Author Topic: Questions regarding TransAmerica cycling route and preparation  (Read 750 times)

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Offline Barak10

Hello,
My name is Barak and I am 24 years old. I am planning on going on my first long distance cycling tour in 2022. My preferred route is the TransAm but I am also considering the Pacific Coast.
I have a few questions that I would be grateful to have answered:

1. What type of preparation is necessary in terms of riding experience? The most I have ever ridden in one day is about 20 miles and honestly, my state of physical fitness could be better.
I have read accounts of cyclists who have set out on the route with no riding experience. Do I run the risk of injury if I begin riding without developing adequate stamina?
2. Given climate change in general and the extreme weather this summer in the West this particular, what is the recommended direction and start time for the TransAm?
3. In israel, where I currently live, traffic accidents involving cyclists on roads (better said, cyclists getting run over) are very frequent and a major concern. Is this an issue on the TransAm and the Pacific Coast?
Thank you all in advance.
If anyone is interested in joining me, feel free to contact me. I am flexible on direction and departure date.
Barak

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Questions regarding TransAmerica cycling route and preparation
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2021, 09:30:18 am »
A couple of notes -

Not sure what part of Israel you are in but you should do okay with the heat on the TransAM based on what recall from being in Israel 20 years ago. Also, MOST drivers are pretty courteous, texting while driving is still an issue. Again, not sure where in Israel you have biked but the mountains are much bigger here. Altitude is generally higher but that is adjusted to over a period of days.

Riding East to West keeps the sun at your back but either way you have to plan for seasonal weather.

Here is a link to Sara Dickey's YouTube VLOG https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwxlm5qkA8wRjWSjyNfRgog/featured. They are riding the TransAM now and one of her companions, Amos, is also from Israel - you maybe be able to contact him for more relevant advice/.
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline Barak10

Re: Questions regarding TransAmerica cycling route and preparation
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2021, 09:58:33 am »
Thanks very much, #1. I will take that under consideration and am trying to reach out to Amos.

Offline John Nettles

Re: Questions regarding TransAmerica cycling route and preparation
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2021, 10:37:48 am »
Barak,

I must say, at 24, you seem to be asking wise and intelligent questions.  Most younger people, including me when I rode the TA at 17, didn't ask questions.  They just think it would be fun to cross the country.

As regards to you questions.  Yes, you can ride across the country with little to no experience.  That said, the more you can ride before hand, the easier and enjoyable the trip will be.  My classic example is when I was 17 and crossing the country for the 1st time (lots of riding experience though), I met two recently retired women in their mid-60s in Idaho along the route.  The first had been cycling for decades and had no issues.  The second had not cycled in 40 years, thought what her friend was doing sounded fun, and decided to join her.  She went out and bought a bike, all the gear, literally rode around the block a few times to see if the bike was adjusted for her, then had it boxed up and shipped to Astoria.  I asked her how the ride had been for her.  She said the first two weeks were hell.  But then her body adjusted and now she was fine and enjoying the ride.  I figure if a 60+ year old person can do the route with no experience, then a young 24 person should be able to also.  Granted, you might be sore for the first week or two but just plan on taking low mile days then. I don't know where you live in Israel, but I would when I was there a few years ago, I would have ridden most anywhere outside the major cities.  Perhaps you can take weekends and ride out in the countryside?? I did ride a rent-a-bike along the shore path in Tel Aviv but that would get boring real quickly and would probably be just as dangerous with all the people on it. :) .

The route can be ridden E>W from early May to mid-September and W>E from early June to late-October.  The question is what is important to you, i.e. cooler/warmer temps, less traffic (end route in the fall but less services open, especially in the Rockies), etc. Riding E>W keep the sun at your back (important for safety if you ride when the sun is rising) but W>E has favorable winds in the high wind states like Wyoming. Other places, the winds is not as much of a factor. The extreme weather we are having is somewhat cyclical.  I personally would not factor in the extreme climate as that is too unpredictable to forecast accurately.

The traffic on the TA is to a great extent relatively minor.  Granted, cyclists do get killed occasionally but it is rare enough that it is fairly newsworthy when it happens.  Use a mirror, ride with caution (no in the middle of the road), and be alert at all times (no ear buds playing music so you can't hear a car coming up on you) and you should be fine. I have tens of thousands of miles of touring experience and, knock on wood, I have not had an issue. The PC route has more traffic but also has more shoulders when needed so it too should be OK.  If you do the PC, be SURE to ride N>S.  I rode it S>N during a perimeter tour and it was not as fun due to the headwinds.  See the sentence above about being young and not asking questions.

I also noticed that you posted a forum question over on CrazyGuy regarding meds.  You did not say what meds, but I had a liver transplant and have to keep my meds at room temps or cooler.  I basically just stuff them inside my sleeping bag and when I plan the packing for that particular route, I keep the sleeping bag on the "shaded" side of the bike if possible.  I add a cool (not cold) bottle of water next to the pills on hot days.  Remember, the pavement can easily be 30+ degrees F warmer than the air.  I also pack each dosage if pills (I take multiple pills 3x daily) into little plastic bags (5cmx5cm) so if they do melt, they are just one big pill with the proper amounts of meds but that has never happened even in 105* temps.  Again, knocking on wood, I have not had an issue in 15 years. 

Tailwinds, John

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Questions regarding TransAmerica cycling route and preparation
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2021, 01:50:22 pm »
If you start in the east around mid-May you will likely encounter others who have done the same. Might be a good thing for a novice. I had never toured nor camped when I did ACA's unsupported group tour of the Northern Tier.  It was good to have other people to learn from.

Offline jwrushman

Re: Questions regarding TransAmerica cycling route and preparation
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2021, 05:33:13 pm »
I may not say this artfully, so please excuse me if it seem offensive.

Preparing for a long distance bike ride is a challenge for anyone.  And if you're new to bike touring, that's more challenging.  And if your new to longer distances (you say you're doing 20 miles a day now), that's more challenging.  And if you're not from the States, that too brings new challenges.  As a white, middle-age, male, Merican, I can "wing it" and (hopefully) not get into too much trouble.   Besides the bike touring, getting comfortable to how "things are done in the States" may prove to be as much an obstacle. 

Have you spent much time in the States?  Might you consider an organized tour? 

I rode solo doing a modified Northern Tier.  I had to drop out in 2018 due to diverticulitis.  Riding solo gave me the flexibility to due what I wanted and allowed me to drop out without impacting anyone else.  But for you, a group may be very beneficial.  You do have the benefit of youth.  Your body is less likely to crap out compared to us older folk.

Good luck on your adventure.  I look forward to reading your journals. 

Last advice - Try to get out on some overnight excursions (or two nights) from home.  I found it the best way to find out what equipment I could leave at home.

Offline Barak10

Re: Questions regarding TransAmerica cycling route and preparation
« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2021, 04:44:27 am »
Thank you very much for your feedback, @jwrushman, and don't worry, I did not find it offensive at all. I should note that I am living in Israel nowadays but I am American by birth, and lived in New York till the age of 13.
However, I have not been to large parts of the country, so your comments may be relevant.
I am planning on doing a few overnight excursions.

Offline Barak10

Re: Questions regarding TransAmerica cycling route and preparation
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2021, 04:47:01 am »
Thank you very much, @John Nettles. I will try weekends here, the problem is getting places to cycle for any sort of distance. Thanks again for your recommendations regarding pill storage.

Offline Barak10

Re: Questions regarding TransAmerica cycling route and preparation
« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2021, 04:48:01 am »
Thanks for the advice, @BikeliciousBabe. I will keep that in mind.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Questions regarding TransAmerica cycling route and preparation
« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2021, 06:24:09 am »
The suggestions of practice tours and so on are good, but it isn't an absolute necessity.  Three of us set off on the Trans America as our first tour and did fine.  We were all experienced at other outdoor activities, so camping was not new to us.  We gave our gear choices a lot of thought and tired hard to keep our loads light.  We still made mistakes, but learned and adjusted as we went.  If you have some experience at other forms of self supported travel (backpacking, canoe camping, etc.) you can get by with little to no shakedown tours if necessary.

I am not knocking shake down tours.  They are a good idea.  They just are not an absolute necessity for everyone.  If timing doesn't allow for them don't sweat it if you have the know how to pack and camp.  Do at least be sure you know how all your gear works.

Offline BikePacker

Re: Questions regarding TransAmerica cycling route and preparation
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2021, 08:16:12 am »
What type of preparation is necessary in terms of riding experience*?
What built out my *"riding experience" learning curve and confidence faster than anything else
was doing a 'supported cross a state' type of ride.
Examples are BRAG.com and ragbrai.com/
plus
I found a great book, Essential Touring Cyclist - still available from Adventure Cycling ...
https://www.adventurecycling.org/cyclosource-store/search-results/sp/essential-touring-cyclist/
tho said to be getting a little dated as far as what is what with electronics gear ...
it remains a great classic knowledge + thinking all thru / planning template so that
one knows what one does and does not know before 1st launch, solo or otherwise.
The above combination proved to be everything I needed to let it rip.
Meanwhile, .... offered as simply another truism for me
has always been that, while the above enabled me to confidently 'take the touring bike by the handlebars' : ),
I have never not learned a whole lotta of new things with every tour, short or long ....
part of my motivation to keep tourin' as long as I can fog a mirror.
Best of wishes and send us updates on your progress?
_______
« Last Edit: July 24, 2021, 08:18:36 am by BikePacker »

Offline staehpj1

Re: Questions regarding TransAmerica cycling route and preparation
« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2021, 08:36:54 am »
What built out my *"riding experience" learning curve and confidence faster than anything else
was doing a 'supported cross a state' type of ride.
Examples are BRAG.com and ragbrai.com/
I have zero experience with that kind of ride, but that comment surprised me a little.  I would have guessed that they were so different from self supported touring that they would have been of little use in the building learning curve for touring.  I can see a supported ACA tour being a good learning experience, but I always pictured RAGBRAI and the like as a rolling party with little in common with touring.  I don't doubt that you found them useful, I am just surprised.

On the other hand you did bold "riding experience" not "touring experience".  Care to elaborate a little.  I am curious about your experience with the cross state rides and how they related to touring.

Offline HobbesOnTour

Re: Questions regarding TransAmerica cycling route and preparation
« Reply #12 on: July 24, 2021, 08:54:35 am »
Hold on a moment.
There's an issue with asking for advice on the internet - people respond based on their own experience, but only the OP knows, or can figure out how that relates to them.

If you're being vague about medication and whatever the medication controls then every piece of information needs to be filtered through that.

A 24 year old heading across a continent? Great fun!
A 24 year old needing medication may be less fun. There's not just health issues there are logistics too.
All solvable, I'm sure, but requiring pretty precise planning and prep.

Sorry to be negative but effectively in a foreign country, large parts miles from a major city a bit of optimism may not be enough.

Good luck


Offline staehpj1

Re: Questions regarding TransAmerica cycling route and preparation
« Reply #13 on: July 24, 2021, 09:12:48 am »
Hold on a moment.
There's an issue with asking for advice on the internet - people respond based on their own experience, but only the OP knows, or can figure out how that relates to them.

If you're being vague about medication and whatever the medication controls then every piece of information needs to be filtered through that.

A 24 year old heading across a continent? Great fun!
A 24 year old needing medication may be less fun. There's not just health issues there are logistics too.
All solvable, I'm sure, but requiring pretty precise planning and prep.

Sorry to be negative but effectively in a foreign country, large parts miles from a major city a bit of optimism may not be enough.

Good luck
Yeah, but we can't give specific advice without specific info that we don't know.  I think it is up to the OP to do their due diligence.  If they have doubts I hope they will provide more specific info and ask for advice.  Folks have probably solved the same issues before.  Mail drops via general delivery are a common solution, but there may be special storage requirements and so on.  The thing is that we don't know and the Op has chosen to not share.  He may not be willing to share that or he may be waiting to tackle those issues next.

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Questions regarding TransAmerica cycling route and preparation
« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2021, 09:42:15 am »
There's not just health issues there are logistics too.
All solvable, I'm sure, but requiring pretty precise planning and prep.

Precise planning and preparation is not always necessary. Even 22 years ago I was able to get my health insurer to cover a three-month supply of my daily blood thinner "up front."  Took one phone call to explain that I would be travelling and may not always have convenient access to a large pharmacy chain. These days, obtaining a 90 supply of a maintenance drug is quite normal.