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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 02-24-10, 04:48 AM   #1
BearsysRevenge
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Biking across America

I mentioned to a friend of mine how I can't wait to get back onto my bike once the snow clears up, being in upstate NY biking is all but impossible during the winter.

A few minutes ago though, I just got blasted in the face with a desire to ride the continental US to both lose weight and raise awareness for childhood obesity. And just for the awesome ****ing experience. I don't know if I want to do a year, or just take my time or what, but I really want to do this

I obviously can't start right off, being that I haven't planned at all for this yet, and that I'm not yet ready to ride potentially daunting amounts day in and day out, but that's part of the adventure... working hard for huge rewards.

What would I need to do to start? My bike info is in my sig.

I love tent camping, and have a good tent, so "housing" is not an issue, but getting food would be an issue, as well as doing laundry and stuff too, I guess.

I came here instead of any other forum, cause I figure the larger people who've done anything similar would have a better grasp on the issues surrounding this than the people who weigh 125 pounds and never worry about weight issues.

Forrest Gump style yo.

It is doable, I just don't know what would be involved.

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Old 02-24-10, 07:33 AM   #2
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Start with Adventure Cycling, then the touring forum. There are a number of routes, the southern being the shortest, the 'most popular being the AC route from Oregon to I think Yorktown VA, Some do it in 3 months, some do a segment then another 6 months or a year later.

Acquiring a certain level of fitness before is critical, after that you'll ride yourself into shape.

With the right bike, gearing and equipment should be no different for a clyde other than daily milage might be shorter

There are several books by people who've done it, search Amazon, also get on crazyguyonabike and read the journals
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Old 02-24-10, 07:48 AM   #3
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First, I commend you for your ambition to ride across the country. It’s a dream of mine that will unfortunately have to wait for retirement. I’ve been researching a bit as I have plans for my first tour this summer. It’s much less ambitious than yours I assure you.

So, what do you need to bike across the country? Well, a bike. Everything else will just add to your comfort. What you will need is going to depend on a couple things, how much money are you willing to spend? If you’re willing to max that credit card out all you need to do is pack a couple changes of cycling cloths, a jacket, flat repair kit, spare tire, and a frame pump. Meals and hotels go on the card. If you are looking to camp, you need to evaluate how you are going to carry your gear.

“bike info is in my sig”

Hardrock disc. Well, no rack and panniers for you friend. A trailer is going to be your best and only practical bet. Yes they make racks for bikes with disc brakes, however, you are going to run into another limitation of the hardrock. That being the relatively short chain stays. Even if you do get a rack and panniers on it, the heel strike will drive you batty. Just go for the trailer instead. Buy a single wheeled trailer for best results. Hey, you’re heading across the country, why not hit some rail trails while you’re at it The single wheeled trailer will track much better behind you as well as keeping the total width of your bike in check. IE: if your handlebars will fit through an opening, so will your trailer. Check out the Bob Yak or Ibex.

A tent is a tent, lighter is better to a reasonable extent. For preparing food you should stop by a store that caters to back packers, buy a colapsable cooking set, really all you need is a pot as it can be used in many roles. Keep a utlitly knife handy to make skewers to cook over an open fire (if that’s your thing). If you do buy a back packers cooking stove, buy a white gas one as fuel is plentiful for the most part. Or, wander over to the touring forum and search for instructions on how to make your own stove, some people make them from soda cans. Keep a roll of TP on hand, you never know when the urge to hunker down will strike. Travel sized deoderants, shampoos, and toothpaste can be bought in just about any gas station or big box store. Cheap and lightweight. Also keep a hefty supply of whatever medications you are on, a bottle of the pain reliever of your choice, sun screen, bug repellent, and a brightly colored tag with your name, address, emergency contact, and health insurance information should you be in an accident and the emergency responders need to ID you. A road atlas would be helpful too.

For food, your best bet is going to be stopping at a grocery store when available and buying what you plan on eating for that meal. Keep some food on hand, you never know when your next chance to stock up is going to be.
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Old 02-24-10, 11:09 AM   #4
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You'll get a lot of good advice, and some bad advice, on this topic. My suggesting is to start thinking about the three big things:

1. Time
How much time do you have for the tour?

2. Comfort
How comfortable do you need to be? Do you need to stay indoors? How often? When? How much to you eat, and what? What sort of gear do you need? What gear do you want? Etc....

3. Money
How do you pay for it?

You will find all sorts of estimates about what you should buy and how much the trip will cost. Some people live expensively on the road, and some live on shoestrings. Look up BF poster "GPSBlake" and he'll tell you about going from South Carolina to Texas for 400 dollars on a Wal-Mart Schwinn Sidewinder. But he slept for free on public and municipal land and lived on peanut butter and crackers. I could never do that. :-(
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Old 02-24-10, 11:55 AM   #5
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I had to call my trip from L.A to Boston quits in Flagstaff,AZ because of my Lower back and sleeping on the ground. After riding alot and then hitting the ground it can be alot on your back.. especially if your a big dude like me. Just things to test and think about I loved the trip!! it was tough in the hills... TOUGH..
but getting the right gearing can help all that.

I'd love to try it again!! sometime but $$$ is something to think about too....(i wish it grew on trees!!) keep us up to date!
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Old 02-24-10, 03:55 PM   #6
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I'm 20 years old and currently "between jobs", so time is not a problem right now, as for money, I plan on being as cheap as possible. No extravagances, living outdoors as opposed to inside. Comfort would be nice, but a tent and a sleeping bag is all I need. If weather gets bad I'll fall back onto a credit card and crash in a motel, but I don't want to do that.

I could do crackers and peanut butter as long as I had access to fresh fruit once in a while. Being a college student I live on Top Ramen for weeks at a time, with no real complaints. And I love peanut butter, haha.

I have a smartphone with GPS and it has road atlas capabilities.

There's no better time than as soon as possible to get on this, before world responsibilities really cement themselves.
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Old 02-24-10, 04:18 PM   #7
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First off, I say go for it! You're 20, now's the time to get it done. Now that I said that, you got a lot of research to do. Riding across the US on peanut butter and saltines is not going to cut it! You are not going to be able to just throw your tent up anywhere. Especially in cities, there are laws against that. You need to figure out how many miles/day you plan to ride. If you do 60m/day it will take you just under two months taking no rest days. You're probably not going to want to do that. It's supposed to be fun right? I'd plan on a somewhere around three months. There is lots to think about but it is doable! You just need to figure out what's going to work for you and your situation. The clock it tickin! get busy planning. If you want good weather you need to be on the road in the not to distant future (especially if you need to get some miles on your legs first).

btw, don't worry if you are not in the prime condition at the start, you will be by the end!
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Old 02-25-10, 04:46 AM   #8
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BTW, I'd suggest dropping the awareness/charity aspect of the ride, especially if it's going to involve fundraising. It's mental baggage you don't need, and the ride is worth doing for its own sake.
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Old 02-25-10, 04:50 AM   #9
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Congratulations.. Have done a couple tours both sag and non sag, going non sag really increases the amount of stuff you need carry on the bike... Sometimes, in the west you'll find vast expanses where there is nothing.. You might need to do some primitive style camping.. So prepare yourself..
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Old 02-25-10, 06:37 AM   #10
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If you're going to tent camp most of the time, buy a good sleeping pad. Good ones are well north of a $100, try not to skimp on your back. No matter how well you clear the ground before you pitch your tent, a rock or a stick will always be jabbing you in the lower back. It's guaranteed, I think it's even printed on a tag in the tent somewhere.
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Old 02-25-10, 07:06 AM   #11
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Your subject is so large it's difficult to address the myriad of issues it encompasses in this format. With that said, I agree that Adventure Cycling is a good way to go if you have never done something like this. There maps take care of most of the leg work. IMO, relying on a smart phone to plan from the road is not the way to go. I also agree that eating crackers or living out of convenience store microwaves likely won't cut it. Niether will Ramen. Think about what you will be doing: Pedaling a heavy-ass bike about 60 miles/day over hills and mountains and against wind with maybe a day off every seventh day. I carry a complete cookset because I like to eat well and, more importantly, nutritiously. Not only will a mattress make for a softer sleep, it will insulate you from the ground, which can suck the heat right out of you at night.

Send me a private email if you want advice from someone who has over 10,000 miles of loaded touring experience through all sorts of weather and over all sorts of terrain in the U.S., Canada and Europe.
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Old 02-25-10, 07:42 AM   #12
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, being in upstate NY biking is all but impossible during the winter.

.
Lots of people ride through the winter in upstate NY.
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Old 02-25-10, 08:24 AM   #13
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You'll get a lot of good advice, and some bad advice, on this topic. My suggesting is to start thinking about the three big things:

1. Time
How much time do you have for the tour?

2. Comfort
How comfortable do you need to be? Do you need to stay indoors? How often? When? How much to you eat, and what? What sort of gear do you need? What gear do you want? Etc....

3. Money
How do you pay for it?

You will find all sorts of estimates about what you should buy and how much the trip will cost. Some people live expensively on the road, and some live on shoestrings. Look up BF poster "GPSBlake" and he'll tell you about going from South Carolina to Texas for 400 dollars on a Wal-Mart Schwinn Sidewinder. But he slept for free on public and municipal land and lived on peanut butter and crackers. I could never do that. :-(
Here's the shoestring tour I mentioned.

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/poorguyonabike

Consider this level of touring as a baseline only.
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Old 02-26-10, 02:22 AM   #14
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I can currently ride 20-25 miles a day comfortably. I don't really need any more than that right? I mean I'm not doing this for speed, I just want to enjoy myself. Plus as time goes I'll be able to do more.
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Old 02-26-10, 05:51 AM   #15
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If you travel 3500 miles at 25 miles per day that's 4.6 months, with rest days thats a five month trip. That's a pretty light daily average. should probably shoot for 40-60.

If you average 12 miles an hours that's only two hours a day of riding
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Old 02-26-10, 07:45 AM   #16
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I can currently ride 20-25 miles a day comfortably. I don't really need any more than that right? I mean I'm not doing this for speed, I just want to enjoy myself. Plus as time goes I'll be able to do more.
Some questions:

1. Is that 25 miles/day loaded with gear? Flat, rolling or mountainous terrain?

2. What happens if you wake up in town A and the next place to stay isn't for, say, 65 miles? A realistic scenario.

3. Do you have the time to take such an extended trip? (Adventure Cycling's Southern Tier Route is about 3,100 miles from FL to CA. You aren't going to get much shorter than that.)

As one person notes, your suggested average daily mileage is low. I think you might get bored out of your skull after only 2, 3 or even 4 hrs. on the road each day. Imagine breaking camp and hitting the road at the late hour of 10 a.m. and then having to set everything up again at 2 p.m.
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Old 02-26-10, 07:53 AM   #17
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Yeah you're gonna have to do and you're going to want to do longer days than that. Even doing 100 miles a day theres places where you won't reach a town till the next day. That means well over a days worth of water and food to carry. at 25 miles a day you would need to carry more than 4 or 5 days worth of food and water.
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Old 02-26-10, 08:06 AM   #18
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I can currently ride 20-25 miles a day comfortably. I don't really need any more than that right? I mean I'm not doing this for speed, I just want to enjoy myself. Plus as time goes I'll be able to do more.
You can do it and have fun.
I met Fred Tipps riding from New Mexico to Florida.
The day I talked to him he had covered 61 miles.
He camped the entire way and averaged 21 miles a day.

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Old 02-26-10, 05:41 PM   #19
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1: save up about 3 times as much money as you'll think you'll need

2: make sure you can take off at least 3 times as much time as you think you'll need.

3: mount bike.

4: start riding.
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Old 02-26-10, 10:59 PM   #20
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I can currently ride 20-25 miles a day comfortably. I don't really need any more than that right? I mean I'm not doing this for speed, I just want to enjoy myself. Plus as time goes I'll be able to do more.
Can you ride them three days in a row?

BTW, there's nothing wrong with your daily mileage. The United States is a beautiful country. Take your time to see it. And ignore anyone who suggests doing so would be 'boring.'
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Old 02-27-10, 09:35 AM   #21
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if your between jobs and have no where to be i dont see why you cant take your time and enjoy it. you could probably do some odd jobs along the way to help fund it.
Adventure Cycling maps you need to start there. go to there site pick the route you want to take and order the maps. these will show you where the campgrounds are also where the places that allow free camping (churches and parks etc.). warmshowers.org is a good place to become a member they have rules but it might me a nice bed and a shower from time to time at no cost.
read some travelogues at crazyguyonabike.com there will be plenty taking the Adventure Cycling routes. with that you can get an idea of what to expect on your route of choice.

it shouldn't take long before your 25-30 miles a day can go to 60-70 miles a day. your fitness level should increase daily. make sure you plan to be self sufficient for a few days at a time with your current speed. there will not be a grocery store every 5 miles.

create you a travelogue on here or at crazyguyonabike so we can keep track of you on your journey and be jealous.
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Old 02-27-10, 09:43 AM   #22
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I'm assuming the 20 to 25 miles a day he mentioned is his current training/recreational riding, not his expected touring mileage.
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Old 02-27-10, 04:35 PM   #23
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By bored I was referring to sitting in "camp" for all that time. It might be better to ignore the advice of someone who has never actually ridden across the country or done any tour--loaded or unloaded--that even approximates such a journey.
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Old 02-27-10, 05:20 PM   #24
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By bored I was referring to sitting in "camp" for all that time.
"As one person notes, your suggested average daily mileage is low. I think you might get bored out of your skull after only 2, 3 or even 4 hrs. on the road each day."

Why do you assume the OP will spend his free time "in camp?" There's an awful lot to see and do between Buffalo and the West Coast. Too many touring cyclists develop white line fever, and treat the interesting parts of the US as "flyover country." As Sarah Palin described it when she announced her book tour, this is the "real America" - the OP should enjoy it, much like I enjoyed Delmarva last year.
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Old 02-27-10, 05:23 PM   #25
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I'm assuming the 20 to 25 miles a day he mentioned is his current training/recreational riding, not his expected touring mileage.
Agreed, but there's nothing wrong with such a mileage. I averaged between thirty and fifty miles a day on my Delmarva adventure last year, and I feel I missed things I'd like to have seen.
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