I haven't done a cross-country tour because I haven't had the impetus to take two months off of life to do it. I'm a freelancer, and so could conceivably work from the road. But a day or riding takes a lot of energy out of me, energy I'd need for focus on my work. That doesn't preclude shorter tours, or maybe a cross-country tour where I took twice as long to do the trip but rode shorter days.
The problem is that I seem to hit a point about a week into a tour when it isn't fun anymore. I suspect that there's another point beyond that where it enters a new level of touring nirvana, but I haven't done anything much longer than a week. Yet. (Maybe summer 2012!)
Trailers: I usually just use mine for hauling groceries and leave them home when I go on a tour, but they're great for some kinds of touring - where I'm hauling more stuff than usual, and there aren't offroad segments. Try it both ways if you can, some people love them. If you're good at packing a balanced load, a proper touring bike actually rides better when it has a heavy load.
In terms of being in shape:
You can ride yourself into shape on tour. David Lamb did it! It means you'll have a hard, hard first week, but you can do it. That said, training before the tour - particularly hill training, if you're touring in a hilly area - makes it a much more enjoyable experience.
Funny story about that David Lamb book: On a tour in 2010, I was pushing my loaded bike up a hill in Willimantic, CT, heading towards a bike shop to get my rear shifter fixed so I could shift gears. A guy was coming down the hill on a motorcycle, and we got to talking. Turns out he had read David Lamb's book as well!
It can be done. I don't know if anyone can say whether you can do it. The best I can tell you is that people with no endurance event experience ride across the country and make it one way or another. This particular person comes to mind:
I see that you don't plan to camp. Understand that there could be instances when indoor accommodations are far more than 60 miles apart and/or are unevenly spaced If you will be passing through popular tourist areas such as national parks, you may need to make reservations well in advance and be prepared to shell out more coin that you might think.
In answer you your particular question about the Trans Am, I was on it for 2.5 days last summer Left Missoula on June 29 and headed “east” (south, really). We stayed in Twin Bridges, which is on the Trans Am, on day 5 of the trip, getting there via our own route. Back in ’00 I rode the portion from Missoula to Fairplay. CO. That time I probably left Missoula around June 21st.
Sayre’s suggestion of starting in D.C. in April is an excellent one. Pushing it back to late April could be even be better for eastern weather. In addition to taking care of western pass issues, going this route might result in some company. Last year, In Lolo outside of Missoula, we met a guy heading west who had started the Trans Am in late April.
Whatever you do, let us know how it goes.
Interesting option but my trip is for this cause and the trip involves talking to as many people as possible in the towns along the way (maybe naive of me) and hopefully get a gathering in DC before the Supreme Court ruling on the Healthcare Act in late June. It would be anticlimactic, at least for me after that.
I am sure I'll have a lot of questions, starting with "Do you know of a bike route from SF to Phoenix (first leg)? I know its there and I coincidentally met a Marine today at the SF REI who is doing the Western Express/Trans Am starting April 1 for a Marine fund raising ride. He trains by riding from the East Bay to Yosemite and back - Gasp, gasp! He said there's plenty of options for going SF to Phoenix, one at least on the Sierras using Highway 395 which apparently is very bike friendly. I don't know...
This is sure to make you laugh at my ambition but I am only at 12 miles in an hour/hour and five minutes, I ride 4 times a week and do strength training the other 3 days. I can feel the improvement every couple of days I hope to bring it up to about 20-25 by the end of Feb. I ride in the GG Park in SF on an old velodrome in the Polo fields (boring) and I plan to start in Marin by this weekend. I do have a climb right here in the city. From Bosworth Ave in San Francisco to top of Twin Peaks is about 3 miles and approx 950 feet ( I am guessing, give or take 50 feet). Looks like a killer ride and I don't know if I'll try it before the end of this month. If I can do that I can go across to Mt. Tam in Marin.
I thought of Highway 1, driven parts of it several times but I want to do a lot of small towns/cities on the route and meet people to sell my cause. If there's a route along 101 (stop at Paso, I've been there a few times to see all those wineries there) and cross over to Nevada/Arizona somewhere down south or cross over to 99 and parallel Highway 5 and cross the Sierras somewhere. I plan to post a route specific question on the touring sub-forum and on ACA and the Crazyguyonabike forum as well.
I can take the cold, its the heat in the desert that worries me, so if you think SD - Borrego Springs route is an option I'll consider it.
I've done a few 1000+mi tours. If you Ned to average 50mp day you'll want to get to that magic number before you roll, but if you are even close to it you'll find with all day to ride 50 mi won't be a big deal after a while. Read some backpacking books for additional food and packing ideas. Here in AK I can ride and camp anywhere but you will need a lot more planning. Good luck
Also, consider bringing an associate and an RV. I'm serious. RAMM rides with support, why not you?
Homeyba rode with me once, so he can't laugh at any other cyclist's ambition.
Anyone mention the "ultralight Bicycling Touring Blog"? This guy gets his gear down to near nothing and it's very impressive. No trailers or special front racks needed. http://ultralightcycling.blogspot.com/
I never get my gear down that low, but I always try. My gear list is here: http://ronajustine.blogspot.com/p/to...pack-list.html I always tend to over pack water and food. Most trips my front bags are not super full and packed hard, but it's still weight!
I may have missed it? May I ask what you are riding right now? And, what is the bike you are thinking of getting for the tour?
http://s1103.photobucket.com/albums/g475/Peter_CC/ <-- My Photos
I'm planning my own trip like this either next year or the year after (if I can save my pennies...lots and lots of pennies....) and this has been an awesome thread so far! This is such a dream for so many people, and a lot more possible than I think most would expect!
If it's peace you find in dying, and if dying time is near,
Just bundle up my coffin 'cause it's cold way down there!
Here is the thing about desert riding. Water is insanely important. Don't leave without enough water to get you where you are going. You can limp along without enough food but not water. You can die out there whether it's hot or not. If you are on roads between two towns you are going to have to deal with cars going insanely fast and buzzing by you. If you want a road with no cars you will be in the middle of nowhere going nowhere. The grades in the desert are generally very long and shallow. Not often will you see grades in excess of 6% except for short distances. It's not uncommon to be on 20+ miles grades of 1-3%. The time that you are talking about crossing the desert should be fine temperature wise but realize that at that time of year it can still get real hot or real cold and the wind is ever-present. If you want I can show you a picture of what the wind can be like out there.
As far as your speed goes, if you ride at 12mph you'll be on the bike less than 5hrs a day assuming you don't exceed 50miles. I think you're going to have to be open to some longer days, at least crossing the desert. Getting faster will definitely help because you will go slower with a load. You don't need to get up around 20mph but if you could get up to 15ish before you start I think you'll be in pretty good shape as long as you give yourself some recovery days along the way.
It doesn't get harder, you just go slower.
I am getting fitted at Bespoke next Tuesday. I am hoping that it will give me better information on what type of bike I need, how to balance the panniers etc. I tend to overpack even for small trips and a trailer will just feed my bad habit. BTW, is there a bike under all those bags in the photo on that page? How much weight were you carrying?
Yr. Charles river reference just gave me a painful reminder again, my hip injury was caused when I was training on my rowing shell for the Head of the Charles regatta. It was my Holy Grail trip until I busted my left hip by overtraining on the bike and the boat.
I wonder how SFGary will feel if the Supreme Court either moves up the hearing/ruling or delays it? Regardless of the cause a person supports, I think bike touring should be done for its own sake, and that travel is about bringing change to yourself, not to others. I think SFGary will have a good time if he lets himself.
Also, I'm not sure this ride will have any more impact than changing your Facebook profile photo to a cartoon to protest child abuse, or putting a bumper sticker on your top tube. It's fine if people do those things, but I hope they don't think it's change anyone can believe in.