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Messages - AndrewCh

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Routes / Re: Best route from Vallejo to San Francisco
« on: July 13, 2015, 09:07:47 am »
Thanks for this, guys. I'm wrapping up my NJ to SF tour and was looking for ways to avoid the Vallejo ferry. I think I'm going to ride from Davis to Petaluma using jamawani's suggestion in reply #4, and then it seems like a pretty simple path down from Petaluma using these directions from the Davis bicycle wiki  -- in San Francisco (north bay route #1):

That should only add on one extra day. I've been averaging close to 70 miles per day, so I think it's within reason. What do you think, anything I haven't considered?

Thanks guys! Yes, I'll miss all those places after Pueblo by hitting the Western Express.

I got a bunch of cards in Cave-In-Rock, but they weren't all that exciting. I'm in Chester now, and they're a little better!

I guess Hutchinson and Larned next?

General Discussion / Best places on TransAm to send postcards from
« on: June 10, 2015, 10:01:40 pm »
I'm nearing Illinois now on a E-W TransAm trip via the Western Express.

I'd like to send postcards to a bunch of people. The problem is, the little out-of-the-way towns I like to get my postmarks from seldom have interesting postcards for sale. They're out of the way, so no one visits, hence no need for postcards.

I know there are exceptions. For those who have done the TransAm, where do you think a good place to send postcards from would be? Thanks!

General Discussion / Re: Green-lighted to go cross-country! (questions)
« on: February 17, 2015, 08:26:08 pm »
Thanks Pete! I think I read that account of your WE. I dug into the archives here once I got my maps -- there weren't that many, less than a dozen! I had visions of Donner party-style madness. I felt a little better after reading your account as well as others' accounts.

I'm in Central NJ. Metropark is probably the best landmark for this area. Not too close to the Lehigh Valley, alas!

I'm pretty sure I'm going to do the WE. (Thanks for the input, Kitsap_Bill -- good point about the truckers).

I'm probably going to avoid the Atlantic Coast route. The big question now is whether to start from Yorktown, or ride across Pa. and find a way from Pittsburgh to Columbus, and pick up the Underground Railroad to the TransAmerica.

This account was fairly encouraging -- it looks like it's possible:

General Discussion / Re: Green-lighted to go cross-country! (questions)
« on: February 15, 2015, 07:48:50 pm »
Thanks guys -- I'm glad this thread is getting a lot of traction. I have a new question... should I start a new thread or stay with this one? I really appreciate the expertise of everyone who's commented already.

So I ordered my maps from Adventure Cycling and received them Friday. I've been poring over them. First step was to decide, since I was taking the TransAmerica trail, if I wanted to go to Oregon or take the Western Express to San Francisco.

I looked at the Nevada maps. They gave me a huge chill. Nearly 100 miles without water! But then I went and looked at some travelogs of folks who had done it. I had envisioned a Sahara-like moonscape. But pictures showed me it was a little more forgiving. And the paces and the amount of water these folks took didn't seem to be too daunting.

I think I'm going to go TransAmerica and Western Express now. There are a number of reasons:

1) It will be nice to have a challenge at the end, to see how I match up.
2) Taking the Western Express will save me a few days. I know I'll miss the sights further along the TransAmerica trail, but I would be rushing through them anyway for fear of not making my deadline. They're such grand sights, I think I'd rather finish and come back in a separate trip.
3) It's always been my vision to ride from home in NJ to grandma's in SF, and this feels a lot more fulfilling
4) I've always been attracted to end-of-the-world places, like South Point on Hawaii. "The loneliest road" seems like a must-see, especially on a bike.

The other end of the trip also merits some consideration, and if anyone could give me feedback on that, I'd be very grateful.

I'm not looking forward to managing the logistics of getting down to Yorktown from NJ. Again, I think it would be really great to ride from my door in NJ to grandma's in SF.

I bought the Atlantic Coast map that goes from Philadelphia to Richmond. I can get from my house to Philly in less than a day. But then getting from Philadelphia to Richmond would probably take the better part of a week.

I could also ride straight west from home into Pennsylvania and pick up Route S. Route S seems like a lot of fun. But I'd have to get from Pittsburgh to Columbus - does anyone have any feedback on that?

From Columbus, I could pick up the Underground Railroad route into Missouri and follow the Transamerica from there. This option seems very tempting for me because

1) I would avoid the long ride down to Yorktown via the Atlantic Coast
2) Pennsylvania and Ohio seem a lot more welcoming than Kentucky, judging from what I've read -- the driver/cyclist interactions are a lot more civil, there are fewer dogs and coal trucks to contend with.

The downsides I foresee are that I won't be riding with a lot of people starting their trips from Yorktown, and that Pittsburgh to Columbus isn't a common route.

What do you think? Does NJ to SF via Route S, Google Maps, the Underground Railroad leg, TransAmerica trail and Western Express sound like it'll work?

Thanks again to everyone who's taken the time to chime in!

General Discussion / Re: Green-lighted to go cross-country! (questions)
« on: February 05, 2015, 04:03:58 pm »
Thanks for the complete answers and reflections, guys! I've started training in earnest, just building up miles at the moment.

I can afford a new bike, and I've called around to REIs to testride the Randonee and Long Haul Trucker, but none of them have a bike in my size yet. Apparently I have to wait until spring, though I'd love to get acclimated to a bike sooner.

Truth be told, I'd just as soon as ride my Trek 1200, since I'm so familiar with it.

It has rear braze-ons, and I'm not planning to bring a lot (though I'm sure that will explode once I attempt to pack.) Is there anything I should consider, using an aluminum road bike (with a carbon fork) for this trip? I know those materials will be a lot harder to fix on the road. Do I need to change out the chain ring and gears for something more mountain-bikey?

Here are the stats for my bike:

Should I start buying the maps and panniers and other equipment now?

General Discussion / Green-lighted to go cross-country! (questions)
« on: January 24, 2015, 09:24:52 pm »
It looks like my managers may soon grant me an 8-week sabbatical. I'm hoping to use that time, plus a few more weeks vacation, if needed, to ride across the U.S.

I was hoping you kind folks could help fill in the gaps for me as I prepare to do this. I've read to about page 30 of the General Discussion board, and the books "Across America by Bicycle" and "Life is a Wheel," as well as bicycling magazine's long-distance cycling book, so hopefully my questions haven't been covered.

About me: I'm 40 years old, exercise regularly. I did triathlons for a decade, even an Ironman, but for the past year I've primarily been working with a coach to be a faster runner.

I still ride for fun. My training peaked last year at about 40 miles running and 50 miles cycling per week. The last big ride I did was this month, from San Francisco to Stinson Beach and back, about 40 miles and I think 3000 ft in elevation.

I'm not very experienced in camping, or much of a gearhead though. I can change a flat and adjust brakes, but it's been more than a decade since I fixed a chain, and I have little experience beyond that.

First, timing --

I have classes until May 11, so I'm planning to leave May 18 or May 25. I'm thinking I'd like to go east to mirror the westward expansion of the country.

I could go later and ride from the west, but there's an event I have in mid-August in San Francisco that might interfere, and besides, I'm always for moving towards my goals earlier rather than later.

Does that departure date sound good? Should I budget more time? I could use as little as 8 weeks and probably as much as 11, but I don't want to overbudget either. I guess the time depends on...

The route --

I live in New Jersey and work in New York City. It seems that for most people, the TransAmerica route is best for the first time. I think I could ride from New Jersey, where I live, to Virginia and pick up the trail from there.

However, I'd really like to wind up in San Francisco, where my grandma lives. How difficult would that be? I see from the interactive network map that there is a route directly west out of Colorado. I read that southern Utah is beautiful, and that's where this route would go.

I also have friends in Chicago, Minneapolis and Oregon that I'd like to see. Would it be possible to see them as well? Is the Northern Tier a better option?

But those are secondary concerns. I think my primary concern would be safety and then secondarily, sights to see.

I've read tales of danger coming from coal trucks in West Virginia and Kentucky on the TransAmerica trail, and danger from oil and logging trucks in the Dakotas and Washington on the Northern Tier, so I suppose there's no way of avoiding them.

Among my notes from the forum, I read: "ACA routes preferably take you through very scenic but hilly and demanding roads … When considering among paved roads, the ACA will almost always pick the lowest traffic roads, even if it considerably increases the hills and distance (up to 50% longer) and sacrifices the shoulder."

That sounds good to me!

I was also given this route as a suggestion. Does it make any sense to you?,+NY/San+Francisco,+CA/@36.8196685,-97.5508665,5z/data=!4m14!4m13!1m5!1m1!1s0x89c24fa5d33f083b:0xc80b8f06e177fe62!2m2!1d-74.0059413!2d40.7127837!1m5!1m1!1s0x80859a6d00690021:0x4a501367f076adff!2m2!1d-122.4194155!2d37.7749295!3e1 What is the Cowboy Trail?

Equipment --

I have two bikes: a time trial bike that would obviously be a poor fit for this venture, and a Trek 1200 2003 that I'd love to ride cross-country, since that bike and I have a lot of history. However, I'm open to getting a proper touring bike if really necessary. Novara Randonee or Surly Long Haul, right?

I suppose this depends on the route and the style of travel. I'm waiting to hear about the route from you guys! The style of travel -- well, I'm not a very experienced camper, and I could probably do credit card touring, but it seems like camping is more common.

With credit card touring though, I probably would be more comfortable on the road and off. I could travel more lightly without camp equipment and sleep in a real bed. I can imagine traveling with a backpack, a change of cycling clothes and a change of regular clothes, and a light laptop, like a MacBook Air.

What strategy would you suggest (buy a bike or not? credit card tour or not?), and is this more possible on one route versus another? And how does this affect my bike choice?

Conclusion --

If the weather was nice, and I was feeling brave, I think I could jump on my bike and head out tomorrow. But seeing as I have about 4 months to go, what should I spend my time on?


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