Touring - USA - West to East, any suggestions advice
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I am a newcomer to touring so learning a lot from this forum and loving it.
I'm from England and for my first tour it was my plan to break myself in riding the west coast from North to South.
However, for a couple of reasons my plans have now completely changed.
I'm going to fly into either Los Angeles or San Francisco on the 1st of May 2013. I'm then giving myself approximately 3 and a half months to get to the east coast, namely Portland in Maine, arriving sometime in August.
There are a few choice places that I really want to see along the way. Yosemite, Sequoia, The Grand Canyon, Niagra Falls
I will be riding Solo the whole route and hopefully meeting family from the UK when arriving in Maine (I can see them all waving me in now)
Can't wait to make some friends along the way too.
My big questions are regarding climate and route.
Given my dates of travel, do you think I will run into any areas that it's not wise to tackle? For example death Valley!
Can I get to the grand canyon from Sequoia through May/June without running through inhospitable desert?
Should I bus or train through this area? I would rather ride the whole distance.
Can anyone suggest a good route to stick to bearing in mind I don't want to zig zag too much?
In my initial research in google maps I have typed in San Fran, Yosemite, Sequoia, grand canyon, and then Maine.
From the comfort of my home in the UK it looks like a great route that is not too back and forth.. but is this a bad idea? Can anyone fill in the gaps and tell me what I simply can't miss or must avoid!
Looking forward to hearing your learned thoughts :)
10-04-12, 03:49 PM
Would check out http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/ for lots of cycling blogs, and useful info.
Would also get in a bit of touring (shakedown rides) in the UK before to make sure all your kit is working, reading a lot of the blogs on crazyguy, alot of riders seem to have kit which either doesn't work well, isn't fit for purpose, or are very luck that they get away with what they have.
Good luck with the planed ride
Thanks Jimc, I will look into those.
My list of biking gear includes;
Surly Disc trucker, Tubus front and rear racks, SKS guards, Ortlieb waterproof pannier front and rear and bar bag, dynamo hub for charging iphone and lights, topeak pump, ktytonite lock, basic tool kit, spare tubes, lights.
I'm hoping these decent quality basics should set me off in the right direction. :)
Also check out www.adventurecycling.org (http://www.adventurecycling.org). 3.5 months starting that early might be a challenge to get across the Rockies (if it snows a lot this winter, the passes will be closed or cramped until later in the year). Adventure Cycing has a pretty good route system. You could ride north to Lewis and Clark, TransAm, or Northern Tier, and head east, giving the snow a few more weeks to melt.
If you started from LA, you might also go south to San Diego, go east on the Southern Tier, north on the Grand Canyon Connector to Western Express, then catch the TransAm east of Pueblo, possibly connecting with UGRR or Great Rivers north to Northern Tier.
Have fun planning!
10-04-12, 04:41 PM
You'll likely get a lot more from your crossing by using the ACA maps referenced above, especially if you're planning to camp a lot. They might pay for themselves by pointing out free/low cost spots to pitch your tent. You'll also meet a lot of peers on the ACA routes. Deviate as desired.
Then there's www.warmshowers.org, a site specifically for touring cyclists to find overnight hosts. If you like meeting folks, great way to do it. Couchsurfers is another possibility, tho not cycling specific. More tuned to longer stays and swapouts.
Journal your ride and come back to us with a link.
Just one thing I'll comment on ... your question "should I bus or train through this area?"
That may not be as easy as you might imagine. In England and throughout Europe, you can hop on a train and go to the next town or across the country or whatever without much difficulty at all. And if that train doesn't take your bicycle, the next one a couple hours later probably will. And it won't cost you much ... a little bit for your bicycle perhaps, and a little bit more for you.
In the US, Amtrak is, to my knowledge and in my experience, the only train service that takes passengers any distance (i.e. outside of cities), it is fairly expensive, it doesn't run frequently (maybe once a day if you're lucky), it only goes to certain places, and only a select few stations will allow you to take your bicycle. You would really have to do your research to find out whether you could catch a train from a particular place to another place, and especially if you would be allowed to 1) put your bicycle on the train at your departure choice, and 2) remove your bicycle at your destination choice.
Also if you discover you can use Amtrak, allow for at least one extra day in addition to what the train schedule says. I have used Amtrak, and have been delayed 12 hours. Evidently that's a relatively common occurance. The scheduled departure time doesn't mean much, nor does the scheduled arrival time.
As for the busses, again to my knowledge and in my experience, they require that the bicycle be boxed. So you'll need to source a box from somewhere. And then, they reserve the right to refuse your bicycle and to tell you that it will be shipped cargo. If it goes cargo, it might arrive when you do ... or not.
If you do decide you want to skip a section, probably an easier, more reliable method would be to rent a vehicle for a one-way trip for a day or two. And it probably wouldn't be much more expensive than taking Amtrak (although I've recently noticed that car rental prices are going up as well.)
10-05-12, 12:26 PM
Just one thing I'll comment on ... your question "should I bus or train through this area?"
That may not be as easy as you might imagine.....
+1 on nearly all of this, especially the scarcity of services parts.
10-05-12, 12:28 PM
Practical advice from Machika. I've done it all and agree with her, especially for a short haul.
Another approach to skip riding a section is to check around to see if anyone locally is either going your way or is willing to go your way. I've done that successfullly more than once, for a fee and as a hitch hiker. 3 of us guys hired a local driver to haul us and gear 75 miles last year in BB National Park area of Texas to avoid the 'Death Highway' along the Rio Grande. It was fun, as he acted as sort of a tour guide for us.
thanks for the advice. I really would love to ride to/through the grand canyon. Do you think it's doable on a bike at this time of year or best avoided?
10-05-12, 02:08 PM
If you were planning on seeing Yosemite Valley and then crossing the Sierra over Tioga Pass, you might want to either plan on spending a bit of time in the valley or having an alternative plan to cross somewhere further south. The last time Tioga Pass was opened prior to the second week of May was 1987, and June openings aren't unusual at all.
Considering that I have seen long-range forecasts predicting heavy snowfall in the Sierra this winter, I would suggest looking for a different way across. Those same forecasts call for a dry winter in the Cascades, so you may find it easier to get to the plains via a northern route.
10-05-12, 02:22 PM
Yosemite is in the Southern Sierras, then the mountains have to be climbed
to go on from there to Arizona.. desert.
though the North Rim of the Grand Canyon as to be higher altitude, will be a bit cooler.
but expect 30C+ - temperatures 100F, not uncommon.. be able to carry a Lot of Water.
you got a map to highlight the places you want to visit? connect the dots..
10-05-12, 11:35 PM
If you are planning to see Yosemite, then head south to see Sequoia, then your natural choice is to keep going south and cross over Tehachapi Pass on your way east. However, this will put you into some low desert on the way to the Grand Canyon, and it usually has begun heating up by this time of year. If you are acclimated to the dry heat, it's actually not too bad if you avoid the midday sun, but I don't know how you will do coming straight from England--are you a heat lover? (The last couple months here in Southern California has made riding in 100 F seem pretty normal..) The worst months in the low desert are in July-September when a "monsoon" flow kicks in from the southeast, bring lots of humidity, thunderstorms, and nights that barely cool down at all.
Oh, yeah, Death Valley just reclaimed the title of hottest place on earth at 134 F; the problematic record-holder from Libya finally was disallowed after umpteen years. That should make it more of a destination--just this summer it set a record for its hottest night ever during one of the monsoon high pressure episodes--I think it did not fall below 107 F.
PS: here's some opening dates for Tioga Pass in recent years: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/tiogaopen.htm
The North and South rims of the Grand Canyon are at 8000 and 7000 feet respectively, and certainly will not be suffering any low desert type of heat, regardless if it's June or not. You may freeze your tukis off, instead...
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