Author Topic: Riding coast to coast  (Read 7576 times)

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Offline vt91

Riding coast to coast
« on: August 18, 2019, 08:39:26 pm »
Hello.
I am thinking about biking across America before it gets too cold.

1) I have very little money (around $400 in savings) so I would prefer sleeping in the bushes to sleeping at a hotel.
I see that there is a bottle neck around the Great Lakes as that area is very densely populated and does not have a lot of woods by the rivers.
Where do people who bike around Chicago stay at if they have no money for hotels?

2) I have chronic pain and other severe health problems. In a way, I am planning my bike journey out of despair.
For this reason I don't want to be with a group of people, be slowed down by me, have them take care of me if my health begins to fail.

However it is nice to have other riders close by in case there are wild animals or uninvited guests who would like to pay a visit to my camp.
It is nice to have some other cyclists within reach. Is there a dense biking path where I am less likely to be riding a bike alone for miles?

3) Are there apps that allow cyclists to stay together and communicate the way truck drivers do?
I could get some support when it comes to good camping spots and other useful resources, like a water fountains in the park, stores where I can buy food.

4) With the general, increasing tendency of police to harass homeless people, how likely am I to be harassed?
My camping gear is a collection of obsolete tent, other very primitive gear.
My bicycle has also seen sights. It is reliable since I maintain it very well, yet it looks more like something that homeless people would use.

5) In case my bicycle breaks down, I plan to look for a replacement in the area where my previous bike goes bad.
Has anyone done that?

6) Does anyone sell a generator that uses a coil that mounts to the fork and a magnet that attaches to the spokes?
I looked at various ways to charge batteries on different devices such as cameras. A solar panel is clumsy and brittle, it relies on the weather too much.
The best way to charge batteries would be when I go downhill and I have to apply brakes. Does this exist?

I had an old-school generator that clamps to the tire - a lot of energy is wasted between the tire and the roller.
It would be nice if I could easily engage it when I apply brakes and disengage it when I have to pedal.



I am a youtuber. Among other things, I would like to show the hospitality levels in America.



If I am harassed by police for not having a rich man bike or having patches on my tent, I will upload the footage to Youtube as soon as I get a chance.
If I am allowed to camp, I will thank the person who allowed me to camp somewhere before all my subscribers.

I may end up in the hospital somewhere along the way and never make it to the West Coast.
My illness gets better under extreme conditions. So I want to create them for a month or two to see what happens, as a therapy.
I am disabled, I survive on SSI and food stamps and my only way to get somewhere long distance is to bike there or to take a grayhound.

From another end - I would like to bike through rural America and show the vibe, maybe interview some people.
I will carry some equipment with me and film everything I come across and upload it as soon as I can to reduce the need for storage memory.

Also there is a possibility that my camera or phone will break and I will stop updating my channel subscribers, yet I will still make it to the other side of the country. My friend is expecting me on the West Coast.

Thank you.

Offline John Nettles

Re: Riding coast to coast
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2019, 09:02:15 pm »
First welcome to bicycle touring.  I hope you find it all you want it to be.

Now for some answers.

1.  Avoid densely populated areas is my suggestion.

2.  Look into WarmShowers and/or CouchSurfing.  While WarmShowers is more geared toward touring cyclists, CouchSurfing seems to be more accepting of all walks of life.  However, some people may not want to host a homeless guy in severe medical conditions.  I would highly suggest you let the prospective hosts know your situation as they will more likely give positive feedback if they know your situation upfront.  Also, be sure to give and get feedback.  Don't overstay your welcome!

3.  You don't say where you are starting or ending so hard to suggest bike paths.  However, if  you go to Google Maps and click on the 3 horizontal lines in the left uppermost corner, you can select "Bicycling" which, if you zoom in, will show trails.

4.  I would suggest you go to CrazyGuyonaBike.com and search for "Douglas Coulter".  He is a vet who is homeless by choice (I think) but rides around the country on his trike.  You can reach out to him via his Guest Page on CGOAB.

5.  Probably but not many.  However, it is not uncommon for those touring a short tour overseas to buy a thrift store bike at the start and give it away at the end.  Not too many do that when coming to the USA though as you typically do not have to pay to ship your bike if your flight originates outside North America and you fly on a non-North American airline.  You idea to replace it may be best.

6.  You are thinking of a hub generator (aka hub dynamo).  Look on eBay. Shimano is maybe the least expensive hub. Hub generators are much more efficient than the old tire generators. You would also need a converter for the hub.  I am guessing the bare minimum for a used hub and converter is at least $100.

Other.  Be sure to ask permission before filming someone as they may not want to be filmed and/or posted on the internet.

Hope this helps.  Tailwinds, John


Offline John Nelson

Re: Riding coast to coast
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2019, 12:45:23 am »
Most of what you need can be satisfied by following the ACA Trans America Trail. I averaged $2 a day for a place to sleep on that route, and it could have been less if I hadn’t stayed in a motel. So the major expense is food. I think you should be able to get by on less than $10 a day by buying all your food at grocery stores. Miscellaneous expenses include whatever gear you might need to buy up front, and transportation to the start and home from the finish. If your bike is in good shape when you start, you may not need to spend anything on the bike en route.

All touring cyclists look homeless.

Offline vt91

Re: Riding coast to coast
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2019, 07:29:44 am »
Thank you.
Right now I am doing a lot of math - energy density, miles that I will bike in one day, mass of food and water, etc.
Generator hub is an interesting subject.

I am tempted to buy one on Aliexpress, however I am not sure how well the bearings will behave. I would need spokes of a different length.

The goal is to film and to upload content on my channel. Storage would not be an issue since I can upload as soon as I reach a cell phone tower.
Power can become a greater issue. For this reason, it makes sense to charge batteries every time I go downhill.
If I buy a friction generator, I will have to stop at the top of the hill to engage it by hand or I would need to craft some lever so I can do it on the go.



Offline John Nelson

Re: Riding coast to coast
« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2019, 08:10:49 am »
You don’t need a generator. Electrical outlets are plentiful. Take a couple of power banks. Charge them every time you get a chance. Keep your gear simple.

Offline toadmeister

Re: Riding coast to coast
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2019, 08:26:30 am »
You don’t need a generator. Electrical outlets are plentiful. Take a couple of power banks. Charge them every time you get a chance. Keep your gear simple.
I agree

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Offline staehpj1

Re: Riding coast to coast
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2019, 09:00:42 am »
Most of what you need can be satisfied by following the ACA Trans America Trail.
Agree.  If you get a set of the Adventure Cycling Trans America maps they will add immensely to your ability to find free/cheap places to stay as long as you stay on the route.  Tons of info on the maps.  You will also likely be in the company of other cyclists more often in camp at least.  You may be able to find a used set of maps cheap, maybe try an ad in the classified section here.

Given a late season start there would be a huge advantage to starting in the west and heading east.  The snow can fly early in the Rockies!

Adventure Cycling also has maps for a Northern Tier Route.

If you get delayed too late the Southern Tier route is an option it is shorter and has less time in the mountains.  The empty scrub brush country seems endless though.  I rode it in a mid February-March timeframe.  You couldn't pay me to ride it in the warmer months though.


Offline vt91

Re: Riding coast to coast
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2019, 11:16:06 am »
You don’t need a generator. Electrical outlets are plentiful. Take a couple of power banks. Charge them every time you get a chance. Keep your gear simple.
I agree

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All doors are open to a paying customer.

I want to test the hospitality of America in relationship to someone who is neither overly demanding, nor paying their way through.
A generator will give me autonomy. Plus it looks like some generators are cheaper then the power banks.
I will wire it so it charges my existing power bank when I bike downhill and apply brakes.

Maps are nice. I have a strong desire to stay out of Trump country as much as I can and cling to the Canadian border for some reason...
Perhaps I don't want to get shot. I would not mind the extra 10 kg of warm clothes that it would require for me to cross the northern border and travel through Canadian Mid-West instead of America Mid West.

I haven't figured out what I will do with the great lakes area yet.
I know that I will bike through areas with harsh continental climate. I am very aware of what it is like.
My trip is mostly planned around the climatic zones.

Wouldn't old maps get obsolete information?
I am looking at new maps and the cost is prohibitive.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2019, 11:27:05 am by vt91 »

Offline John Nelson

Re: Riding coast to coast
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2019, 11:41:38 am »
I have a strong desire to stay out of Trump country as much as I can and cling to the Canadian border for some reason...
Perhaps I don't want to get shot.
Most likely you will never know the politics of the people you meet. If you don't bring it up, neither will most of them.

I would not mind the extra 10 kg of warm clothes that it would require for me to cross the northern border and travel through Canadian Mid-West instead of America Mid West.
Maybe it's just me, but I like daylight. Especially with a late season start, days get shorter much faster the farther north you are. By the end of November, there's only 8 and a half hours of daylight along the Canadian border. You'll get an extra 80 minutes of daylight each day along the TransAm.

You also said that you wanted other riders close by. There will be 10 times as many other riders along the TransAm as there will be near the Canadian border. They'll also be more bike shops.

Wouldn't old maps get obsolete information?
A bit, but the addenda will fill in any gaps. The old maps will be much cheaper, and even new maps will save you more than they cost you.

By the way, around what date do you think you might start this trip? There are a lot of date-related concerns that might arise.

Offline vt91

Re: Riding coast to coast
« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2019, 03:24:30 pm »
There are several factors:
I am waiting for some things to arrive in the mail.
My YouTube channel dynamics suggest that I need to wait.
I receive SSI pension that is almost equal to what I pay in rent. Some 20 dollars would be left after everything is paid.

My health - this journey may easily end up in the hospital two states away.
This is why I don't want to attach people to myself.
If anything, I can travel hospital to hospital - something that many rich people can't afford to do.
Medicaid will cover it.

Offline toadmeister

Re: Riding coast to coast
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2019, 04:49:55 pm »
Maps are nice. I have a strong desire to stay out of Trump country as much as I can and cling to the Canadian border for some reason...
Perhaps I d]


I think your starting your journey with the wrong attitude there. 



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« Last Edit: August 19, 2019, 04:53:38 pm by toadmeister »

Offline vt91

Re: Riding coast to coast
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2019, 05:11:27 pm »
I am smart enough to avoid politics at all cost.

What should the 'right' attitude be?

Offline toadmeister

Re: Riding coast to coast
« Reply #12 on: August 19, 2019, 05:45:53 pm »
I am smart enough to avoid politics at all cost.

What should the 'right' attitude be?
LOL.

Let's continue to avoid it than.

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Offline toadmeister

Re: Riding coast to coast
« Reply #13 on: August 19, 2019, 06:42:16 pm »
Back on topic.   I highly recommend the American Midwest.    I do RAGBRAI across Iowa almost eatery year, it’s almost bicycling Nirvana.


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Offline vt91

Re: Riding coast to coast
« Reply #14 on: August 20, 2019, 05:51:29 am »
Back on topic.   I highly recommend the American Midwest.    I do RAGBRAI across Iowa almost eatery year, it’s almost bicycling Nirvana.
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American Midwest is divided into 1 mile rectangles with roads. Those roads appear to have wide shoulders. This will help.
Bushes along the road are few and far in between. Where would I sleep there?

Presently I am working on a solution to supply all my equipment with power.

Also my health is creating some concerns at this moment. Should I spend all my money on a journey that may end very abruptly.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2019, 06:04:17 am by vt91 »