Author Topic: Northern Tier -- Start Late May 2009  (Read 4985 times)

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Offline Figaro

Northern Tier -- Start Late May 2009
« on: October 25, 2008, 06:21:36 pm »
Hello ACA Members,

I'm a 49 year old male, university professor, planning a self-contained ride of the Northern Tier, East to West, starting in late May 2009. I'm an off and on rider. My only other multi-day ride was way back in 1994 when I rode from Lands End to John O'Groats (UK) with three other riders in my running club. That was one of the most memorable adventures of my life and I said then, I was going to do the same across the US some day...well, summer 2009 is the day :-)

I would like to average around 100 miles a day...not real fast riding, but by spending between 8 and 11 hours a day in the seat.

This is my "big adventure" before I hit 50 and my wife is very supportive, but she would feel a lot better if I had a riding buddy. If there is anyone else out there who may be interested let me know.

Thanks and I'm glad to see ACA started these forums again...either this is relatively new or I've just been missing the link for a long time  :)

Edit: Hummm...well, now that I look closer, I guess I've just been missing the link for a long time. I see there have been discussion here for quite a while  :blush:

This message was edited by Figaro on 10-25-08 @ 3:27 PM

Offline rimike

Northern Tier -- Start Late May 2009
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2008, 12:42:49 pm »

I was a 49 year old college professor with very two days touring experience when I set out on an E-W solo Northern Tier ride a few years ago.  Never regretted going solo. Never felt uncomfortable going solo. You're never far from anything in the estern part of the ride. By the time you reach the more remote parts, from ND westward, it's a routine & people are pretty friendly

100 mile a day average may be a bit ambitious if you're camping.  And the winds out in the plains can make for some short days from time to time.

Good luck.


This message was edited by rimike on 10-26-08 @ 9:43 AM

Offline Figaro

Northern Tier -- Start Late May 2009
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2008, 02:25:55 pm »
Thanks MH. Yea, I realize 100 miles a day is ambitious...I'll just need to adjust to the variables. I'm going to give myself 60 days, but hope to do it in 50 or less...with a day or two-three rest. But, if it takes 60, so be it. I continue to think I'm 20 years younger than I am ;-)

Offline staehpj1

Northern Tier -- Start Late May 2009
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2008, 09:34:31 am »
Always better to allow extra time.  Most of the folks we met who had planned on 100 mile days wound up averaging less.  We did the TA and spent 73 days and only took two days off one to go rafting and one when one of us was injured.  We actually rode a little both of those days.  Personally I prefer taking a half day once in a while rather than full days off.  50 days is possible but allowing extra is a good idea.  60 days is still fairly good mileage.  If you are moteling it, high mileage might be easier, but it is less fun IMO.

Having a hard deadline makes the trip less pleasant in my mind.  Better to be able to take long or easy days as you feel like it rather than have to constantly be monitoring progress against a self imposed deadline.

Remember that in places the towns and potential stops are pretty far apart so you will not always have the choice of doing the amount of mileage you choose.

You will certainly meet lots of other cyclists and will have opportunities to camp or ride with them if you choose.  You will also have the opportunity to meet a lot of nice local folks.  I advise taking time to interact with the people you meet if it is a choice between spending a while chatting and making really great mileage.

Offline Westinghouse

Northern Tier -- Start Late May 2009
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2008, 02:09:23 pm »
Good luck. Cycling alone on a long tour is just fine. I have done it many times and have not regretted it. In fact, if you do find someone else to go, you might possibly wind up with a cycling partner who is a set back and problem for you. Let me give you an example of what I mean. In my town I am known as the bicycle dude who goes out around the world on his bicycle. People know my name. There was this one fellow who will remain nameless. He wanted to cycle down to Key west with me, so we got set up and left. It is about 5-6 days to there from here on a bicycle.

He had no experience in bicycle touring, but had done quite a bit of camping. To begin with, he took more weight and gear than I would carry on an around-the-world expedition. He left behind what I told him to take, and took what I told him to leave at home. Then, when serious weather hit us and he did not have what I had told him to bring, he bummed the gear off me leaving me at a disadvantage. After that he got us involved in a long wild goose chase, against my advice, and all for nothing, and we were set back quite a while from that. Two days later he almost got us attacked by some deranged homeless man living in a tent down a narrow footpath in the woods. Later his rack broke off because of all the weight, so we had to stop and look around for one. We did find one. He was jumping curbs with his bike and broke a wheel. Remember too that I was telling him what to do and what not to do, and he was ignoring whatever it was I was saying. In the keys he wanted to backtrack three miles to save $3.00 on buying a sandwich. It was $3.00 cheaper in a store back down the road than the sandwich at a convenience store. After that he missed a point where we were supposed to meet.

Of course, this was a camping tour. One day when we were set up in camp I left on my own and went to a book store to drink coffee and read. I came back a few hours later to a mess. It turned out he had managed to get in some fracas with a group of young teenage kids with paintball guns. He chased them down a trail holding a shovel or something. One of the kids dropped a cell phone on the trail. He picked it up and of all things called 911. The police officer sided with the kids, and said he had committed assault by chasing them with a weapon in his hand. All this happened when I was gone.

Later, a plainclothes officer came back to our camp in the woods when I was there. He told this fellow he had to decamp within an hour or be arrested. The officer did not say anything to me at all. He addressed the other guy by his first name. I loaded my bike and took off. I left that guy in Key West, and cycled back to my town alone.

This person may have finally gotten the hang of bicycle touring over the long run, but on that trip he was one problem after another, and these were all preventable problems if he had only listened and taken the advice I was giving him. I realized that the return trip was going to be more of the same, so I just split.

Once you begin a tour with someone it is not all that easy to dump that person if he turns out to be a willful dolt. I did not want to tell him to take a flying leap, but I realized he might just get himself or both of us into some sort of difficulty either in Key West or during the trip back. I had agreed to meet him somewhere, and when he was out of my sight I took off north out of Key West, and let him do for himself.
He came back on the Greyhound bus none the worse for wear. However, he had managed to get himself into another scrape with the law in Key West. I cycled the 260 miles in 2 1/2 or 3 days. There was a great deal of city taffic.

I have traveled long distances by bicycle with partners, and those partners were always women. In my opinion, a woman is the best partner on a long bicycling tour.

This message was edited by Westinghouse on 11-5-08 @ 1:15 PM

Offline Peaks

Northern Tier -- Start Late May 2009
« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2008, 05:04:55 pm »
Well, I thought I could do 100 miles per day across most of the Northern Tier, but it didn't work out.  But, we still finished in 56 days.  And this is much faster than most.  

Sure, we did several centuries, but considering wind, rain, site seeing (such as it is), I sure glad that I'd didn't try to average a century every day.

Offline DaveB

Northern Tier -- Start Late May 2009
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2008, 08:13:10 am »
If you are an "off-and-on" rider, you better be "on" a LOT between now and May.  The  forced-march pace transcontinental bike ride you propose isn't the time or place to get into riding shape and to get used to hours and hours on the bike.

My feeling is you have set an unrealistic pace and time table.  100 miles is a very ambitious daily ride even for very experienced riders on lightly loaded bikes.  Doing it every day for nearly two months with a loaded touring bike will be much more demanding than you can imagine.

I'll also second the warning about going with a companion you don't know extremely well and even good friends can be incompatible on a trip like this.    

Offline Westinghouse

Northern Tier -- Start Late May 2009
« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2008, 12:52:26 pm »
I agree with DaveB. Knocking out at least 100 miles daily on a loaded touring bike over that route is not only overly ambitious, it also seems to me to be a bit outside the bounds of what you can realistically expect to achieve. I mean, some days there is no way you can get that mileage. What about hills, headwinds, sidewinds, rain, and punctures in your tubes? For me, centuries happen occasionally, but certainly not every day, and I would not want to do a century every day anyway, and when I do it is usually due in significant part to following winds.

I will iterate my advice about having a traveling partner on a transcontinental bicycling tour. And what DaveB said is quite true. What can be a friendly relationship back home on the block is placed under very different stresses and strains out there on the road. Once you are finished you will be either best of friends or sworn enemies, within certain limits. This guy I had known for years and who seemed reasonable turned out to be a total, willful, doltish, ignoramus on tour and he was a constant source of irritation, and worse. You are better off by far going alone than you are with someone who will be a drag. Much of what bicycle touring is about is personal freedom. I once left a bike tour with others on the Atlantic coast, went back to south Florida, and then cycled alone to California. It was much better being alone to do what I wanted when I wanted than it was to have to conform to the plans of others.

This message was edited by Westinghouse on 11-3-08 @ 9:56 AM

Offline Figaro

Northern Tier -- Start Late May 2009
« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2008, 12:48:42 pm »
Thanks to everyone for all the great advice. I hear you about the travel partner. I don't want to be a burden to anyone and vice-versa.

Thanks again.