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Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

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Old 06-22-05, 08:20 AM   #1
Dewbert
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$5800 enough for Trans-USA trip & bike?

Hi folks--
I'm going to apply for a "renewal" grant that basically allows professionals who work for not-for-profits to get away from work for a little while and pursue something totally recreational and revitalizing.

I'm thinking it would be really fun to take a trans-USA tour.

The grant would be for about $5800. Here are my questions:
1. For $5800 can I buy a solid touring bike and pay for a supported tour, meals, camping/lodging, etc?
2. Can anyone recommend a good touring company for a trans-USA ride?
3. I just started riding this year, but have done two metrics and a century. Is it reasonable to think that I could do a trans-USA ride next spring or fall?
4. Is 5-6 weeks enough time away from work for such a tour?
5. Any other advice or resources you'd suggest?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 06-22-05, 08:36 AM   #2
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Doing a transcon in 30-45 days would be a little harsh; it's doable, though (see www.pactour.com -- $3,295), but wouldn't leave you all that much time to stop and look at things.

Take a look at Adventure Cycling (http://www.adventurecycling.org/tours/index.cfm) for some camping-based (and therefore, not insanely expensive) tours.

Given a 6-week limit, the Lewis and Clark and Northwest Coast (30 days -- $1499), fit both in time and budget.

Both of these would allow you to get a very nice bike.
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Old 06-22-05, 09:03 AM   #3
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You're gonna get PAID for riding your bike????? Who's your company, sign me up!

$5800 is plenty for this. Six weeks isn't.

I'm thinking "loaded touring", if you're thinking "catered touring", then you can reverse the is/isn't above. You can get a reliable off-the-shelf touring bike (Fuji, Trek, Bianchi) for $800-$1500 at most good bike shops (or blow all the $5800 on a custom or semi-custom job). Add in another $200 or so for minor changes such as saddle, pedals, computer, etc. Or take a look at the Surly Long Haul Trucker frame for about $400; a full build will run another $200 to $1000.

You'll need racks/panniers or a trailer (another $100-$500). Other stuff you probably already have:
-- Bike gear (shoes, gloves, rain gear, tools, etc.)
-- Miscellaneous (suntan lotion, camera, maps, etc.)
-- Backpacking/camping gear (sleeping bag, tent, etc.)

Even so, figure on $500-$1000 for these misc items, before you're ready to go. Always seems that you need *one last* shopping trip before you leave.

I plan on an average daily cost of $20-$40, including food and camping. Can be more or less than this, but figure on $1000/month. (See the threads on "stealth camping" if you want to cut this down to food only.) 'Course, there are always off-budget items like a fancy dinner, repairs, national park fees, etc.

Most people allow about 3 months for a trans-America tour (fully loaded). Set your own pace, and you can do it faster; or lighten your load by staying at motels and watching your budget.

Touring companies take away a lot of the spontaneity, afford some company (good or bad), take care of all the worries -- but don't generally go much faster, and co$t a bundle. Still, you could forgo carrying camping gear, tools, etc., so it might be possible....

Rough calculation:
1500 bike
200 racks/bags/panniers (on the cheap)
200 bike gear (rain gear, tools, etc.)
200 misc stuff
200 camping gear (assuming you already have the basics)
3000 3 mos. camping/food
500 off-budget stuff
-----
5800 how 'bout that....

Just be ready to dip into your own pocket (especially for start/end transportation).

-- Mark
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Old 06-22-05, 11:17 AM   #4
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Ken Kifer: 82 days, $1860, 4500 miles.

He's quite the Thoreau disciple in term of material comfort, but he notes at the end of his travelogue: "The cost was three times as great as that of my 1998 trip, which covered a similar distance."

That puts his 1998 trip on the order of $600 bucks, but of course he already has all his equipment prepared before the trip, and probably didn't have to anything big to get ready. http://www.kenkifer.com/bikepages/touring/naty2k.htm

The other extreme is the currently active RAAM race, in which it is possible to cross the country in less than nine days while spending more than $20,000! RAAM Starts June 19 '05

I prefer Kifer's style.

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Old 06-22-05, 11:54 AM   #5
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Take a look at adventurecycling.org They are self supported group tours, 14 in a group, camping at night, no sag support. The Southern Tier TA is 3200 miles, about 65 days, 60 miles per day, 2500 bucks. That includes food, camping costs, yada yada. All but the transport to and from start/finish. The classic TransAmerica route is 93 days, about 3800 bucks and 4200 miles. The Northern Tier route is about the same as the TransAm Tour.

Depending on what kind of coin that you want/need to spend on equipment you should be able to sneak it in right around your limit. Going totally solo could be cheaper, but I'm not sure if I'd want to spend THAT much time alone in my own head.

One thing to consider, a used bike isn't a bad thing. As long as the frame fits, and there are no structural problems, you can upgrade components as needed. If the fit is good, everything else can be changed, but if the basic fit is bad, then you might never be able to make it right.

Hope this helps,

Steve W
Who's busy planning his own TA for when he turns 50 in 2 years
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Old 06-22-05, 12:36 PM   #6
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Yes, it would be fun to do a cross-country tour. But when you think about it, "coast-to-coast" is really an arbitrary distance. Revitalization comes by way of crossing personal--not physical--boundaries. Immersing yourself in anything different enough can bring about both change and renewal. A 5-6 week bike trip is long enough for that to happen, especially if you ride alone and depend on yourself instead of a support group--but not long enough, in my opinion, for an enjoyable coast-to-coast ride.

My suggestion for the time you have: ride westward to the Oregon or Washington coast from your home in central Indiana, and take the train (slower decompression) back home. Spring is ideal for that ride. Start in mid-May; stay northward and the mountain roads will be clear enough of snow by the time you cross them. On that schedule you escape the heat, miss the "buggy" season, have the sun at your back in the cool morning hours…and with 6 weeks you'll even be able to meander a bit. Six weeks, coast-to-coast would be quite a push. Better to take your time, soak up the space, and meet the folks along the way.

$5800 is more than enough, whether paid out on an organized tour or invested in yourself on a roll-your-own trip.

Lew
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Old 06-22-05, 10:42 PM   #7
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1. For $5800 can I buy a solid touring bike and pay for a supported tour, meals, camping/lodging, etc?
easily. One thing about a supported tour is you are on their schedule and route, not yours.
2. Can anyone recommend a good touring company for a trans-USA ride?
don't know because I tour solo but I'm sure Adventure Cycling (www.adv-cycling.org) or others in here can answer that one
3. I just started riding this year, but have done two metrics and a century. Is it reasonable to think that I could do a trans-USA ride next spring or fall?
easily. touring is 90 percent mental, 10 percent physical
4. Is 5-6 weeks enough time away from work for such a tour?
42 days to cover 3000 miles. The short answer is yes but it is cutting it close. That's around 70 miles per day which is what I averaged on my tour. Of course, it depends on how much you want to visit areas and do things. Some people do more miles per day, some less.
5. Any other advice or resources you'd suggest?
I would recommend reading some journals on www.crazyguyonabike.com You'll be surprised at the wealth of information that comes from people who have actually done the rides. You'll find all sorts from fully supported tours, to people taking dogs, to people like me who free camped almost every night and rode a Walmart bike 1,950 miles.

I think you'll have a great time. Go for it and have fun!!!!

Cheers,

http://poorguyonabike.crazyguyonabike.com
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Old 06-22-05, 11:06 PM   #8
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As suggested generally www.crazyguyonabike.com . Worth exploring for all the (many) trans-Am journals on there including poorguyonabike's. There's also a guestbook option so you can ask direct questions of people who have done a similar thing.
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Old 06-23-05, 09:18 AM   #9
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Easily enough. Go self supported and buy your gear, including the bike, used. you will have cash left to fly to Hawaii when you're through.
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Old 06-23-05, 10:04 AM   #10
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I sure hope that $5800 grant doesn't come out of my taxes.
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Old 06-23-05, 04:49 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeorgeBaby
Doing a transcon in 30-45 days would be a little harsh; it's doable, though (see www.pactour.com -- $3,295), but wouldn't leave you all that much time to stop and look at things.

Take a look at Adventure Cycling (http://www.adventurecycling.org/tours/index.cfm) for some camping-based (and therefore, not insanely expensive) tours.

Given a 6-week limit, the Lewis and Clark and Northwest Coast (30 days -- $1499), fit both in time and budget.

Both of these would allow you to get a very nice bike.
Wow...this is a great suggestion. Based on my time frame, I think the NW coast followed by a train ride home would be a great comprimise!
Thanks!
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Old 06-23-05, 04:52 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phinney
I sure hope that $5800 grant doesn't come out of my taxes.
Nope...it comes out of your United Way contributions! We use your tax money for other important things like $5,000 toilet seats, cow fart research and studying the mating habits of very small fruit flies.
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Old 06-23-05, 08:20 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dewbert
Wow...this is a great suggestion. Based on my time frame, I think the NW coast followed by a train ride home would be a great comprimise!
Thanks!
Amtrack is a great way to relax. I took it from Seattle to St. Louis a few years ago, and you just HAVE to slow down on a train, it's not like you can change anything. I THINK it was the Empire Builder that went across the Northern part of the country, and then into Chicago. I recall that when then went thru glacier National Park they had a ranger come on and gave a narration for the portion thru the park. Stake out a place in the observation car, bring some books and just watch the country glide by. It's amazing how many people will stop what they are doing and wave at a train when it goes bye.

Steve
Who wishes the US had a really good train system, but alas.....
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Old 06-28-05, 04:36 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dewbert
Nope...it comes out of your United Way contributions! We use your tax money for other important things like $5,000 toilet seats, cow fart research and studying the mating habits of very small fruit flies.
Another reason not to give to the United Way.
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Old 06-28-05, 09:17 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TomM
Another reason not to give to the United Way.
You'd be surprised. It's actually a very innovative program that's designed for professionals in the non-profit world to avoid "burn out". The idea is that after several years of service (including hi stress, low salaries and endless hours of giving of yourself) that a person is rewarded by a once-in-a-lifetime chance to try something totally new. It's much akin to a professor taking a sabatical or an executive being given a big fat vacation/bonus as a reward. One lady with very low vision got some special glasses, learned to drive and drove up the atlantic coast. Another lady was provided a laptop computer and went to a class on writing childrens' books. She's working on her first publication. Another went on a mission trip to Africa or some such place and used the money to offset her expenses. Me, I'd love to go on a ride like this and celebrate getting my diabetes under control (6.2 hbA1C for those in the diabetes crowd) and the 85 pounds I've lost in the past year and a half.

This program it basically boils down to a $50,000 per year expenditure (out of a multi-million dollar budget for the Indianapolis area) and the results show that folks generally feel rejuvenated and continue to work in the non-profit field for longer than they would have otherwise. If you're awarded the grant, you have to agree to continue working at a non-profit for 5 more years or pay it back. You can only get it once so, it really is a once-in-a-lifetime deal.

Feel better?
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