Author Topic: Transcontinental, Southern Tier with hotels & sag wagon - QUESTIONS  (Read 6540 times)

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Offline BartonFlyer

Hi. I am just beginning the planning for a Transcon Bike Trip. I have chosen the Southern Tier (San Diego to St. Augustine) for multiple reasons; one of which is that I plan to do it in one take, with my wife driving a van as a sag wagon. I purchased the map app for my iPhone and will somehow want to get it to show on my Garmin Edge 830.

I'm very curious about how to plan overnight stops, and how to plan for 60 to 100 miles per day. My wife will be driving a "support" vehicle and we will stay in hotels along the way.

For discussion purposes, here's my bio:  I'm now 61, living in Kansas City. It will likely be two years (spring of 2022) before I make the trip. In the 1980s & 1990s I was a competitive, amateur road cyclist in Colorado. I've never done any long distance touring. But, back in the day, I regularly rode 400 miles per week for race training. I recently bought a 2020 Trek Domane, and plan to use that bike or something like it for the trip (no packs or paniers). Currently, I am very comfortable on 45-50 mile rides at an average of 16 MPH.

Is there anybody out there who has done transcontinental bike trips in a similar way (no packs, with vehicle support)?

Keith Vasey
Overland Park, KS

Offline staehpj1

I rode from San Diego to Pensacola, but I was camping with very light gear (14# base gear weight).  I modified the route a good bit as I went, but generally followed the ACA ST route.  I started in mid February and found that a good time to go since it was cool and the days were longer than a late fall early winter time with similar temps.  I did have overnight frost a number of times and one really hard freeze and there was a little snow by the roadside on the top of the passes a couple times, but daytime temperatures always got up into at least the 50s.  I found that much nicer than dealing with the heat.

If you like warmer weather you could go a just little later (spring is the dry season in here in Tallahassee so that isn't the worry that you might think).  If you go too early or too late the heat would be brutal IMO.  Summer would be terrible and I personally wouldn't even consider it.  I got caught in some exceptionally early heat in the desert SW before on a Spring tour and it is hard to describe just how miserable 110+F heat can be.

The spacing of potential lodging will often dictate your daily mileage and you won't have much choice in the matter most days.  Just look at what is available a few days ahead on the ACA maps and call ahead to be sure that places are open.  I didn't pay much attention to where there were rooms available since I was camping, but I suspect you may have some long days.  There were some long days between water stops, so motels may have been farther.  People have done the ST staying in rooms without sag though so it can be done.  I have no idea if the pandemic has taken a toll and shut down any businesses though.  A lot of small businesses tend to be barely hanging on any way.

Offline dogdad

Re: Transcontinental, Southern Tier with hotels & sag wagon - QUESTIONS
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2020, 09:22:17 am »
In 2017 I rode across the US mostly on the TA self supported. In 2019 I rode from Boise, ID to Dawson Creek, BC self supported and from there to Delta Junction, AK supported with a SAG vehicle as a group tour. It is a lot easier ride without the gear on the bike. I usually stay in hotels. Especially in hot temps. Having the vehicle with you gives you options for where to stay, where to eat, sightseeing on rest days, etc. You may recall mountains take some discipline. It get tired (bored) of just going up continuously. Not physically, mentally. You mentioned what you did "back in the day" please remember this isn't then and you are a couple decades older. I learned that the hard way.

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Transcontinental, Southern Tier with hotels & sag wagon - QUESTIONS
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2020, 02:20:37 pm »
I have been exploring the same option and several others. My wife rides, but has not interested in riding across America on roads. I also have a few concerns about her safety alone in the desolate areas along the Southern Tier, her boredom, the lack of communications between rider and SAG (no cell coverage), and for me the heat, and the long distances without services. I too am in my 60's, even older than you, and did a lot "back in the day" and we do annual 7-10 day bike treks (Pre-COVID). Pounding out back-to-back centuries takes its toll, and it sounds like you are planning on more of a speed ride than a tour.

I would ask, what is your WHY? Why do you want to ride across America. I have been struggling with that since it is one the last items on my adventure bucket list that requires physical stamina. I have been looking at the Rails-to-Trails route, thinking about using two cars and a travel trailer and section riding with my wife from coast to coast. My current decision is to ride solo on the Trans America and take my time and tour.

I used Google maps and virtually rode  over 1,000 miles of the routes and spent a long time imagining riding each route, day-after-day in heat and rain.

Several years ago I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail, 174 days, 2,175 miles. There are days when it was like having a job, and you had to walk 15 miles whether you wanted to our not. I started out as a speed hiker and met an older hiker who had done the trek before and he gave me some sound advice -- Slow down and enjoy the hike, I will probably never get another chance to do this again. Savor every mile, take in every view, there is no trophy for finishing fast.
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline dogdad

Re: Transcontinental, Southern Tier with hotels & sag wagon - QUESTIONS
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2020, 02:38:25 pm »
This is what I learned. The TA is great in Oregon, Idaho, MT WY, CO, KY and VA. Great sites, great route. Challenging at times but always something nearby. However, east of Pueblo, CO all the way to Newton, KS I took US 50 as this is the old Santa Fe trail and there are so many historical places to see along the way. Towns are regularly spaced, the road has a very wide shoulder. I have driven the TA route which is just north of US 50. While a good road, not as much on the route or near the route. Not as many towns either. I took my time, 60 miles was a long day. Usually I just did about 50 miles. As I have COPD I had to stop and rest my lungs every few days. When I did this I got a rental car and spent a couple days, sometimes more, seeing the sights in the area. Then I would turn the car in and start pedaling again for about a week. Repeat. Worked pretty well. Always check at the local visitors center. ALWAYS. I have also ridden across Washington State on the Northern Tier which is the Cascade Highway. It is very pretty and t times challenging. Scary as the shoulders for the most part are non-existent and those logging trucks are big. They do a great job sharing the road. There are plenty of places to stay along this route and the scenery is awesome. Great people along the route too.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Transcontinental, Southern Tier with hotels & sag wagon - QUESTIONS
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2020, 10:00:48 pm »
You can find hotels and motels and hostels through google. It is easy to plan ahead. I have cycled across he USA several times. I used road maps and had no plans. Everything turned out fine. The ACA maps are there for a reason. They will be to your advantage.

Offline KanyChandler

Planning overnight stops can be tricky, but there are plenty of resources out there to help you find accommodation along the way. You might want to check out websites like or Airbnb to search for accommodation near your planned route. As for planning for 60-100 miles per day, it sounds like you've got a solid foundation with your previous cycling experience. Just make sure to take breaks when you need to, stay hydrated, and listen to your body.

I haven't done a transcontinental trip with vehicle support myself, but I'm sure there are plenty of cyclists out there who have. You might want to check out online forums or social media groups dedicated to long-distance cycling to connect with others who have done similar trips. Also, if you're ever looking for accommodation near Broadbeach QLD, I've heard great things about the area - lots of beautiful beaches and great restaurants. Best of luck with your trip planning!
« Last Edit: May 12, 2023, 06:13:06 am by KanyChandler »

Offline aggie

The ACA maps have a little bit of information on hotels along the route.  I did the Southern Tier as self supported and stayed in hotels along the way.  I would use the ACA maps and google maps to see what options were available as I was riding the route.  I would usually make a reservation a day or two in advance.  Nice to have a sag vehicle so if a problem arises it can pick you to stay in the next town and then bring you back to where you got picked.

The day I couldn’t make the needed miles was just before Langtry, TX.  Strong headwinds and awful chipseal made for shorter mileage day.  With a sag vehicle you should do great.

Offline ray b

I'm with HikeBikeCook.

Your wife better have something to do during the day for those 6-8 hours she's not driving.

If I wanted a fully sagged trip across the US, I'd probably go with one of the ACA groups. If you throw in wear and tear on vehicles and perhaps relationships, it looks cost-efficient.

That said, at an age older than you, I understand the importance of dictating one's own pace, something not easily done in a group, which is why I run "self-supported." Of course, I also have a wife who likes to ask, "Back already?" on my return home from months-long trips..., so..., important to work out how your wife is going to enjoy her side of the trip.

The ACA map app will not transfer to another format. One stil has to purchase the GPX files separately from ACA. Of course, as a belt and suspenders guy, I usually have the route on my phone, Garmin, and on paper....

Fun for everyone. Enjoy.
“A good man always knows his limitations.”