Kansas to Alaska
I have been dreaming of riding from my home state of Kansas to Alaska when I retire. I have never done any touring but have been a competitive cyclist for a number of years.
I have some questions about doing this unsupported 3500 miles:
1. Is a 50 mile per day average realistic? (70 days to Fairbanks @ 50 per day).
2. How to pick the best route?
3. Trailer, Panniers or both?
4. Nutrition ( how to eat right during trip).
5. What to pack.
6. Ride every day if possible or take some time off each week?
Hi Lonnie, welcome to the addiction....
That's alot of questions you have there. You might want to go over to www.crazyguyonabike.com ("CGoaB"), and look at people's journals. That's a good way to see a broad range of how people tour, as well as possibly get some route info.
My quick answers are.
1) 60 miles per day seems to be about average for fully loaded touring on paved roads. Actual daily milage varies tremendously, based on terrain, weather and distance between services. On my last US tour I my average was 60, varying from 42 (one of the hardest days of the trip, over a mountain range) to 96.
2) see what www.AdventureCycling.org has to offer, look at other people's journals, look online and in real life for state/province bicycling resources (DMV, state web sites, bike advocacy groups, Adventure Cyling has a "bicyclists yellow pages" for resources).
3) This has been debated on this and other forums endlessly. There are pros/cons for both, it would be worth searching the forums. I use panniers and feel strongly about it, but that's just me. Both trailer and panniers would mean you were carrying way too much stuff. Try to keep your dry weight (no food/water) under 40 pounds. I run about 35.
4) Also lots of info here and other places, bascially it's not rocket science, you just have to figure out how to cook some easy meals that don't take a lot of different ingredients, and supplement generously from restaurants. You'll eat a huge amount. When your tour ends, remember to stop eating that much.
5) Almost every journal on CGoaB has a packing list. Check 'em out. It's good to do a short shake-down tour to make sure you aren't forgetting anything crucial. You can also buy stuff along the way and mail stuff home, if you make a mistake with your packing.
6) You'll need to take days off - I go 4-10 days between rest days, depending on weather, terrain, interesting places to stop, tiredness, etc. I usually wait too long - 8 days in row is about my maximum to keep me healthy. Your body will tell you, listen to it. The trick is to take a day off before you really really need one, or you can end up over-tired, sick or injured. If you wake up not psyched to ride, run down, feeling a little under the weather, etc, take a day off. Also, nothing wrong with sitting out a bad-weather day every once in a while.
good luck, and have fun!!!
Mad bike riding scientist
What she said.
Originally Posted by valygrl
Food: You'll eat everything in sight and still want more.
Mileage: This a tour. Leave the 'de France' at home. 40 to 60 miles a day is good. 25 to 40 is kinda low but what the heck. Over 60 and you probably got lost Again, it ain't racin'
Gear: Whatever floats your boat. Good panniers and racks cost about what a trailer costs. I personally don't like the way that a trailer wags the dog but others don't seem to care. Whatever you do, leave the carbon fiber at home. Get a 'real' touring bike. If you can't put at least 3 fingers behind the seat tube and the wheel, look at another bike. 17.5" stays at a minimum. 18" is best.
Days off: I do one is 7. Last tour we rode for 9 days before a break which was too much but we didn't have a choice. When riding, do yourself a favor and force time off the bike. I find that I end up riding way too much during the day and actually hurt myself. Every hour, I take a 5 minute break. Every 2 hours, I take a 15 minute break. Just try to make them regular.
Finally, stop and look at stuff. Stop and see the world's biggest scab. The more off the wall the better. Have fun! If you feel like it's a death march, find a fun thing to do! And staying in motels every once in a while is perfectly okay.
Kansas to Alaska?!? That's nuts! Colorado to Alaska is much more reasonable. Seriously, check out my website (www.colovelo.com) for info on the trip I'm leaving for in a couple weeks. I'm riding from Colorado to Alaska (and back if I have time). I've been reading this forum for months getting tips on equipment. Here's a good read for some of the route I'm planning: www.geocities.com/leon_maurice_and_tyrone/
Have fun and let us know how it goes!