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  1. #1
    the uncarved block openmindedgent's Avatar
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    I am planning to ride my bike across the country alone!

    I am planning on leaving around July 10th and going to a music festival in west virginia until the 13th. From there I will take country roads and small highways south all the way through tennessee and into Alabama to visit my older brother who is in Chemo therapy for cancer in his chest. I will gain support for him and open a website to raise money for his treatment and build up merchandise and cool ways of making people aware of life threatening diseases and raise money for him along my trek. I will leave from here and run along the south maybe going through New Orleans and see a couple of memorable things down there. I plan to go on to Utah and visit my Grandfather in Salt Lake City and stay there for a few days. I will end in San Fransisco and crash with my sister for as long as I can and then head back to Richmond most likely by plane or if it comes down to it I will bike most of the way back.



    I am not a young fool, I am going through rigourous planning steps and I am almost done mapping out my route (i figured that should be the most important thing). I have begun to build a really strong and easily fixable fixed gear (or single speed) mountain bike that will be cleaned tuned and painted in a wild artistic manner. I will have either a big rack on the back of the bike or I will have a childs bike attachment rigged to be a trailer of some sort with a flag flying that has an anti-cancer slogan of some sort. I will be doing many calculations on costs, food supply needs and how much supplies to bring. I am very real about this and I have a good feeling I am doing everything right to be ready for whats ahead but I just want to make sure. If anybody out there has ever done something like this or anything near to this and has any wisdom to impart upon me it would be greatly appreciated. Happy posting!
    Last edited by openmindedgent; 02-09-08 at 01:19 AM.

  2. #2
    loser
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    the 'craigslisters; reference at the end makes this seem an awful lot like spam. But hey, good fo you!

  3. #3
    the uncarved block openmindedgent's Avatar
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    sorry, it is not spam!

    well i had to copy and paste because i didnt feel like typing it all over again

    i had posted this on craigslist earlier yes but they were not as helpful so here i am

    help me! i dont want to fail on this trip, i want to have my ducks in a row!

  4. #4
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    Why a fixed gear bike?

    - Mark

  5. #5
    This user is a pipebomb brotherdan's Avatar
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    Some people tour on fixed gear or single speed bikes, but they are a tiny minority of the bicycle touring community. The problem is that it is difficult to find a gear ratio that will allow you to travel at a reasonable speed on the flats and allow you to spin when climbing big hills and mountains. Either you'll be inching along on the long roads in the flatter parts of the country, or you'll be struggling mightily in the steeper parts. Unless you really have your heart set on touring on a single speed/fixie, I would go with multiple gears.

    Yes, there are more parts that can break, and more things that need to be periodically adjusted, but the mechanical advantage that is provided by having multiple gear ratios is worth the hassle. I know next to nothing about bike maintenance, but I have toured for thousands of miles on multiple geared bicycles.

    As to whether you should travel with a trailer or racks and panniers, that's a decision that is based entirely on personal preference. They both have advantages and drawbacks. If you go with a trailer, though, I would recommend using a BOB trailer, rather than a child carrier. I've seen people travel with child carriers, but they are bigger, heavier and much less aerodynamic than top of the line touring trailers.

    You'd really be better off asking this question in the touring forum, though.

    And check out the crazyguyonabike.com website for everything you ever wanted to know about bicycle touring.
    Bikes belong in the motor city

  6. #6
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    A close cycling buddy did San Diego to St. Augustine, Fla. There are isolated areas you will find it difficult to make it between cities. Be prepared for that. He enjoyed himself. He was in no hurry. In the west where distances are great, expect problems. He had a mechanical breakdown in New Mexico. But, thanks to someone with a pickup; he made it to a bike shop that same day.

  7. #7
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    I ride a single speed here in Boston for commutting and i think you would have to be in impecable shape to even think about any kind of long distance. Be prepared to walk up hills. Good luck that is great that you are doing this for your brothers cause. Please keep us informed on this trip.

  8. #8
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    Get gears.

  9. #9
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Yeah, you need gears. You're likely looking at 2 to 3 months on the road, with lots of hills and wind. Your knees will thank you.

    Check out Adventure Cycling for good maps of part of your route. You could easily use some Southern Tier and Western Express sections.

  10. #10
    mev
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    > I am almost done mapping out my route (i figured that should be the most important thing).

    Keep in mind that as you travel, circumstances can change, e.g. weather, road construction, mechanical issues, new information, changes of mind. So, I've also had a balance between learning in advance what might be along my route (e.g. attractions, services, distances) and adjusting things from day to day. Everyone figures out for themselves where to put that balance.

    There are risks on both sides, e.g. the person who does no planning and discovers they are going in the wrong season, are missing a crucial visa (outside the US), are unrealistic in their goals etc. and the person who does so much planning that their carefully tuned schedule/accommodations can't adjust to several days of headwinds that instead cause them to over-strain their knees or gets so wrapped up in logistics they forget why they are on the trip in the first place, etc. I'm sure you'll find the right balance for your trip. In addition to mapping things out, I've also found it interesting to read in advance what others have encountered in similar trips (e.g. browse in www.crazyguyonabike.com).

    For me, the "most important thing" is the right mental approach and outlook to doing a trip like this. If you've got that, then you're in better position to adjust to whatever can and will come your way.

  11. #11
    Senior Member sykerocker's Avatar
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    When you're doing long distance, the times you spend coasting are an integral and very appreciated part of the trip. If nothing else, the knowledge that you're going to enjoy a downhill run makes the climb a lot easier.
    Syke

    "No wonder we keep testing positive in their bicycle races. Everyone looks like they're full of testosterone when they're surrounded by Frenchmen." ---Argus Hamilton

  12. #12
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    I noticed you said a mountain bike wow that will be way to heavy you need at least a cyclocross or better and there is no way a single speed will cut it. good luck.

  13. #13
    Slowpoach
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    Might cross country this summer - couple questions! is a recent thread by cutwolf with some advice on a few things. Browse the tips sticky. Browse some other threads in the touring forum, if you click on "replies" in the main forum page it will sort the threads with the most active one at the top.

    Do you already ride fixed? With a load? Through hills? If not, go gears. One famous tourer who uses a fixed gear is Kent Peterson, do a search for his name or his blog or mile43 on google. He travels very light (no big strong rack or trailer).

    Any experience camping? Travel as light as is safe and affordable for you.

    Good luck.

  14. #14
    the uncarved block openmindedgent's Avatar
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    wow i was at work and there is already so much helpful info here

    i need to make a note about the original post because i have now realized i will bring 2 wheels so i wont have to deal with derailleurs while on long flat roads but i will still be able to survive the mountains

  15. #15
    the uncarved block openmindedgent's Avatar
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    yes yes yes this is the info i need, people have actually done this and that pumps me up more than ever
    thank you

    I am very easily entertained and an ex boy scout so the long lonely rides will be adventurous and fun, i am not in a hurry either

  16. #16
    This user is a pipebomb brotherdan's Avatar
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    Rather than bringing two wheels, I would suggest getting a flip flop hub with different sized cogs, or bringing along extra cogs that you could swap on and off your bike, depending on riding conditions, if you are dead set against derailers. An extra wheel would be unnecessary weight, and it would be very difficult to pack.

    I've trashed two rims in the course of bicycle tours in the past. But I would never consider bringing an extra wheel along on a tour unless I was traveling for hundreds of miles through complete wilderness, or in areas where it would be impossible to get to a bike shop.
    Bikes belong in the motor city

  17. #17
    This user is a pipebomb brotherdan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by openmindedgent View Post
    yes yes yes this is the info i need, people have actually done this and that pumps me up more than ever
    thank you
    That's why people have offered the website, www.crazyguyonabike.com It's a site filled with blogs and journals of hundreds, or thousands of people who have toured by bicycle. Many of them have done cross USA routes, and quite a few have gone across the southern tier. I would definitely recommend checking out that website and looking for travel journals of people that have done a similar route to what you are contemplating. You can search for journals by region so that you can get specific information about people that have toured where you are planning on riding.
    Bikes belong in the motor city

  18. #18
    Slowpoach
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    I agree with brotherdan, extra cogs (or freewheels) are a much better idea than trying to lug a whole wheel around.

    The only exception would be if you go for an "extrawheel" trailer which uses a 26" wheel so I guess you could have a total of 4 speeds with you that way (2 on each side of each wheel).

    You can go with a flipflop hub, or for more safety a fixed/fixed hub and use a freewheel cog (with lockring) instead of the free side of the flipflop.

  19. #19
    the uncarved block openmindedgent's Avatar
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    This is the best reply I have gotten so far, thank you so much.

    I will have a good balance of planning and "unplanning" and I enjoy taking risks like this so it is really no big deal. As far as being mentally pumped... if this trip can at least help in some way to keep my brother alive, nothing will stop me along the way. The only thing stopping me at this point is money, so for the next couple months I will be finding ways of raising money until July.

  20. #20
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    I'm still totally unclear why you want to take a fixed gear to begin with. Care to enlighten us?

    - Mark

  21. #21
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    I'm riding a single-speed bike with 44:22 gearing (ie, lower gearing than most of these fixed-gear people use). On a moderate hill, it works great. I would never want to ride it through Arkansas or someplace that was really hilly, though, I would wind up walking it up 2/3 of the hills. And riding across Nebraska into a headwind for days on end would be bad, too. Crossing the Continenal Divide would not be good, either.

    To be honest, I don't know how well you can choose routes without going some place. There are a lot of narrow twisty roads with no shoulders that are BUSY and should be avoided, and how you pick those out from a map, I don't know. I'm also remembering the guy who wound up bicycling at 11:00 at night and got killed by a truck- there's a lesson to be learned there.

    There are some long narrow bridges in existence that would be best avoided on bicycle- how you know about them before you get there, I'm not so sure about.
    Last edited by StephenH; 02-09-08 at 11:29 PM.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

  22. #22
    This user is a pipebomb brotherdan's Avatar
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    That's how I always tour. I just look at a map and go where I want to. If there's a road there, it's usually ridable. I've been on tons of narrow, twisty roads, and lots of long bridges, some of which technically prohibit bicycles. You can't plan out every detail of a tour unless you want to be totally anal about it. Sometimes you just have to go for it and let things take care of themselves.
    Bikes belong in the motor city

  23. #23
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    That's right, you'll have more fun if you stay flexible. Likewise, if you're going to stay flexible, you might as well have a full complement of gears. An extra wheel seems like a lot of hassle, plus you're limited by your chain length. Any reason you're set on a fixed gear/SS?

  24. #24
    Senior Member bhchdh's Avatar
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    Good for you openmindedgent, I think you will do fine. I second the crazyguyonabike site, there is alot of great information to be gleened there. Also check out the late Ken Kifer's site, http://www.kenkifer.com/bikepages/index.htm , for more info. I hope your journey is all you hope it will be, and that your brother heals well and soon.

  25. #25
    the uncarved block openmindedgent's Avatar
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    Ok so I spent almost all day yesterday reading peoples journals on crazyguyonabike.com and I am doing this trip no matter what. I will be getting a strong hybrid frame and building up strong components as I can afford as well as a 10 speed gear system. I will have nice strong thick tires, lightweight rims, and lightweight fenders for rain. I will do a big saddlebag set up across my back tire and a pouch on the handlebars, I pack very light due to studying Buddhism (not too many possessions to begin with). I am thinking the smartest thing to do would be to invest (or have donated to me) in a gps system so if all else fails I wont get stranded. I will have my cell phone of course and I will bring my tiny iPod shuffle clip mp3 to entertain me on long lonely roads. I have a few books to read, and I will bring a sketch pad. 1 man tent, no hotels, predetermined contacts along the way, packed lunches or hunting/fishing for food, and everything else I can do to afford this trip and still not be completely miserable. I will be making pit stops at music festivals along the way building support for my trip and gathering supplies and having fun. I have found a lot of good maps from previous touring cyclists and I will eventually piece it all together but still just wing it as I see fit as I go. I am pretty confident, very spontaneous and very street smart so I feel like I think pretty well on this trip. Getting away from this city will also help me clear my head and find myself in the crazy world out there. I think this is a sufficient update, but if there are any more tips you guys can through my way I wont stop you. Thanks again.

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