Author Topic: Cross country in 8 weeks?  (Read 3673 times)

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Offline jmuster

Cross country in 8 weeks?
« on: December 26, 2017, 01:36:59 pm »
I live in New Hampshire and want to ride solo cross country in 2018. I figure I can take 2 months off for the ride, anytime from May to October. I've read a number of books and have researched some, and it seems just as many people complain about a headwind riding West to East as people do riding East to West. I'm open to starting in either direction. Originally I'd wanted to fit South Dakota into the ride. I've been to the other 49 states, and wanted to check SD off the been there done that list. But SD is not a must. I can always fly there with my wife sometime for a trip.  I plan on staying in hotels. I typically ride a road bike but did purchase a touring bike and my first overnight trip was 172 miles round trip with around 3500 feet of elevation each day. That was about 6 hours each way with my loaded touring bike. I believe I can ride 60-70 miles a day average, taking a rest day every 7-10 days. Any suggestions on cross-country routes if I only have 7-8 weeks? For those who have crossed the country, is 8 weeks enough or am I thinking foolishly?
« Last Edit: December 26, 2017, 01:51:03 pm by jmuster »

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Cross country in 8 weeks?
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2017, 01:57:22 pm »
I'd recommend mid to late June for a start date and mid to late August for a finish date.  Plenty of daylight and no cold.  Go the Northern Tier since you live in New Hampshire.  You can ride home.  You don't have to stay on the official route the whole way.  Once you get to New York, make your own route and ride home.  No need to ride to the ocean either.  Start in Washington and ride the Canadian border to home.  4000 miles or so.  Easily doable in 7-8 weeks.  70 miles per day.  Tailwinds across the whole middle of the country because the winds blow out of the west.  No hot weather up on the Canadian border.  Not sure how many hotels are on the Northern Tier.  Towns may be far apart in the middle of the country.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Cross country in 8 weeks?
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2017, 02:32:18 pm »
Don't try to fit South Dakota into this ride. It just complicates things. You have the rest of your life to get to South Dakota.

The shortest cross-country route is the Southern Tier. It easily fits into your time constraints. But May to October is probably too hot for the Southern Tier.

I did the Northern Tier in 9 weeks without trying too hard. You can probably do it in 8, but it will be a bit of a rush. If you want to stay in motels every night, you will likely have a few long days. But I don't suppose that will be a show-stopper.

The TransAm/Western Express combination would probably be my recommendation. Start in early May in Yorktown and finish by the end of June.

I agree with you about the wind. Don't use it as a factor in your decision.

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Cross country in 8 weeks?
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2017, 02:58:29 pm »
I mostly agree with John.  However, be sure to review the "open" date for Carson Pass as it is not uncommon for it to be closed until mid-May or later.

If you wanted to include SD, it would not be that difficult.  Take the L&C legs between Astoria to Bozeman, MT. Then head south to Yellowstone and go east on the NE Entrance Road over to WY-296 to Cody.  Then US-16 over to Buffalo, WY.  US-16/14 to Gillette > WY-24 > Belle Fourche.  Take 14A south to Hill City and then around through Custer SP to Rapid City then basically due east on SD-248 which parallels the interstate mostly.  Go across sotuhern MN and central WI (they have good state bicycle maps) to Manitowoc and connect with ACA routes from there.  This is a quick view so you might need to deviate a little due to hotels, but otherwise very doable (I have done most of it).

The pluses are a little more variety of scenery & interesting things to see than the NT but probably a tad longer and not nearly as flat.  There are a few places to "cut off" to save mileage, i.e. ride I-90 between Buffalo & Spearfish, SD, (many service roads along the way) but a LOT more truck noise (though still light relatively).

Whichever you choose, enjoy the ride!  John

Offline jamawani

Re: Cross country in 8 weeks?
« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2017, 04:14:09 pm »
I've ridden cross country many times - and 8 weeks is entire possible.
Especially, if you are traveling light and staying in motels.

Here is a journal from my most recent trip - 2016 - Westport, WA to Sandy Hook, NJ.
It says "June 3 to Aug 2" but I took a week off at home in Buffalo, WY in the middle.
PLUS ++ I rode thru the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Actually, I would suggest a more northerly route for 2 reasons - -
1) More pleasant riding temps, esp. in the Great Plains.
2) Fewer dogs.

Do you want to go ocean-to-ocean? Or are Puget Sound/Chesapeake Bay O.K.?
How much do you need to stick by mapped routes - such as those done by ACA?
June & July would give you the longest - albeit hot - days.

Let's play with the math -
8 weeks = 56 days; maybe 58, but we'll leave two days for staging.
66 miles per day with one day off per week = 400 miles per week.
So you want to look at something approaching 3200 miles.
70 miles per day with one in 10 days off is 3500 miles max.
Since you live in the East, east-to-west may be more rewarding.

Doable, yes. Lots of wandering and dawdling, no.


Be glad to share a range of options and details -  jamawani(at)gmail(dot)com

Offline jamawani

Re: Cross country in 8 weeks?
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2017, 04:48:50 pm »
PS - Whether camping or staying in motels, stopping points do not come along at perfect 70-mile intervals.
Generally, it's easy to camp in the west, tougher in the east - easy to motel in the east, tougher in the west.
Sometimes you have to decide between 52 miles and 83 miles.

Offline zzzz

Re: Cross country in 8 weeks?
« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2017, 04:51:44 pm »
Jamawani can give you more granular detail of nearly every road you can possibly take than I ever could or anybody else I know who posts here so I will skip offering any route tips other then I did my west to east trip as the WE to the TransAm and it was a great route which I highly recommend. I would start in mid to late August and beating the heat of the first couple of weeks by starting close to dawn and wrapping up by noon. The last 5-6 weeks would then be in early fall.

I will comment on a couple of things:

1) I credit card tour and traveling light is great but...
 a) I burn thru a lot of cash, like 150 or even 200 dollars a day
 b) There are significant stretches with no hotels at all so you may have some really long days, as much as 120 miles, and the wind may be  up that day.
 c) Take an emergency bivvy (see above)

2) Your example had you averaging, with a full load 14.5 mph (172 miles/12 hrs) Thats pretty good. Unless you were whipped at the end of that weekend and weren't ready to ride again for a week you should be fine for crossing in 8 weeks (or less).

3) Since you live on the east coast I would argue you should ride towards home and start on the west coast. You won't have the pressure of making a non refundable plane ticket

4) There are people who like or require a rest day. You may find (as I do) that you start feeling really antsy on a rest day around 11 or 12 and you just get back on the bike to get going down the road. Out of a total of 180 days on tour I've taken 3 rest days, and I was sorry every time. I get bored if I wrap up the day before 1 or 2 in the afternoon. Once you've done your laundry and taken a nap there's not a lot to do in some of these really small towns. YMMV

5) And most of all, no matter what anyone suggests, in the end this is your trip, do what you want to do with it. I just panned rest days, someone else will say the only way you'll feel the trip is to visit the sites and see the history. Also, some hate the heat, others hate riding in the cold. You know yourself better then anyone else. Listen to the voice in your head.

Have a great time,


Offline Ty0604

Re: Cross country in 8 weeks?
« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2017, 12:31:28 am »
South Dakota is really pretty but the weather there is wicked. I passed through on my tour last year in May and the wind was by far the worst there than any of the 22 states I rode through. The storms are massive and hit without much warning. Although I'd still recommend it because Badlands National Park is one of the prettiest places I've ever seen. Mt. Rushmore is also free to cyclist. A little bit of a reward for cycling up that massive hill leading to the entrance gate.

8 weeks doesn't leave you a lot of time to wander though so maybe save South Dakota for another trip? Personally I'd recommend coming into Edgemont and riding the 109-mile long Mickelson Trail to Deadwood. From there you can go off and explore the Black Hills, Rushmore, Badlands etc. That's a tour in itself if you ask me.

As one of the Johns mentioned above, the ST is the shortest XC route but leaving in May isn't advised. Most cyclist leave in February or March. Too much later and you hit the heat of the desert and/or the hurricanes out east.

Whatever you do, have fun and be safe!
Instagram: tyjames0604


Offline jmuster

Re: Cross country in 8 weeks?
« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2017, 09:28:59 am »
I'm new at this using a forum, but I'm blown away by all of the replies to my original post. There is a lot there to digest and a great deal of useful information. Thank you all for the responses.

Offline Ty0604

Re: Cross country in 8 weeks?
« Reply #9 on: December 27, 2017, 01:41:57 pm »
I'm new at this using a forum, but I'm blown away by all of the replies to my original post. There is a lot there to digest and a great deal of useful information. Thank you all for the responses.

Welcome to the forums. Hope we can be of some help.
Instagram: tyjames0604


Offline litespeed

Re: Cross country in 8 weeks?
« Reply #10 on: December 27, 2017, 04:23:18 pm »
Crossing the country in 8 weeks shouldn't be a problem. I routinely knocked out 100+ mile days fully loaded (camping but no cooking gear) with a rest day whenever I felt pooped. 2000 miles in a month was no problem even doing plenty of sightseeing.

I recommend US Highway 14 from Wisconsin to Yellowstone. It goes right through the sights in South Dakota, over the Bighorns and on to Yellowstone. Bicycle friendly with good shoulders and plenty of places - mainly town parks - to camp. To avoid Chicago you might go up and take one of the ferries across Lake Michigan. I highly recommend the Ludington-Manitowoc ferry. Ferries are very pleasant and give you a leisurely way to cover ground without cheating. You can't bicycle over water.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2018, 05:15:50 pm by litespeed »