Author Topic: Transcontinental touring.  (Read 18965 times)

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Offline Westinghouse

Transcontinental touring.
« on: September 26, 2008, 12:13:34 pm »
I have cycled 34,000 miles through 19 countries, and six times across the USA. I rough camp most of the time, and use motels on occasion. I am considering another US transcon in a year or two. I might be trying to locate a cycling partner for that one some time now or in the future.

Offline Westinghouse

Transcontinental touring.
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2008, 01:32:27 pm »
A friend of mine and I have been talking about a transcon. So far we have hit on going diagonally across the USA from Florida to Seattle or Portland. I figure that would be 90 days or more. Another thought discussed was the pacific coast route in summer. We also thought on the southern tier from Florida to San Diego in winter.

This friend is new to touring. In fact, his only tour has been 250 miles from here to Key West, and that was with me. He screwed up so much I left him in Key West. It took us 5 1/2 days to get there with him. I got back alone in 2 1/2 days. He took the Greyhound bus.

This poor guy wanted to bring everything with him but the kitchen sink. By the time he was loaded he had more weight than I would carry on an around the world expedition. His rack broke. He messed up his wheel by jumping curbs. He left behind gear I told him to take, and took what I told him to leave behind. Then, when that gear was needed he bummed off of me leaving me at a disadvantage. He got us nearly attacked and killed by some deranged homeless man. He missed a point where we were supposed to meet. He got us off on some long wild goose chase setting us back miles. He would not listen to any advice. That was why I left him in Key West.

Now he talks like he and I will cycle across America together. If he wants to he had better be willing to listen to and follow the voice of experience, and if not, it would be much better doing it alone.

Offline Westinghouse

Transcontinental touring.
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2008, 01:32:20 pm »
What this country needs is a good, dedicated, transcontinental, bicycle path. A good model for such a path can be found in the Tammany Trace running some 31 miles from Slidell, Louisiana to around Covington. It is about 12 feet wide, smooth asphalt, with picnic tables along the way. A transcon bike path would need to have basic shelters every so often, like the sort they have along the Appalachian trail.

Google Tammany Trace, and you can see pictures of it.

This message was edited by Westinghouse on 10-22-08 @ 8:52 AM

Offline staehpj1

Transcontinental touring.
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2008, 09:00:15 am »
I'm not sure what the deal is with this thread, it just seems to be random series of somewhat unrelated (to each other) comments where you reply to yourself.

On the notion of a dedicated transcontinental bike path...  I don't see the need.  Much of the US can be crossed using rural roads and passing through small towns.

We have rail trails and MUPs similar to the Tammany Trace here and I don't think I would want to go cross country on them.  They are well suited to multi-use including casual cycling, but not so much so for touring or any other less casual form of riding.

They typically don't offer camping although there are exceptions like the C&O Towpath and the KATY Trail.

I have my doubts as to whether there is much demand for a dedicated transcontinental bike path.  I think it would be pretty expensive to construct and maintain.  I doubt that it would see much use in remote areas.  Additionally it would reinforce anti bike folks opinions that we should be on a bike path rather than on the road.

It seems really odd to me that someone who has "cycled 34,000 miles through 19 countries, and six times across the USA" and who "rough camps" most of the time would see any use for such a path.

All that said there is an effort to build the American Discovery Trail.  It would be way down on my list of possible bike routes across the US, but check it out if you are interested at:

All three Adventure Cycling cross country routes would be preferable to me and when I did cross the US I picked the Trans America.  Next time I will probably do the Northern Tier or some variation of it.

This message was edited by staehpj1 on 10-2-08 @ 6:05 AM

Offline mimbresman

Transcontinental touring.
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2008, 10:06:59 am »
I agree that there is no need for a trans-con bicycle path.
I did the Katy this past summer and it was fun and all. Not much in topography, but it was okay. It by-passed a lot of small towns that might have been interesting to see. I did meet some locals. They were fun to talk too. Of course there were a few locals that thought we (me and my companions) were nuts.  
There are tons of rural roads out there, that are perfect for cycle touring, plus there is the whole new element of dirt touring. I'll seriously be considering combining the Colorado/Wyoming/Idaho/Montana sections of the GDMBR with the Trans-America when I do the Trans-Am. It'll depend on the bike I'll be riding...either my 26" wheeled Litespeed mtn bike, or my old 27" wheeled Univega touring bike, or a new new bike yet to be purchased...a 29" Coconino? mmmmm!

This message was edited by mimbresman on 10-2-08 @ 7:09 AM

Offline Westinghouse

Transcontinental touring.
« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2008, 10:38:15 am »
I have heard and read about the Katy trail. I did some research to link up bike trails across the USA. I found that from the east coast of Virginia one can cycle through a greenway at D.C., then to Georgetown, and follow a series of canal tow paths through Maryland and west across southern Pennsylvania to Pittsburg. Then there is some road cycling.

Once in Ohio there is a series of bike paths running roughly north and south. South of Ohio there is quite a bit of road travel. Then you get on the Kady trail which will run you south and southwest, and let you out near an entry point to ACA's Transam route. From there it is on to Pueblo, north to Denver, and then 10,000 feet into the clouds. From there follow the Transam route---AND YOU HAVE ARRIVED.

This message was edited by Westinghouse on 10-27-08 @ 3:59 PM

Offline Westinghouse

Transcontinental touring.
« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2008, 10:50:35 am »
I did 2600 miles on the northern tier beginning in Seattle and then going to Ana Cortes. It was quite good. I got along the Mississippi, went south, and cut off to Chicago before getting to Davenport, Iowa. Something important came up, an emergency, and I had to cut the trip short.

There are two routes along the Mississippi. One is right on the river. It is full of short, steep, abrupt hills, and can be very difficult. The other is farther west and away from the river banks and not nearly as hilly. I got caught out in some really bad weather, and spent the night in the number 1 fire department in Minneapolis when the worst storm since the early 1800s blew through. It killed people and leveled communities.

There is a lot of very beautiful scenery across the northern tier. There are Glacier National Park, the Going to the Sun Highway, and Logan Pass at the continental divide all in one strip. There is a station at the top of Logan Pass. I got there at night, so it was closed.

Offline bagoh20

Transcontinental touring.
« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2008, 12:33:50 am »
I'm considering doing a cross country this spring 09.  I would like to go from LA to NYC or Jersey shore.  This would be my first time.  I currently commute about 30 miles a day to work.  I'm 50 yrs old so I'll need to keep it slow and steady not trying to break any records.  How many miles a day is reasonable on this trip in both mountains and flatland?  And does anybody have suggestions for where I could get more info?  Also, there does not seem to be any direct route from LA to Utah on the routes shown on this site.  Any Ideas?

Offline staehpj1

Transcontinental touring.
« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2008, 09:50:33 am »
Number of miles per day...
I was 56 when I did the Trans America, so our ages are similar enough.  We averaged 60 miles per day including days off (we didn't take many days off).  My suggestion is to take it easy for the first few days and hit your stride after a week of riding.  Personally I try to maintain a pace that does not require full days of rest and prefer to take a half day once in a while instead.  There isn't much point in pushing for a really long day and then crashing in a motel for a day or more to recover.  Save the rest days for places where you really want to spend a day and do something.

On the route...
I would probably just start farther north (take the train?) and use the Trans America or the Northern Tier routes.  You could also start in SF and use the Western Express to connect to the TA.

You say Spring of 09...
Consider starting in the East if you want to start much before June.  The weather will work out much better that way for the Rockies and the humid east. The winds for the E-W vs W-E part of the trip are a crap shoot.  The part of the trip where they were the biggest factor they are likely to be from the SE, so I think the edge goes to traveling E-W, but I wouldn't let the winds be a deciding factor unless you decide to ride on the west coast, there you want to go N-S for sure.

This message was edited by staehpj1 on 10-4-08 @ 6:53 AM

Offline Westinghouse

Transcontinental touring.
« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2008, 11:59:18 am »
Mileage can vary so much from day to day. You can be on the road at eight, and make forty miles by noon. Another day you can be on the road by eight, and not make forty miles until four p.m. Some days total fifty miles, another day 82, another day 67, another day 54, another day 91, another day 45, another day 120.

I did a 3700 miles bike trip across the USA in 66 days total, but 54 days of actual cycling. That averaged about 70 miles per day. I cycled from South Florida to Bangor, Maine in twenty days, averaging about 85 miles per day. My daily average on the pacific coast bike route was low by comparison because there were so many hills, but mileage did not matter because the scenery was so great.

I once did 250 miles with a lot of city cycling in two and one half days.

As for LA to New Jersey, you can take the Transam to Colorado and across to the Katy Trail, take it to the end, go north to Ohio where a number of bike trails can take you to Pittsburg. From there the tow paths will take you off road to Washington, D.C. You can get over to Delmarva and get the Lewes-Cape May ferry to N.J.

If you take the ACA trail you will most likely meet other cyclists.

This message was edited by Westinghouse on 10-27-08 @ 4:00 PM

Offline staehpj1

Transcontinental touring.
« Reply #10 on: October 04, 2008, 01:43:09 pm »
Just a clarification...
I count ALL days in the average including days off so Westinghouse's 3700 mile trip would have been counted as 56 miles per day not 70.

Nothing wrong with either way of counting just as long as it is clear.

I find that his examples of daily mileages are spot on with my experience.  I just take less days off.

On our 4244 mile 73 day TA we took one day to go whitewater rafting and and one day for one of our party to recover after a crash (I went out and rode 40 miles that day anyway even though I had a net gain of minus 4 or something for the day).

We did take some 30-40 mile days where we did laundry, site seeing, hiking, swimming, shopping, or just reading for the afternoon.  I prefer that to actual days off.

This message was edited by staehpj1 on 10-4-08 @ 10:44 AM

Offline wanderingwheel

Transcontinental touring.
« Reply #11 on: October 04, 2008, 02:32:07 pm »
Heading east from LA is tough.  You don't have too many options on how to get out of California, and none of them are benevolent to the unprepared cyclist.  Regardless of which way you, you will have to cross some long, desolate, hot, and dry stretches of desert.  You will probably also need to spend some time on the interstate.  

One option is to head due east through 29 Palms, into Arizona towards Phoenix, and then begin to angle northward towards to Boulder to pick up the Trans-Am.  Another option is to head northeast towards Las Vegas, and then into the beautiful riding of southern Utah, and then pick up the Western Express in eastern Utah or even Montrose, Colorado.  One more option is to head north up beautiful 395, and then across Nevada thorough Tonopah and meet the Western Express in Ely.  All of these routes can be wonderful and I've done all or large portions of each of them, but I'm having a hard time suggesting one over the others.  Regardless, this will probably be the most difficult part of your trip because of the desert environment and lack of services.  For turn-by-turn directions, look for a Route 66 guide, or even the Race Across America (RAAM) routes.

At the other end, you can go all the way to the end of the Trans-Am and then pick up the Eastern Seaboard.  It's a nice ride and won't add too many extra miles.  Personally, I'd be tempted to stay in the Appalachians and follow them north into Pennsylvania, and then head east into New York or New Jersey.  Pennsylvania has an excellent set of cross-state bike routes to follow, another resource may be RAAM again since they often end in Atlantic City.

When I tour, I average 80-100 miles on the bike, but take at least one day off a week.  Unlike the others, I prefer full days off rather than half days.  In the end, we all end up at about the same speed.  I find that I ride nearly the same number of miles per day in the mountains as the flats.  30 miles a day commuting should be excellent preparation for your tour.  Consider doing a few full day rides on the weekend as your tour nears, and riding with your gear (or weights) so that you get used to the handling of the bike.


Offline staehpj1

Transcontinental touring.
« Reply #12 on: October 04, 2008, 03:47:23 pm »
Sean said. "Unlike the others, I prefer full days off rather than half days."

In fairness I should say that I am probably in the small minority in advising skipping days off.  Almost everyone I have heard comment on this takes full days off.

Still I am convinced that my way works better, at least for me.  To me, it really isn't any less restful to ride for 30 miles in the morning at an easy pace than taking a full day off.  I am pretty sure both of my companions om the Trans America would advise it too, but other than the three of us I can't claim that I know of others who have advocated it.  I suspect it would work well for at least some others if they tried it, but don't assume it will for you just because I advise it.

If you want to try my way the key is to use a pace that you can maintain.  That way you can make progress every day.  Even on our two days off we didn't actually stay the same place twice.  I like it that way others may not.

Offline bagoh20

Transcontinental touring.
« Reply #13 on: October 04, 2008, 05:41:28 pm »
Thanks a lot guys for all the input.  I've never really attempted to do more than about 40 miles in a day.  I know I could but, I'm most concerned about the mountainous parts.  I hate hills.  What about equipment?  Is there need for a more all purpose bike or can you use a pure road bike with narrow tires.  I ride a mountain type bike every day on the street. It doesn't really roll all that efficient with the fat tires.  How much equipment do you carry weight wise.

Offline staehpj1

Transcontinental touring.
« Reply #14 on: October 05, 2008, 11:05:02 am »
Have no fear.  My daughter hated hills and pretty much sucked at riding them before our big tour.  A week into our Trans America she was absolutely kicking @ss on the climbs.  Just take it easy to start, and a week to ten days into the trip both the daily mileage and the climbing will come together.  Avoid the pattern of knocking yourself out and then needing to veg out in a motel for one or more days.  Try for a daily pace that is at least somewhat sustainable especially in the beginning.  If you take rest days let them be fun not just crashing because you are exhausted.

FWIW: As long as you have low enough gearing all the climbs in the Cascades and Rockies were quite do-able.

The Appalachians were the tough part due to the much steeper grades.  The climbs there were fairly short so walking for a couple miles would be an option.

On the bike, I prefer a dedicated touring bike, but any bike could possibly work.

Weight of stuff carried?  Try to shoot for 30 pounds or so and try REALLY hard to stay below 40.  After you have been on the road a bit reevaluate each item and mail stuff home that you find you don't absolutely need.  Do that periodically on the trip.

This message was edited by staehpj1 on 10-5-08 @ 8:09 AM