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Old 02-10-08, 06:31 PM   #1
huqleberry
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"Gimmie Shelter" riding across the USA

Hi guys and gals!

I'm new to the forum and have a few questions regarding touring. Here is some information:

I'm located in NYC and plan on biking (with my friend) across the US this summer... NYC to LA. We are documenting the experience on film.

I'm fairly athletic and feel like I could do 100 mile a day. I just want to know if anyone has any recommended paths or sites to visit.

I have a Trek y3 moutain bike... Should I get a road bike instead?

I'm taking a month and a half of from work... Sufficent time? I really want to experience America in this time of change...

I'm a rambler, sorry. Any type of advice or help would be greatly appreciated!!!

Thanks!!!
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Old 02-10-08, 06:43 PM   #2
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http://www.pactour.com/

http://www.ultracycling.com/

http://www.raceacrossamerica.org/
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Old 02-10-08, 06:59 PM   #3
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It's possible to do it in a month and a half. But you would be pushing hard to do it in that amount of time, especially traveling from east to west, which is generally considered to be slightly more difficult due to the wind.

According to google maps, it's about 3000 miles by road from NY to LA, when avoiding major freeways. A month and a half means you would be doing a lot of centuries, or not taking very many rest days. If you are sure that you are capable of pulling off those kind of distances with a full load, then I wouldn't hesitate to go for it. But do some test rides with full loads to see how well you can really handle it. And remember that doing centuries back to back, or back to back to back, can be pretty grueling.

As for using a mountain bike. It can be done. There are lots of advantages to touring bikes, but people do tour on roads using mountain bikes. Flat handlebars are not ideal, as they only offer one hand position. I'd either get bar ends or a different type of handlebar that can give you more positioning options if you decide to tour on a mountain bike.
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Old 02-10-08, 07:31 PM   #4
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www.crazyguyonabike.com - has all sorts of journals covering the route you want to take.

www.adv-cycling.com - has routes you can follow but you have to pay for the maps. But you can also download the routes into any mapping program via their gps downloads.

As far as the mountain bike, as long as it is comfortable to ride over long distances, it will do fine. The problem with road bikes is they are generally lighter and thus not as sturdy, especially when you consider the weight of your gear. Easier to taco your wheel also on a road bike with loads of gear on it.

Comfort and mental attitude is 99 percent of touring.

Are you going to camp or stay in hotels????

+1 to what BrotherDan said.
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Old 02-10-08, 07:51 PM   #5
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Tire selection would be important, I think a real mountain terrain tire would be a wrong choice, try using a street tire.

Steven
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Old 02-10-08, 08:41 PM   #6
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For what it's worth, I highly recommend you do a short tour well in advance of going cross-country. You may find that cycling 100 miles is a little bit tougher than you think, especially day after day. Many cycle tourists do more like 50-70 miles a day; after all, you'll be carrying your gear with you, will be dealing with hills and wind, and will very likely be camping and cooking along the way.

Also, [url=http://www.adventurecycling.org/]Adventure Cycling[/u] has excellent touring maps, including 3 different routes to cross the US.


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Originally Posted by huqleberry View Post
I have a Trek y3 moutain bike... Should I get a road bike instead?
Does it sorta look like this?



If so, probably not the best of plans. Some older 90's MTB's are OK for touring, as are modern hybrid bikes. So you don't have to spend scads of cash, but you are better off a) using a bike without suspension and b) with a bike that can take wide tires, racks and fenders.

Also, the more hand positions the better. At a minimum bar-ends, or better yet get butterfly/trekking bars.

Kinda hard to say for sure without knowing much about your bike, though.


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Originally Posted by huqleberry
I'm taking a month and a half of from work... Sufficent time? I really want to experience America in this time of change...
A typical Trans-Am ride takes 10 weeks. If you compress that into 6 weeks, a) that's going to be pretty challenging and b) you won't be giving yourself much time to really "experience America."
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Old 02-10-08, 08:43 PM   #7
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This site has all the ACA routes entered onto a map: http://tsteven4.qwestoffice.net/

They take a while to download and the interface isn't all that grand, but it is a nice resource, anyway.

Ray
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Old 02-10-08, 08:50 PM   #8
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Oh, I didn't realize it was a full suspension bike. I probably would not want to tour on that if it could be avoided. Again, it can be done. They make racks that work with both front and rear suspension. But a hardtail would be a whole lot better.
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Old 02-10-08, 11:23 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
For what it's worth, I highly recommend you do a short tour well in advance of going cross-country. You may find that cycling 100 miles is a little bit tougher than you think, especially day after day. Many cycle tourists do more like 50-70 miles a day; after all, you'll be carrying your gear with you, will be dealing with hills and wind, and will very likely be camping and cooking along the way.

Also, [url=http://www.adventurecycling.org/]Adventure Cycling[/u] has excellent touring maps, including 3 different routes to cross the US.



Does it sorta look like this?



If so, probably not the best of plans. Some older 90's MTB's are OK for touring, as are modern hybrid bikes. So you don't have to spend scads of cash, but you are better off a) using a bike without suspension and b) with a bike that can take wide tires, racks and fenders.

Also, the more hand positions the better. At a minimum bar-ends, or better yet get butterfly/trekking bars.

Kinda hard to say for sure without knowing much about your bike, though.



A typical Trans-Am ride takes 10 weeks. If you compress that into 6 weeks, a) that's going to be pretty challenging and b) you won't be giving yourself much time to really "experience America."
Yeah thats exactly what it looks like...

A little more info...

My friend plans on driving cross country around the same time I plan on doing this bike tour.

I plan on painting a picture of America by documenting our progress. I'm sort of a nut and plan on knocking on doors of people/going to diners and getting their opinion on the current state of the US (ahead of the elections). Possibly bumming accommodations along the way. We aren't going to be taking any camp equipment or anything like that.

I'm just gonna be taking a video camera... tape... and an extra battery. Getting what we need as we go.

Does anyone know how to solicit sponsorships for such an adventure? That might help a bit...

Btw I'm 22 years old.. male... good shape... just did a 60 mile bike ride for ms which was pretty intense but not that bad... I try and ride my bike everywhere in the urban jungle aka NYC
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Old 02-10-08, 11:43 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by huqleberry View Post
Yeah thats exactly what it looks like...

A little more info...

My friend plans on driving cross country around the same time I plan on doing this bike tour.

I plan on painting a picture of America by documenting our progress. I'm sort of a nut and plan on knocking on doors of people/going to diners and getting their opinion on the current state of the US (ahead of the elections). Possibly bumming accommodations along the way. We aren't going to be taking any camp equipment or anything like that.

I'm just gonna be taking a video camera... tape... and an extra battery. Getting what we need as we go.

Does anyone know how to solicit sponsorships for such an adventure? That might help a bit...

Btw I'm 22 years old.. male... good shape... just did a 60 mile bike ride for ms which was pretty intense but not that bad... I try and ride my bike everywhere in the urban jungle aka NYC
Three things:

1) Cross country cycling trips are fairly common, I'm not sure how successful you'll be with sponsorship.

2) Is 60 miles the longest you've done? If so, you've got a lot of training ahead of you for 100 miles a day over many days. Go do back-to-back centuries (that's 100 miles on one day, and 100 miles on the next day) and see how you feel.

3) How much travelling have you done outside of NYC?


Also ...

Was the 60 miles part of an MS150? If so, those are generally fairly relaxed rides designed so that people who don't cycle much can handle them .... and if so why didn't you do the remaining 90 miles (mechanical difficulties? time?)?

And, what's behind the title of this thread, "Gimme shelter"?? If that's how you intend to approach getting a place to stay for the night, I wouldn't bet on your success.

Last edited by Machka; 02-11-08 at 12:11 AM.
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Old 02-11-08, 01:06 AM   #11
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First, I wouldn't do that trek or any other kind of touring with the bike you've got. A touring bike is best. Next to that, go with an older mountain bike with no suspension system and with bar ends attached. (If you were doing a lot of trails or rough roads, then a front suspension might make sense.)

Second, your distances are possible, but it's going to be difficult, especially with a fully loaded bike. If you're in shape for it, then make sure you also plan out rest days and short distance days along the way. Also consider you'll have to climb some mountain passes or face some big hills along the way. Your distances will probably be shorter on those days. Likewise, when you're facing a headwind, you probably will have a hard time logging 100 miles. Cycling in a big city is not at all like cycling in open country. Take a few test rides to better understand what you'll be facing.

Third and most importantly, you should reconsider your method of touring. What you've described isn't a good idea.
Quote:
I'm sort of a nut and plan on knocking on doors of people/going to diners and getting their opinion on the current state of the US (ahead of the elections). Possibly bumming accommodations along the way. We aren't going to be taking any camp equipment or anything like that.
Take camping equipment or a healthy credit card. You will not always be able to just bum accommodations. There are a lot of generous and kind people out there, but don't consider such behaviour as standard. The same people who might meet you and ask you to spend the night with them might feel differently if you simply knock on the door and try to invite yourself in.
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Old 02-11-08, 01:28 AM   #12
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I think I might pass on this thread. "Bumming" accommodation is NOT what most people who are members of this forum set out to do with their touring. Encouraging it only brings cycle-touring into disrepute and brings it down to the level of... well... bums.

Accepting genuine unsolicited offers of accommodation from people you meet along the way is not the same.
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Old 02-11-08, 07:25 AM   #13
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" I'm sort of a nut and plan on knocking on doors of people/going to diners and getting their opinion on the current state of the US (ahead of the elections). Possibly bumming accommodations along the way. We aren't going to be taking any camp equipment or anything like that. "

You're daft as a doorknob.
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Old 02-11-08, 08:23 AM   #14
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I think I might pass on this thread. "Bumming" accommodation is NOT what most people who are members of this forum set out to do with their touring. Encouraging it only brings cycle-touring into disrepute and brings it down to the level of... well... bums.

Accepting genuine unsolicited offers of accommodation from people you meet along the way is not the same.
+1 on bumming. We found the people we met to be universally kind and generous. I hope that you won't do anything to sour those fine folks on bike tourists.

Banging on doors an harassing folks by sticking a video camera in their face and asking questions isn't the way to meet the local folks IMO.

Riding 100 miles a day is not the way to "to experience America in this time of change..." or experience much other than riding. Nothing wrong with riding 100 or whatever distance if that is what you want, but don't expect to have much time to stop and smell the roses. The folks that I met on the TA that expected to do 100 miles per day generally found it to be unrealistic for a coast to coast tour and lowered their expectations.

Asking for sponsorship amounts to asking others to pay for your vacation. I am very proud of having ridden coast to coast, but such trips are a dime a dozen in the grand scheme of things, especially if you have a car along with you. Why should this trip be a reason for someone else to pick up YOUR tab? Kindness offered along the way is great, but... Asking for others to pay?
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Old 02-11-08, 10:48 AM   #15
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I would hardly call it a vacation... And I'm not looking for anyone to pay my tab (sponsors) nor am I looking to harass people. I'm not going to be banging on doors with a camera shoved in someones face, sorry you interprutted it like that. I'm not looking for everyone to be happy and dandy to welcome a smelly rider in for coffee but hey its a risk and gamble>>>> Thats what I do.

I'm not really looking to "bum" accommodations either (I planned on using couchsurfing.com)... maybe that was just a dream.

I merely thought it would make an interesting project to attack... Maybe I'll reconsider changing some things now that some of you have expressed your opinions.

I am just a young, novice bike rider that was looking for adventure and looking to meet people from across the US...
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Old 02-11-08, 11:56 AM   #16
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I encourage you to do the ride, but think you need to be a bit more realistic.

A few things you say don't wash...
If you wouldn't call it a vacation, then what is it? It sounds like you are taking time off work to ride across the country, to me that sounds like a vacation. Nothing wrong with that if it is, but I am baffled why you think someone else would want to help pay for it though.

How does the question, "Does anyone know how to solicit sponsorships for such an adventure?", imply anything other than asking others to fund your trip?

"Possibly bumming accommodations along the way. We aren't going to be taking any camp equipment or anything like that.", doesn't sound like much of a plan. When there isn't a couchsurfing.com host, are you going to rent a room at night sleep in the car, or what?

You mentioned couchsurfing.com, you can also try warmshowers.org, but I don't think you will find that is a reasonable thing to rely on for all of your nights. There just aren't enough of them in the right places. if you have a buddy with you in a car that would seem to make you less likely to be given hospitality than if only on bikes, or is he doing separate and different accommodations? Another thing is that Couchsurfing and warmshowers should really be a two way street. If you use them you really ought to list yourself as a host and open your door to others.

I would suggest a few things:
1. Budget more time. Even if you can ride 100 miles a day you won't find places to stay at the distances that you want to ride. Some parts of the country are pretty empty. Towns can be 40-80 or more miles apart with nothing in between. Most people take 9-12 weeks to go cross country.
2. Take a standard established route or some variation on one. Use the Adventure Cycling maps. This will minimize the planning.
3. Plan to camp unless you can afford motels every night (and if so good luck finding them in the places where you want to stop for the night). You will be able to camp for free a lot of the time. Other times you will be able to get a campsite for $8-12. Once in a while there won't be anything cheap unless you ask to camp on someones property. If you will be using the AC maps and routes, you will know where city parks and churches that will let you stay for free are. Additionally if you are on a standard route like the TransAmerica, Northern Tier, or Southern Tier, you will meet other bike tourists going the other way who will have advice for places to stay. A lot of this will be more complicated if you bring a car into the mix.
4. Go read a lot of journals at http://www.crazyguy.com . You will get a lot of ideas and some perspective on what can be done.
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Old 02-11-08, 02:13 PM   #17
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Trek Y3!!!!!!

OK, what's you're real story now?
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Old 02-11-08, 02:25 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by huqleberry View Post
Yeah thats exactly what it looks like...

A little more info...

My friend plans on driving cross country around the same time I plan on doing this bike tour.

I plan on painting a picture of America by documenting our progress. I'm sort of a nut and plan on knocking on doors of people/going to diners and getting their opinion on the current state of the US (ahead of the elections). Possibly bumming accommodations along the way. We aren't going to be taking any camp equipment or anything like that.

I'm just gonna be taking a video camera... tape... and an extra battery. Getting what we need as we go.

Does anyone know how to solicit sponsorships for such an adventure? That might help a bit...

Btw I'm 22 years old.. male... good shape... just did a 60 mile bike ride for ms which was pretty intense but not that bad... I try and ride my bike everywhere in the urban jungle aka NYC
I encourage you to get on your bike and pedal cross country, but I also encourage you to do some planning, continue to read this forum, take a step back and do some multi-day tours before heading out across America. If 60 miles was intense for you doing a C2C in a month and a half will be a big challenge. I'm not saying doing 60 miles isn't an achievement, but that's a regular day for a lot of tourers and many will average more miles day after day.

You say you won't be taking camping equipment, that's ok if you are being supported by your friend in the car, but you should think about stuff you'll be carrying with you in case you get separated. The farther West you go the more difficult it will be to couchsurf or do warmshowers, so be prepared to use motels
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Old 02-11-08, 11:12 PM   #19
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I am just a young, novice bike rider that was looking for adventure and looking to meet people from across the US...
Yes, now get out of the "novice" category and go ride those back-to-back centuries!! I'm serious.

If the weather isn't too bad where you, some weekend this month would be good for those back-to-back centuries. Ride them with whatever you think you might want to carry on your tour. Ride them wherever you want. They could be out and backs to your house each day, or out to a campground and then back the next day, or whatever.

Lots of us have done back-to-back centuries, so they aren't unusual. And I really like them because I get to sleep/rest in between ... I've done several of them.

If 60 miles is the longest ride you have ever done, and you are thinking of riding a century a day for 6 weeks, you need to get out there and actually have a little taste of what you are thinking of doing. You need to do this before you spend any money on the idea, and especially before you start tracking down sponsors, if you decide to go that route. Here's why ...

1. If you are going to track down sponsor ... again, don't expect much going that route ... you'll likely have to prove to them that you are indeed capable of doing what you say you will do.

2. It would be a good test of your bicycle and gear. After that you may decide for sure that you want another bicycle.

3. It would be a good test of how well your body reacts to nutrition issues.

So go ... do those centuries ... and then report back to us on your further plans.
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Old 02-11-08, 11:50 PM   #20
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1) Knocking on doors really upsets a lot of people, there's bike touring journals online where people have called the cops about doing this. If you want to meet people, do it in a public place or when they are outside... people are so much friendlier that way. You won't have a shortage of people to interact with.

2) So is the car going to follow your trip? If so, that means you won't have to worry about anything but riding your bike. Just plan accordingly, make sure the car knows your route and vice-versa.

3) I agree with Machka that you need to do two straight 100 miles days, with all the gear you are going to carry, and I'll add one of those days should be in bad weather, because you are going to run into that also.

4) Consider camping in the woods on unmarked property.... that's what I do, it's free if you can't get a couchsurfing or warmshowers place.
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Old 02-11-08, 11:53 PM   #21
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Does anyone know how to solicit sponsorships for such an adventure? That might help a bit...
Same way I fund my bike tours and any other cool stuff I do. I work hard, live a fairly frugal lifestyle and save my money. If you don't think the money's coming in fast enough, work a second job for a few months.

I don't want anyone sponsoring my tours. The way I see it, a self-funded tour gives me the freedom I want. If someone is giving me money, then I'll feel a sense of obligation to that person. If I have corporate sponsorship, I'll feel as if I've got an obligation to the business or businesses giving me the money. But if I'm paying my own way, I don't have to answer to anyone.
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Old 02-12-08, 09:42 AM   #22
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2) So is the car going to follow your trip? If so, that means you won't have to worry about anything but riding your bike. Just plan accordingly, make sure the car knows your route and vice-versa.
I would think based on my experience that a car will severely limit the places you can stay. Many of the places we stayed were open only to cyclists. Some places had special arrangements (like a guaranteed site) for hikers and bikers; riders accompanied by cars did not receive the same treatment.

I would be concerned that a friend in a car would bail on me after having to hang around waiting all day for me in towns with a population 30-40, day after day. It would get old fast for most people and I wouldn't blame them or be surprised.. No way in heck would I want to drive sag for anyone across the US unless it was someone I REALLY liked. I think that would be limited to close family in my case. When I am too old to ride that far I might consider doing it for my grand kids or great grand kids.

I would plan for the possibility that your friend will bail on you and have the ability to proceed without him. I would have to think that the smart money would bet against you and a friend in a car still being together at the desired finishing point.

The other side of this is that it is a huge help to not have to carry your stuff, especially over mountain passes. You can do more mileage in the same amount of time and effort.
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Old 12-03-09, 02:15 PM   #23
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Did this trip ever take place
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Old 12-03-09, 05:29 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by MUDDY88YJ View Post
Did this trip ever take place
I doubt it. There doesn't seem to be anything on his web site to indicate it went beyond asking a few questions here.
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Old 12-03-09, 05:43 PM   #25
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Perhaps reality set in? It can be difficult for people to grasp that the first 60 miles of a century is the easy part. And stacking centuries up on a daily basis is...well, hard.

Last edited by bobframe; 12-03-09 at 06:13 PM.
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