Touring - Thinking about Cross Country Next Summer
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10-17-06, 12:22 PM
I am 55 years old and semi-retired. My life partner is a school teacher with summers off. We are both long time cyclists. I own a small business but my employees are capable of handling it for a few weeks if necessary.
I've always wanted to cross the US by bike. I've been looking for some kind of supported tour but they all seem to leave in May; we must leave in June after school is out. How hard is it to be self-supported. I'm not a big fan of sleeping in a tent. I don't mind carrying stuff on my bike - commute 25 miles every day and carry lots of stuff.
10-17-06, 02:11 PM
Some people call it credit-card touring - where you eat in restaurants and sleep in a motel every night.
First off - you said a few weeks. Even without the weight of cooking and camping stuff, you'll need at least eight weeks - maybe ten.
Second - one drawback of motel touring is that you will need to make reservations quite early for certain highly popular places if you plan to be going thru - like Glacier or Yellowstone - and then stick to them. Also you should have motel lists with you so that you can call at least a day ahead even for smaller towns. Some small towns on the route may have only one motel so if it fills up - with highway construction workers or a college group doing a geology trip - you are out of luck.
Third - you should have an emergency lightweight tarp and space blanket with you no matter what. If a sudden storm comes up and you are soaked miles from nowhere - you may need it.
Fourth - Since you will be moteling it - you can keep your gear to a minimum - even clothes - since you can wash things every night.
Leaving in June will be fine from either coast. I think May is a little early to enjoy the West. Oh yes - make sure to get July 4th reservations early no matter where you are.
10-17-06, 03:27 PM
Is there a website or book with information about route, motel locations etc. I've been searching the web.
I did think that credit card touring would probably be the way to go. I travelled around one summer on a motorcycle like that but I did carry a tent. There were a couple of nights where camping was the best option.
Have a look at the touring section in my Links page here: http://www.machka.net/links.htm
Especially take a look at the Bicycle Touring 101 site, but have a look at the rest of them as well.
In addition to that, pay a visit to your local AAA (American Automobile Association) and pick up tourist information. You should be able to get quite a bit of info there if AAA is anything like CAA (Canadian Automobile Association.) Also, take a trip to your local tourist information place, and the nearest rest stop along your nearest freeway ... you should be able to pick up more info there. And you can do a google search for tourist information for the various states you are planning to go through. From there, you can email or write for more information (or just get it right from the website). You could also check the Super 8 and/or Comfort Inn websites (or drop by a Super 8 or Comfort Inn) and pick up their handbooks. That will give you an idea where inexpensive motels are located ........... and so on, and so on, and so on.
Have you travelled much at all around the US, or even outside your own State? I discovered all of the above on 3 trips amounting to a total of about 2 months in the US over the past couple years.
10-17-06, 04:14 PM
For maps with full route information, motel/food/bikeshop locations, elevation profiles, phone numbers for camping and motels: www.adventurecycling.org
They have a number of fully mapped routes, and do guided tours with camping and non-camping options.
You can also learn alot over at crazyguyonabike.com, where folks post their touring journals on line.
10-17-06, 06:03 PM
Yeah, adventure cycling is the way to go. Their maps don't suit my particular style of touring, but they should be perfect for the original poster.
You might also get in touch with the local cycling associations for each state and see if they have cycling maps for free or for sale. Several years ago Alberta produced a cycling map which I still refer to. It colors the roads different colors to indicate traffic density, and also indicates things like shoulder width, pavement, etc. Using a map like that, a cyclist could pick and choose good roads - wide shoulders, low traffic density etc. The city of Edmonton has also put together one for the city ... good options for getting through the city.
Manitoba has one for the city of Winnipeg, and then they sell a book which tells you all the good roads for cycling and which ones to avoid as well as other tips like places to see, where campgrounds and other services are, etc.
I can get ahold of all of that through the cycling associations of Alberta and Manitoba ... so perhaps you might be able to get ahold of the same sort of thing down there.
10-18-06, 06:09 AM
All you need is the desire to do it. Adventure cycle has the maps so you basic routing choices are prepared for you. Different routes present different opportunities. Begin gathering information from the sites listed above as well as: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/
Reading the journals available on crazy guy will give you a better understanding of how the process works for others. Then just choose a route and do it.
Self supported is an option that presents you with the best of all worlds. You can follow routes prepared by others who have been there but you can go at your own pace and change the route if you want to. Good luck.
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