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-   Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) (http://www.bikeforums.net/clydesdales-athenas-200-lb-91-kg/)
-   -   Have any of you done a cross country tour? (http://www.bikeforums.net/clydesdales-athenas-200-lb-91-kg/795343-have-any-you-done-cross-country-tour.html)

SFGary 01-29-12 01:56 PM

Have any of you done a cross country tour?
 
Hi to all of you Clydes/Aths

I searched in the sub-topic but did not see any posts on cross country tours. Have any of you done the ACA routes such as the Trans Am or other routes? I am contemplating an SF - DC trip starting April for a cause and was wondering what shape does a heavier person, over 50 have to be to survive this trip on approximately 50+ miles a day? I am motivated but realistic enough to know that I am not yet in great shape.

Gary

Neil_B 01-29-12 03:14 PM

Indyfabz, who posts here from time to time, has crossed the country IIRC, but he was a lot younger than you.

I was planning on it in 2011 but I injured my already diseased knees late in 2010 and had to postpone my trip indefinitely. I've done multi-day in PA, NJ, DE, MD, and OH and I'll be happy to talk with anyone about it. I'm 46, overweight, and disabled. I've done 50 and 60 mile days.

BF poster neilfein is also an experienced bike tourist, and could probably share with you.

There's an entire subforum devoted to Touring, called, oddly enough, Touring. You might want to ask there too, but don't expect sympathy for your weight.

Neil_B 01-29-12 03:41 PM

http://www.amazon.com/Over-Hills-Mid.../dp/0812925793

A book for all us middle aged men who want to ride across the US.

tony_merlino 01-29-12 05:01 PM

Neil, thanks for posting the link to the book - I just ordered it from my library.

This, along with hiking the Appalachian Trail from end to end, is on my list of things that I always wanted to do, but never got around to. These dreams were always bumped by reality stuff like marriage, family, work, yada-yada. I'm realizing that, at 59, I'm running out of runway. I have a couple of multi-hundred mile tours planned for this Spring/Summer. But I still don't know how I'd get away for 3 months or so to do this.

To the OP: If you have the time and the desire to do this, go for it! Chances like that don't come along often. What do you have to lose?

SFGary 01-29-12 07:25 PM

Hi Neil_B, thanks for your reply and the direct mail as well. I saw your post about the knees and the potential operation and I wish you the best of luck and a speedy recovery. I thought I would post here first to get input from this sub-forum before I went over there. I don't need any sympathy :) I put the weight on and I'll take it off, I just needed to know how difficult approx. 50 miles a day for two months would be. I lift weights thrice a week, used to be fairly athletic when I was younger so if I get to 25-30 miles by end of February on my hybrid I can probably hit 50 miles on a touring bike. Whether I can do it almost every day for 2 months is another thing altogether. I ordered the Lamb book, thanks.

SFGary 01-29-12 07:28 PM

Hi tony_merlino, thanks for your reply. I have nothing to lose except my weight...and riding cross country would knock off a few pounds.

TrojanHorse 01-29-12 08:40 PM

See if you can track down Homeyba on this forum... I believe he's done the RAAM one or more times which is so far beyond anything that I can even conceive of that I am left speechless.

Is your trip supported or non-supported? The only problem with 50 miles a day is that sometimes 50 miles leaves you smack in the middle of nowhere but the concept sounds fascinating. I hope you do it and for crying out loud, take a million pictures and record your thoughts as you go.

Neil_B 01-29-12 08:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SFGary (Post 13784239)
Hi Neil_B, thanks for your reply and the direct mail as well. I saw your post about the knees and the potential operation and I wish you the best of luck and a speedy recovery. I thought I would post here first to get input from this sub-forum before I went over there. I don't need any sympathy :) I put the weight on and I'll take it off, I just needed to know how difficult approx. 50 miles a day for two months would be. I lift weights thrice a week, used to be fairly athletic when I was younger so if I get to 25-30 miles by end of February on my hybrid I can probably hit 50 miles on a touring bike. Whether I can do it almost every day for 2 months is another thing altogether. I ordered the Lamb book, thanks.

The problem isn't if you can ride 50 miles a day. It's one of logistics. You need to plan how you are getting over the Sierra Nevada and Rockies, and dealing with less developed areas where there might not be services, or water. For instance, look at the Western Express Adventure Cycling route:

************

http://www.adventurecycling.org/rout...ss.cfm?pg=more

Terrain
The route lets you warm up for 150 miles before the first major climb over Carson Pass at 8,573 feet. Nevada offers almost unlimited sight lines across wide valleys before ascending and descending a pass into the next valley. The terrain through central Utah becomes steeper, with grades varying from 6 percent to 14 percent. In Colorado the route follows several river valleys, though for the most part you'll be either climbing or descending.


Logistics
While California is almost urban in availability of services, Nevada and Utah present special problems in obtaining water and food on a daily basis. Carrying a water filter is strongly advised for water access at miscellaneous reservoirs, creeks, and lakes at primitive campsites. In most cases, there are no homes or ranches between services. Call ahead to verify any services. Nevada and Utah are extremely dry, and few trees are available for shade. In Colorado, services are more easily found, though higher altitude services -- from campground water to grocery stores -- can close early depending on weather.

***********

This guy's tour, although he didn't complete it, has some of the mileages you are considering.

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?doc_id=8217

BTW, searching on the Crazyguyonabike website might give you some other ideas for routes, and will help you understand what you will face on the road.

You also need to think through the "cause" aspect. Raising money for a cause is fine as long as you have clean hands, so to speak. Too many people claim to be riding for charity when the only charity is their own vacation. This guy, for instance, who wanted Bike Forums posters to cough up 4K worth of cameras for him: http://www.bikingforobama.com/

Neil_B 01-29-12 08:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SFGary (Post 13784249)
Hi tony_merlino, thanks for your reply. I have nothing to lose except my weight...and riding cross country would knock off a few pounds.

Don't expect a lot of weight. You will eat a LOT on tour. Drink a lot, too. I've seen estimates of weight loss between less than ten pounds to as high as 30. On my longest tour, 15 days from Pittsburgh to DC, and from Annapolis through Delmarva to the PA border north of Wilmington, I lost ten pounds.

Neil_B 01-29-12 09:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Neil_B (Post 13783367)
http://www.amazon.com/Over-Hills-Mid.../dp/0812925793

A book for all us middle aged men who want to ride across the US.

David Lamb, unlike most people who write about their bike tour, was a newspaper reporter. He was a correspondent for the LA Times. And it shows; Over The Hills is one of the most readable books on bike touring I've come across.

Another good author is Stan Purdom, who wrote Roll Around Heaven All Day, his piecemeal trip across America, and Playing in Traffic, an account of his ride on US 62 North to South. Both books are available on Amazon.

SFGary 01-29-12 09:47 PM

Hi TrojanHorse

Thanks for the suggestion, I'll track down Homeyba for some advice. The trip is all by my lonesome. A few people have managed the 50-60 miles a day and moteling it. In my case, because of the winter conditions, I might gown down to Southern California via the Central Valley, lots of towns, then cross over to Phoenix and then manage it somehow to Pueblo, CO. I have maps from ACA from Pueblo to Yorktown but I can easily hack a trip from some town in VA and do my own thing to DC. I need some insight from people who have done these routes.

If all all fails, I'll do the Western Express but Amtrak/rent a pickup truck/hitch a ride over snowed in areas.

I will take some pix and video along the way, the goal is to talk to a lot of people along the way.

Gary

Neil_B 01-29-12 09:55 PM

This guy posts to Touring, and he's a Clyde. He's a heck of a nice guy too.

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?doc_id=2471

Homeyba 01-30-12 12:47 AM

I'm 50 and have raced across the US four times. That's night and day different from touring though. During RAAM we're crossing (3000 miles) in 6+/- days. At 50miles/day you're going to take 2 +/- months. Great fun either way. 50 miles a day isn't a big deal in-and-of-itself. Add a full load and it can become a little tougher but even at 10mph average you're only on the bike for 5 hours. As mentioned about logistics is going to be your biggest challenge. I wouldn't worry too much about your initial condition because you will get stronger as you go along. Just make sure you give yourself rest days at intervals. Remember, when you get to the desert the wind will be your friend or your enemy. Either way there is no hiding from it out there. You should have generally favorable winds riding from west to east though. Let me know how I can help you. Neil B is a wealth info on this, he's going to do it himself one of these days. ;)

Rona 01-30-12 04:19 AM

I'm a disabled fat athena and I do full loaded touring. We do about 30 miles per day, rest every two days.

If you're not used to doing full loaded touring, I say do a bunch of weekend trips first- bike out, spend the night, bike back. See how far you can comfortably go. You'll learn about how much snack food/water you'll want to carry, what your breaks are going to be like. Rein and I go for about two hours (with snacks and water) then sit at a cafe and do coffee/tea/appelgebak/apple pie. That gives us an hour rest with bathroom break. Then we get back in the saddle, go another two hours then either do another cafe or a restaurant. Depends on our goals. We tend to do campsite to campsite and have our places planned. The only goal is to get there before night fall so we can put our tent up during daylight.

I have lost weight during trips but I also gain a lot of muscle mass. For some of us, we constantly eat. Lots of bananas, lots of water. It feels like a grazing tour sometimes. I know for me that after two or three days of biking, I need a day or more of recovery, then I can do another two or three days in a row again. Next summer I hope to be a lot better than last year and stretch it from 30 miles per day up to 50 miles per day. We'll see!! It's not about getting there fast, it's about getting there at all :P

pdlamb 01-30-12 10:01 AM

I'm only slightly younger than you, and completed a TransAm/Northern Tier ride two years ago. Highlights:

- It can be done when you're middle-aged and heavy.
- It's not easy.
- It's not too hard.
- It's worthwhile. Really.
- I lost about 35 pounds in the process.

Recommendations:

- Train until you can survive the first 7-10 days of the tour.
- After the first 10 days you'll be in shape.
- Leave yourself plenty of time to reduce pressure to get'er done.
- Appalachian climbs are generally worse than Rocky climbs.

I'm slowly porting my trip journal over to pdlamb.wordpress.com; take a look, and shoot me any questions.

Pat

indyfabz 01-30-12 01:15 PM

I crossed the country and then some back in '99 with a small group when I was 34 (Northern Tier to Bar Harbor with the group and then solo down the Atlantic Coast to Philly and then on to Ocean City, NJ). The oldest person turned 77 during the trip. The overall strongest rider was 60. Another 60 y.o. rode slow, but he could go handle any mileage thrown at him and had done the Trans Am a few years earlier. Did two 7+ week tours the following year. I have done other, shorter tours (between 9 days and 3 days) since then. I don't think age is the issue.

What do you have to do to survive a cross country trip averaging 50+ miles/day? That's an easy question. Assuming you don't have an endless amount of time, you have to be able to ride 50+ miles a day for around 3 months, give or take some weeks depending on your total mileage, in all the conditions that you will encounter. I have seen your post(s) on AC's forum. Even if you can avoid major mountains (which I don't think you can do completely), you are still going to have hills. As noted, the hills in the east can be worse in terms of grade. Just did a few days on the Trans Am from Missoula last summer and did the Missoula to Fairplay, CO stretch in '00. Missoula to Darby (about 70 miles) isn't bad. But after that you will have plenty of true mountain climbs all the way to Hooiser Pass outside of Breckenridge, CO.

Also as noted, be prepared to do longer days since logistics may make 50 miles or so per day tough sometimes. Practice trips are not necessary, but they can be a good idea if you are concerned about handling a loaded bike, aren't familiar with camping and cooking and/or generally want to get an idea of what riding will entail on a daily basis. Before my trip I had never slept in a tent. I took one fully-loaded day ride with everything I was going to take on the trip plus some estra weight to simulate the portion of the shared gear I would have to carry. That was enough for me, but I had been riding for sport for 13 years. And I was going to have 12 other people to learn camping and cooking from.

Being in the best shape possible will help with the physical demands, but you also need to be resilient. The fourth day on the Northern Tier featured a very cold, soaking rain nearly the entire day. We crossed the Cascades on day six. Thirty miles to Washington Pass, the vast majoirty of which was up hill to one degree or another. At some point it started to rain. That rain tunred into snow. The mid west was incredibly hot and humid. In IA to OH we probably didn't have one day with a high below 90. Hit 100 in IL. The tar drizzled on the road to patch cracks stuck to our tires. One night in IN the forecast low was 85 with horrible humidity and no breeze. The next day topped out at 107. And don't get me started on the 'skeeters.

Still want to do it? :) Seriously, it's worth the effort. A lifetime of memories. Just take it slow, ride at your own pace, be flexible and keep a possitive outlook.

chefisaac 01-30-12 01:51 PM

indy: heck, you turned me off and I dont even want to do it! :)

Road Hog 01-30-12 01:57 PM

A few interesting stories by people who have done it.

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/p..._id=50792&v=Uo

http://travel.nytimes.com/2011/10/23...pagewanted=all

http://home.comcast.net/~2224/tour/tour1.html

SFGary 01-30-12 03:00 PM

Hi Neil, that blog from the young guy is fascinating and funny in some ways. Thanks for that link. he's sort of convinced me by his writing to head south via the Central Valley to SoCal and then to Pueblo via Phoenix - that is if there's a good bike route. I plan to carry a lot of water and electrolytes, I know the danger of low salt etc. Point taken about logistics since I don't plan to camp out. If I can't get a reservation in a town 50-60 miles out I'll change my routing.

The cause is my own so I am not asking anyone for money, I'll use my savings. BTW I hardly see this trip as a vacation...its work. I might sell T Shirts :)

SFGary 01-30-12 03:01 PM

Another nice blog, thanks!

SFGary 01-30-12 03:19 PM

Homeyba, you are my new Guru !! Just looking at some of the RAAM race reporting/writing make me tired and you were over 50 when you did it, wow! Your post has given me new hope after that 19 year old's blog that Neil_B sent scared the heck out of me. I will ask you for pointers when I get more set and focused if you can indulge me. The main thing I am doing now is try to follow as much of Joe Friel's "Cycling past 50" and Edmund Burke/ Ed Pavelka's Long Distance Cycling training books. I am fairly strong for my age since I do some strength training but I am trying to get my "cycling legs" as quickly as possible. My feeling is that if I can get to about 25-30 miles in 2 hours w/o any load by the end of February I would be able to do it.

Glad to know that the wind is more likely to favor the West to East riding, the minimal wind on the Great Highway here in SF slows me down a lot. If you have done any riding in the Central Valley, CA/AZ it would be good to know if I can get from SF to Socal (via the Central valley) to Phoenix - rejoin the ACA Trans AM route at Pueblo? I am sure there's a route I just need to get details and make sure there are towns every 50 - 60 miles or so. Thanks again.

Gary

Neil_B 01-30-12 05:11 PM

An amusing journal of a fat, middle aged guy riding through Delaware and Maryland in 2009:

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...a-Winding-Road

And an abandoned tour from last summer, again with the fat guy, but this time with a friend. And 11 bands of rain. And mechanicals. And Screaming Yellow Zingers....

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...enture-Day-One

Neil_B 01-30-12 05:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by indyfabz (Post 13786745)
I crossed the country and then some back in '99 with a small group when I was 34 (Northern Tier to Bar Harbor with the group and then solo down the Atlantic Coast to Philly and then on to Ocean City, NJ). The oldest person turned 77 during the trip. The overall strongest rider was 60. Another 60 y.o. rode slow, but he could go handle any mileage thrown at him and had done the Trans Am a few years earlier. Did two 7+ week tours the following year. I have done other, shorter tours (between 9 days and 3 days) since then. I don't think age is the issue.

What do you have to do to survive a cross country trip averaging 50+ miles/day? That's an easy question. Assuming you don't have an endless amount of time, you have to be able to ride 50+ miles a day for around 3 months, give or take some weeks depending on your total mileage, in all the conditions that you will encounter. I have seen your post(s) on AC's forum. Even if you can avoid major mountains (which I don't think you can do completely), you are still going to have hills. As noted, the hills in the east can be worse in terms of grade. Just did a few days on the Trans Am from Missoula last summer and did the Missoula to Fairplay, CO stretch in '00. Missoula to Darby (about 70 miles) isn't bad. But after that you will have plenty of true mountain climbs all the way to Hooiser Pass outside of Breckenridge, CO.

Also as noted, be prepared to do longer days since logistics may make 50 miles or so per day tough sometimes. Practice trips are not necessary, but they can be a good idea if you are concerned about handling a loaded bike, aren't familiar with camping and cooking and/or generally want to get an idea of what riding will entail on a daily basis. Before my trip I had never slept in a tent. I took one fully-loaded day ride with everything I was going to take on the trip plus some estra weight to simulate the portion of the shared gear I would have to carry. That was enough for me, but I had been riding for sport for 13 years. And I was going to have 12 other people to learn camping and cooking from.

Being in the best shape possible will help with the physical demands, but you also need to be resilient. The fourth day on the Northern Tier featured a very cold, soaking rain nearly the entire day. We crossed the Cascades on day six. Thirty miles to Washington Pass, the vast majoirty of which was up hill to one degree or another. At some point it started to rain. That rain tunred into snow. The mid west was incredibly hot and humid. In IA to OH we probably didn't have one day with a high below 90. Hit 100 in IL. The tar drizzled on the road to patch cracks stuck to our tires. One night in IN the forecast low was 85 with horrible humidity and no breeze. The next day topped out at 107. And don't get me started on the 'skeeters.

Still want to do it? :) Seriously, it's worth the effort. A lifetime of memories. Just take it slow, ride at your own pace, be flexible and keep a possitive outlook.

+1. Heck, plus 3,500, give or take a few miles.

Neil_B 01-30-12 05:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by chefisaac (Post 13786912)
indy: heck, you turned me off and I dont even want to do it! :)

Indyfabz did the opposite for me. I want to head out tonight.

Neil_B 01-30-12 05:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SFGary (Post 13787306)
Homeyba, you are my new Guru !! Just looking at some of the RAAM race reporting/writing make me tired and you were over 50 when you did it, wow! Your post has given me new hope after that 19 year old's blog that Neil_B sent scared the heck out of me. I will ask you for pointers when I get more set and focused if you can indulge me. The main thing I am doing now is try to follow as much of Joe Friel's "Cycling past 50" and Edmund Burke/ Ed Pavelka's Long Distance Cycling training books. I am fairly strong for my age since I do some strength training but I am trying to get my "cycling legs" as quickly as possible. My feeling is that if I can get to about 25-30 miles in 2 hours w/o any load by the end of February I would be able to do it.

Glad to know that the wind is more likely to favor the West to East riding, the minimal wind on the Great Highway here in SF slows me down a lot. If you have done any riding in the Central Valley, CA/AZ it would be good to know if I can get from SF to Socal (via the Central valley) to Phoenix - rejoin the ACA Trans AM route at Pueblo? I am sure there's a route I just need to get details and make sure there are towns every 50 - 60 miles or so. Thanks again.

Gary

One reason I recommend the David Lamb book is that the author was completely untrained. For goodness sakes, he smoked during the ride! He didn't do a short overnight as practice, he didn't train, he didn't carry rain gear.... and it didn't matter.

I think it would be great to be 'in shape' for a long tour. But its an endurance contest, not a race. Don't get caught up in being able to ride 15 MPH by February. If you can ride your first day's mileage two days in a row and still want to get on the bike for the third, you are as ready as you need to be.

BTW, another book worth reading is the novel The Memory of Running. There's more than a whiff of Winston Groome's Forrest Gump in the protagonist, a middle aged fat guy who starts riding his bike across the US while drunk and keeps at it when sober. Life isn't a bicycle, or a box of chocolates, but you can't help but like a world in which a man can say of his old Raleigh "It was the best bike ever" and mean it.


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