Author Topic: Slow-travel meandering tour from NYC to Denver, Feb-May 2020  (Read 741 times)

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Offline blakebo

Slow-travel meandering tour from NYC to Denver, Feb-May 2020
« on: January 05, 2020, 08:33:15 pm »
Who wants to help a newb out?  ;D

I'm 37 and originally from California. I've got 4 free months, few worldly attachments, and the motivation to do my first big bike tour. I've done lots of wilderness backpacking before, and a few long day rides, but yes, this will be my first bike tour. I'm fairly fit, so I think I can do 40-60 miles/day.

Hoping to receive suggestions for routes + places to stop! (Other unsolicited advice welcome, too!)

TIMEFRAME + ROUGH ROUTE:
mid-January: Buy a used bike in NYC, outfit it for touring, take a bike maintenance course.
February: Depart from NYC, likely headed south via East Coast Greenway to escape the cold. Perhaps get to Georgia?
March/April: TOTALLY OPEN AND FLEXIBLE --> this is where I'm seeking inspiration!
mid-May: Finish in Denver.

GOALS:
I like the idea of repeating this pattern: (1) bike for 3-5 days, (2) stop in an interesting town/city (3) stay there for 2-4 days, (4) repeat.

The main goal is to not overplan... to stay open to chance opportunities, fun detours. I also need to spend time on my laptop periodically to continue doing some focused work on a few part-time projects.

Additional goal: I've spent much of my life on the coasts, and I like the idea of meeting and conversing with people of different political orientations (i.e., more conservative folks) in election year 2020.

ACCOMMODATIONS:
Because I want this to be a social trip—and I do need use my laptop somewhat regularly—I plan to use Couchsurfing and Warmshowers as my first options, Airbnb rooms / motels as a second option. I'd love to stay in local people's houses that are spontaneously offered to me, as well. I do own ultralight camping gear and someone will ship it to me if needed... but I want to see how long I can get away without it.

Thanks in advance for your time!
-Blake

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Slow-travel meandering tour from NYC to Denver, Feb-May 2020
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2020, 05:05:59 pm »
I'm 37 and originally from California.

Hey Blake-
Glad to hear that you want to do a big bike tour!  ;D

But, I have a questions for ya. First, where in California? How much experience you have with weather outside The Golden State?

California is a big state. Living in Santa Barbara or San Francisco is going to give you a different experience on weather. But neither is going to have "winter" like they would in the Northeast. And January, February, and yes, March, is still winter in New York. Heck, it can even go into April. I grew up in Connecticut, about 70 miles outside of NYC, and there was snowstorms in February and March, and usually some sort of snow in April.

And even if it isn't snowing, it'll still be cold, especially if you think you can't ride a bike if the temperature drops below 50F. You'll be lucky to see that as a high in February and early March.

It might be a good idea to find you way down south via other means (like the train), and then start riding from there. You can still run into some colder days/nights if you started in Georgia or Florida, but those will be the exception, not the norm.

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Slow-travel meandering tour from NYC to Denver, Feb-May 2020
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2020, 07:36:27 am »
The trail sections of the ECG will likely not have any winter maintenance, which could mean snow and/or ice. (In PA, there is very little about the ECG that is actually green.) Roads could be the same.  Suggest you re-think things.

Offline blakebo

Re: Slow-travel meandering tour from NYC to Denver, Feb-May 2020
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2020, 07:58:04 am »
Thanks to both of you for the cold-weather reality checks. I'm no stranger to the cold, I just haven't biked through it before. I'll consider zipping down to the south to begin there.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Slow-travel meandering tour from NYC to Denver, Feb-May 2020
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2020, 10:52:11 am »
It's not just the cold.  It's also the road conditions -- 6' shoulders don't do a cyclist much good if they're covered in 3' of packed snow plowed off the travel lanes.

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Slow-travel meandering tour from NYC to Denver, Feb-May 2020
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2020, 11:12:29 am »
The other aspect of this plan that leaves me scratching my head is the buying of a used bike in NYC, outfitting it for touring and taking a maintenance class. You could (and should) be doing that at home now. For example, what makes you think you are going to find a maintenance class that fits with your schedule upon arrival? Seems much more efficient to get set up at home, do directly to the ride start location, flying with, or shipping, the bike.

Offline blakebo

Re: Slow-travel meandering tour from NYC to Denver, Feb-May 2020
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2020, 10:07:46 am »
@BikeliciousBabe: I don't have a home right now!  :)  My home will be "on the road" this spring.
I'll be in NYC for three weeks prior to departing. Already signed up for a great-looking 4-hour class. I think it'll all work out.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Slow-travel meandering tour from NYC to Denver, Feb-May 2020
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2020, 06:09:20 am »
Just me, but the east coast in winter doesn't sound like much fun for the portion where snow is likely.  I guess your ride a few days/take a few days off plan makes it more doable.  Maybe having lived on the east coast for the majority of my life takes away most of the appeal of touring there.

There is a lot of variation in what folks call ultralight when it comes to gear, but it isn't too hard to get down to 15 pounds of gear and less is quite possible.  If you have ultralight gear why not just carry it and have it as an option.  That may depend a bit on the temperature and your tolerance for it, but I managed to do the Southern Tier in February with 14 pounds of gear and it wasn't the lightest possible stuff and I managed even when the overnight lows got down in to the teens. 

Your trip planning choices will likely be a balance between getting south to avoid the cold of the east coast quickly and spending more time riding in the sparsely populated southern tier where a lot of the way towns and cities will be widely spaced with lots of very empty country with nothing but sage brush in between much of the way.

I found the scenery very uninspiring on the southern tier, but did enjoy a couple things about it and February and March were a great time to be on it.  Not sure about April and May, it might get a little hot for my tastes by then, but I am not a fan of touring in the heat.

The people were pretty interesting on the ST and it was fun to rub elbows with them.  There was a seemingly never ending parade of misfits, mostly transplanted folks who didn't fit in somewhere else (many from somewhere north like Alaska or the northern tier and some from south of the border).  I can't speak to how the route would work out for staying with folks via warmshowers or the like as I didn't stay with hosts much and then only with ones I knew from online forums.  I did meet lots of folks on the ride though and many of them had interesting stories to share.

I also enjoyed the food.  There were a variety of local cuisines, tex mex, several different varieties of bbq, Cajun, good gulf seafood, etc.

I have never stayed multiple days with WS hosts, but as a former WS host I will say that you will want to be careful.  It is really easy to wear out your welcome when staying multiple days.




Offline blakebo

Re: Slow-travel meandering tour from NYC to Denver, Feb-May 2020
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2020, 11:13:10 am »
Thanks so much, Pete, this is very helpful!