Author Topic: A unique situation (SouthernTier).  (Read 12304 times)

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Offline Reminiscence

A unique situation (SouthernTier).
« on: October 15, 2008, 05:27:17 pm »
I am about to attempt a cross-country trek on the Southern Tier route, starting in San Diego, ending in FL. I am not really a cyclist but rather am doing it for the adventure of it, and it seems the best way to get back to FL where my parents reside; for the past four months I have been backpacking all over the West and I feel this cycle would be an appropriate end to such a long journey. However, I haven't much money. Could I get by with a fairly cheap road bike found in the want ads? It seems like brakes and saddle are more important than the actual bicycle used...any insight with this assumption? Second, are trailers awkward on steep downhills? I only ask because I have never ridden with one. Ya'll probably get tired of the same panniers vs. trailers questions, but it has been an issue of contemplation with me. And: since money is an issue I won't be able to afford the $80 maps, so any tips about the route (roads to specifically avoid/take) would be extremely appreciated. I plan on just getting some road maps and plotting out my own route on secondary highways and backroads. Any interstates that are a good idea to cycle upon? Thanks in advance for helping a prospective cross country rider.


Offline Westinghouse

A unique situation (SouthernTier).
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2008, 03:07:29 pm »
A used frame is fine as long as it fits you. What about the components, wheels, tires? They may need to be changed. Used chains can break. Used freewheels can wear down and make your chain skip around and dance like a snake in a fire. How about the brakes?
Carry extra spokes for the rear wheel, and carry a freewheel remover if you have a freewheel and not a cassette.

As for maps, you can see the details of maps on ACA's web page. Print them out. You can use them to route your course. If you look at how the lines run on their maps and the towns they go to, you can pretty well look on standard road maps and see which roads they are using. Actually, some of their route takes you through areas that are much hillier, but no more scenic than other roads, or at least that was what I was reading in journals written by people who had used ACA's maps.

Interstates 10 and 8 are good for cycling where no other roads are available. Going west to east will have you eating a lot of headwinds. Many say west to east is the way to go, but if you read Donna Ikenberry's book on the Transam, you will see she chose east to west, and she tells why. I did more research on the internet, and have done the southern tier a number of times. East to west is a good way to go. Of course, in your situation, west to east is the only way to go, but I thought I would mention it.

Trailers are fine. I have never used one, but I have read journals by those who have. One thing about trailers. They add more wheels, and tires that can wear out. You need to carry extra tires for those odd sized wheels. There is a connection to the bike, and these connections have been known to break. The trailer adds its own weight to the load you already have. In my way of looking at things, adding a trailer is just adding more that can go wrong, along with extra weight.

This message was edited by Westinghouse on 10-16-08 @ 12:10 PM

Offline whittierider

A unique situation (SouthernTier).
« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2008, 04:23:24 pm »
The reliability of a bike is not necessarily tied to its price (as long as you stay away from Walmart, etc.).  You can get some good used bikes for excellent prices (a few hundred dollars), but there might be a lot of things you need to do to prepare the bike for a long trip, and that will take some combination of time, money, and know-how.  And for any such trip, I would highly recommend knowing your bike's workings really well-- not so much so you can fix absolutely anything on the road, but partly so you can be aware of potential problems before they arise, and avoid them.  Cycling is kind of an information-intensive field.  Do a lot of reading on the forums and ask a lot of questions.

Westinghouse brings up good points.  Chain life depends a lot on its care, and its wear can be measured.  Cassettes and freewheels are harder to measure wear on.  A wheel's reliability depends partly on factors you can't see with the eye, and wheel problems can sprout like dandelions if you don't know what you're looking for.
Quote
Second, are trailers awkward on steep downhills?

Since my wife and I ride a tandem, I was on the T@H tandem forum for many years.  Although the trailer manufacturers give speed limits in the lawyer page, these tandem riders with trailers all seemed to have plenty of experiences of going downhill with their trailers at 50-70mph (Tandems are speed demons on the downhills!) and claimed they were completely stable.  I only pulled a trailer once for a few miles for a friend, and I couldn't even feel it.  I looked back occasionally to make sure it hadn't somehow fallen off.

Every time I see someone on a tight budget wanting to do a trip of thousands of miles, I want to ask the experienced people here what to expect in the way of costs.  I don't have any long-loaded-tour experience, but I can imagine the one-time costs of the luggage and equipment (some of which you will already have as a backpacker), and then the daily (or at least recurring) costs like campsite fees and food and other consumables.  Can someone give some numbers?


Offline Westinghouse

A unique situation (SouthernTier).
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2008, 01:48:45 pm »
When you get a used frame or complete used bike make sure it is a quality piece of equipment. Reading about the quality frames and bikes will tell you exactly what to look for. Wal Mart is not an option when it comes to a long distance tour of thousands of miles. Ride one of Wally's velocipedes for a while, and then try out a well made touring machine in good condition, new or used, and you will feel the difference soon. There is not much of a comparison when it comes to smooth riding, speed, comfort, and a general feeling of efficiency in operation and pedaling. When it comes to getting a really good touring machine, the educated consumer should come out ahead of the one who goes tripping off to Sears or Wal Mart or Target to get his ride.

There are some cycling items you can purchase from Wal Mart and such stores for long tours, but they are limited. I have used those Bell chains that cost about $7.00 on several long tours, and they have always held up, but you do want to scrap them after 4000 miles or so. WM has cables, saddles, and lighting systems that are pretty good.


Offline Reminiscence

A unique situation (SouthernTier).
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2008, 03:26:08 pm »
Thanks for the replies. I got my maps and route pretty much set, but I still need a bicycle...it is extremely difficult to track down a used touring bike, and I will likely end up with a mountain bike, probably a used Schwinn, as they seem the most ubiquitous. I'm also waiting for a trailer to pop up on craig's list, or else
I may be forced to go to Wal Mart for that. If it comes to an emergency with the lack of decent bikes I will probably be forced to settle for something used on sale at a cycle shop, but yes, I agree that going to Wal Mart for the bike would be a terrible idea indeed. I read that any decent steel frame mountain bike can be made trek-worthy with a few modifications, and that a trailer is the answer to make a cross country trek possible with a bike that could never handle the weight of panniers.

Route question: Is the detour to the Gila Hot Springs worthy of the time and effort of traversing up along the Rockies? I'm not sure why the route goes there, but I imagine it is for some great scenery. I'm also going to bypass El Paso.

As far as costs, this may sound crazy to you all, but I think I can do it for $1000-1500. As a backpacker I have disciplined myself against excessive spending at restaurants, bars, hotels, and the like. I plan on camping almost every night for free...that is, stealth camping. I just need to find my equipment, which is really starting to nag on me as I will be leaving in just 5 days or so.


Offline Westinghouse

A unique situation (SouthernTier).
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2008, 03:45:23 pm »
Reminiscence:

It is possible to do a 60 day tour of the S.T. for the amount of money you mentioned, say $20.00 or $25.00 a day. Another person and I did it for about $1600.00 total for the two of us, and that meant free camping the great majority of the time, or staying somewhere free of charge. Motels up the ante a bit, and can up is very much if you make a habit of it. On some days I would spend $30.00, and on other days $8.00. Within certain limits you can spend about as much or as little as you want on such a journey.

As for myself, I like to drink ice coffee and hot coffee, and a Starbucks is kind of hard to pass up. I add on costs, but what to heck, if I cannot enjoy it, why do it? And I do use motels occasionally. I rented a room in Van Horn, Texas one winter and planned to stay a couple of days, and then cycle on through El Paso. A winter storm came along and covered the ground and roadways with ice and snow. It snowed continually. I ended up keeping the motel room for about six days instead of two. You have to deal with exigencies sometimes.


Offline scott.laughlin

A unique situation (SouthernTier).
« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2008, 07:34:10 pm »
Google "Craig's List."  You can then select your local area and they a bike section.  Sometimes you can find something that's been hanging in someone's garage and get it for next to nothing.


Offline Westinghouse

A unique situation (SouthernTier).
« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2008, 12:26:36 pm »
I have seen some really good deals on touring bikes. But of course, if you are going the distance you will probably need to replace all moving parts which will cost approximately $250.00-$350.00, and that is if you buy online or at bike stores. These would be lower end prices but still quality components and wheels, etc.

You can shell out for a new bicycle, but if you do a long ride on it like 3000 miles or so, you will probably still have to replace moving parts to do another long tour. Preventive maintenance keeps you going the full length. You do not want to be broken down in the middle of the desert because some part that should have been changed before starting out was left on the bike in the off chance that it would stand then trip. Push one of those $7.00 Wal Mart chains past 3000 miles, and watch out. It could break on you at any moment.

Used bikes are often advertised in the classified section of the newspaper. Some person may have come into possession of an expensive bicycle, of which he knows nothing. He does not ride and just wants to get it out of the garage. He sells it for fifty dollars. In a culture of motorized transportation the lowly velocipede has little value.


Offline Reminiscence

A unique situation (SouthernTier).
« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2008, 02:01:38 pm »
I purchased a near brand-new mountain bike for $100 by going through craig's list. The guy had broken his ankle after riding it only once or twice. Now I've just got to gear up and go.


Offline JayH

A unique situation (SouthernTier).
« Reply #9 on: October 20, 2008, 03:05:21 pm »
A better idea than motels is...

www.warmshowers.org

You can probably link up enough hosts to give you shelter and the occasional shower, without having to spend time at a hotel/motel.

Jay


Offline driftlessregion

A unique situation (SouthernTier).
« Reply #10 on: October 20, 2008, 06:29:59 pm »
Regarding steep downhills with a trailer: I ride a very fine bike (a Waterford) yet my high speed is while pulling a BOB, not riding bare. That is more a function of only getting to those really long hills while touring than anything. The point it, the trailer does not factor in to downhill speed. Uphill, that is another story...


Offline Westinghouse

A unique situation (SouthernTier).
« Reply #11 on: October 20, 2008, 07:43:40 pm »
There you go. You have a quality new bike, and you got it cheap. I have seen quite a few really good deals on quality used bikes. I am not saying you are going to pick up a like new $2000.00 Cannondale for $25.00 or anything like that, but there are perfectly good bikes for cheap. You just have to be lucky enough to find one. Other than that, you might just have to shell out a considerablke amount of cash for a new bike at a bike shop.


Offline Reminiscence

A unique situation (SouthernTier).
« Reply #12 on: October 20, 2008, 08:15:03 pm »
I'm also getting a trailer tonight for another $100. I'll be ready to leave mid-week, from Oceanside I think, and then I'll pick up the official route after Anza-Borrego. Thanks for all the input.


Offline Westinghouse

A unique situation (SouthernTier).
« Reply #13 on: October 22, 2008, 12:44:33 pm »
I think it would be cool to hear from Reminiscence on this forum at intervals while he is doing his journey.


Offline Reminiscence

A unique situation (SouthernTier).
« Reply #14 on: October 22, 2008, 02:09:42 pm »
Will do. I'm leaving tomorrow morning! I'm kind of nervous about traffic and camping places in southwestern CA, but in a couple days I should be away from cities until Phoenix.