Author Topic: Tips for a Rollerblader going coast-to-coast  (Read 8544 times)

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Offline Zynkh

Tips for a Rollerblader going coast-to-coast
« on: April 30, 2015, 03:22:01 am »
Hi there, I'm Zach. :) So, as the title says, I'm planning to throw on a backpack and rollerblade across the continent. I'm from Vancouver, BC and planning a trip that will take a meandering course from Vancouver to New York. Going to take off about this time next year.

This is a general overview of my intended route.
https://goo.gl/maps/Qhu5h

Comparing it to the adventure cycling maps it looks like I can take the Pacific Coast Route til I can easily jump to the Lewis and Clark Trail, (might detour up to Sandpoint, ID to the Northern Tier and down the Great Divide) then to the Trans American Trail when they intersect, and onto Bicycle Route 66 when they come together in Springfield, up to Chicago. After that I'll have to make my own route til I hit the Lake Erie Connector and take the boat across the lake and continue on it to Niagra Falls. (I figure I should avoid Detroit, is it as bad as they say it is?) There isn't a route after that but I want to hit Toronto, Ottawa and Monteal before crossing back into the States, perhaps spending a little time on the Green Mountains Loop and/or Adirondack Park Loop before ending the trip in New York City.

Specifically I'm looking to know how much of the bike trails are on paved road, since rollerblades don't do dirt and gravel so well, and I would have to walk them or find another route. Major hills are tough on blades too, but I'm not as worried about that.

Other tips and general advice are very welcome, like what to seek out or avoid. Definitely willing to adjust the route for interesting sights/people. I'm looking to absorb as much as I can from this trip. Also, I feel like I shouldn't buy all the maps yet because it's suggested to get them as close to departure time as possible, but I'd really like to get a more-or-less rock solid route planned pretty soon, any suggestions to facilitate that are also greatly appreciated.

Thanks so much for reading and any help you can offer!

Offline John Nelson

Re: Tips for a Rollerblader going coast-to-coast
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2015, 05:57:00 am »
How much of the bike trails are paved? There's no general answer. Some are, some aren't. You'll have to investigate case by case. You'll be on the road quite a bit.

There was a father/daughter team that rollerbladed from Vancouver to Tierra Del Fuego last year. There isn't much online about them, but there were a few newspaper articles. The steep uphills and downhills of the Pacific Coast were quite a challenge. They even passed some bicycles on the downhills (sounds insane to me). Obviously you'll need to carry a bunch of extra wheels, and keep your backpack weight as low as possible.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Tips for a Rollerblader going coast-to-coast
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2015, 08:41:24 am »
Most of the Adventure Cycling routes I have done are almost 100% paved unless billed as otherwise.  Some may have some pretty rough pavement.

Do you have a rough planned amount of time or expected daily mileage?

Are you planning to camp along the way or motel it?  Either way my suggestion is to go very light since carrying a heavy backpack will get really old really fast.  I have found that I can be pretty comfortable with a fairly minimal load.  I went coast to coast camping and cooking with 15 pounds of gear and definitely wasn't packed as light as I possibly could.  I figure that if I was carrying the weight all on my back I'd definitely pack even lighter.

I avoid really high dollar gear, eschewing Cuben fiber and the like, and still could easily get below 10 pounds of stuff, while maintaining fairly good comfort and the ability to camp and cook.  A similar approach would seem ideal for what you are proposing.

Some of what I did with ultralight bike touring might be worth checking out for your blade tour.  I documented my quest for a lighter load at:
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/Ultralight

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: Tips for a Rollerblader going coast-to-coast
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2015, 09:54:28 am »
The Great Divide route is mostly unpaved and not suitable for rollerblades.

Also note that road construction could throw a serious monkey wrench into your plans. While riding both the TransAm and Northern Tier routes I encountered long stretches (I am talking miles) where the pavement had been ripped up for resurfacing, leaving only dirt and/or gravel, and there were not alternate, paved options. Bring some good walking shoes just in case.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Tips for a Rollerblader going coast-to-coast
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2015, 01:12:54 pm »
Also note that road construction could throw a serious monkey wrench into your plans. While riding both the TransAm and Northern Tier routes I encountered long stretches (I am talking miles) where the pavement had been ripped up for resurfacing, leaving only dirt and/or gravel, and there were not alternate, paved options. Bring some good walking shoes just in case.

Yes, roadwork that requires at least a few miles of walking is definitely likely.  I'd also expect you might do some walking up mountain passes, how much will depend on how steep of a grade you can skate up.

You might find Björn Suneson's trips interesting and maybe glean some useful info from his pages.  He has done a number of US coast to coast trips running and carrying some gear in a baby jogger.  He is quite a good athlete and has generally taken 100 days plus or minus a bit to cross the US.  I wonder if his baby jogger approach might be suitable for rollerblading.

Offline Zynkh

Re: Tips for a Rollerblader going coast-to-coast
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2015, 02:57:13 pm »
Thanks for the replies! Ok great to know the Great Divide is mostly unpaved. I'll scratch that from the itinerary.

I figured that I'd have to walk for at least short(ish) bursts, but good to know there are sometimes miles of gravel to deal with. I'll likely have to walk up some of those mountain passes as well, but I'm going to practice going up some of our local mountains in North Vancouver to see how they treat me. I have a few solutions for the downhills. There are these really cool sails out there that are essentially capes built to control your speed going downhill (makes you look like a flying squirrel  ;D). I think I'm also going to try to build a custom solution for my brakes with a little more stopping power than the default option.

It's good to know it's possible to pack very light for these trips, I have a plan for weight distribution using a small but well built camping backpack and rigging up a bike pannier on each leg, supported by the packs belt and shoulder harness, keeping everything very close to the body and maintaining my natural centre of gravity while also preventing it all from lurching about as I move. But if I can get away with only 15 pounds I might not need to MacGyver anything crazy.

Thanks staehpj1 for the link. I saw that the father/daughter team did 40 miles per day, so that's a good baseline, but I hope I can do closer to 60 (an even 100km), as I want to start in mid-April and be finished around the end of June. I'll bring camping gear but will probably do a motel every once in awhile too if it works out. That's another reason I want to plan my route ahead far in advance, so I'll know what milestones I need to hit.

Offline walks.in2.trees

Re: Tips for a Rollerblader going coast-to-coast
« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2015, 06:36:39 pm »
In general all of the official bike routes in my area are technically paved, and sometimes share a paved road though as one person mentioned,  some are pretty old and heaving and crumbling, and roads shared by vehicles are always iffy condition wise. Any place where snow falls will be this way.  And this is just in upstate ny, I haven't been cross country yet, I'd say it's a safe bet that it's the same everywhere in the north though,  especially in rural areas. 

Offline walks.in2.trees

Re: Tips for a Rollerblader going coast-to-coast
« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2015, 06:46:56 pm »
I definitely recommend at least a two-week trial trip to somewhere nearby with backup to learn what works and what doesn't. The paniers on the legs for instance sound like they'll take about three minutes for you to figure out they won't work cross-country

Offline staehpj1

Re: Tips for a Rollerblader going coast-to-coast
« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2015, 07:44:29 pm »
The paniers on the legs for instance sound like they'll take about three minutes for you to figure out they won't work cross-country

Agreed.  I'd be happy to be proven wrong, but I think that has very little chance of working.

A shakedown trip is a good idea and highly recommended, but learning on a long tour is also possible, especially on a multi month trip.  It helps if you have someone who can mail you things and that you can send things that are not working back to.  Receiving things via general delivery is great in this regard.

Carrying gear will likely be one of the most difficult issues.  I know that when looking into a possible coast to coast run I found a number of coast to coast runners who found even a very light backpack to be problematic and had to adjust.  The two most likely solutions are to pack extremely light or to pack merely very light and use a baby jogger.

If you pack light enough you might be able to get by with one of the larger Mountainsmith fanny packs.  If you go with the baby jogger you might want to trick it out a bit with nicer wheels, better brakes, and also by removing everything unnecessary.  You may find the brakes on the baby jogger are actually helpful on some of the very long descents.

Offline walks.in2.trees

Re: Tips for a Rollerblader going coast-to-coast
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2015, 07:59:16 pm »
Plus, as noted in some other threads,  another consideration is that there are likely to be some long stretches between towns in places. Not sure what the average loaded pace of roller-bladers is over a full day, but look at Warmshowers.org for friendly faces to see along the route

Offline Zynkh

Re: Tips for a Rollerblader going coast-to-coast
« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2015, 03:56:39 am »
Ok, so I'll plan on the roads being on the poor side of mediocre and just be pleasantly surprised if I find myself on nice ones. And yeah, it's entirely possible that my idea for the bike panniers on my legs won't work, but it's always a fun experiment.

I don't think the pack will be as bad for me as for joggers, because blading doesn't have that up and down jostle. Once the speed is up, extra weight isn't as big of a factor as long as it's well distributed and doesn't restrict my movement or balance. I'll start by grabbing everything I think I'll need, load myself up for a test run, then probably unloading half of that to get myself to a manageable weight. I didn't think of using the baby jogger as an extra brake though, as well as a carrying solution. That's a good observation.

I'm definitely going to do a lot of training and work up to blading the equivalent distance I intend to travel every day. I've thought of doing a small test trip, but I'd only be able to manage a weekend because of work. That should be enough to get most of the kinks out though. And that's a great idea about mailing, does that just work by getting a friend to Fedex a package to one of their offices in a town I know I'll be in?

I'm not sure myself exactly what my pace will be, but I'm hoping for it to be possible to cover 100km in a day without completely exhausting myself.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Tips for a Rollerblader going coast-to-coast
« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2015, 07:00:17 am »
And that's a great idea about mailing, does that just work by getting a friend to Fedex a package to one of their offices in a town I know I'll be in?
I'd skip FedEx and UPS in favor of the US Postal Service for that.  They are available in most towns, even small ones and it is easy to have a package forwarded along if you happen to be in town when the PO is closed.  Using General Delivery they will hold packages for 30 days.

The addressing goes something like:
Joe Blow
C/O General delivery
Smalltown, USA 12345

A search will turn of numerous discussions of it on this forum.

Offline Bclayden

Re: Tips for a Rollerblader going coast-to-coast
« Reply #12 on: May 03, 2015, 02:53:02 pm »
Sounds like a great adventure.  Blazing a trail.  I know nothing about road surface conditions required for rollerblading.  How smooth does the surface need to be?  As any touring cyclist can tell you a trip across the country, across state or across town will find many different qualities of road surface.  A newly paved stretch of asphalt is supreme but a rare exception. The typical daily ride is more often a mix of road quality and often times  things can be pretty rough.  Interestingly I have noticed road surface construction materials, quality of maintenance and position of rumble strips often changes at the county line.  Sometimes better, sometimes much worse.

As mentioned earlier you will learn a lot from a 2 or 3 day shakedown ride.

Your adventure sounds epic and good luck with the planning.

Offline Zynkh

Re: Tips for a Rollerblader going coast-to-coast
« Reply #13 on: May 05, 2015, 01:31:17 pm »
Thanks for the mailing info!

Also, that's interesting, yeah I guess the roads are the responsibility of the immediate area. Might be able to do some prior research by googling road quality or road maintenance budget by county, maybe there are some stats. While the smoother the better, as long as it isn't gravel or littered with small stones I should be able to manage. Could probably even manage stretches of hard-packed dirt, but those are usually full of suprises.