starting from scratch
i am new to the world of biking, but as a college student who will do anything to avoid having to put on a suit and tie, i have been thinking about biking across the US this summer. i'd like to take the transAM from yorktown, va to san fran. i'd like to do it to raise money for a charity (maybe habitat for humanity.) in addition to the obvious benefits of this, it would also allow me to obtain some sort of service grant from my school. now, my question to you is what do i need to know? what sort of equipment will i need (esp. what sort of bike)? what sort of training will i need to do? if you know of a good website, i'd appreciate that as well. remember, i'm almost totally ignorant about touring, so tell me anything and everything.
also, if any one has any insite into the chairty aspect of it, esp. how to go about raising money, i'd love to hear about that as well.
Every lane is a bike lane
Get ready for some very different opinions on some of these questions. The first thing you might want to do is browse some of the threads in the touring section of these forums. I'll offer a few of my opinions on various things below:
As far as the bike goes, I've toured with a MTB fitted with slick tyres and it seems to have worked for me. A touring bike would probably be lighter and faster, but the MTB has the advantage of being able to go more places. You can weigh up those benefits depending on how you plan to go about this.
I'd also recommend a Blackburn pannier racks to be used. I have used mine for two tours and over 1,000 commutes. I'm yet to have it break. As far as panniers go, shop around here, but don't be fooled by claims of "waterproof" panniers. They work in light rain OK, but if you expect any heavy stuff, you'll have to line the inside of them with plastic bags for additional protection (something you'll need to do anyway to separate yesterday's wet clothes from the dry ones and so on).
The best way to get into condition for a ride is, basically, to ride. One thing I would recommend is to do a shortened tour (an overnighter perhaps) with all your gear, camping not too far from home, but riding the sort of distances you intend to cover each day on your tour. This will give you the chance to ensure the touring experience suits you, and that all your gear actually works.
I know absolutely bugger all about fund-raising, so I'll leave that up to somebody else. I hope all this is of some basic use.
"I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
"We invite everyone to question the entire culture we take for granted." - Manic Street Preachers.
My bike tours. Japan tour page under construction.
Ride a bike EVERYWHERE for the rest of your college career (hopefully that is at least two more years).
Don't take a car, subway, or a bus. If your destinations is within 12 miles, take the bike.
Do all of your own maintanance.
With the above two step approach, you will build the strength, skills, and mechanical knowledge needed for a cross-country trip.
have bike will tour
since you want to go this summer Keep reading the posts that come your way about bike and equipent. Are you going to camp most nights? some cheep motels and hostiles? Start to shop and buy your equipment now if you wait till time to go you will drive your self nuts running from place to place to find what you really want and may have to settle for something that isnt quite right.
This equipmet will cost you some money, better to spread the cost out over some time. Unless you are wealthy.
Buy good quality stuff the trip you are planning is long and hard on equipment cheep stuff wont hold up.
things to get are of course are a bike, pedal system, touring shoes, tent, sleeping bag ,and pad, stove, fuel bottle, cook kit, pack towell, racks pannieers ,and or trailer, and thats just a start.
Chris was right in that you should brouse the thread here on touring someone else is gearing up for a first tour and had many of the same questions as you have now, you will find some good info there but keep comming back and asking what ever questions you need to. You will get a ton of information form many knowledgeable and experianced people on this site.
You mention going east to west I think this is the better route as i have gone both directions the head winds and cross winds will get you either way you go. I liked the scenery better heading west but going east .. the feeling of finishing up a long tour in my own state on familiar roads and pulling into my own town and driveway was awsome too.
training: if you are in a state that has a real winter and cant get in a lot of riding then get into the gym now find a good indoor cycling class led by a cyclist rather that an aerobic bunny you can get good training in endurance and intervals and the group dynamics will keep you from being bored. do some weight training squats, lat pull downs, seated rows, bench press, push ups, abdominal curls, leg press, leg curls, etc are good for off season training. When the weather gets right hop on your bike and ride outside and build base miles and make increases in total weekly mileage. When its time to tour you will have a base to start with but actually turning those pedals every day on a loaded bike is something all together differant you will get stronger every day out on tour.
you will ride in heat, cold , rain, wind be prepared physically and mentally.
When do you plan to take off? I am doing a 10 day tour in Wisconsin the end of june to warm up then heading south to the trans am headed west then south to San Diego and points unknowen perhaps Maybe We will run into each other.
prepare for the time of your life out on the road
Do you have a budget for the tour?
There are some low end touring bikes that work well, like REI .
A roadified MTB or better still an MTB wheeled touring bike will handle rougher trails more easily, but regular touring bikes can be ridden on trails.Sometimes 2nd hand bikes make good buys.
Whatever style or budget, get a bike the correct size.
Keep it simple, because things will break and wear out. Friction gear changers will keep on going regardless, but index only systems may foul up. Dont skimp on luggage, this will take a beating.
For preparation, you need saddle time, rather than any strength or aerobic training. A week into the tour you will be much fiitter, but your butt needs to adapt to the new stress. Better do that before you start. Pick a saddle you can live with, they are all different and many will not fit your butt.
Do a shakedown tour over a weekend or week, to test out your rig. Even riding in a big circle to camp in your back yard is a good test.
There are some things which are essential, like bike shorts, gloves and helmet, there are highly desirable things like wicking bike jersies, breathable waterproofs and stiff shoes/lightweight boots, and there are things which will help you be more efficient, but you can do without, like clipless pedals. You dont need to buy top of the range for things to work.
Check out some of the "ultralight" camping web sites( not neccessarily with a bike) . The ultra-light movement has an interesting take on weight/speed/safety.
i plan on leaving some time towards the end of may.
as for the budget, its completly dependent on whether i can get a service grant from my school. i can ask for up to $3000, but they may decide to give me less. i'll be splitting some of the costs with the guys who'll be riding with me, so that will lessen the occasional motel/hostel bill, and the cost of cooking supplies.
what sort of terrain can i expect on the transam and western express to san fran? is it mostly asphault, and if so, highways or back roads? trails, and if so, what level of difficulty?
Is the Transam a marked route or suggested route ?
Is it the very good. or can you take better local detours. The people who plan big routes aften lack the local knowledge to pick the very best route, I know that from the UK Sustrans routes.
have bike will tour
The trans am is a well travled bike route in the states you will climb many mountian passes be prepared! you should be in the gym for your off season training while you wait out winter. Talk with a trainer or coach for poointers Squats, leg curls and leg presses will make you strong for the climbs. work upper body also , build an aerobic base so you can ride long hours if you cant ride outside yet ride get on a trainer or stationary bike till you can get outside then start to build your mialege over the course of a month or so remember you cant get fit in just one day start now .
Adventure cycling has maps and much info about this route some good winter reading is "long distance cycling" "the essential touring cyclist" "cyclists training bible"