepare as much as we can.

If you guys could expand on some examples of what a good cheap bike would be and what the concerns would be that would be great. Getting bikes is one of our main concerns because we are planning on heading south for a week during christmas break to try things out.

If we were to go the route of mountain/hybrid/road bike what would be all the changes that we would need to make to make them road worthy and about how much would that cost? Even with all these changes, what would be the disadvantages of this rather than a touring bike? If the disadvantages outweigh the cost then we will focus on touring bikes and that will save us a lot of time in research and planning.

One of the bikes that I am really thinking about is a hybrid. Many of them have the same gearing as a touring bike. They have stronger wheels than a regular road bike (would a 32 spoke wheel be ok), and are supposed to be pretty comfortable. Am I wrong with any of these points?

Any other advice would be great too!

I am glad that there are many people interested in helping me, but the back and forth debates really are not aiding in my trip planning. I would really love to be able to say that you guys have really helped my friends and prepare for our trip.

Thanks again,
Tim
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: John Nelson on December 09, 2013, 03:09:35 pm
If you guys could expand on some examples of what a good cheap bike would be and what the concerns would be that would be great.

I'm not going to give you a specific bike, but I'll tell you what to look for in any bike you find:
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: staehpj1 on December 09, 2013, 03:33:40 pm
One of the bikes that I am really thinking about is a hybrid. Many of them have the same gearing as a touring bike. They have stronger wheels than a regular road bike (would a 32 spoke wheel be ok), and are supposed to be pretty comfortable. Am I wrong with any of these points?

It depends on how light you pack.

YMMV, but I am not a fan of hybrids.

I recommend touring bike if you will pack moderately light to very heavy.  I like the Windsor Touring for that if on a tight budget or just frugal.  I rode one of these as did my two companions on the Trans America.  They worked out well and were inexpensive.

If packing light to moderately light a cyclocross bike can work well.  A touring bike can work here too.  A race bike could possibly work, but wouldn't be ideal unless maybe you use a trailer.

If packing very light to ultralight I'd recommend a road bike.  Endurance models work well, but I have been happy with sportier models as well.  I did the Southern Tier from San Diego to Florida with a 1990ish Cannondale crit race bike and was very happy with it.  I was camping and cooking, but going ultralight and carrying something like 15 pounds.  Packing that light apparently isn't for most folks though.  On the up side bikes of that vintage can be found dirt cheap.  They would need lower gearing than they typically came with though.  Also they do not all take racks easily.

I wrote up journals for my trips and also wrote a few articles that might be of use.  Check them out at:
https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/directory/?o=JQ&user=staehpj1&v=13
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: Pat Lamb on December 09, 2013, 03:56:21 pm
Tim, part of what you're seeing is honest disagreement.  If you want a single approach, ask one person.  Otherwise, you run into the situation first described (I think) by Mark Twain: A man with one watch always knows precisely what time it is.  A man with two watches is never quite sure.  When you post an open-ended question in an on-line forum, you're likely to get any number of responses from some of the thousands of people who've ridden that TransAm with any number of approaches, from piling stuff on a trailer pulled by a mountain bike, to training for a year and then putting an extra pair of gloves into the saddle bag with a credit card for lodging.  Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to integrate all the disparate advice and come up with your own approach.

(Another part of the discussion is probably winter storms across the country keeping many people off their bikes all weekend.  You get that, too, when you ask a question on an on-line-forum.)
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: rabbitoh on December 09, 2013, 04:01:12 pm
G'day Tim,

I can give you advice specific to the Grand Canyon, having cycled to both the South & North rims last year.

I cycled the ACA's Grand Canyon connector out of Wickenburg, so south to north. I deliberately planned my ride so that I would be at the North Rim on 15th May, which is generally when that road (Route 67) in, opens, although I believe that this date is not necessarily set in stone and is dependent on weather conditions.

It is beautiful riding and of course the scenery is magnificent especially along Route 64 between Grand Canyon Village and Desert View & all the way between Desert View to Cameron to Jacob Lake to the North Rim.

I know you will enjoy your ride and best of luck.

Dennis

Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: CanvasAndSteel on December 09, 2013, 09:05:20 pm


If you guys could expand on some examples of what a good cheap bike would be and what the concerns would be that would be great. Getting bikes is one of our main concerns because we are planning on heading south for a week during christmas break to try things out.



Thanks again,
Tim

I would recommend any of the below. You're liable to find something from this list on Craig's over the next few weeks.  You can get an excellent bike for under $400.

Bridgestone RB-T
Bridgestone T-500
Bridgestone T-700
Centurion Pro Tour 15
Centurion Elite GT 15
Fuji Touring Series IV
Fuji Touring Series V
Kuwahara Caravan
Lotus Odyssey
Miyata 610
Miyata 1000
Nishiki Continental
Nishiki Cresta GT
Nishiki International (note, not all years are full CrMo or full touring)
Nishiki Riviera GT
Nishiki Seral
Novara Randonee
Panasonic PT-3500
Panasonic PT-5000
Panasonic Pro Touring
Panasonic Touring Deluxe
Raleigh Alyeska
Raleigh Kodiak
Raleigh Portage
Raleigh Super Tourer
Raleigh Touring 18
Schwinn Paramount P15-9 Tourer
Schwinn Passage
Schwinn Super Sport, 1981
Schwinn Voyageur/Voyageur SP
Specialized Expedition
Specialized Sequoia
Trek 520
Trek 620
Trek 720
Univega Gran Turismo
Univega Specialisima

Sent from my HTCONE using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: zzzz on December 09, 2013, 09:22:56 pm
Before you head south, go over to this place and see if they can help you out:

http://www.therecyclery.org/

pm
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: zzzz on December 11, 2013, 12:49:44 pm
sometimes what we seek is right under our nose.

http://forums.adventurecycling.org/index.php?topic=11649.0

It's a 21" frame and the post says 5'7-5'10". That should really be more like 5'6" to 5'8" although I suspect the current owner is 5'10" with how much seat post is showing in the picture. It can also be the right size for someone 5'10" if their legs are short compared to the rest of their body. And if it is a little on the small side, you can still ride it, it's better than the other way around.
Title: Re: Need advice for my trip this summer
Post by: PeteJack on December 17, 2013, 04:59:20 pm
Tim DO IT. Daft adventures is what young men (and women) are supposed, nay must, do. Years ago some friends of mine went climbing in Scotland in winter in Wellington boots. Some older club members, myself included, were appalled and ready to chew out these young guys for being badly equipped until one of my peers calmly pointed out that that sort of thing is what broke young men do, that we ourselves had done when we were broke young men.  The bike touring I do nowadays  is chickenfeed compared to the stuff I got up to decades ago. I don't really have any advice re bikes: I once met a young man in Kentucky who had rode an 8 speed Schwinn he'd found in a ditch from LA to there. He couldn't afford ACA maps so he'd done it mainly on freeways. His weather gear was a black plastic garbage bag with holes for head and arms. He was living out of dumpsters.

As your cause is supremely worthwhile but not well known (at least to me) I suggest you travel with placards explaining your charity and make up some little fliers explaining your charity in detail and among other things how donations are handled and kept separate from your own finances (a local Staples might do that for free)

Don't be a Blanche Dubois, you can't rely on the kindness of strangers but you will be thrilled to find how much of it there is out there. Have fun.