Author Topic: I quit a ST trip in2010. I was slow and ran out of time. Going ultralight. Tips?  (Read 11811 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline adlocopter

I went East to West on the Southern Tier in March 2010. I started in South Carolina and met the route in Tallahasse, FL. I only got 20 days into my ride in and stopped in Navasota. Out of the 20 days I biked I had 17 days of headwinds. With rear panniers and my heavy Surly bike I was very demotivated. I had more days I could bike, but there was no way to finish the trip in my allotted time so I cut my losses.

Only after returning home and eventually deciding that I would try again in the future did I learn about ultralight cycling. This seems to be more in line with what I want out of my next tour. I need more miles per day and less scenic stops. At this point in my life I would just like to accomplish going coast to coast in a little over a month and later I can tour at a relaxed pace.

Anyway. I am beginning my research into my next trip which could be as early as April. I was thinking about going West to East since I had such bad winds last time. I am also thinking about going on a faster route through the middle of the country. I don't want to bike through the Eastern part of the ST again.

Are there any suggestions on faster routes that are relatively safe shoulder wise? I downloaded the 2012 RAAM route and it looks fast but I can't tell how safe that would be solo. Is there route where wind is more dependable if you go at a certain time of year? I could easily switch my route to more northern if it would mean I was getting more tailwind than headwind.

I am actively searching the forums but wanted to try this also. Thanks!

EDIT: Thought I would point out that I prefer warm to cold weather.

« Last Edit: January 07, 2013, 04:00:05 pm by adlocopter »

Offline JHamelman

Hi adlocopter,

Outside of our network, you might compare the RAAM route -- and any others you consider -- with the information available from each state. You can get that information from the bicycle/pedestrian coordinators and programs. Contact info for them:

Hope this helps,

Jennifer Hamelman

Adventure Cycling Association
Inspiring and empowering people to travel by bicycle.
800/755-2453, 406/721-1776 x205

Follow Routes & Mapping on Twitter: @acaroutes

Offline rabbitoh

Pete Staehling (who also posts on this forum) has written an article and a journal packing light on the Crazy Guy On A Bik website. Pete rode the ST early last year.

Here are a couple of links.

Good Cycling

Offline Westinghouse

Google maps has a bicycling option. I have not used it for cycling. I have tracked their routes on the internet through parts of the country and roads which I know are otherwise recommended for cycling. Google maps bicycling recommendations match some known routes, and miss others. I remember one area where they were off and away from a very good cycling trail. Exactly how significant that is I am not sure. State DOTs usually have the kind of information you need.

Offline dwboca

Eeeek!!  I just bought a Surly LHT (26 inch wheels), added panniers, handlebar bag, racks, fenders.  It is heavy without anything in the panniers.  I plan to ride a Southern route from Savanah, GA to San Diego, CA east to west (2,600 miles) in 5 weeks.  Start date is March, 2014 so I will be conditioning. 

So, are 80 to 120 mile days for 4 to 5 weeks too much on my above set-up?  I think I can do it and for me, the struggle is part of the reason I want to do this.  I just get worried when I see posts like this.  I would love to take my Cannondale road bike but this will be a self-supported, mostly camping trip.

Hey, someone out there give me some encouragement!  Really, I would love to hear advice, concerns, etc about this.


Offline John Nelson

Well Dave, I think I'm helping you hijack this thread, but I'll address your comments anyway.

Yes, you can do 80 to 120 miles per day for four to five weeks. Most fit people can do it. You just have to decide if you want to or not. If you average 12 MPH, that's 7 to 10 hours a day. Even if you're very efficient at breaking camp, finding food, eating, finding camp, getting cleaned up, maintaining your gear, and setting up camp, it doesn't leave much time for fun. Meet an interesting person at lunch? Too bad. You don't have time to talk--gotta run. See an interesting lighthouse? Don't have time to check it out. Find a cool museum? Skip it. See a sign identifying the worlds largest tomato? You'll never know how big it is. Guy in the next campsite invites you over to roast marshmallows? You need to get to bed.

The ride will get to be a grind.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2013, 10:53:24 pm by John Nelson »

Offline Westinghouse

Go to Click for journals. Write going south in the rectangular box. Look for the name Peat. Click going south. A man and a young woman use Surley LHT bikes to cycle south into South America. If that young woman can do it, you can too. I went through the entire journal. It has the most engaging photos I have ever seen in any bicycle touring journal anywhere.

Offline dwboca

First, apologies to adlocopter for hijacking your thread.  Topic somewhat related and I do love the idea of ultralight touring.  Very interesting...

John - thanks for your response.  I feel better about my endeavor now.  I know it will be a grind but I kind of like that when I have a goal.  This is for the purpose of going cross-country on a bike and I have limited time because of work (and wife).  Next tour will be for enjoyment and I hope to take my wife on 30 to 50 mile days through Nova Scotia and parts of the US.  Maybe if she gets enthused, we will spend a few months and do the Trans Am together.

My LHT if interested:;topic=10927.0;attach=1486;image

OK adlocopter, thread is once again yours, I relinquish control - thanks!

« Last Edit: January 11, 2013, 06:29:22 pm by dwboca »

Offline adlocopter

I know it will be a grind but I kind of like that when I have a goal.  This is for the purpose of going cross-country on a bike and I have limited time because of work (and wife).

OK adlocopter, thread is once again yours, I relinquish control - thanks!
Wow I tried this exact same trip! In March I started a few miles up the road in Hilton Head but was in Savannah by lunch on my start day. I think I had a lighter setup than you might have. I had a Surly Cross Check and rear panniers with a bag on top of the rear rack. My bike was around 55 lbs loaded without the water and food for the day.

My ride turned out to become a grind from the start. The headwind was a constant and the panniers felt like big parachutes. If I coasted down a hill I was having to pedal by the time I got to the trough. I kept thinking things were going to get better but after 20 days I was burnt out on the experience.

One big thing for me was I couldn't stay on the road enough. If I started as early as the temperatures would allow I felt that by evening I was running out of light too soon. I would have to look for camping or a hotel since I didn't want to ride or setup camp in the dark. My next trip will be a few months later just because of daylight.

Hope you do well and think lighter! I was pretty lightweight compared to what I saw as the norm for tourers but looking back I was carrying 15 lbs of stuff I wouldn't take again.

Don't worry about hijacking the thread! Any info you get is good for me to hear also!
« Last Edit: January 15, 2013, 10:10:08 am by adlocopter »

Offline Gif4445

My 2 cents worth.  I ride an LHT, but I weigh a little over 200 lbs, so I don't think the weight of the bike slows me down much.  Packing more than I need will however.  If you are on the light side and a comfort ride is not that important, ride something far lighter.  It will make a difference.   If I was in your shoes and just wanted to cover ground, I would credit card tour.  Pack light and just figure to stay in a motel each night.  Sure, there are days you will have to cover some miles, but that is the point of your trip right?  In my case, a comfortable bed (hopefully), warm shower and espn get me ready for the next day.  Especially if the day was a battle with mother nature.  I've read many journals on crazyguyonabike and my take is headwinds in various areas at various times of the year are somewhat predicable, but a C to C ride, cycling across many different regions, will be the luck of the draw.  I plan to go C to C sometime in the next 2 years, but I'm blocking out 2 months for the ST and thinking 2 1/2 for the Trans Am.  I don't think I would personally be happy if I tried to do it in far less time.  But I like to stop and smell the roses.

Offline staehpj1

My 2 cents worth.  I ride an LHT, but I weigh a little over 200 lbs, so I don't think the weight of the bike slows me down much.  Packing more than I need will however.

FWIW, I think that a lighter bike starts to make sense when you have already cut the load substantially.  I figured that for me a road bike started to make sense when gear and bags weighed less than 20 pounds.

If you are on the light side and a comfort ride is not that important, ride something far lighter.

This is an area where I often don't get folks comments.  Maybe it isn't true for everyone, but I find my road bike supremely comfortable as long as the road surface is decent.  On good roads I find it more comfortable than a touring bike.  I will grant that on poor quality chip seal roads I like a little fatter tires, but even then I find 25 mm tires pretty comfortable and 28 mm ones plush.  As far as riding posture I like the same position on both the touring bike and the road bike, including the bars being 4-5" below the saddle.  Actually even my mountain bike is pretty close to the same riding posture.

Offline pmac

You can plug the url below into your browser to access monthly NOAA maps of historic prevailing winds.  That will give you a good idea of which way the wind blows around the country for each month on a historic basis.  Obviously, which way the wind is blowing at your exact location, when you are there, depends on the current weather at that precise time which can vary alot.

I also agree with the general idea that lighter weight on the bike is a good idea, but I think many people tend to overly obsess about that issue.  I think the mental aspect of touring is alot more important than worrying about if you're toting 10lbs to much.   For the most part, you can always ship stuff home if you have too much or buy more stuff if you don't have enough.    As J. Nelson pointed out, scheduling 80 to 100 miles a day every day sounds like a job instead a fun trip, which I thought was the whole point.

Offline dwboca

"scheduling 80 to 100 miles a day every day sounds like a job instead a fun trip, which I thought was the whole point."  Fun and adventure with a goal is the whole point for me.  Believe me, if I had the luxury of being able to do this in 8 weeks instead of 5, I would.  So, in order to meet my goal of a self-supported bike ride across the US, I have 5 weeks.  Yes, I could break it up and do half this year and half next, but my goal is one continuous ride to cross the country.  I have a few friends who said they may run a SAG for me but so far I've declined.  We'll see how I feel as my trip date gets closer.

I do appreciate all the input and I feel better knowing lots of people have done it (further too) in less than 5 weeks.  I see this ride as a reason to do lots of 2 and 3-day training trips closer to home in Florida and as something that may get me planning another tour when I do have the time to enjoy it.  I'm already looking ahead to doing the Trans Am maybe 5 more years down the road...


Offline Bclayden

Don't over-think it.  Some good replies on this's my input.

Despite some discouraging comments, I set out last summer on a solo/unsupported cross-country ride on my off-the-shelf carbon frame Trek Madone road bike, 13 lbs of gear (including Ipad) and a credit card.  Mind you this ride is happening one week at a time due to family/job obligations but covered Sacramento-Salt Lake City last June.  100+ miles some days crossing Nevada and Utah on the "Loneliest Road".  July, 2013 I continue another week...SLC-Nebraska.

You don't need a heavy duty bike if traveling light on paved roads.  Plenty of restaurants and stores to fuel up and if you don't mind the occasional long day in the saddle and washing your clothes each night in the bathroom sink you too can travel very light.  Bike shops are not as common the West at least.  I could easily have continued for a month with the gear I had.

Downside?  This plan requires a fairly rigid schedule and pre-booking of motels in some remote places.  If there is delay due to weather your plan will be upset.

Upside?  You can comfortably cover a lot of miles in a day and climbing will be a snap.  Also, I enjoyed riding solo and the flexibility it offers.

« Last Edit: January 22, 2013, 11:22:25 am by Bclayden »

Offline dwboca

Thanks Bclayden.  I know everyone is different and some don't like long days, etc.   I don't mind and even enjoy the struggle - especially when I have a goal.  I will probably go solo unless I can talk one or two of my friends into joining - and adhering to MY schedule.

Yes, I do tend to over-think things when planning but relax after a few days on a trip.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2013, 05:35:35 pm by dwboca »