So...I arrived home last Friday, rather inebriated from a friend's birthday party. I walked into the back room of our house and saw my two roommate's bikes (neither of which have been used since we moved into this house in July) hanging in the corner, and it occurred to me that it would be possible to ride one of these things around the United States.
At the time, I thought I was being highly original. A few Google searches later, I find out that this is some sort of crazy cult movement. But that's all good. Needless to say, I stumbled on this forum and crazyguyonabike.com, and was highly inspired by the posts and journals that I've read. I quickly realized that this is what I've been looking for. I realized that I have plenty of possessions that can be sold (a nice TV that I never watch, because I hate TVs and I watch DVDs on my iMac...a pair of Technics turntables that I haven't used in over two years...an Ibanez guitar that I was sure I'd play, but really haven't...etc.). I realized that even though I love the city life (I live in San Francisco, and lived in New York City prior to that, although I grew up in non-urban areas of Kansas and Michigan), there are times when I just long to get away from it.
The last time I went biking was in the summer of 2004, on a trip through Europe. I rented a mountain bike and rode around a lake from Interlaken, Switzerland to Thun, and back to Interlaken. Only 40 miles or so, but it was excellent (although I did have to walk my bike up a few inclines, despite being in excellent shape at the time).
FAST FORWARD TO THE PRESENT
So now I find myself hooked on the idea of picking up a bike and just exploring. Sure, everything under the sun has been explored, but in today's society, so much under the sun is ignored (hey, I'm a poet and I didn't even know it!).
I find myself living in San Francisco, with a nice array of bike trails and an amazing training ground that is the hills of Marin County in my backyard. While I dream of doing a coast-to-coast tour, I'm not in the best shape right now, and so I realize that I should work up to it. Like I said, Marin County gives me a good opportunity to do that.
I've read through these forums (and many webpages) and I have a good idea of the kind of bike I'll need, the supplies, etc., but there are a few questions I have left over. Hence this thread.
1) I'm looking to adjust my diet to one that is tourist-friendly. I don't have a problem with doing 40 miles and stopping to enjoy what I'm riding through, but I'd like to be able to get a good 100 miles in a day if I'm riding through Nevada and there aren't going to be many stops. Any recommendations for training diets? High carbs is about all I've come across. Fortunately, North Beach has some good pasta (and some good biking).
2) Safety. The inevitable question. Actually, I've always been pretty self-sufficient, but I am a heavy sleeper. Most of what I've read in my internet travels has indicated that you generally don't have to worry about, say, your bike getting stolen and getting stuck in the middle of the desert. Any safety tips for picking stealth camping spots...perhaps chaining your bike to your leg, chain-gang style?
3) Travelling. I'll be studying abroad from September through early December in Paris. I'm thinking it'd be easiest to leave my bike at home, bring a few panniers and a tent and some other necessary equipment. Sadly, there aren't any national holidays that fall on Friday or Monday, so I'll be limited to one day out, one day back, but it seems like there are a lot of small towns within 50-100 miles of Paris that I can check out. If I'm planning to head into the great unknown every two weeks is it worth it to ship my bike over, or should I just pay the 30 or so Euro to rent a touring bike from Paris Velo? I'm also contemplating a two-week trip once my semester abroad is over (which is December 8th). My ideal trip would be from Paris to Geneva and back, but I'm wondering if it's suicide to try to cycle through the Alps in December? My other choice would be Paris to San Sebastian, through the Pyranees, and taking a train or a plane back. Any recommendations?
4) Random advice. I'd love to hear it. That's all.
In closing...well, like I said, I'm definitely a city boy...but I think that will just make it easier to appreciate getting away from the city, and not by just shifting my car into drive (although I would never again own a car that wasn't manual transmission, and quite frankly am more than content not owning a car altogether) and pushing a pedal to get me up a mountain. Cyclists earn their views and panoramic landscapes, and really...that's all I'm looking for.
And...oh yeah...anybody with good general training advice for long trips (I'm looking at starting around 300 miles roundtrip over 5 days, give or take a couple), I'd appreciate it.