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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 03-08-07, 11:36 AM   #1
tridreamin
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First TransAm Advice - PLEASE!

Hello All!

I thought I'd already find this thread somewhere but, well, didn't! SO...

I want to do a TransAm this season but have no idea where to start!? My questions to the veterans:
-supported or non? (advice on tour companies?)
-camp or hotels?
-my Litespeed road bike or a hybrid (or purchase a lower-grade road bike)?
-how much training/experience beforehand? (I have only been cycling for 2 seasons and completed 2 olympic tri's and 2 century rides.)
-are there books on this stuff???

To take into consideration is that I'm a 26yo female so being near-alone on desolate roads or campsites might not be the best idea. Also, I'm not that adept with bike repair, just the minor stuff. But I feel like if I do a completely supported tour I'll come away from it feeling less iron/one with nature and more 'babied'. But either way, it's still 3,000+m!!! Any feelings on this?

Thank you!!!
Lisa
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Old 03-08-07, 11:48 AM   #2
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As mutch information and inspiration as you will need.

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/
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Old 03-08-07, 11:54 AM   #3
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I have not yet done a Trans-Am but read about them eagerly & dream of the time when circumstances allow.

I cannot remember reading or talking to anyone that ever expressed a sense of being 'babied' during such an experience...
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Old 03-08-07, 12:10 PM   #4
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Adventurecycling.org runs various tours across the US. They have options for supported and non-supported (meaning you carry all your gear but travel in a group with a leader).

There are other tour companies offering similar tours. One I know of is PACtour. But PACtour runs fast paced supported trips (100 mile/day average) which might be more than you want.

If you go non-supported, you should invest in a touring bike. I would not recommend a hybrid. Your Lightspeed should be fine for a supported tour so long as you have appropriate gears to climb the Rockies and Appalachian mountains. A triple is generally recommended, but YMMV.

Whether you camp or use hotels is a bit of personal preference. Many people do not like to camp. Using hotels lightens your load on a non-supported tour, but greatly adds to the cost. Most people who do long tours on their own use a mix of camping and hotels.

If you are concerned about touring alone then find someone to go with you or sign up with a tour company.
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Old 03-08-07, 12:47 PM   #5
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I second the Adventure Cycling group idea.

It's a little more expensive than doing it on your own, but for a first-timer and a woman it is, perhaps, an excellent compromise. There will be a group leader who knows the route and basic repairs. You'll be carrying all your stuff, but the pace is moderate. You can ride with others or bike thru the wheatfields all alone. If you are planning to do it this year - you had better check pretty soon as they fill up fast.

Many women do ride alone - but the realities are different for women and men. I look forward to the day when that is no longer the case.
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Old 03-08-07, 01:06 PM   #6
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Good suggestions so far to which I'd add

www.abbike.com
http://www.crossroadscycling.com/

They do group cross country trips where you stay in a motel every night. If you want a bit more
camping look into the adventure cycling association tours.
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Old 03-08-07, 01:25 PM   #7
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Here's the journal of a fellow BF member
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?...c_id=1291&v=5s

You can contact her through her journal as well and she did the TA last year.
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Old 03-08-07, 02:21 PM   #8
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tridreamin

I want to do a TransAm this season but have no idea where to start!? My questions to the veterans:
-supported or non? (advice on tour companies?)
-camp or hotels?
-my Litespeed road bike or a hybrid (or purchase a lower-grade road bike)?
-how much training/experience beforehand? (I have only been cycling for 2 seasons and completed 2 olympic tri's and 2 century rides.)
-are there books on this stuff???

Tridreamin,
So much of the ride is just personal preference. My first tour was the Southern Route solo unsupported. I had only been riding a bike for a couple of years, and was 58 yrs old. This year I am planning on a modified TransAm: Fl-Oregon.
Here is the way I line up my preferences:
1. I don't especially like to ride with others, I have done on organized tour and enjoyed it, but it was only 10 days long. On any of the "Across the US" routes you will always find other riders going your way that you can spend some time with or not.
2. Although I enjoy camping, I don't especially enjoy camping while on a long tour. Across the Southern Route I did not even take camping gear. The modified TransAm has too many long stretches that may require camping so I am adding that gear for this trip. Only by getting the Adventure Cycle maps and studying them will you understand if you would need to do the same. Also, you can read many of the travelogues about the TransAm and get some of that information.
3. Across the southern route I depended on my stock LeMond Buenos Aires road bike (it has an Ultegra triple set up). I added a couple of rear panniers to carry all of my stuff and it worked just fine. I know that most here say a road bike can't be used for unsupported touring but it can. The biggest factor is whether your Litespeed has provisions for mounting panniers. If it doesn't, then that particular bike would only work on an organized ride where they carry all of your gear. This year I bought a "real" touring bike. It is going to work just fine, but it weighs at least 10 lbs more than my LeMond. That is a big difference when you are hauling uphill against the wind. In any event I am trying to limit myself to just two panniers for this ride (think weight and wind resistance).
4. My preference for training is to train for two months prior to a long tour. I only train 5 days a week but work up to 300 miles per week for the last two weeks prior to departure. With that base I can then commence averaging 60-65 miles per day on tour. I also train with panniers and some kind of load in the panniers.

You are doing the right thing by asking questions. The first questions you have to answer is which direction you will ride the TransAm and when will you start. Each of these will require you to make decisions about logistics and weather. Hope you have a great experience.
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Old 03-08-07, 02:41 PM   #9
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Hi Lisa! I'm the journal author Tom Stormcrowe pointed you to: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/circumtrektion

I did the TransAm mostly solo as a 28 year old female last year with very little prior touring experience. I loved the flexibility of being alone and camping and generally being self-sufficient. That said, I think it was important to prepare properly to take care of myself on the road--I learned basic bike mechanics and took a self defense course. A 4 day shakedown ride gave me more confidence that I could handle much of what the road would throw at me and let me get used to my gear (you can see that in the journal!)

I wasn't in great shape when I left--if you're solo, you have the option of starting kinda slow, which I did because I wasn't used to riding in mountians. There are a few books on this stuff, but the forums here and journals on crazyguy gave me more info that those books for free. I also found I could do it cheaper by myself than with a tour company. That said, the TransAm self-supported ride seemed to go really well last year. You carry a portion of the group gear and have cooking and clean-up responsibilities, so you're not babied along the way, but you'll likely be the youngest in the group by quite a bit.

You may also want to check AC's "companion" page to see if there's anyone else looking for companions if you want that.

I only very rarely felt unsafe on the TransAm. If you have good instincts and know how to trust your gut, you'll stay out of most unsafe situations. The route is very rural at times, but rural people generally aren't out to get you and will be the first to help you when you need it. I found people to be more protective than predatory, but I didn't always advertise I was alone (I named my bike Kert and made a big deal of talking about "him" and "our" adventure...unless I told them otherwise, they thought Kert was a big burly guy coming up the road just behind me.

Anyway, I'm sure there's a ton I could tell you, but check out my journal and feel free to leave messages in my guestbook there with any questions!
Joy
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Old 03-08-07, 02:41 PM   #10
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Time + Money + Gumption.

That's all it takes. Adventure cycling is the place to start.

Good luck and keep us posted on what happens!
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Old 04-03-07, 02:02 PM   #11
tridreamin
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I want to thank everyone for their responses! I haven't been on in a while... after looking into the Adventure Cycling group I've decided instead to try to recruit locals into doing part of their Atlantic Coast route. It's a little more realistic considering my amount of experience (none!). Plus it hits beaches! I can't wait for all my maps to arrive so I can really buckle down the planning.
Thank you again to everyone for your motivational messages. Happy Riding!
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