Author Topic: i would love some advice  (Read 9313 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline intothewild

i would love some advice
« on: October 21, 2006, 02:26:12 pm »
hello all,
i really want to ride across America and may have the opportunity to do so this upcoming summer (2007). I am also new to touring though and would appreciate any advice that anyone can give as i prepare.  I have about 60 days to work with from about June 16th to August 18th (i started teaching so i have the summer off). I'm a pretty avid road/commuter cyclist and will be purchasing a bike that is suited for touring (strongly considering a Trek 520 - hopefully used and inexpensive).  I plan on solely camping and want to cook my food with my backpacking stove (if this is feasible).  I also plan on going solo right now.  So, any advice about gear, bikes, touring in general, and especially routes (TransAm vs TransAm/Western Express vs. Southern Tier) would be much apreciated.  I know this is a broad request so feel free to focus on one thing in particular.  Thanks for your help!

an eager newbie

Offline 2010

i would love some advice
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2006, 09:54:22 pm »
My only comment is about your choice of bicycle...Here is a quote I tend to live by, "When you buy quality you cry only once." A used TREK 520? Expand your horizons!

Offline valygrl

i would love some advice
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2006, 11:07:58 pm »

Hey, I don't know what 2010 means, I love my 520, crossed the country on it very happily.  You can spend more, but you don't have to.  Just make sure you get a good fit.

Your request is way broad.  In terms of your route, I would suggest that 60 days might be a little short for any of those routes except the southern tier, but july-august is the wrong time for the that - seriously way too hot!  You don't want to have to rush, one of the greatest things about touring, especially solo, is the ability to just do whatever the heck you feel like doing, whenever you feel like it.  If you can manage 10 or 11 weeks you should be able to get across pretty comfortably.  

The TransAm is particularly long.  The Western Express is particulary remote, as in lots of very long stretches of no services including water, and depending on which direction you are going, could also be too hot (august).

Do consider the Lewis and Clark route, I did a portion of it from Astoria to Missoula, then made my own way to New Jersey.  I absolutely loved the L&C. Northern Tier looks awesome too.  Also, if you don't feel a real *need* to go across, the Pacific Coast is abslolutely stellar, and has a pretty compelling 'story' too (canada to mexico).  

Go over to for lots of tour journals, many of which have useful equipment lists.

Camping and cooking is totally feasible, but it's nice to stay indoors every once in a while, if you can afford it.

Have a great time riding, and planning!

Offline ptaylor

i would love some advice
« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2006, 11:23:27 pm »
Hi into.

Be sure to read the articles in the HOW-TO DEPARTMENT.

I agree that the Trek 520 is one of several good choices. There are other good choices too. Just be sure to get a low granny gear. For some reason, Trek has the gear too high for loaded touring. The HOW-TO DEPARTMENT has good advice on gears, gear, and touring in general.


Offline intothewild

i would love some advice
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2006, 05:29:10 pm »
thank you all for your advice.  it sounds like 60 days may be pushing it for any of the routes.  i might be able to get 70 days (i'll just have to work it out with the school i work at) but it's going to be during the summer regardless.  i really don't want to rush; so if 70 days is still pushing it, i may look at some other rides (valygrl, thanks for suggesting some).  Also, thanks for the resources (valygrl, for and ptaylor, for the How-To Department).  They both have a lot of info that is very helpful for planning this trip.  thanks again and any more wisdom is of course welcome.

an appreciative and eager newbie

Offline John Nettles

i would love some advice
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2006, 03:13:20 pm »
I have crossed the country on the pacific coast, northern tier, trans-am, and east coast (older route) along with some "my design" routes.  I did the northern tier in 65 days but it was a tad rough as the miles get high per riding day.  Remember, you will need/want to take a day off every 7-10 to rest, sightsee, etc. so the riding average can really get up there.

I agree with valygirl that you can consider other "cross country" routes.  You also have the Great River route in central but have only done a portion of it.

Another option is to consider a multi-country route, i.e. Pueblo, CO (or Jackson, WY to save time) to Jasper, AB but you would want to plan on rest days every 5-7 days due to the wonderful national parks you would be visiting.

You are smart buying a used high-end touring bike.  I use a 17 year-old Bruce Gordon that is probably better than most new bikes.  Be sure you have strong wheels, good racks, buy used decent packs (Beckman or Arkel), and tent/sleeping bag.  You can put the money into other areas instead of a new bike.

Be sure to plan a few days back home before you return to work to readjust to "life".  Numerous funny stories of how we have to readjust, i.e. not thinking about taking TP with you in case there is any.

Have a wonderful trip!

Happy trails and may the wind be at your back!


Offline litespeed

i would love some advice
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2006, 11:44:07 pm »
I agree with valygrl that you might consider doing the west coast for your first major tour. It is epically scenic with plenty of tail winds and you'll meet lots of other touring cyclists. Or even the east coast if that's where you live. 60 days is a bit tight across the country unless you do the southern part or have little trouble with 100+ miles a day. I'll admit, though, that my trips across the country have always been under 60 days - usually well under.
A very important thing is good, sturdy wheels and, even more important, good tires. I use Continental Top Touring tires. I replace them every 2000 miles and rotate them halfway - 1000 miles out. And don't forget the tire liners. I use Mr. Tuffy's.

Offline BrianCM

i would love some advice
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2006, 02:55:33 am »
The most important thing is that you need a bike that won't break.  After that, its just a matter of will power.

I have ridden from St. Paul, MN, to Denver, CO, on a single-speed coaster brake bike, cobbled together from junkyard parts.  That was not fun, but it was done due to lack of money and car.  At the end of the trip I was doing 100 miles a day, simply by getting up early and riding until late.  I had wire pannier racks on the back, and that was it for carrying stuff.  The trip lasted 13 days.

Once you have a good bike, adjust it as you need to for your fit and comfort.  My Giant Sedona has been tweaked over 10 years of use into something that is very nearly perfect for me.  I do my shopping with it, and I use Ortlieb panniers.

For your trip, I would recommend that you do some weekend camping first.  Then you will know what you should take and what you can leave behind.

Offline intothewild

i would love some advice
« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2006, 02:30:59 pm »
Again, thanks for the advice.  I'm definitely considering some different routes now.  I really want my first tour to be fun and all about the journey, not rushed and just focused on making it to a destination.  Plus, (like TulsaJohn advised - and thanks for it) i'd like a few days to "readjust" before jumping right back into work.  Right now, i'm strongly considering what you all have been advising: the Atlantic Coast (i live outside DC so it's convenient b/c i know people up and down the coast though i knod of want something more new to me), the Pacific Coast (it sounds amazing thus far), or the Great Parks (i love camping, mountains, and the outdoors so there is strong appeal for this one).  Thanks also for the advice about gear.  Once i get some, it sounds like doing a couple of weekend trips with it all will help get a feel for what i'll need on the trip and what it will be like.  I plan on seriously training for the trip around March (though i'll still be doing some commuter/road riding all winter).  Any more advice on any of this is again appreciated.  And thanks to all those thus far for sharing your wisdom and experience.

again, an eager and very appreciative newbie

Offline intothewild

i would love some advice
« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2006, 02:39:50 pm »
I have to say too: BrianCM, your trip from St. Paul to Denver sounds pretty crazy.  I can relate to trips/experiences like that.  I have a tendency to just get out there and go whenever i see something that i want to do.  Usually, i just go spontaneously and wing it on the way.  It leads to some really exciting and eventful experiences but it sometimes leads to some rough ones as well.  I'm trying to do this bike tour with much more planning and outside wisdom, so thanks for the advice.

Offline tailwind

i would love some advice
« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2006, 05:09:39 pm »
good components, lots of differant hand positions, old frame... steal, new frame... whatever, rims 32/36, follow your nose, camp by water, head wind...bad, tornados... not fun, plan you direction and your next meal, journal your thoughts not so much action, sore ass, cars fumes suck, no alarm clocks, listen to your body, eat 10000 calories a day, still be hungry, sunscreen, zinc, freedom is free, one less car, one more mile, grow a beard and remember, school starts in september

Offline intothewild

i would love some advice
« Reply #11 on: November 01, 2006, 06:45:47 pm »
thank you, thank you.  what looks like an honest yet enticing description of the experience.  i say this now in the comfort of my home... but i look forward to it all. challenge, open road, setbacks, struggle, satisfaction, and ultimately... freedom.  thanks for the insight.

Offline escourtu

i would love some advice
« Reply #12 on: November 11, 2006, 09:03:48 am »
Ditch the camp stove unless you want coffee. Personally I would go with Military MRE's. They are compact, give you plenty of nutrition, and are pretty descent tasting. There is MRE heaters that you just add a tiny bit of water and they get steaming hot. You could buy a case of them and never have to worry about food along the way. I use them hiking and biking and they are perfect for over the road meals. Plus you don't need to carry pots, pans, bowls,plates, etc.

Offline BrianCM

i would love some advice
« Reply #13 on: November 11, 2006, 04:43:20 pm »
The military MRE (Meal, Rejected by Ethiopians) is not something that I can recommend from personal experience.  (I can recommend C rations, but not MREs.)  Since you want to ride across the country, you can't pack enough MREs with you.  Keep the stove.

I used an MSR Dragonfly stove for about a year as my primary stove.  Its a good stove, and allows for simmering foods.  The XGK stove is fine for when you don't need much range in heat output.  Both are very, very tough and take a wide range of fuels.  Other stoves, such as Coleman, may break and leak fuel in the worst places, like the pre-heat tube.

There are good books on one-pot cooking.  Do an Amazon search on "one pan gourmet" and you will come up with an assortment of books by Don Jacobson.  These have a number of excellent recommendations and recipes in them for simple cooking.  When I went on my trek many years ago, I ate a lot of day-old bread.  IIRC, there wasn't any cooking and I was eating out of cans and fresh food for other sustenance.

Offline BrianCM

i would love some advice
« Reply #14 on: November 11, 2006, 05:30:47 pm »
One of the things you might investigate are the people who hike the Pacific Crest Trail.  Look for their eating habits.  A friend of mine hiked it back-to-back, and he said that he cooked and ate in the morning, instead of in the evening.  He said he slept better and had more energy.  Also, he used foods that didn't require much cooking.  He pre-planned his meals with drops to post offices, noted for "Name, general delivery."  Then he had someone send out the parcels at intervals, timed to get there a day or two before he arrived.  He planned out his meals according to that "eat right for your boodtype" diet, and he investigated using high-energy natural foods like dates and royal honey.

If you go the low-cooking route, you may want to take a look at candle stoves using beeswax from Pheylonian.  These seem to be pretty good, and I'm going to investigate using them for cooking.  If you like Candle Lanterns, they sell them along with beeswax candles for those lanterns.

Added: Hiking journal for Glen Hubble

This message was edited by BrianCM on 11-11-06 @ 1:36 PM