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Old 02-23-08, 02:51 PM   #1
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Tour Across America - Reposted

I was told to repost this question here. Thought I was in this forum the whole time.
Hey gang,

I plan on cycling across country from East coast to West. Possibly back East again, depending on how everything goes and how much I get to see. I am planning this trip to start at the very end of April or beginning of May, obviously weather deciding.

I wanted to know what groups if any will be cycling in my direction around the same times. I plan on doing this with at least one friend who has committed and possibly one or two more. However, we would like to meet up or ride with others if there will be any going our direction.

To anybody who has done this before, can you please release a few trail secrets. What are some of the best and most scenic routes to take. I definitely plan on traveling through the Rockies and hopefully on the way back the grand canyon. What are some routes to definitely stay away from? What are some must do's? (meaning beautiful sites) I will not be in a rush for time and expect this to take a few months, but would still like to know how long it has taken each of you. Maybe even just through certain stretches of the ride.

What are the best places to obtain section maps and trail maps to accomplish this?

Part of the trip will incorporate some heavy trail hiking, backpacking, and rock climbing. Any special equipment besides the usual for climbing and trekking that will be needed?

As far as money goes, I plan on trying to raise between 6k-12k dollars from sponsorship. I will be making a website to incorporate all of the information from my trip ongoing. People will be able to track us within 3 days of riding hopefully and plan on filming and photographing much of the trip digitally.

I would greatly appreciate any and all help that can be provided. The best resources for this stuff are ALWAYS people who have done this and have shared similar experiences. Thank you.

-Kevin
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Old 02-23-08, 03:24 PM   #2
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If you don't have a definite route set yet, you might want to look into adventure cycling. It's an organization that produces cycling specific maps for touring cyclists. They have three cross country routes that you can choose from.

You mentioned trails several times, though. Are you planning on trying to cross the country on off road trails?
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Old 02-23-08, 03:43 PM   #3
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If you don't have a definite route set yet, you might want to look into adventure cycling. It's an organization that produces cycling specific maps for touring cyclists. They have three cross country routes that you can choose from.

You mentioned trails several times, though. Are you planning on trying to cross the country on off road trails?
Thank you for the route help. As far as the trails go, no. I am just looking to do quite a bit of hiking on my down or off cycle days. So any routes that would provide access to some trails could be helpful to know.
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Old 02-23-08, 03:55 PM   #4
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I did the TransAmerica last Summer and really liked the route. The Northern Tier sounds great too. Using the Adventure Cycling maps makes the planning much easier, in fact you don't really need to plan ahead more than were you will stop on a given day using these maps. They list all the info you need regarding where you will find services (restaurants, campsites, motels, hostels, libraries, post offices, bike shops, etc).

One thing we liked about the TA was that we met other riders that were on the same route and crossed paths fairly often. Some became good friends.

I tried to document as much as I could that I thought would be interesting or helpful to someone doing this route or any cross country route for that matter. Check it out at: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/staehling2007

There are lots of other journals there that are entertaining and useful.

Ask lots of questions here, but also feel free to contact me through the guest book on the journal page, by email, or by PM here if you have questions that I might be able to help with.
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Old 02-23-08, 04:08 PM   #5
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I'm leaving sometime during the first week of May. Ocean City, MD, then to Virginia and the Trans Am. I don't know how long I'll stay on it, but I will be using it. I, as well, will be in no hurry and plan on stopping wherever the notion strikes me. Near the top of the route, where it turns left, I'm picking up the Lewis and Clark for one section then detouring, heading to Spokane, Seattle and then south along the coast to San Fran. Perhaps we'll run into one another. I can be recognized by my long hair and black bike w/white bar tape. I'll just have to see how long the hair and bar tape last before I have to do something about them.
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Old 02-23-08, 04:17 PM   #6
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I can be recognized by my long hair and black bike w/white bar tape. I'll just have to see how long the hair and bar tape last before I have to do something about them.
I buzzed all my hair off before I left on the TA. Since we had record heat for most of the trip I was glad I did. Long enough to tie back or buzzed off have some advantage over in between lengths.

I hope you guys have a great trip.
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Old 02-24-08, 10:35 AM   #7
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As far as money goes, I plan on trying to raise between 6k-12k dollars from sponsorship. I will be making a website to incorporate all of the information from my trip ongoing. People will be able to track us within 3 days of riding hopefully and plan on filming and photographing much of the trip digitally.
Good luck with that. While I am proud of having ridden coast to coast, cross country trips are a dime a dozen. Sponsorship for an XC bike tour amounts to someone to paying for your vacation IMO and not too many people are willing to do that. If you are thinking of companies sponsoring you, they would seem to be more likely to sponsor someone with a proven track record doing a more ambitious trip.

If you can manage to pull it off, great, but don't expect it to be easy. Getting some breaks on equipment purchases from local dealers is even tough.

There are folks who successfully raised money for charity. Some may have been unscrupulous enough to fund their trip with some of the donations, but that is unethical to the extreme in my mind. Others may feel differently, so let your conscience be your guide.
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Old 02-25-08, 01:15 AM   #8
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Hey dude, I'll be on the TramsAm E-W starting around May 30, hope to see ya on the trail
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Old 02-25-08, 06:31 AM   #9
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Good luck with that.

There are folks who successfully raised money for charity. Some may have been unscrupulous enough to fund their trip with some of the donations, but that is unethical to the extreme in my mind. Others may feel differently, so let your conscience be your guide.
I'm with staehpj1 on that one. There's raising money for a cause by doing the trip and there's raising money to be able to do the trip. Two different things. The second one is very unlikely for obvious reasons.
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Old 02-25-08, 09:44 AM   #10
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I definitely appreciate all of the help and advice so far. I agree that raising money for a cause and not giving that money to the cause is unethical and that thought has never crossed my mind. I have worked rather closely with certain companies and want to pitch the idea of emergency sponsorship. Just in case something happens, there will be some more money available to fix the situation.

Foamy; are you going with a group or just a few pals?

If I wanted to start or catch up with a group on the way, just to ride with more people for portions; what would be the best way to approach that?

Also, do you guys have a specific weight that you cycle with? Is it similar to backpacking where it should be in between 1/4 and 1/3 of your body weight?
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Old 02-25-08, 10:14 AM   #11
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If I wanted to start or catch up with a group on the way, just to ride with more people for portions; what would be the best way to approach that?
Try posting on the crazy guy on a bike forums (as well as reading the journals on crazy guy for upcoming trips and contact them via the guestbook on their journal) and the Adventure cycling forums to see who else is going at the same time.

Also you will meet folks along the way if you are on a popular route like the TA. We didn't ride with other folks that much but did camp with them and went on side outings like rafting. We made some good friends on the trip.

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Also, do you guys have a specific weight that you cycle with? Is it similar to backpacking where it should be in between 1/4 and 1/3 of your body weight?
Opinions vary widely regarding what is appropriate. That said when climbing mountains weight is a big deal. Fortunately there is always UPS and the post office to allow you to adjust as you go. Things you find you don't need can be sent home and things you wish you had can be shipped to you via general delivery. This can also be a way to adjust gear to geographical and seasonal changes.

Edit:
I really didn't answer your question. I will say that we found 30-40 pounds of gear, panniers, and clothing per person appropriate for us, and yes larger folks can probably carry a bit more than lighter folks. If in a group sharing community gear I recommend adjusting the balance of who carries what based on their size. There are folks who carry 100 pounds or more though I would not recommend it.

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Old 02-25-08, 11:28 AM   #12
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Foamy; are you going with a group or just a few pals?

Also, do you guys have a specific weight that you cycle with? Is it similar to backpacking where it should be in between 1/4 and 1/3 of your body weight?
I'm going solo for this one. I want to be able to do as I please, when I please and not have to consult with a group or try and manage any kind of schedule. I just wanna drift along. Go with the flow. I've been sailing for quite a few years as part of a team and the logistics, timing, herding of the cats etc. is not in the cards for this trip. I think that's half the reason I'm doing it.

As far as weight goes, it depends, I guess, on what's important to you. I'm deliberately traveling modestly. I'm keeping the weight (sans water and very limited grub) to around thirty pounds—less if I can manage it. My bike is not a full-blown touring bike. I wanted a dual purpose bike and that's what I spec'd. My tubes are ultra light steel and my wheels are fairly light and slim. I want to keep things on the light side so as to minimize any potential problems there. I also want to be able to spin along when the notion strikes me and less weight will help facilitate that. I'm pretty sure I'm carrying more than enough. nun's posts have helped tremendously in that regard.
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Old 02-25-08, 01:04 PM   #13
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I rode from Harrisonburg VA to Anacortes WA this summer, mostly along with ACA Northern Tier Route. It was a great time. Few things I can think of is be sure you know who your riding with. Riding in numbers can be difficult due to everyone having different ideas on waht they want to do and when they want to do it (bathroom, eating, site seeing etc etc.) The more people the more difficult it becomes. I might suggest just picking a destination to be at come night time and being able to do your own thing to get there. Also dont share tents (you need some alone time for sanity). I did and its probably the reason me and my riding partner no longer speak with each other. buzzing your head is a good idea to keep cool, and also just for general hygene, its a lot easier to wash your head when your hair is short. Eat a lot. Have fun. with a budget as large as yours you should be able to see the world. i did 2 months and 2K dollars and I was pretty freely spending on food/drink/fun. Have fun above all, dont be stressed about mileage, big days come naturally later on. East to West--->westward expansion. good choice. any questions feel free to PM

also i rode an old ass schwinn crosscut (cyclocross frame) that i paid 200 dollars for and it worked great. I pulled a bob, with too much gear. I think I pulled 70lbs. Totally unnecessary. Next time I will cut this weight in half. It took me over half way to realize that I didnt need all the stuff I had, and at that point I was like ohhh well I already pulled it this far and I dont care anymore. but I wouldnt do it again with that much.
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Old 02-25-08, 01:31 PM   #14
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Do the Adventure Cycling TransAmerica Trail: http://www.adventurecycling.org/rout...ca.cfm?pg=more

It's the most popular cross-country touring route - you're bound to meet other riders and groups. Early May is prime time to start frome the east coast. It takes you through all the various terrain this country has to offer, with the exception of the southwest... but you'll see desert in Wyoming anyway. You'll have the trip of a lifetime.

I did this route in 2006. If you poke around the Adventure Cycling site, you'll find the answers to many of your other questions. There isn't exactly a limit regarding weight, but obviously there are plenty of good reasons to travel as light as possible, mostly related to reducing stress on your bike and your body.

Greetings from Allentown!
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Old 02-25-08, 01:45 PM   #15
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I read your journal—it's one of my favorites!

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Old 02-25-08, 04:33 PM   #16
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I don't think there's the same % of bodyweight thing in cycle touring... but you definitely want to keep it as light as possible. Without resorting to ultralight techniques, i think that comes in around 25-40 pounds of gear weight for most people. I usually roll with about 35 dry weight which puts my fully loaded weight with bike around 75. (bike, racks, bags, gear, water, food)

Are you a sponsored climber? Are you riding with a partner?

As a climber myself, I wouldn't combine the cycle tour with a climbing trip, unless you are planning to stay and climb for long stretches. You could carry enough climbing gear to make riding suck, and still not have enough climbing gear to make climbing great. Unless you boulder. Or you could ship it ahead to your next climbing destination. Even a minimal amount of gear - rope shoes harness draws - has to come in at 20 pounds or more... ugh.

The amount of time you spend hauling all that stuff around compared to using it, and how much less enjoyable riding is when overloaded, makes me think it's not a good idea. If you can hit Devil's Tower you can probably borrow or rent gear from Frank at the Tower Lodge.

Adventure Cycling has tried & true routes, or just mark your climbing/hiking destinations on a map and play connect the dots.

As a mountain person myself, I would just blow off the whole middle part of the country, it's flat, and concentrate on the west - you can't go wrong in Colorado above 9000 feet, and the whole rockies south to north are awesome. Look at Adv.Cyc.'s Great Parks routes (north & south). If you really must 'cross the country' go north-south.

anyway, good luck with your planning, this is an interesting idea and sounds like fun.

Oh yeah, if you have 6-12K just pay some dirtbag climber to drive with you and carry your climbing gear. I know my b/f would do it... oh wait, that's a good idea, count me in. ;D
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Old 02-26-08, 01:48 AM   #17
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I read your journal—it's one of my favorites!
Seconded. It is one of the best TransAm journals
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Old 02-26-08, 11:17 AM   #18
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Hey thanks guys I just signed up here yesterday.

Weetbix, have a great ride!
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Old 02-26-08, 11:34 AM   #19
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Seconded. It is one of the best TransAm journals
Anyone got a link...please?
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Old 02-26-08, 12:05 PM   #20
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Wow, all so much good information. I am trying to limit my cycling partners to maybe 1 or 2. Although I have a feeling either or both will bail on me, so I am not counting out doing it by myself. Which is why I am interested in meeting up with some people occasionally.

I will most likely choose the TransAm route from ACA. But possibly go off route for a few things i would like to see. The rockies are definitely in the plans, however I would also like to see the Grand Canyon as for mentioned.

As far as climbing goes, no I am not sponsered. And usually, despite what most people warn me about, I free climb more often than I should. I might just bring very minimal climbing gear and rent the heavy stuff. Rope, Harness, and specialty shoes.

I too will probably just go with the flow with no plan other than to reach certain points within a certain time frame. But that is subject to change. How badly does weather affect a trip like this. I could imagine a few times of taking a few days off to sit out a storm or something.

Thanks for all the info thus far guys.
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Old 02-26-08, 12:28 PM   #21
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I too will probably just go with the flow with no plan other than to reach certain points within a certain time frame. But that is subject to change. How badly does weather affect a trip like this. I could imagine a few times of taking a few days off to sit out a storm or something.
That varies widely. We were able to ride every day except when we chose not to, but things can happen to screw up the timing like the floods in Kansas last year that affected some west bound riders or snow at higher elevations (more likely for east bound riders).
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Old 02-26-08, 12:33 PM   #22
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Obviously it is a use at your own discretion variable to riding. I just wasn't sure if May-Sept was known for any horrible storm seasons. That I might want to avoid certain areas or routes through different times of the year. But I guess that isn't a question that can really be answered, only experienced.
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Old 02-26-08, 01:39 PM   #23
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the guy i rode with had no riding experience whatsoever, and adjusted alright and was good for the most part. we parted ways however and i rode about 2 weeks solo, which was actually a great stress reliever, but i guess i didnt have as much fun hanging out/partying at night.

besides a tornado in montana (windiest night of my life), and a few torrential downpours, some which we rode through and some that we did not, weather was good. Pretty much just hot as hell.
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Old 02-26-08, 02:01 PM   #24
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Obviously it is a use at your own discretion variable to riding. I just wasn't sure if May-Sept was known for any horrible storm seasons. That I might want to avoid certain areas or routes through different times of the year. But I guess that isn't a question that can really be answered, only experienced.
You can get the best feel for this by reading a bunch of journals for a number of different years. That said your schedule would seem to make your chances of good weather better than average. Expect to get rained on and hailed on from time to time, but probably don't expect major delays.
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Old 02-27-08, 12:47 AM   #25
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Anyone got a link...please?
Here ya go.

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/jamie2006
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