Author Topic: Novice looking for basic advise  (Read 5485 times)

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Offline eoinb

Novice looking for basic advise
« on: February 23, 2011, 10:03:53 am »
Hey guys I'm from Ireland and hope to cycle from the west San Fran to New York. I'll have approx 15weeks to do it. I have a road a felt road bike i'm good cyclist but i have never toured before so I am just thinking of attaching a trailer to the bike.Would this type of bike be good enough? Plus i have to do the trip during the summer months and being Irish the shear heat of the desert doesnt seem to be that appealing. So i was considering cycling through the northern states and camping out a few nights in between towns and national parks but should I be concerned with bear attacks as we dont have any predators that are capable of harming humans in Ireland i have no experience in that area. I would like to know what is the best option is for me

thanks   

Offline staehpj1

Re: Novice looking for basic advise
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2011, 10:50:07 am »
Are you planning to use an Adventure Cycling Route?  I really liked the Trans America Route, but you might also consider the Northern Tier Route.  15 weeks is enough to take it very easy and sight see a lot.  We took 73 days and I think that is pretty normal.

In the Summer you can get pretty hot weather regardless of the route, but I wouldn't really recommend starting in SF and using the Western Express because it is likely to be hot to the extreme.  Riding up the coast isn't a great option either do to prevailing winds IMO, better to just start in the Pacific Northwest.

A road bike with a trailer can work, but you really want lower gearing.   Also I would think it would be a pain to ship or fly with a trailer.

Regarding bear, cougar, wolf, coyote, snake, spider, or whatever attacks, just use good sense and don't sweat it.  Where there are bears good sense means keeping food and toiletries away from your tent and using bear lockers where provided.

You will probably find that you will stay in towns much of the time.  If on an AC route you will find that the AC maps will typically list lots of places to stay ranging from free to cheap to expensive.  You will not really need to be concerned so much about bears other than in places that provide bear boxes.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Novice looking for basic advise
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2011, 12:51:28 pm »
You should be concerned with bear attacks enough to learn the simple steps required to minimize the risk. But bears will be a threat only on a small percentage of your route, and even then, they aren't much of a threat if you take precautions.

Offline eoinb

Re: Novice looking for basic advise
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2011, 03:14:07 pm »
I was thinking of that Northern route. Do people know is it much of it off road just so i can decided on appropriate tires and pressure. Motels average at about $50 a night right? From what i have read it doesn't common place for attacks to happen. Also what kind of climbs should I be expecting?

Offline cotterg3

Re: Novice looking for basic advise
« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2011, 04:00:18 pm »
If it makes no difference to you, I recommend riding east to west. Most people agree that the western landscapes (rocky mountains, desert, pacific coast) are the most attractive part of the journey and I feel this makes it a more satisfying finish. Going through nevada and southern utah can be very hot in the summer (as well as quite desolate). Consider starting/ending in the northwest USA.

Simply attaching a trailer to a bike works fine. I have never tried it, but speaking to those that have, they're only issues occurred when riding downhill fairly quickly.

In small towns hotels average ~$50 a night.

As far as climbs, the western roads are newer. They are lower grade (typically less than 10% usually) and have long uphills and downhills (as long as 20 miles). The east coast can have much higher grades (as high as ~15%) and tend to have a lot of up and down over the hills. Many find the appalachians more challenging than the rockies as a result. These are approximate, not exact figures.

Bear attacks are very rare but do occur. Keeping your food out of reach and away from your tent at night will keep you 99.999% safe, and keep your distance from a bear if you see one. Bear pray can protect you, and will also be useful against stray dogs (a more likely threat).

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Novice looking for basic advise
« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2011, 04:54:31 pm »
I was thinking of that Northern route. Do people know is it much of it off road just so i can decided on appropriate tires and pressure. Motels average at about $50 a night right? From what i have read it doesn't common place for attacks to happen. Also what kind of climbs should I be expecting?

The Norhern Tier route is all paved roads.  As well as all of the other Adventure Cycling routes except the Great Divide and other mountain bike specific routes.  So any tire will work fine.  Assuming your Felt is a road bike, put as wide a tire as you can fit.  25 or 28mm most likely.  Trailer pulling puts extra weight on the rear tire.  Smoother the tire the better.  $50 a night will probably be about right for rural areas.  Maybe a little lower in some places.  Bigger cities figure $70 a night.  Climbs will vary from about 10 miles at 5-7% in the Rockies and Cascades to 1-4 miles at 15% in the Appalachia mountains.  And lots of ups and downs and rolling in between.  I assume you have a triple crankset on your Felt road bike.  You will need it.  Put a 24 tooth inner chainring on it.  24 tooth will fit and it will shift just fine.  Put as big a cog as you can fit on the cassette.  27-28-30-32-34, biggest that will fit.  It is probably possible to buy your BOB trailer after arriving in the USA if traveling with it is not good.  Just figure where you will start, contact a local bike shop, and have them get one for you when you arrive.  Do take your own bike from home.

Offline knolltop

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Re: Novice looking for basic advise
« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2011, 05:08:20 pm »
Some of us going xcountry this summer are starting to post journals on CrazyGuyOnABike site.  More will likely start their journals in coming 1-3 months.
Also there are many many completed journals from previous seasons.
If you haven't already done so, may be useful to do a review there.
+-+ Michael +-+

Offline staehpj1

Re: Novice looking for basic advise
« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2011, 06:08:38 pm »
Bear attacks are very rare but do occur.

To put things into perspective a bit...  In the lower 48 there were 5 deaths from bear attack in the last decade.  In the same period and are there were about 750 deaths by lightning strike.  400 people die of bee strings in a similar period.

With death by lightning strike being 150 times more likely, bear attacks don't rise to the level of even being worth considering beyond just following normal good camping practices concerning food and toiletries.  The good camping practices are actually more important for the bear's sake than for your sake.  Bears that are habituated to stealing food from humans are likely to be destroyed.

If you want to worry about something worry about the guy who is driving a rental behemoth of a motorhome and talking on the cell phone.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Novice looking for basic advise
« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2011, 06:52:11 pm »
In small towns hotels average ~$50 a night.

I wish!  My experience (almost two years ago now) is that most small town motels averaged $80-100 per night.

Offline knolltop

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Re: Novice looking for basic advise
« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2011, 07:18:44 pm »
If you want to worry about something worry about the guy who is driving a rental behemoth of a motorhome and talking on the cell phone.

 :( :thumbsup:  :(
+-+ Michael +-+

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Novice looking for basic advise
« Reply #10 on: February 24, 2011, 03:28:17 am »
I have never had any violent-animal problems crossing the USA anywhere. The post about lightning being a bigger concern is absolutely true in every way. If you could see some of the electric storms I've been caught out in, you would have to agree it's a miracle I'm still alive. I have spent hours cringing in fear at night with huge bolts of electricity slamming to earth all around, and praying to God to keep me safe, and preparing to meet my maker. And that is no exaggeration. Extreme weather events are much more of a concern than any Smokey the Bear coming along to raid your kit.

The ST in summer? Hot? I've done it more than once in summer. Plan on 92-95 F in most places, in general.  It could reach over 100 F in long stretches. I was drinking 2 1/2--3 gallons of liquids daily and my daily mileage went down. One summer I got about 30 minutes of rain total all the way from the east coast to the west coast of the US. In summer you can carry less weight in gear, but that heat and all that solar radiation beaming directly onto you all day can hammer you down after a while. Not to mention the fact that summer is mosquito season.

Bears are the least of your concerns. Even groups of Coyotes on the ST won't come too close to you.


Some motorist comes along. She's drinking a cup of coffee, putting on makeup looking in the rearview mirror, smoking a cigarette, talking on the cell phone, and she just had a couple of drinks before leaving the house. Don't worry about the bears. It's the two-legged animals that are the problem.

As for the NT, I would recommend that or the Transam. Using ACA's maps would definitely be to your advantage. Take it from a cyclist who has used many different routes to bike across the US. The roads you use can make a big difference in your enjoyment of your trip.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2011, 12:48:12 pm by Westinghouse »

Offline staehpj1

Re: Novice looking for basic advise
« Reply #11 on: February 24, 2011, 08:18:45 am »
Oh and one other thing regarding bears...  There is a pretty good chance that you will not even see a bear.  On the TA, while we saw a lot of wildlife, but we never saw a single bear on that trip and I think that is true for the majority of folks doing the TA or NT.  Several times we were places where bears had just been seen either earlier in the day or the day before.

I have seen bears while touring in the Sierras.  We saw 5 in two days while passing through Sequoia.  Two were close and one was VERY close.

As far as routes go...  The TA is really the best sampling of what the US has to offer of the possible routes.  It would be a shame IMO to miss the Colorado portion of the Rockies, Yellowstone, and the Tetons.  The NT does have Glacier NP though.  Perhaps the best of both could be had by taking the TA to Missoula, the NT through Glacier NP, and then head south to rejoin the TA.  We met some folks who did just that and they were pretty pleased with the route.





Offline Tourista829

Re: Novice looking for basic advise
« Reply #12 on: February 24, 2011, 08:45:00 am »
I agree with Staehpj1 & others bear attacks are very rare. Keep food away from your tent and camp site.
Ride the ACO Northern Tier the weather will be closer to what you are use to. I would go west to east with Bar Harbor your final destination. Pick up a used BOB trailer & waterproof bag over here and have it ship to a motel at the start of your route. I would try to find someone, in Ireland who has a single wheeled bicycle trailer, and see if they would lone it to you. DO a test run to see if you would like it. Is your bike comfortable for 70 to 80 mile days say 60 to 70 days? I would not do the Rockies on a 40 inch gear, I would make sure you have a 25 inch or lower gear.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Novice looking for basic advise
« Reply #13 on: February 24, 2011, 09:24:47 am »
In small towns hotels average ~$50 a night.

I wish!  My experience (almost two years ago now) is that most small town motels averaged $80-100 per night.

I have not gotten rooms all that many times when on tour, but the times that I have I think the average was between $ 50 and $60 with a few that were cheaper.   That said the majority of times I have gotten a rooms were in Kansas where I think they tend to be cheaper.  I think we did pay as much as $75 once in California, but it was a very posh place and included a great breakfast, not just a cheapie continental breakfast.  The gardener even gave us some really nice oranges from the trees on site.

I always ask about an AARP discount and a cyclist discount and am usually offered at least %10 off.

Offline cotterg3

Re: Novice looking for basic advise
« Reply #14 on: February 24, 2011, 10:19:31 am »
Regarding hotel prices, I'm sure they vary quite significantly. My figure of $50 is from my experience only, and mostly reflect the prices found in rural farming communities of middle America from kentucky to eastern colorado, and in southern california [non pacific coast of course]). I was not on an ACA route in these areas. Anywhere else, the camping was so good it didn't even occur to me to check motel prices.

Regarding bears, bear attack DEATHS is a bit of a misleading figure. A bear isn't going to walk up to you and take your head off unless you're somewhere in alaska maybe. However, I maintain that it is not impossible for a bear to become aggressive and charge you. This could happen if it is surprised, if you go near its young, food is involved, etc. I imagine the chance goes up if it is post hibernating (when they are starving) or mating season. Keep in mind the park service essentially kills or transports out of a park every bear not mortally afraid of humans, so the number of bear encounters is very rare these days, especially if you're in a park. That said, I would agree not to worry about bears. There are other safety factors (crashes, cars, etc) that totally outweigh the possibility of bear attack.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2011, 10:23:14 am by cotterg3 »