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Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

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Old 05-16-10, 02:24 PM   #1
steve098
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Bring Me Back To Reality

So me and my buddy are in the early stages of planning a bike ride from New York City to New Orleans this summer. We have given ourselves around 23 days (give or take) to do this ride and I looked into amtrak tickets to get back which were pretty reasonable (130 bucks!(but it will take 30 hours)). Is this feasible or are we just nuts? We have decided we don't want to go with a group or any organization because it would take away from the freedom of just 2 guys and the road. We are planning on putting cargo racks on our road bikes and taking a 2 person tent. Hopefully we can sleep at as many camp sites as possible. How far do you think we can get in an average day? Is this realistic? What do you you think we need to do to prepare? Routs? Anyone have experience/stories to tell? Anything that might help would be great.
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Old 05-16-10, 03:01 PM   #2
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Adventure cycling might have maps that would provide a good route.

It's about 1200 miles (probably more). This works out to 52 miles a day. If you ride really slowly (5mph) it would take you 10 hours of riding. Since it's unlikely that you'd be able to split it up so evenly, you probably have some 80 mile days thrown in. There is going to be some good climbing involved.

Whether or not this is reasonable depends on what kind of shape you are in and what your riding experience is (and we have no idea about that).

It's within the realm of feasible (depending on a few things). It isn't trivial and it might not be easy, but it's feasible.

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Old 05-16-10, 05:12 PM   #3
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Check into a one-way rental car, for 2 people that might be less $ and less hassle. Just get one big enough for the bikes - doesn't have to be anything special, you can stuff a couple of bikes into lots of midsize cars.

WIth road bikes, you better pack really light, and put the lowest gearing and biggest tires on you can manage. If you have mountain bikes, that might work a little better.

Have fun!!
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Old 05-16-10, 05:43 PM   #4
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I rode from Norfolk Virginia to New Orleans many years ago in a summer - with plenty of time to spare! You are going a bit farther, but in less time so you won't have nearly as much time - but I think it's very doable.

You should do some rough calculations of mileage before you start so you'll have a general idea of how far you'll need to go each day, but know there will be a lot of variance in your daily mileage.

As for route, don't stress over it. Just pick up some regular state maps and stay off the main highways - the little roads should be fine. Talk with local people and ask them about roads to avoid. You don't need to have the whole thing planned out before you go - just know (more or less) where you'll go for the first hundred miles or so and then talk with people from there.

As for carrying your gear - make sure it's solid. Don't get cheapo racks or you will regret it (I learned that the hard way). Another option is to pull a trailer with your gear - depending on your bike that might be a better option.

BAsically, just get on your bike and go. Don't overplan. Don't make it into a big deal or you'll never do it.

And have fun!
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Old 05-16-10, 07:21 PM   #5
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of course it's feasible. ride, eat, sleep, repeat. That IS reality.
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Old 05-16-10, 07:33 PM   #6
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Why not bike both ways? Time constraints?
The first few days, and hours, are the hardest, psychologically. If you make it through those, you're pretty much golden.
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Old 05-16-10, 07:48 PM   #7
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According to Google's walking option, it's 1300 miles thru the Smokey Mountains. You'll need low gears for that. Using the bicycle option, it's over 1500 miles, but not as mountainous. You could also keep the navigation simple by just angling west from NYC to pick up Hwy 11 which will take you all the way to NO. About the same as the walking option.

You can do it. Even on road bikes. Maybe in 23 days.
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Old 05-16-10, 10:57 PM   #8
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The rental car is a good idea but I'm only 20. I think you need to be older to rent a car.

Can't ride both days because I need to get back to NY by the 19th of june. I think we are going to leave the last week in may. hopefully we are giving ourselves enough time. we want to be able to take our time but then again we do kick a lot of ass.

Thank you all very much. Getting state maps at gas stations and following a compass is probably the route we will take. My biggest fear is the camping part (aside from my knee). On previous trips I have slept in the woods (in a restricted area) and almost gotten picked up by the cops.

Do you think we will have a hard time finding legal places to camp?

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Old 05-16-10, 11:08 PM   #9
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If you are traveling south via Philadelphia and DC, look for the East Coast Greenway map. The Greenway goes through both cities.

As for camping, if you ask politely at churches, they will often let you camp in their yard.
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Old 05-17-10, 05:33 AM   #10
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I did a tour from Vermont to New Orleans this past fall, passing through New York. Here's a link to my journal: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/5943 A lot of my route was rather tailored to my circumstances so it won't help you much, but some of it might be helpful. If you're willing to go a bit inland, I highly recommend the Natchez Trace Parkway from Nashville to Jackson, MS, then due South to New Orleans. I also recommend the Ridge & Valley region of West Virginia/Virginia: pretty, low traffic, and the valleys all run in the direction you're riding so there's less hill climbing than in the Cumberland Plateau. Also, as someone else mentioned, East Coast Greenway is good for along the East Coast.

Finding legal places to camp can be as simple as stopping at a fire department or church. I personally get a thrill out of finding beautiful or bizarre places to stealth camp. (usually legally)
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Old 05-17-10, 06:33 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steve098 View Post
My biggest fear is the camping part (aside from my knee).

take it easy on the knee
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Old 05-17-10, 08:25 AM   #12
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It's great that you're still young and have the desire to tour with a friend. Being a younger fellow, you might benefit from the perspective of some of the older (and creakier) riders here. The unknown issue with your knee might need some discussion.

Is there an injury or structural issue that you have? Very small adjustments in your saddle height, for/aft position, and pedal-to-shoe connection can have major impacts on your knee comfort over longer duration rides.

I made the mistake of swapping SPD mountain pedals the morning of a three-day 180 mile C&O canal tow path tour, resulting in knee pain at the end of a cold and rainy day #1. I set the release screw at mid-range, and this must have constricted the angular play of my foot just enough to change something mechanically in my knee. Just that bit of change caused a problem, whereas I had trained for weeks with my old pedals and had no similary issues. Just saying...

Maybe if you explained this, some of the forum members could save you from having your fun adventure marred by discomfort along the way.
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Old 05-17-10, 09:54 AM   #13
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So let me break down this knee issue. I have been riding a brakeless fixed gear for about 4 years now, and that is with out a doubt the cause of my problem.

The force required to stop puts so much extra tension on my knee. On several occasions after riding no more than 30 miles my knee has swelled up to the size of a grape fruit and in some cases prevented me from walking for close to a week. I usually just ice the hell out of it when this happens and its goes away. This hasn't happened to me for a few months because I have been taking it really easy (giving myself more stopping distance, and riding my newly acquired road bike fully equipped with gears, and breaks (which has been a luxury that I almost forgot about)). I have gone to a doc more than once with this knee issue and i've gotten an MRI but the issue usually goes away in a fairly short time and the docs don't have anything to say other than "get a new bike" or "get brakes".

I know what the solution is here. I need a brake. But for some stupid macho reason that I can't thoroughly explain I can't do it.

I just don't know what I am going to do when I'm in the middle of nowhere Virginia and I can't even walk...
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Old 05-17-10, 10:01 AM   #14
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Good Medical Advice

"I have gone to a doc more than once with this knee issue and i've gotten an MRI but the issue usually goes away in a fairly short time and the docs don't have anything to say other than "get a new bike" or "get brakes".

Smart doctors...

It sounds like you are doing the right things... recognizing the source of the problem, taking it easier and giving yourself more room to stop on your fixed gear, riding another bike, icing and observing...

These are all good.

Because you will have [mountain] gears and brakes (hooray!) on your tour, you shouldn't have these problems in VA or any other state.

Does this happen when you ride a geared/brake bike for longer than, say, two hours? That could be indicative of some other alignment or set-up issue.
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