Author Topic: Bicycle Trip form Arizona to Alaska  (Read 14038 times)

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Offline ultratastybagel

Bicycle Trip form Arizona to Alaska
« on: October 09, 2008, 05:30:49 pm »
A few of my friends and I have been inspired to ride our bikes from Arizona to Alaska. We are only eighteen and have no real bike experience. We have no route chosen yet, but have figured out some training routes to start riding. If any of you have stories, advice, or comments please share them we will be grateful. Thank you.


Offline whittierider

Bicycle Trip form Arizona to Alaska
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2008, 10:15:41 pm »
It is highly recommended that you go the other direction, because of the prevailing winds.


Offline ultratastybagel

Bicycle Trip form Arizona to Alaska
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2008, 04:47:31 am »
haha I never thought of having to go agienst wind. I hate head wind...and 4,000 miles of it would not be enjoyable.


Offline meandangel

Bicycle Trip form Arizona to Alaska
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2008, 10:09:24 am »
why alaska? I'm leaving on sunday, it's been snowing and it sucks, and raining too. during summer would be better, but still is a very long way to go.


Offline staehpj1

Bicycle Trip form Arizona to Alaska
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2008, 11:13:28 am »
When you say, "It is highly recommended that you go the other direction, because of the prevailing winds" what are you basing that on?

If it is just the prevailing westerlies, I would question the advice.  Surface winds don't generally follow that pattern at all.  If you have specific advice based on that particular route and actual surface wind conditions that would trump my comments.

I am convinced that for a coast to coast trip on the TA for example the places where the wind matters most (Kansas and Eastern Colorado) are likely to have winds out of the SE in mid Summer.  Places like Wyoming and Montana are tougher to call.  In Canada I have no idea.

Bottom line... I really don't know what is better for this route, but do know that it is probably not wise to count on the prevailing westerlies as a general rule.

Edit: Check this map out


This message was edited by staehpj1 on 10-10-08 @ 8:27 AM

Offline Turk

Bicycle Trip form Arizona to Alaska
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2008, 12:02:41 pm »
I did the part from Banff to Jasper many years ago. You can stay in hostels, which I thought were fun. Lots of Brits, geologists, etc. Be prepared for hills. There aren't a lot of stores or restaurants along the way like in Wisconsin, for example. We went in August and had some snow in the mountain passes. There was a lot of traffic but you can bike on the shoulder.


Offline whittierider

Bicycle Trip form Arizona to Alaska
« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2008, 02:42:52 pm »
Quote
When you say, "It is highly recommended that you go the other direction, because of the prevailing winds" what are you basing that on?

In the book "Bicycling the Pacific Coast" by Kirkendall and Spring, the preface is entitled, "Why North to South?"  Here's some of it, telling about Kirkendal's first coast ride, going north.  (I think copyrights allow this since I'm giving credit to the book and it may increase sales of the book.  If the owners of the copyright don't like it, I'll edit this and remove the quote.)

"North of Santa Barbara, encoutered stiff headwinds that blew the fun right out of his adventure.  Scenery and the thrill of exploring became secondary to his daily battle with the wind.  The wind created an invisible, never-ending hill that had to be constantly climbed.  The wind beat dirt into his face, produced an annoying whistling through the vents in his helmet, while attempting to push him back to Mexico.  By San Francisco, riding had become a chore.  In Oregon, 80-mile-per-hour winds blew him to a stop while going down a steep hill.

"When describing that trip, Tom will pull out his trip journal.  The beginning of the journal is full of his thoughts and impressions; in the second half he wrote only of the wind.  His journal describes how he got up early in the morning to avoid the winds that blew strongest in the afternoon.  ...Nowhere in the second half of that book is there any mention of beautiful vista points, magnificent redwood forests, sea otters, sea lions, lighthouses, sand dunes, and fascinating old forts.  Nowhere is there any mention of the word fun.

"The following summer, Tom and I rode back down the coast to prove it can be fun.  It was an incredible trip.  The wind was still blowing but this time it was pushing us south.  Near the Sea Lion Caves in Oregon, I had to apply my brakes to stop on a steep uphill grade....We were surprised to note that the highway department expects cyclists to travel from north to south.  We frequently enjoyed a good shoulder on the southbound side while northbound cyclists had to dodge trucks and cars on a shoulderless roadway."



I'm assuming the trip from Arizona to Alaska would involve getting over to the coast quickly and then going up the coast.  I have not ridden very far north of Santa Barbara, but I can tell you from experience that from there to San Diego the wind, at least in the summer and fall, is much more conducive to going south.  Last summer when we were riding from Santa Barbara to L.A., I especially remember a place we were climbing a grade of 3 or 4% at nearly 30mph because of the tail wind.  Our son looked at me and said, "We are climbing, aren't we??"  I said, "Yeah, isn't this great?!"

The wind will be much better going from the coast to Arizona too, than vice versa.


Offline ultratastybagel

Bicycle Trip form Arizona to Alaska
« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2008, 04:36:33 pm »
We chose to ride form Airzona to Alaska because we want to go to Alaska, and don't have enough money to my motorcycles haha. And instead of flying, we figured riding there would make us appreciate life, and Alaska much more.


 staehpj1, I can't see the map you posted sorry.
Wittrider, I'm going to look up that book you spoke about. It seems awesome. A book called "Into the Wild" also inspired this trip.


Offline staehpj1

Bicycle Trip form Arizona to Alaska
« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2008, 07:41:23 pm »
Yeah.  It showed up from work, but I can't see it from home.  Maybe because work in on the .edu domain.

It basically showed the whole middle of the country north to south with prevailing winds out of the SSE for July.  It would seem to favor heading north toward Alaska during July if you were on the east side of the rockies.  It didn't show what to expect in Canada.



Offline ultratastybagel

Bicycle Trip form Arizona to Alaska
« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2008, 10:41:15 pm »
Thanks. What do you think of buying Spicalized Golbe Sport for the ride? It's only 500 dollars so don't expect anything amazing haha.


Offline whittierider

Bicycle Trip form Arizona to Alaska
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2008, 12:13:50 am »
For an idea of the winds in the southwestern U.S. icluding a good look at the California coast which is similar to the rest of the west coast, see the weather page updated several times a day at http://weather.cbs2.com/US/Region/Southwest/2xRadar.html and after all the thumbnails have loaded, click on the middle one labeled "Wind".  I just now checked, and it shows the last few hours, there has been a 20-25mph wind blowing straight down the coast even though the wind has been blowing north in NM, AZ, TX, OK, KS, etc..  That's pretty typical.

This message was edited by whittierider on 10-10-08 @ 9:14 PM

Offline staehpj1

Bicycle Trip form Arizona to Alaska
« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2008, 08:50:26 am »
The Globe Sport looks like it could work.  Personally I don't like flat bars though.  Would you be ordering it from a local dealer?

If ordering on line any way, I would consider the Windsor Touring for $599 including shipping.  We rode 4244 miles on the Trans America on three of them and were pretty happy with them.  We did swap out the crank ($80) to get lower gearing.  There is some more information in our journal especially in the "what worked and what didn't" section.

See our journal at:
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/staehling2007


Offline ultratastybagel

Bicycle Trip form Arizona to Alaska
« Reply #12 on: October 11, 2008, 02:00:15 pm »
You are correct, I would be getting it form a local dealer. Funny thing, they said it probably wouldn't work because of the deraliur and a few other things.
That trip seemed awesome. Why would have you changed the tire size by just a few millimeters? Does it really make that much of a diffrence? Is that crank you swaped a top of the line crank? Do you think I could just change the bars on the Globe? And would the aluminum fram be okay?


Offline whittierider

Bicycle Trip form Arizona to Alaska
« Reply #13 on: October 11, 2008, 02:33:17 pm »
Quote
Personally I don't like flat bars though.

staehpj1 is right.  Drop bars aren't necessarily any lower but they give you a lot more hand positions to avoid arm fatige on long rides.  I didn't mention it earlier partly because drop bars usually mean having the shifters integrated with the brake levers ("brifters" for short), and those cost at least a couple hundred more than the shifters on the bikes you've mentioned so far.  It's not the only way though, as you could go with bar-end shifters or even down-tube shifters which are inexpensive and work extremely well-- they're just not in such a convenient place.

You might not be able to simply change out the bar.  I don't think the diameter of the clamping area of the drop bars is the same as that of flat bars.  Maybe someone else here can elaborate.

The aluminum frame is ok.  Aluminum used to have a much harsher ride than the other materials, but it seems that the manufacturers have learned to partly remedy that.  It's certainly not any weaker than steel which in recent years has gotten frightfully thin in an effort to compete weightwise with the other materials.  In a frame breakage test report that was on a website for years but I can't find now, they simulated a hard, out-of-the saddle climbing effort to test frames.  The first ones to fatigue and crack were the steel ones.

As for the Windsor Touring, is that available anywhere other than bikesdirect.com?  That company is extremely irreputable.  The Better Business Bureau gives Bikes Direct an "Unsatisfactory" rating due to unanswered complaints.  Do yourself a favor.  If you're new to this game, do not buy a bike on the internet, especially from bikesdirect.com.  Although like virtually any company they do have some happy customers, you need to know that this particular company also has a disproportionately very large number of customers who are angry with them for all kinds of reasons from bad assembly job to nonexistent customer service to even false advertising and in at least one case I read about on another forum, a cracked frame right out of the box.  Their "Compare at $xxxx" statements are baloney too.  (In the case of the Windsor, looking over the spec.s I can say you definitely won't pay nearly $1200 that level anywhere like they claim.)  You also won't get the follow-up free support you'll get from a bike shop, something you'll need if you're kind of new to all this.  Buy parts online if you want to, but go to a real shop for whole bikes until you really know fitting and can do a lot of your own maintenance.  The real shop may appear more expensive on the surface, but you'll save yourself a lot of grief and be more likely to succeed in cycling.


Offline staehpj1

Bicycle Trip form Arizona to Alaska
« Reply #14 on: October 11, 2008, 03:33:14 pm »
I agree that buying from a local dealer is a good idea especially if you are not proficient at maintenance and repair.

On the Bikes Direct issue...  Don't take their hype or "compare at" prices to seriously.  On the other hand they treated us fine and between the three of us we have purchased 4 bikes from them.

Both the crank we removed and the one we put on were adequate quality, but not high end stuff.  We swapped the crank because the cost was about the same as swapping all three chain rings.

A bit of clarification on the tires.  I have edited my tire comments on the web page a bit.  I have recently been running the 32 mm Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires and have been unhappy with the weight and ride quality.

We ran the original tires until they wore out and replaced them with like sized ones.  Actually my daughter opted for a bit narrower replacements for hers since then (28mm Schwalbe Marathon Plus, the size Schwalbe recommended for her weight). I might consider the same 28 mm size next time because I am kind of partial to the continental ultra gatorskins that come in nothing larger than 28 mm.