Author Topic: I'm looking for a route . . .  (Read 8023 times)

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Offline dunedigger

I'm looking for a route . . .
« on: February 28, 2009, 02:42:04 pm »
. . . that would be a good training session in preparation for the TransAm. I live right on the Blue Ridge Parkway in NC and have considered running down the parkway this summer as a test of endurance. But I have heard that the Blue Ridge is a lot harder than the TransAm, and I don't want to really discourage myself xD Plus those long dark tunnels all along the NC parts of the parkway freak me out xD So, are there any other low use rural roads around NC that you guys know about? Thanks in advance.

Offline staehpj1

Re: I'm looking for a route . . .
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2009, 07:10:08 pm »
But I have heard that the Blue Ridge is a lot harder than the TransAm
Not sure.  The limited part of the Parkway I have ridden was not too bad.  The climbs up to it are killer though.  The one at Vesuvius is about as bad as anything you will find anywhere else on the TA.  Out west you will have a lot of very long climbs but none are nearly as steep as the ones in the Appalachians.

The hardest part of the Trans America for me was the climbing in the few days before the BRP.  It was one of the reasons we started in the West.  That and we wanted to have air travel out of the way up front. 

If you want a shorter ride than the TA the BRP might be a reasonable choice.  If you live close to it you are probably pretty used to climbing.

If you don't mind flying somewhere, the Oregon coast would be a great warm up.  Beautiful scenery and enough hills to give you a good idea of what touring is like without beating you up too much.  Combine that with wonderful state parks with cheap hiker/biker sites to camp at.  Oh and great seafood too.  Ride a tour down the coast there and you will be hooked for sure if you aren't already.

Then again no warm up is really required.  Three of us did the TA as a first tour.  Two of the group had never even done a long day ride before.  One had done her longest ride a little over 30 miles unloaded and the other had done a little over 40 also unloaded.  None of us had ridden with a loaded bike at all.  They "trained" for a few weeks starting from scratch basically riding on the weekends.  We just took it easy for a week or ten days and did fine.

Offline dunedigger

Re: I'm looking for a route . . .
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2009, 07:18:47 pm »
Ok, that's good. So conditioning on the road isn't crazy? Lol, that's great. I'll probably do a couple overnight runs close to home with the gear packed though, to get used to the feel. Never ridden with so much as a backpack before, last time I did I crashed. But that was a long time ago sooo, lol xD Has anyone ridden the Atlantic Coast route? What is that one like?

Offline valygrl

Re: I'm looking for a route . . .
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2009, 09:06:22 pm »
Training your body specifically with a loaded bike isn't really needed.  However, it is nice to have enough miles in you already so your butt is conditioned to your saddle, you know your bike fits you well, and you are reasonably in shape.  That way you won't end your tour on day 6 with a sore knee or something.

You can get into shape with your regular road routes around home, too.  Ride your touring bike for a few weeks beforehand, instead of your road bike.  Or if you don't ride regularly now, just start doing some rides on weekends.

I agree the strategy of a one or two night trip to sort your gear and carrying questions out is good.

I was lucky enough to be living in CA when I prepared for my first trip - I took a bus a few hours north and road home in 4 days. 

Offline John Nettles

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Re: I'm looking for a route . . .
« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2009, 12:12:03 am »
I definitely agree with Valygrl.  That said, I once met two retired ladies touring in Idaho.  One had ridden her whole life.  The other bought the bike & gear two weeks before the start, rode it around the block to see how the gears/brakes worked, and shipped it off to Oregon.  I met them about 3 weeks into their ride.  The "experienced" one was sore for a day or two (you are ALWAYS sore for the first day or two) but the other said the first two weeks were Hell.  However, they just took it easy, rode low miles, and after three weeks, had mostly caught up in strength to her buddy.

I have trained before and left somewhat cold-turkey.  It is sort of like money (training) and happiness (riding the tour).  You can be happy without money but it is a lot easier if you have it.

Offline bikeparts

Re: I'm looking for a route . . .
« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2009, 10:30:11 am »
I did the TransAM and I must say that if your going East to West you should get yourslf in shape.The Applachians Mts were the toughtest part of the TA,Very steep.Ride to work if you can.Ride to a park on the weekend which is about 60 to 80 miles away Camp and Ride back on Sunday with all you Equipment.That will let you know what kind of shape you are in.Hooser or McKensee  Passes have Grades,but not that steep and by the time you get out there you should be in Pretty Good Shape.Good Riding and be Safe..........

Offline staehpj1

Re: I'm looking for a route . . .
« Reply #6 on: March 01, 2009, 10:52:44 am »
Just a follow up comment.  Everyone has given good advice.   To be sure I am not leading you astray, let me add the following...

While it is ok to train as you go especially on a very long tour, you will be happier if you at least have some saddle time in, preferably on the bike you will be riding.  You really want to be past the point where your butt gets sore on a 30-40 mile ride.

As far as needing a shakedown cruise, it never hurts.  It is more necessary if you aren't familiar with your gear and used to camping.  For someone with a lot of camping and outdoor experience that stuff is no big deal; for someone without that experience it might be a steep learning curve.  In our case all of had a lot of lightweight camping experience.  BTW, to really count that camping experience needs to be in some self supported mode, probably not car camping.

Oh and I agree with whoever said that starting in the east requires more conditioning than starting in the west.  You are likely to find your self walking up the grades if you aren't ready.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2009, 10:54:53 am by staehpj1 »

Offline dunedigger

Re: I'm looking for a route . . .
« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2009, 02:04:21 pm »
Ha, yea. We pass bikers walking up hills all the time around here. I used to laugh at 'em. Til I tried to ride up one. Now I don't laugh. I definitely need to get in better shape for the grades. As for camping, I'm an experienced backpacker. Been camping with what I carry for a long, long time.

Offline leicrao1

Re: I'm looking for a route . . .
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2009, 01:48:33 pm »
Hi

My West-East planning for 2010 is only as far as Western Kansas at the moment. I kind of figure your options multiply as soon as you are East of the Rockies, in terms of the number of different routes you can choose.

However, I am hearing this advice about the Appalachians and would like advice about appropriate routes to NY from the Kansas/Missouri area. The most direct route seems to go through, or just south of, Springfield IL, Indianapolis IN, Columbus OH, and Pittsburgh PA. Is this sensible?

We are interested in a pretty direct route, and do not have the time to wander off on different trails. That can wait until I bring the wife and kids in 2012 and we hire a vehicle. If there is a pretty direct route that minimises the serious climbs, and/or picks up off-road trails, it would be handy to be aware of them now as it will affect which route through Kansas/Missouri we take.

Many thanks

Richard

Offline Westinghouse

Re: I'm looking for a route . . .
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2009, 09:26:05 am »
I have read about the Appalachians but have never cycled them. Sorry, I don't know about that area.

Offline SDLongbike

Re: I'm looking for a route . . .
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2009, 02:04:55 pm »
No matter your experience consider the first week or so to be "boot camp".  You will suffer no matter what when you go to riding carrying a load.  I just did a four day ride from San Diego, east over the mountains here.  My riding buddy and I had not done a ride like that in few years since the Pacific Coast.  We were slow, but by fay four we were ok on the hills (lots of 6% and 7% grades).  If you decide on the Southern Tier route you can skirt under the Appalachians, though I sure hope to do them next year.

Best preparation is to ride the BRP some fully loaded, then get rid of gear till you have the absolute minimum needed.  That was our real learning... less is better.

Butt problems of course can be eased by getting a recumbent!  We are slow on the hills, but have no bottom, shoulder, or hand pain at the end of even the longest day.

Offline litespeed

Re: I'm looking for a route . . .
« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2009, 10:13:31 pm »
I wouldn't worry too much about getting in shape. Just go. If you are in fairly good shape or at least not fat you will probably be doing fine after 3 or 4 days. You'll probably pack too much clothes but you can always throw stuff away. My rule of thumb for the repair/tool/tire repair kit is that it shouldn't be any bigger than a football. Make sure everything on your rear rack is well tied down and/or in a duffel. Car battery tiedown straps work fine. Put everything except dirty laundry in ziplock bags and have a few extras. Toiletries and clean clothes should be in an easily detachable front pannier (Off to the bathhouse). Have a blinking tallight for after dark or gloomy weather and a headlamp for tunnels and camping at night. Ortlieb packs free you from rain covers.