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  1. #1
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    Cross Country-Southern Route

    I am seriously considering doing a solo cross country ride next summer from San Diego, CA to Charleston, CA. I have done a few century rides and do well with long distance riding. My goal is to do this ride in 18 days or less and just stay in cheap motels along the way and take a minimal amount of supplies. I am looking for advice from anybody who may have done a similar ride. Did you eat on the bike or did you stop for lunch and dinner? Training you may have done to ride 12-14 hours a day? Advice for riding across Arizona in late June? Basically any information would be helpful. I have a Trek 2300 and it is built to be a tri-bike. I want to use this bike and will upgrade or modify as needed to make this ride. Any advice as to what mods to make would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Cascadian Nationalist
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    Will it even be fun to go that fast? That is a string of seriously long days.

  3. #3
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    Fun?

    My goal is to be in tip top shape come June. I am 49 years old and want to do this before I turn 50. Even though the days will be long and I will be riding hard all day, the sense of accomplishment will be enjoyable. I have done some really long rides before and participated in Ironman Triathlons. I would not say an Ironman is fun, but the feeling you get when you finish is unreal. Thanks for the post!

  4. #4
    Hooked on Touring
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    Perhaps you might consider posting this on the racing thread.

  5. #5
    Senior Member wheel's Avatar
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    Advice for riding across Arizona in late June?
    Don't do it.
    Arizona in June
    105 average 85 nightly
    very remote sections
    extreme sun exposure 14-15 hours a day any shade is very difficult to find
    You may have to go extended periods with out a water source.
    Extreme dryness less than %5
    If you want torture yea go for it.
    Last edited by wheel; 09-25-08 at 12:21 PM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member nycwtorres's Avatar
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    wow, you did mean San Diego, CA to Charleston, NC? 2,275 miles in 18 straight days. That's 126 miles a day. Even the TDF takes a day off.
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  7. #7
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    Response

    Yes, I mean Charleston, SC. I have read posts from people that have done this ride in 18 days. I am planning to have some really long days (150+) and then maybe rest up with some 60 mile days.

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    can you go in May? There's no way I would ride NM/AZ/TX in summer.

    Is the 18 day limit because of vacation time? you need to build a little slack into your schedule in case something happens, is that built in? what if you get sick or hurt? what if you have 20mph headwind for a couple of days in a row?

    You have done "a few centuries" - have you done 2 in a row? more than 2?

    you're going to have to dial in your nutrition and hydration, get started on that.

    http://www.pactour.com/
    look at their training tips page, they do fast supported tours.
    also, their desert training camps might be good for you - they have one all centuries week.
    ...

  9. #9
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kuzuchi View Post
    Yes, I mean Charleston, SC. I have read posts from people that have done this ride in 18 days. I am planning to have some really long days (150+) and then maybe rest up with some 60 mile days.
    My impression is that what you propose isn't touring. I would ask on the Long Distance forum you will get better answers there for this sort of trip.

    I rode coast to coast 4244 miles in 73 days but don't feel that I can make too many useful suggestions for the type of trip you are considering. I will make a few comments anyway though.
    1. For many of us seeing the country and meeting the people is what a tour is about. I don't think you will have time for much of that.
    2. Stopping to see stuff and do side hikes is really fun and worth doing.
    3. Most of the folks who we met that planned to do even 100 miles per day scaled their plans back after some time on the road.
    4. Riding centuries is fun, riding them back to back day after day is just a grind.
    5. It will likely be way hotter than you probably expect.

    My advice is forget it and do a coast to coast tour through a part of the country that is more varied and interesting in terrain and ride at a pace that allows you time to do stuff other than just riding. Take camping gear, meet the locals, meet the other riders, and see the sights. The Trans America or the Northern Tier are nice.

    OK so if you really want to do it at that pace... I suggest getting a support vehicle to go along and let them haul your stuff do your laundry, shopping, etc. You really won't feel like doing any of that stuff riding an average of 126 miles a day.

  10. #10
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    It's entirely doable, and for some people, having goals and pushing themselves is part of the experience. I just completed a tour from Colorado to New Hampshire. 2,360 miles, 25-30 lb load, 19 days of riding, 4 rest days in a row in Indiana to visit a friend. Those rest days midway through were pretty crucial, but mainly because I hadn't dialed in my calorie consumption and camping practices. On the second leg, I was eating more and finding better more restful campsites. I arrived in NH in better condition than I was in when I got to IN.

    My average overall was 124 miles a day, 118 on the first leg, and 131 on the second. Staying in motels will lighten the load, but I have two observations/suggestions: 1) There's no such thing as a "cheap" motel. Expect to pay at least $50 per night -- that isn't cheap in my book. 2) There won't always be a motel where you want it. When you're trying to push the miles, you want to ride as much as possible, that is, get the most out of each day, without going too deep into the night and totally exhausting yourself. With camping gear, you'll have more options.

    Other strategies I found for maximizing the mileage:

    - Minimize down time during the day. Fill up at least four water bottles at a time and load your pockets with food you can consume on the bike. I was struck by how much time I killed just stopping for water and a snack. The key is to keep the bike rolling. Depending on terrain and wind, 8-10 hrs of saddle time should be enough to maintain 120+ mi. average but with necessary stops, that 8-10 hrs translates into about 10-12 hrs elapsed time. That means if I get on the bike at 8 am, I'm pulling into a campsite at 6-8 pm.

    - Pay close attention to calorie needs. If you haven't done this kind of riding before, you will probably underestimate the amount of food you need to consume. I found that at a certain point, no amount of energy bars were going to be enough. I needed high fat, high protein foods like nuts and meat. Since I'm pretty picky about the kind of meat I eat, I ended up having a couple of tins of sardines almost every night.

    - If you can, do a warm-up tour or just a whole lot of hrs on the bike before the tour. For the first half, my knees gave me trouble, but eventually, they resolved themselves and everything worked out fine. I'm sure my knees would not have been an issue if I'd put in more hrs leading up to the tour. Staying in motels will make laundry and personal hygiene much easier, but if you change your mind and decide to camp, try and stay in campgrounds with shower facilities at least every other night on average. I brought two pairs of chamiox and jerseys, alternated them each day, and made sure to wash each kit -- in a convenience store bathroom if necessary.

    Did I enjoy the tour? Absolutely. It is possible to hussle, get really efficient at camping, shopping, laundry, etc. and still take in the scenery. Afterall, you're still pedaling a bike most of your waking hours, free to look around as much as you like. Admittedly, a couple of conversations with people I met were cut short because I wanted to get back on the bike, and I didn't go for any hikes or anything, but I was on a cycling trip so that was fine with me. Now that I'm at my destination in NH (in time for the fall colors), I'm free to do all that.

    I do, however, agree with the suggestions to pick a route that won't be quite so hot at that time of year. It will sap your energy much quicker, and one miscalculation could leave you stranded without water, dehydrated and suffering from heat exhaustion, and that will be very hard to recover from without interupting the tour for several days.
    Last edited by northboundtrain; 09-25-08 at 09:14 PM.

  11. #11
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    Wow. This is great to hear. Do you have a blog or a journal or anything? I want to learn!
    ...

  12. #12
    Directionally Challenged Lost again's Avatar
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    I did a west coast tour and averaged about 100 a day. It's a very hilly route and I'm used to long rides. I do numerous double centuries and ride at least a century every weekend. But even riding like this didn't make riding a tour bike over a 100 miles a day as easy as I thought it'd be. Next year when I do my next tour I'll be riding shorter routes and taking in the scenery more. This fast paced riding isn't bad, but taking your time and not being concerned about mileage makes life on the bike a whole lot better.

    Riding my road bike is a lot easier then my tour bike. My effort for the same mileage was a lot bigger. I found nutrition to be key. I really don't think you can eat enough, so what you do eat is very important. I would buy trail mix or the ingredients to make my own. I would tie this mix to the bars and continue to snack all day long. I'd also stop at the occasional fruit stand but be careful here as it doesn't take a whole lot of fruit to cause some problems.


    Tempetures in AZ/NM can reach close to 100 in June but the heat isn't that bad, at least I don't have a problem with it nor did any of our group. We were all concerned about it but found that if we got early starts and drank water(flavored and regular) along with replacing electolytes we had no problems. We usually found a place to have lunch and made a longer stop there but when we did this tour we were in no hurry and averaged around 65 miles a day.
    aka Pain Freak
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  13. #13
    Senior Member nycwtorres's Avatar
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    Northbound sounds like you had an awesome trip.

    Quote Originally Posted by northboundtrain View Post
    Expect to pay at least $50 per night -- that isn't cheap in my book.
    I didn't even know there were motels as cheap as $50 a night! Are they clean and safe? I'd be afraid the guy from No Country For Old Men would shoot me with his air ***. hehe
    I am not young enough to know everything.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
    Wow. This is great to hear. Do you have a blog or a journal or anything? I want to learn!

    No, I don't have blog or anything. But I would be interested in sharing my experiences further and hearing from any other high-milers out there. I've decided I really like trying to maximize mileage -- without undue suffering -- and I'm already thinking about ways to push the average up next time. I think it would be really cool if lightweight/ultralight, high-mileage cyclotouring became more popular. It might entice more of the competitive cyclists to get into touring. It also opens up possibilities for touring to become a more utilitarian form of travel, which promotes cycling in general. Perhaps I should start a travelogue on the subject.

    On another note, the OP asked about possible mods to his bike. I'd say put a rear rack on it. My set up uses a rack made to mount on a suspension fork with an extra long skewer. I modified it slightly to mount on the rear of a titanium framed road bike (without rack eyelets), using P-clamps to attatch to the seat stays. Even if you're not camping, you'll be carrying enough stuff -- extra clothes, phone, med kit, tool kit, etc. -- that you will need a way to carry it all. I used 2 lightweight 13 liter dry bags (3 oz. each) for clothes, tent, and sleeping bag, which I strapped to the rack, one as a pannier, the other on top of the rack. I also got a $25 1,000 cu. in. back pack (basically just a stuff sack with shoulder straps sewn on) from REI http://www.rei.com/product/747522 that I strapped to the rack as the other pannier.

    I had no front panniers. Instead, I hose-clamped two water bottle cages to the forks using small sections automotive heater hose to protect the carbon forks. I think next time I will epoxy water bottle bosses to the forks using JB weld or the like.

    Aero bars were another important mod. I can't recommend them enough. I lucked out and I picked up a used pair for $20 in Indiana, and they made the second half of the trip much much better. They not only dramatically improve aerodynamics -- particularly in a head wind -- but they also offer a different riding position that allows you to rest your arms and hands. Using a visored helmet doesn't work really well with the aero bars because you have to crane your neck more to see, so I'd recommend some removable-type of visor. I plan on making a flip-up visor for the next tour.

    The one major improvement I need to make to my system is to have more accessible storage places. Some sort of top tube mounted storage bag for tools, tubes, spare tire, glasses lenses, and other little items that might need to be accessed during the day. I carried one spare tube, some tire levers, and a few allen keys in a little seat mounted bag, but the rest of my tool kit rode in the bottom of the Flash pack. One day I flatted twice, the second time right around dusk, and I had to pull everything out of the pack to get to my second tube. Other times I would forgo doing something I should like switch out my glasses lenses when it started getting dark, just because I didn't want to dig. So my philosophy from now on is that all of the little items, from sunscreen to tools, needs to be immediately and easily accessible.

    Another mod I intend to make is to make a cage for a 12-16 oz. plastic peanut butter jar/container and mount it to the aero bars. I'll fill the container with nuts and raisins which I'll then be able to easily eat while riding. I tried eating trail mix out of a ziplock bag that I carried in my jersey pocket, but it was awkward and dangerous and I spilled a lot.

    Gearing is another thing to consider. I've opted for a compact crank with a 34 tooth small ring and 46 tooth big ring. I found the 46 to be more useful than a standard 50 big ring for touring. with a 12-27 cassette, my top speed pedaling a 100 rev/min cadence is 28 mph which is plenty fast enough for me. At higher speeds, I'm more than happy to coast and use it as an oportunity to stretch. Going fairly light, the 34/27 combo is plenty low for any hillclimb I might encounter.

    My suggestion on tires is to start with three high quality new folding tires, one as a spare. If I were touring through Colorado or down the west coast, I might not bring a spare tire, but for coast-to-coast, I wouldn't even consider not having a one. You will travel hundreds of miles without encountering a bike shop, and if you destroy a tire you're stuck till you can get a new one fed-exed to you. You'll probably wear through at least the rear tire. If you switch it out before it's totally shot, you can use it as the emergency spare.

    Well, I could probably go on and on, but this about covers all the major things I can think of right now.

  15. #15
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    thanks for posting that info, nbt...

    sounds like the key points keep it light, keep it aero, and keep it rolling, absolutely minimize time off the bike.
    ...

  16. #16
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Very impressive and informative. Thanks for sharing. That is quite an accomplishment.

    Still a good bit short of the pace the OP is proposing if you count the rest days though (and I think it reasonable to). In any case 102.6 miles per day is quite impressive.

    I'd rather spend more time meeting people and seeing the sites than that mileage would allow if touring. But then I consider his proposed ride to be something other than touring.
    Last edited by staehpj1; 09-26-08 at 09:24 AM.

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