Author Topic: Doing A TransAm Ride  (Read 5910 times)

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Offline chasl84

Doing A TransAm Ride
« on: July 23, 2008, 09:22:55 pm »
I am organizing a cross country ride starting in the West and heading
East in May of 2009.  There will be 4 of us (right now) doing this trip
and we'd like to complete it in 60 days. I have done multi-day rides,
but nothing of this magnitude.  I have lots of questions for anyone who
has done this sort of adventure.  Anyone who has trained for such a
ride could probably give us pointers on training, equipment to bring,
problems that we might incur, and the cost involved.  I should point
out that we are planning to have a support van travel along with the 3
riders.  We will be going from San Francisco to Yorktown, VA.  I hope
whoever answers will be patient with us and offer his/her best advice.


  • Guest
Doing A TransAm Ride
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2008, 08:20:04 am »
Hi there, Unnamed One:

... training, equipment to bring, problems that we might incur, and the cost ...

An excellent place to start is the How-To department linked on the Adventure Cycling home page. Then browse the Library Archive for relevant articles.

Come on back here with more specific questions as they arise. The forum is better at those than general topics.


Offline staehpj1

Doing A TransAm Ride
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2008, 08:49:59 am »
My advice would be to have plenty of saddle time in, but I don't think you need to really train for a trip that long.  I advise starting out with shortish days and easing into it training as you go.

On our TA we preferred to not take rest days but rather to take a 30 mile day when we wanted a rest.  It is nice to take a day off to do something cool, but sitting around in a motel is no fun.  So I advise taking a day to DO something, but forgetting the days to rest.

I assume that since you are starting in SF that you will be taking the WE so that cuts some miles and makes the trip a bit shorter.  We took 73 days to do the TA, but we were self supported, so 60 days is certainly possible with car support.  That said it is really good to have an open ended schedule.  Having a firm deadline really takes away from the trip.  If possible have an extra week or so available.  You probably won't need it but it takes the pressure off.

Something to consider...
We found we liked being self supported.  I think we got more invites to stay and had an easier time getting permission to camp for free or cheap when we had no motor vehicle.  Some places like the state and national parks would guarantee a site if you arrive by bike.  With a car you won't have that.  I also think we met more people than we would have with a support vehicle along.  The feeling of self reliance greatly enhanced the trip for us.  We were jealous of the guys who didn't have to haul their own stuff on the bigger climbs though.

A good way to get info is by reading the journals on the Crazy Guy site.  You might start with our's at:
and this one is some guys we met who had a support vehicle at least a good bit of the way:

I tried to cover a lot of stuff you might want to know in our journal, but I would be happy to answer any questions that I can.

Have a great trip.

Offline chasl84

Doing A TransAm Ride
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2008, 08:13:57 pm »
Thank you Fred.  Will Check out the site you mentioned and get back
with you.  


Offline chasl84

Doing A TransAm Ride
« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2008, 08:22:18 pm »
Thanks for the info.  We are all interested in making this ride as easy as
possible because of the enomity of the trip.  One guy has never done
any serious ride and we're sort of worried about his durability in the
climbing areas of the trip.  Hence, the need for a support van.  
Personally, I feel if we can do 60 miles per day that would be great and
Zi do know there will be times when the climbing days may take a bit
more out of us.  These are the days when 30-40 miles would be the
best bet.  will touch base with your sites and see what they have to
offer.  Thanks again.


Offline staehpj1

Doing A TransAm Ride
« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2008, 09:20:31 pm »
Supported rides can be great but they do have their drawbacks.  The trip will be great either way, just don't be too quick to decide.

There is nothing wrong with supported riding, but don't go that route only because "One guy has never done
any serious ride".  On our TA last year one of the riders wasn't a cyclist until she decided to go about 8 weeks before the the trip. She had a handful of training rides in, but the longest was about 30 miles.  The other had ridden more in her life but not for a while and had the same training rides in before the trip.  Her longest ride in her life pre tour was 42 miles.  Neither had ever carried gear on their bike until we left on the trip.

We just started at an easy pace and built the mileage as we went.  They did great.  By the time we got to McKenzie Pass they were ready and they just kept getting stronger as the trip went on.  By the time we were in the Rockies they were doing 85 mile days in 100 degree heat with multiple mountain passes in the same day some days.

They had 8 weeks to get ready, your guy has 10 months, so it may not be as much of an issue as you expect.

Another thing to keep in mind is that if group dynamics melt down, you may want to be able to complete the trip on your own.  Even if I was to go supported, I would have a contingency plan to ride unsupported if necessary.  We met a few riders whose groups had split up due to personality conflicts, it happens.

Do you have a driver or are you going to have to take turns?  Personally I would want to be able to say I rode the whole way and you can't do that if you have to share the driving.

This message was edited by staehpj1 on 7-24-08 @ 5:23 PM

Offline chasl84

Doing A TransAm Ride
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2008, 05:17:07 pm »
The ride will be with one driver and a very good friend of mine.  he was
supposed to ride, but his doctor recommended he not do it due to a
knee problem.  He intends to do the whole route behind the wheel.

 You are right about a conflict with riders.  Had a long conversation
with a fella who did a TransAm along the Southern route (too hot for
me), and mentioned the very fact you mentioned about ending up by
himself.  A very good thing to keep in mind.  

How about the cost factor?  Going unsupported, no doubt, saved you a
lot of money, but if you were to make a guess, what can you figure
you'd spend/day/rider?  I'm talking about food, lodging (if you stayed
in a motel periodically), etc.  I've heard figures mentioned around $35-
$45/day would be reasonable(???)


Offline DaveB

Doing A TransAm Ride
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2008, 10:44:02 pm »
I've heard figures mentioned around $35-$45/day...  
That sounds low to me. A hotel room is going to cost $50 - $100/night even if all of you share one room.  Campgrounds are not free, even if they are National Park or local Park campgrounds and commercial ones approach motel prices.  

Unless you are buying all of your food at grocery stores and sharing the cost, restaurant meals will cost that much and more a day and you will eat a LOT.

One more thing, your van will struggle to get 20mpg and 60 miles/day is at least three gallons of gas or $12 at today's prices.  

For two or more people traveling together, I'd allot an absolute minimum of $50/day and don't be surprised if you spend more.

As an example, on week long supported organized rides (like GOBA, RAGBRAI, etc.) where all of the transportation, "lodging", etc. is taken care of in advance, I find I spend about $30-$35/day just for food and I don't eat in lavish restaurants either.

This message was edited by DaveB on 7-25-08 @ 6:44 PM

Offline staehpj1

Doing A TransAm Ride
« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2008, 07:35:53 am »
I didn't keep good records, but we spent less than the mentioned $35-45 per day.  Food was widely variable and you can spend a lot or get off cheap with either supported or unsupported.  Cold drinks and snacks added up a lot more than we expected, but lodging was way less than we expected.  So I will only address lodging.  

We managed to stay for free a good bit (maybe half?) of the time.  We split the cost of campsites three ways so average campsite fee was probably less than $5 per person if you average in all of the free stays. Some people will want to get a room more often, but we really didn't feel the need.

We only paid a lot (~$30/3) a couple times.  We got a room once ($50/3), a cabin once ($20/3), and a tepee once ($20/3).  We stayed in churches and city parks a lot and were invited to stay in peoples homes a few times.  We had friends and relatives put us up a few times including one hotel stay.

I bought an inexpensive (but new) bike, racks, panniers, airfare, ground transportation, and some of the gear I didn't already have as well as all the expenses (including, but not limited to food and lodging) for 73 days along the way all for about $3000.

This message was edited by staehpj1 on 7-26-08 @ 3:37 AM

Offline chasl84

Doing A TransAm Ride
« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2008, 05:18:37 pm »
Dave,  Thanks for your thoughts.  Will take your ideas to heart.  I'm
also wondering what the price of gas will be a year from now.  Doing a
3100 plus mile trip will probably cost us a bit more than 35-45
dollars/day (exclusive of gas money). Thanks for your imput and if you
have any other bits of info, it would be greatly appreciated.


Offline chasl84

Doing A TransAm Ride
« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2008, 05:29:13 pm »
Staehpj1,  Thanks for your input and you made a point that a few
others have told us, that being some people were generous enough to
let you stay overnight for practically zilch.  We're doing this ride mainly
for the experience and at the same time we will be riding to help
support the Lance Armstrong Foundation.  $ we raise through pledges
will go mostly to the LAF, but some of that will also go to defray some
of our expenses.  When we start our campaign (this Fall) the LAF is
going to help us with advertising, etc. for the ride.  Our hope is that we
will receive some attention nationally and people will be willing to give
us some help along the way.  We all work for the US Postal Service and
you know who supported Lance when he was riding in most of the
Tours, right?  Our hope is to be able to promote this through the PO
and the LAF to raise a goodly amount.  Wish us well and thanks for the
info. We appreciate all the help we can get.

Offline staehpj1

Doing A TransAm Ride
« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2008, 08:39:43 pm »
You will be able to stay for free a lot of the time even if you have a car along.  I am pretty sure that many of the city parks will still let you stay and probably most of the churches will too.  The hiker biker sites will not and in places like Yellowstone it will be a bit trickier to be sure you have a campsite.  

All in all, you can get by pretty cheaply if you want.

I advise that you use the city parks and churches listed as free on the AC maps and also that you compare notes with other riders going the opposite way for good info on places to stay and so on.

When in doubt ask the locals.  We found the sheriff's office to be a good place to start asking in towns where you don't know where to stay.  Store clerks, and wait staff were also good for leads.  We mainly only to do this when we chose to leave the AC route for one reason or another.

I hope you have a great trip!