Author Topic: 65th birthday cross country trip  (Read 9816 times)

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Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: 65th birthday cross country trip
« Reply #15 on: April 16, 2019, 07:15:44 am »
Last June in New Jersey a cub walked across my path about 25' in front of me as I was riding back to my site after a shower. It was so small it was obvious that it had been born that winter/spring. Mom was nowhere to be seen. Made me nervous and a bit sad.

Offline Bclayden

Re: 65th birthday cross country trip
« Reply #16 on: May 04, 2019, 08:33:20 am »
If you’re using motels and not camping then you really don’t need a trailer or panniers. I did Coast to Coast with only a saddle bag and small Camelback backpack. Requires laundry duty every 3rd day but sure as heck makes life easy.  You’ll discover that when your days are spent riding you don’t need much stuff. The heaviest thing in my bag is the tool kit.  Don’t forget the bottle opener?

Offline Ginger16

Re: 65th birthday cross country trip
« Reply #17 on: May 06, 2019, 05:00:13 am »
Sounds like a great trip. My wife & I did it in 2000 when I was 62 and she 60. Had no trips anywhere that long before.

We both used panniers front & rear (ARKELS). Panniers definitely have more wind resistance than a BOB but if set up right and with weight distributed well you will have a better handling rig. BOBs also mean you can't usefully draft if you have headwind. I hate drafting in general but sometimes when there was a headwind my going ahead, with my wife drafting, allowed higher average speed. I've heard many BOB users say they can make your bike handling pretty tricky if you go too fast down steep hills.  Also we ran into several BOB users who were having trouble frequently breaking spokes on the rear wheel. That BOB can apply a lot of lateral twist force at the rear axle which is apt to be too much for a standard road wheel (you of course could have a stronger wheel built).  All this said, BOBs have really proved themselves on the often rough and rocky dirt Great Divide Mountain Bike trail but with mountain bikes and lower speeds. Oh, also ended up helping a young woman with a worn out bearing on her BOB wheel a hundred miles from finishing the TRANS-AM in Oregon. If you use a BOB take some spare parts.

We rode east to west. The "prevailing westerlies" are at altitude. Surface winds are much more variable and often have local preferred directions. That said across much of the mid-west the most common wind direction in the summer months is from the south. I don't think there's any valid wind basis for going one way or the other. Its a matter of luck which way will have the optimum wind on any given starting date.  We liked going east to west  in terms of following the history of the country which for the most part was settled from east to west. We especially liked starting in the morning with the sun behind us, rather than in our eyes, and virtually always stopping and setting up camp before it was so low that it was in our eyes.

We averaged 62-mile days overall but there was quite a bit of variation day to day depending on grades and weather.  There was significant temperature variations. Had our water freeze one night and had trouble staying warm enough when starting down a hill first thing in the morning. Definitely bring long gloves.  Some days were far too hot!

We started in Yorktown in early May and finished in Oregon the first week in August. Took 11 rest days - more would have been better- and stayed in a motel for two nights each rest day and three or four other times because of weather.

The first excessive grades were a few days after starting getting up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. We both walked our heavily loaded bikes some that day. We rode titanium mountain bikes with smooth 1.75" x 26" tires on rims with ceramic coating for rim brakes (no longer made to my knowledge). Coming down off the Blue Ridge there was plenty of braking power but we had to stop to let the rims cool to keep from burning the brake pads and possibly blowing a tire from excessive heat! Yes we were carrying too much stuff. Staying in motels will lighten your load greatly and maybe your Surly? has disk brakes.  The grades in the Rockys were easy compared to the Appalachians. For me the scariest times were steep grades on narrow roads in eastern Kentucky with no shoulders and 22-wheeled coal trucks. Whenever we heard one coming it was stop and press oneself into the vegetation that came right to the side of the road often with stickers.

We used Continental Top Touring Tires, probably the forerunner of Continental's current Touring Plus tires with regular Continental tubes in them (no sealant). We only checked the pressure every few days and usually added air only about once a week.  I had no flats in the entire 4400 miles and my wife had only one! Don't know if it was just luck or the tires with the internal anti-puncture band were just that good.  They rode and coasted wonderfully. We were careful not ride them off the pavement on the edge of the road in the west where there often were "goat head" plants with a very strong short sticker sort of set on a minature paramid base that grows very low along the ground.

We did carry dog pepper spray and I used it one time on two dogs coming after me in southern Illinois and it was very effective without hurting the dogs. Other times I've carried bear pepper spray (in grizzly bear country)  and I think it would be very effective against a human but we never had any situation where I felt seriously threatened by a person. I would recommend leaving the gun at home.

You should have the map and well calibrated odometers on both bikes.  In the east especially, the turns and route changes are frequent and you have to stay alert and check after each one how far it is to the next one.  Many people starting out lose much time (even days worth) missing directions and and riding off route not realizing it until they have ridden many miles and are lost. For us it worked best for us to both feel responsible for navigation and the only turn we missed was following another TRANS AM rider past it. Fortunately we realized our error in about half a mile but the other rider was out of sight ahead of us already!  Also speedometer/odometers are not the most reliable devices - we had one of ours fail in Wyoming and it was a few days until we found a shop with a replacement and different brand different set up. I would consider carrying a spare with me if doing it again.

All in all it was a very wonderful experience and we met wonderful people for the most part, both locals and other bike riders that we often rode with for a few days at a time. Along the way one person we met was a Swiss diplomat based in Washington and riding the Trans Am. He said, "you should require every person in the US government to ride across the country before advancing to GS-15 level. Then they'd really know something about their own country. As is, I will return to Washington in a couple months knowing more about the US than most of your own government employees." Not a bad idea!! 

I hope you do it and I think it will turn out wonderful.  Cheers

Offline staehpj1

Re: 65th birthday cross country trip
« Reply #18 on: May 21, 2019, 09:35:20 am »
If you want an easier trip...  My suggestions are to start in the west on the TransAmerica.  Don't start too early in the year.  We got by with starting June 11th, but that is actually a little early some years.  Some years McKenzie Pass may not be open yet and it is worth doing.  I think they expect it to open to motor vehicles late June, but it usually opens for bikes a week or two earlier.

The climbs in the west on the TransAmerica are well graded and while very long not terribly steep.  So the eastern mountains are actually much harder.

Just me, but I highly recommend camping.  I also recommend packing really light.  Everyone's idea of light is different, but you can get by with very little stuff.  Moteling it, panniers or a trailer are gross overkill.  My last trip (ST) I camped and cooked with a couple small stuff sacks on the rack and a handlebar bag.  It worked out better than the full 4 pannier deal I did on the TA.  I think I had 14# of gear.

BTW, the Southern Tier was dull and brown and I'd only recommend it for someone who wants a ride they can do in winter.

Offline TCS

Re: 65th birthday cross country trip
« Reply #19 on: May 22, 2019, 01:05:42 pm »
This following isn't legal advice.

Do bicyclists travel armed?

Rifles, shotguns, crossbows, spears and swords being rather problematic for cycletouring, I'm assuming you mean here 'handguns'*. 

So.  Hmm.  Offhand I can only think of Thomas Stevens (Around the World on a Bicycle, Colt .45 revolver) and Dervla Murphy (Full Tilt, Beretta .32 automatic) who did (well, and admitted it).  Both ~in their own words~ were exemplary in when to keep the firearms under wraps, when to brandish it to defuse a threat situation and when & where to fire.

Anyway, the typical USA cycletour is significantly more bucolic and pastoral than Hollywood movies might lead one to believe and I'd really, really seriously move a portable firearm to the unnecessary pile except...

...if one was a past victim of rape or violent assault and had enough therapy to where they absolutely for sure wouldn't trigger (sorry, but that's what it's called) in a threat situation and they'd trained when to not use & how to use and their nagging insecurity prevents them from launching on tour without personal protection, then who am I to say 'don't'.

When I first read the inquiry, my knee jerk response was 'there's no way that would be legal'.  Surprisingly, with the right carry permit, a US citizen could cycletour in most of the USA legally carrying a handgun.

Transiting in the few states where carry on the person it isn't legal, the firearm could still be legally toted along in the panniers unloaded and locked.

The Kel Tec P32 weights only 280g (less than 10 oz) fully loaded with 8 rounds.

*Interestingly enough, there are some goofy 'knife carry' laws in the USA.  Ah, you're goin' have your little utility knife in your panniers anyway so we don't need to worry about that.

Non-US residents: pretty wild, huh?   :o

This preceding isn't legal advice.

« Last Edit: September 27, 2019, 01:20:06 pm by TCS »
"My name is Pither.  I am at present on a cycling tour of the North Cornwall area taking in Bude and..."

Offline staehpj1

Re: 65th birthday cross country trip
« Reply #20 on: May 22, 2019, 06:57:06 pm »
On the going "armed" question...  I'd say mostly no.  I have a concealed carry permit and do not carry on tour.
A few reasons you might not want to:
  • You can't legally carry in some places you will likely want to go, like federally owned buildings including post offices and national park buildings. Leaving a weapon on an unattended bike while you go in seems like an exceedingly bad idea.
  • You may wind up wanting to accept hospitality from folks you meet along the way.  IMO taking a weapon into someone's home without their knowledge would be very bad form and telling them would be a really poor ice breaker.
  • Do you carry every day at home?  If not then what is it about a tour that would make you consider doing so?
  • It just isn't necessary.  Touring is a pretty safe activity.  Go out and be open and kind and expect the same from those you meet.  On the TA we were pretty much universally impressed by the kindness and generosity of the folks we met.

Offline Buddy_Hall

Re: 65th birthday cross country trip
« Reply #21 on: September 25, 2019, 07:38:09 am »
I was 62 when I rode the Transam in 2015, and I'll be 67 when I ride it again in 2020.  I really favor going E - W, because you get through the populated areas first and then the west is just more relaxing.  HOWEVER - as others have said, be aware that the Appalachians and the Ozarks really are the steepest grades, and therefore some of the hardest parts.  Starting at about day 3 or 4 you will encounter the Appalachians, and for the next 2 weeks it will be challenging every day.  So do get ready for some steep climbing early on the route.  When you reach Illinois you get a little reprieve (just a few days), then it gets tough again in the Missouri Ozarks.  If you make it to KS you have traversed the hardest parts!  Mind you, the wind in KS is also tough, and there are lots of challenges out west, but the Rockies are gentle as compared to the Appalachians.  I also rode the Surly LHT, and will ride mine again next year when I cross.  See for the adventures of another "mature" fellow.  Best of luck