Author Topic: 1st cross country bike trip  (Read 4363 times)

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Offline aldecesaris

1st cross country bike trip
« on: July 24, 2013, 03:58:25 pm »
I'm doing a fully self-contained cross country bike trip to create awareness and raise money for Sturge-Weber Syndrome. The fundraiser is called  Crossing America For A Cure, and it begins in early September. I will be leaving the Los Angeles area and connecting with the TransAmerica Trail in Colorado l think, then riding to the east coast. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to connect with the TransAmerica Trail from the Los Angeles ares. Also, this is my first long distance bike trip. Any other thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Offline John Nelson

Re: 1st cross country bike trip
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2013, 04:26:16 pm »
Getting out of Los Angeles can be difficult. If you have enough time, I'd ride up the Pacific Coast route to San Fransisco and then take the Western Express to Pueblo. You probably won't get to the east coast until the middle of November, so be sure to be prepared for cold weather and shorter days. But at least you should avoid the heat of the western deserts and Midwest. You'll get through the Rockies by the middle of October, so you should beat snow in the high country, except for the possibility of an early storm which you can wait out for a day or two. Fall riding in the East should be lovely.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2013, 04:27:47 pm by John Nelson »

Offline jamawani

Re: 1st cross country bike trip
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2013, 05:57:17 pm »
You really need to consider the issue of heat in September in the Mojave region.
Since you don't have a route yet, I suspect that you may not be aware of heat issues either.

If you don't need to start exactly in LA city limits - then riding east from Ventura is a good way to start.
You can follow the gradually ascending river valley to Santa Clarita -
Or you can work you way north on city routes to Santa Clarita via San Fernando.
From Santa Clarita you can follow the canyon road to Palmdale then back roads thru Lancaster.

I would suggest taking US 395 north to Bishop - then US 6 thru Tonopah to Ely and the Western Express.
That will give you the least amount of extreme desert riding combined with moderate elevation gains.
And you will have reasonable services until you get past Bishop - gets very thin in Nevada, though.

There are more direct options thru the Mojave - but in September??

Offline aldecesaris

Re: 1st cross country bike trip
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2013, 07:39:07 pm »
Thanks John Nelson and jamawani for the thoughts. I definitely want to leave from somewhere in southern Cali as opposed to northern Cali although it doesn't necessary need to be the Los Angeles area. An hour or two north or south of LA wouldn't be too difficult to arrange. And, yes, a start time of early September is set in stone so I will just have to deal with the weather accordingly. Also, I need to be finished the entire cross country trip by the end of October so, although I really want to avoid difficult climbs and tough desert conditions, I can't go too far out of my way to do it. Any thoughts on heading east into Arizona first then hooking up with the TransAmerica Trail in Colorado? Would that be better? Ultimately, I want to end up in Ocean City, Maryland so I am assuming the TransAmerica Trail is the best route for me. Is that a correct assumption?

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: 1st cross country bike trip
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2013, 08:19:47 am »
One other possibility would be to start in San Diego and take the Southern Tier to the Grand Canyon connector, then pick up the Western Express before meeting the TransAm near Pueblo, CO.

On the other end, stay on Skyline Drive at Rockfish Gap instead of going into Charlottesville, VA.  Work your way to either the W&OD or C&O Canal Trail to get into Washington.

A couple of cautions: The toughest climbs are in the east -- Missouri, Kentucky and Virginia.  You can avoid some of the Missouri climbs at the cost of a detour north to the Katy trail.  And you're biting off a big chunk, shooting to complete a trip of this magnitude in 60 days.  Not saying it's impossible, just that you'll have to ride farther each day than most bike tourists.

Offline John Nelson

Re: 1st cross country bike trip
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2013, 10:01:58 am »
If you start in LA, getting a ride out of the urban area before you start is an excellent idea.

If you only have 7 weeks to do this, you're going to need an efficient route. The shortest route Google can find between LA and Ocean City is 2773 miles, which doesn't sound too bad, only requiring about 55 miles a day for 50 days (with no rest days). Unfortunately, this route is completely unsuitable for bicycle travel. If I add the "Avoid highways" option to Google maps, the route goes up to 2982 miles, or 60 miles a day, but it provides a possible route.

If you follow ACA routes, it typically adds about 50% to the distance you might come up with otherwise. Unless you're prepared to do a lot of 100-mile days, that might be more than you can afford.

Decide how many miles you think you can do in a day. Figure out how many days you have available. That will give you the maximum length route you can handle. For me, I average about 5 miles per day above the route mileage for seeking out food and a place to sleep, so figure that in. If the ACA Pacific Coast route plus the Western Express plus the TransAm plus the hop-off a the end is within your distance range, then I'd recommend that. Otherwise, take a look at the Google "Avoid Highways" route and customize as you see fit.

Are you camping? Cooking? Are you a light packer, a medium packer or a heavy packer? Is money tight, or a bit flexible? Are you going to start out in top shape? How many miles do you think you can do a day?

Offline aldecesaris

Re: 1st cross country bike trip
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2013, 03:20:36 pm »
Great advice! I'm planning on staying in motels mainly and camp once in a while as needed. I wasn't planning on bringing any cooking supplies as I'm trying not to carry too much gear. I figure I can pack energy bars, etc. and stop for food as needed. I'm going to try to pack light and keep the weight I'm carry in my panniers to a minimum. I am in fairly decent shape now though I still have a bit more work to do between now and my start date. My plan is to bike 60-80 miles a day, six days a week, for roughly 50 days. That way if I start in early September I should be finished by the end of October.

I like pdlamb's advice on leaving form San Diego and taking the Southern Tier to the Grand Canyon connector, then picking up the Western Express before meeting the TransAmerica Trail, although that might end up being too many extra miles. Based on my time frame and the number of miles I can do in a given day, I really need to keep the total trip to around 3000 miles. Also, I didn't realize the ACA maps add 50% to the distance. Why is that? With that being the case, I may be better off using google maps "avoid highways" to come up with the route. Thoughts?

Offline John Nelson

Re: 1st cross country bike trip
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2013, 04:17:46 pm »
ACA routes add distance and hills because they use as many low-trafficked roads as possible. Those back roads are idyllic for cycling and a real joy for carefree riding. The Google "avoid highways" route is the right distance for you, but you'll be on roads with more traffic than you would have on ACA routes. It's still feasible, but you won't have as rural and remote a feel to your ride. On the plus side, you'll have an easier time finding motels and restaurants on these larger roads. Your constraints dictate come compromises. You'll have a great time.