Author Topic: 1st Trip Across America: Tips, Recommendations, and HELP  (Read 18476 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Stevenp

1st Trip Across America: Tips, Recommendations, and HELP
« on: January 02, 2011, 07:54:47 pm »
I am so excited!

I will be turning 37 this may of 2011 and there has been major change in my life. The year of 2010 was a year of healing and renewal in my life from an addiction to drugs that took everything I had. Today as I look back at the man I was, I see a stranger. Today I begin the process of kicking off my new life with an ambitious goal of biking across the U.S.A..

My research has just begun and I am looking all over the place for tips and idea, and a bike for starters.

I would love to hear any tips, stories, thoughts, or anything else to start up a conversation about this awesome journey I will be embarking on. As of now there are two of us. I spoke to a friend of mine and he said, "I haven't felt a wave of ambition like this for awhile". I know what he means and maybe you do too. There is a mixture of mostly ambition and excitement, with a "what are you doing?!" voice shouting from within me. I imagine that voice may get louder at times, but the decision is made and I WILL be biking across America.

What about you? Any tips...anything...? Perhaps you would even want to join in on this trip scheduled for August-October?

Steven p
« Last Edit: January 03, 2011, 09:54:26 pm by Stevenp »

Offline John Nelson

Re: Across America: Beginning August
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2011, 09:18:06 pm »
The best tip I have is to go over to www.crazyguyonabike.com and start reading the journals. You'll learn a lot.

If you're not starting until August, I'd stay out of the top half of the U.S. unless you like the cold. Start thinking about when and where you'll cross the Rockies. You may want to go west-to-east to cross them early. For a first big trip, I strongly suggest following one of the ACA routes. The Western Express to the TransAm would probably work. If it starts to get too cold, you could drop down to the Southern Tier somewhere in the midwest. If you like the heat, you could take the Southern Tier the whole way.

There's at least a 50/50 chance your friend will bail on you, so be prepared to go solo. Solo is fantastic.

Start accumulating your gear when it goes on sale. REI offers members 20% off one item about once each season, and it's a great way to buy the big stuff (e.g., tent, sleeping bag, panniers, racks).

You're going to have a blast.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2011, 09:20:41 pm by John Nelson »

Offline Stevenp

Re: Across America: Beginning August
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2011, 10:27:38 pm »
Thanks John,

Great tips! I've been researching a ton already and have added crazyguyonabike.com to my "AMBITION" favorites already. With your mention of the REI offers, that convinces me I better not miss the sale. I've heard that suggestion several times now in my reading.

My walls are plastered with tips and motivation to keep me focused and the biggest question for me right now is what to do for a bike. I have read stories of some who have made the journey on $200 bikes and have read suggestions to not go lower than $1000. I am leaning towards the best bike I can get, but I am also starting out with very little money, being that I'm going on my journey straight out of rehab.

I've already learned a lot just this last week. What I would really like to do is to go down the pacific coast line, and I will probably have to start from Minnesota, to save money on travel to one coast or the other. I've got time though to figure these things out.

I appreciate your tips and comments!

Steve

Offline John Nelson

Re: Across America: Beginning August
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2011, 11:06:05 pm »
I don't think the answer is a $200 bike (unless you can find a good used one), but it doesn't have to be a $1000 bike either.

Offline sprocketman

Re: Across America: Beginning August
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2011, 11:31:17 pm »
Hi Steven,

I am 45 years old and have worked in an office and sat in a chair for the last 10 years. I was 40 pounds overweight and out of nowhere, I got the idea to take a long bicycle trip. So in October 2009 I started training and by June 2010 I weighed 220 pounds (down from 260) and cycling 120 miles a week. I felt like I was twenty years younger.

Looking back on the trip, it was without a doubt the best thing I have ever done. I spent 24 days living on the road, going from town to town, and seeing the country. While I did not go across the country, I did go from Pennsylvania to Florida (1,473 miles). I camped out at times, and others, I stayed in hotels. Some hotels were low rent, and others a few steps from the Atlantic Ocean. I didn't care where I stayed, I just took it as it came.

I am planning my new trip for 2011 - from Pennsylvania to Canada. I think the international flavor will be interesting. Western Pennsylvania and New York will offer good camping and some alligator-free rivers to jump in (that's another story).

On my trip I e-mailed photos back to the guys in the office. The printed them and posted them on the wall in front of my desk. I still look at them every day. I quiver at the thought that many times I almost found a reason not to go - wife, kids, mortgage, bills, and a car with 370,000 miles on it (yes, my bike is worth more than my car). I am glad that for once I was irresponsible and took the ride.

Be prepared for your trip. Have money and equipment that is in good shape. Going on a budget is OK, but things seem to usually cost more than anticipated. Take pictures and keep a journal.

 PM me if you have any questions. I learned a bunch on my trip.

Live your dream before somebody else does.

Eric

  

  

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: Across America: Beginning August
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2011, 10:44:10 am »
What I would really like to do is to go down the pacific coast line, and I will probably have to start from Minnesota,

Check out AC's Northern Tier route.  You can connect with their Pacific Coast route in Seattle.

Offline DaveB

Re: Across America: Beginning August
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2011, 11:06:58 am »
Depending on what route and which direction you plan to go, I'd rethink the August departure date.  Assuming the trip takes three months or more, you will probably run into some very bad weather near the end.  October/November can provide some awfully harsh conditions in the western mountains or Eastern hills unless you stay very far south.

Offline John Nettles

  • World Traveler
  • *****
  • Posts: 1895
  • I ride for smiles, not miles.
Re: Across America: Beginning August
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2011, 11:39:15 am »
I've already learned a lot just this last week. What I would really like to do is to go down the pacific coast line, and I will probably have to start from Minnesota, to save money on travel to one coast or the other.

I would highly suggest you go southbound if you do the Pacific Coast.  I had to do it northbound and would not recommend if you have a choice.  The headwinds get old after a while going northbound.

You could always take a bus to Bellingham, WA on the west coast for about $100.  Get on the bike and head down the coast, and turn left in San Diego and cross the country again on the Southern Tier.  Start August 15th and end 97 days later in St. Augustine, FL in late November based on 50 miles per day.  Then you double your ambition  ;D!

Congrats on working through your addiction and God Bless!

Have a great ride!

Offline Stevenp

Re: Across America: Beginning August
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2011, 06:55:50 pm »
This is great! I'm getting a lot out of these comments and encouragements. All of the comments that mean something to me I type out real big and then tape them to my wall. My wall is becoming plastered with GOOD STUFF!

I'm right in the beginning of planning. It can be hard to know where to start, although I do have time, so that's nice. I don't even own a bike. I went to look at some today and I've had some contradictory info about what bike would be best for the trip.

When it comes to BIKES: which bike and what equipment should i load it up with?

Also with the planning, with your experience, what tips would you have to share.

I'm also really interested in hearing your ambitions and stories, this is really great!

Thanks guys for your responses—you are pasted on my walls! :)

Steve

Offline ronnie421

Re: Across America: Beginning August
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2011, 10:07:15 pm »
Hey Steven... You kinda sound like ME! I never really mentioned it here because I think that some people would think that I was a bit over the top or a bit corny but I also have a few posters and pics of cyclists and inpirational quotes stapled to my wall! Ha ha!!!!  They kinda keep my brain moist till I can get out there and get this done! I also, have a lot to accomplish before my tour. I have alot of weight to lose. I had a work-related accident 3 years ago. My doc had already told me that my legs were going to have to come off.  I weighed 180 at the time. I was paralyzed for 7 months and laid up in a bed. I got depressed and all I did was eat. No excercise. I ballooned to 370 pounds, all while laying there in my bed.  By the grace of God, I began to move my legs. I went from a bed to a walker to a cane and now I am walking un-assisted.  My legs hurt sometimes but I can deal with it. However, my weight was still an issue.  To date, I have lost 80 pounds. Im at 290, but the weight is coming off. I am confident that by the time my tour arrived, I would be at a manageable 220 to 230.  I have plenty to overcome.  But, at the end of my tour (God willing) when I am standing in the water, dipping my front wheel into the ocean, it will have all been more than very well worth the time and sweat that I put into my CRAZY idea of wanting to ride across the country!!!  I ALMOST feel like asking you to wait for me till 2012! LOL! So we can go on this crazy thing together. But you got your dreams and your timeline.  I'll just have to wait till 2012. 

Offline Stevenp

Re: 1st Trip Across America: Tips, Recommendations, and HELP
« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2011, 11:05:01 pm »
Ronnie,

Wow, what a story! I'm seeing that many times there are some amazing stories attached to taking on such an ambitious goal as this! Thanks for sharing your story, I have no doubt in my mind, just listening to you, that you will indeed be taking this journey and succeeding. Man, I wish I could wait for ya! When exactly do you plan on departing?

I am realizing that I, really, have no clue what I'm getting in to. I keep wanting to push my ambition further, and I'm not even in shape yet. haha! I measured the longest distance across America and it added up to being about 3,500 miles from tip to tip. So, wherever my trip ends up being, it will at least be that distance.

I am just completing my 20 months of treatment for sobriety from drug addiction and this is my kick off to a new life. I imagine I will have some revelation on this trip and direction from God on this next chapter of life and that is something I'm really looking forward to.

You sound like someone I would love travel with too! Who knows. As for now my plans are for July or August departure, but this dream is only a week old too. No doubt I'm going, I just don't know all the details yet.

I'm also doing this as a fund raiser for the treatment center that helped to change my life and I want to thank them by making a fund raiser out of this, so there is that side of it too—fund raising. There is a lot to think about and plan, as I'm sure you are finding out too. I'm just thankful for all of those who have done this before us and their tips and stories.

Lets keep in touch through this planning.

Ronnie, I'm inspired by you and I'm sure many others are and will be too. Keep at it brother! God bless you!

Stevenp

Offline sprocketman

Re: 1st Trip Across America: Tips, Recommendations, and HELP
« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2011, 11:49:01 pm »
Hi Steven,

Shopping for a bike is not an easy thing to do. However, it is critical that the bike fit you properly. I had a good person fit me for my bike. Speak to someone knowledgeable! Find somebody who has done some touring and pick their brain. On my tour, I sometimes rode 8 - 10 hours a day with no major discomfort. The bike felt great.

Look for a bike designed for touring. At a quick glance they look like any other road bike. However, a closer look will show that a touring bike is longer - to accomodate panniers (so the back of your heel does not hit the front of the pannier) and the wheels will have more spokes (look for wheels with 36 spokes, they are generally much stronger). Also, your riding position will generally be more upright and comfortable and easier on your neck. Lastly, the tubing will be thicker and the welds a bit more robust. Even with today's technology, frames crack. That is certainly a bummer.

Do not get your bike at the last minute. You should have several hundred miles on your bike before you leave. All bikes have quirks. Sort them out now. Not when you are miles from a bike shop. One more thing, two weeks before you leave, have a good mechanic tune your bike up. If you can afford it, get new tires (I have Schwalbe Marathons - they are great).

Remember, a good bike costs money. A cheap bike costs a lot of money. 

Offline ronnie421

Re: 1st Trip Across America: Tips, Recommendations, and HELP
« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2011, 01:05:32 am »
Hey Steven... Thanks for the nice words and may God bless you as well.  Even though I had always wanted to take this little ride across the country, it was the "celebration" of regaining the use of my legs that was the ultimate deciding factor in making this happen.  That was MY "new life" and to celebrate, I thought I'd take a short cruise from the east coast to the west coast.  I have read that such a late start (late Aug) would cause me to run into lots of cold weather in the mountains.  So, I plan to leave around the last week of May.  I plan to go east to west to keep the morning sun out of my eyes and more importantly out of the eyes of the drivers of the vehicles as they are moving around me. If you've ever driven your car directly into an early sunrise or an evening sunset, you know that sometimes there is lots of squinting involved and trying to dodge a direct hit from the sun into your eyes makes it hard to see anything that may be on the side of the road (that would be me, LOL).  Well, I think I should go with safety first.  Why risk it? But thats what I'm planning on.  And now that I've moved my trip from May of 2011 to May of 2012, that gives me another full year to make sure that my body is ready and my weight is back to normal.  Its going to be lots of hard work getting across the country, but it will be an awesome experience!

Offline Westinghouse

Re: 1st Trip Across America: Tips, Recommendations, and HELP
« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2011, 04:52:47 am »
The pacific coast north to south would be a great tour, but it is very hilly and perhaps a bit challenging for a first tour. It's great for strengthening the legs and for aerobic rehabilitation if needed. The scenery is fine with inexpensive campgrounds, small towns, large cities, hostels, and wooded areas.

Offline Stevenp

Re: 1st Trip Across America: Tips, Recommendations, and HELP
« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2011, 09:07:03 am »
Are there any Bike pros who could give me some specific tips on bikes?