Author Topic: TransAmerica then Pacific Coast Summer 2015 (First Tour)  (Read 2186 times)

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Offline regularmegs

TransAmerica then Pacific Coast Summer 2015 (First Tour)
« on: February 03, 2015, 12:11:12 pm »
Hiya. I've been dreaming for several years about doing a cross country bicycle tour, and I think this year might be the year. I've slowly been accumulating gear (bike, tent, sleeping bag, etc.), reading touring blogs, going to the gym, and working up my courage to actually quit my job and go on an adventure.

My plan right now is to do a solo tour. I'm thinking about doing the TransAmerica route east to west, taking a detour up to Seattle to visit my sister, and then doing the Pacific Coast route down the west coast. I'm considering leaving in early or mid-May and allotting 4-5 months for the whole tour (depending on how much sightseeing I decide to do and how quickly I go broke).

What do you guys think? Is that a reasonable plan? When would be the best time to leave? I'm in average shape, but I think I could manage 70-80 miles per day. Is that a good goal?

Also, how much should I budget for food and lodging? I'm planning to camp/CouchSurf/WarmShowers as much as possible and cook as many of my own meals as I can to save money.

Thanks in advance for your responses. If you have any other advice or tips for me, please let me know!

Offline CMajernik

Re: TransAmerica then Pacific Coast Summer 2015 (First Tour)
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2015, 04:17:21 pm »
Leaving in mid-May sounds reasonable from the east coast. That is when our Tours groups leave.

Plan on riding less mileage for the first few weeks. One, you are getting used to riding day after day and your muscles need to adjust, and two, the Appalachians have many steep hills which you'll encounter those first weeks. You can make up the mileage later in the trip. And remember to plan a rest day every 7-10 days.

The cheapest way to go is to camp and cook your own meals. Assuming you have all the necessary gear before you leave, a budget of $35-$50 day should be enough to pay for camping fees and groceries and still stash a bit away for unforeseen expenses like repairs or gear replacement. Going dirtbag-style, it’s possible to travel on $10/day or less.
Carla Majernik
Routes and Mapping Program Director

Adventure Cycling Association
Inspiring people of all ages to travel by bicycle.
800/755-2453, 406/721-1776 x218, 406/721-8754 fax

Follow Routes & Mapping on Twitter: @acaroutes

Offline John Nelson

Re: TransAmerica then Pacific Coast Summer 2015 (First Tour)
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2015, 10:46:37 am »
Your plan sounds good to me too. I've done all the roads you are planning. Leaving in the first half of May from Yorktown is practically ideal. At 70 miles a day, you'll get to Astoria in the middle of July. It will take you a few days to get up to Seattle. Personally, I wouldn't start down the west coast until the middle of August. My theory is that you don't want to get past San Francisco before Labor Day to avoid the heaviest tourist traffic.

My advice would be some combination of (1) start a bit later, perhaps the middle of May, (2) stay with your sister a little longer, and/or (3) reduce your mileage down to 60 miles per day.

On the TransAm, it's easy to go cheap because of all the free camping. On the Pacific Coast, it's just a bit more expensive. Although the camping isn't free, it's generally only $6 to $12 for hiker/biker sites. Plan your stops only at campgrounds with H/B sites, as regular sites can be a lot more expensive. The ACA maps tell you where the H/B sites are, as does the California State Parks web site. I averaged $16 a day on the TransAm (with one motel) and $32 a day on the Northern Tier (with no motels). I did not carry a stove. Avoid all motels if you can--they really drive up the costs.

Offline johnsondasw

Re: TransAmerica then Pacific Coast Summer 2015 (First Tour)
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2015, 01:47:29 pm »
I did the Pacific Coast from late June to mid-July.  There was considerable traffic in places, but no real problems. Of course I have over 50 years riding in all kinds of conditions and am used to traffic.  I would suggest you get some experience riding in traffic and get a mirror and know how to use it.  One of the most essential skills is knowing when to take to lane so cars can't pass you.  I know this is counter-intuitive, but you have a right to the road and to slow down the traffic if you feel like it's safer than scrunching over farther and farther to the right until you are pushed off the road.  There were a few places in Calif where I did this. Riding in traffic takes experience, as does riding highways, both of which you'll do on this ride.

In general. I would also suggest some 2-3 day trial tours in the spring before your trip.  You'll learn a lot about your equipment and  your physical condition for riding.  Make sure your bike fits right.  I paid $150 for a bike fit after I had quit riding for over a year due to aches and pains.  Now I've been back, riding as hard as ever (for my age-66) without any significant physical issues for three years. 

Anyway, go for it!  You'll love this adventure of a lifetime.  The cool thing is that with bike touring, you can have the adventure of a lifetime over and over and over........
May the wind be at your back!

Offline johnsondasw

Re: TransAmerica then Pacific Coast Summer 2015 (First Tour)
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2015, 02:15:58 pm »
Upon reading my previous post, I thought I better add the caveat that you don't "take the lane" on high speed highways!  You do it in traffic on slower roads when it's not safe to try to ride on the right part of the lane.  There may be no shoulder, there may be junk in the riding area, etc.  Always check the mirror before moving left into the lane, and regularly while riding out in the lane.  All common sense stuff, but there's a lot going on when riding in traffic, and experience is the key.  I wish I had learned by riding with and experienced rider and avoided a few (non-severe) accidents and bent bike parts.
May the wind be at your back!

Offline CotyH

Re: TransAmerica then Pacific Coast Summer 2015 (First Tour)
« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2015, 11:02:34 pm »
I'll be starting out early May - maybe we'll meet on the ride!