My wife and I are planning to ride from the Atlantic to the Pacific later this summer. We only have 4 weeks for the trip (including getting to and from the start). We're planning to stay in motels rather than camp to save time. We're also going to ride our tandem so we can each work as hard as we want, but stay together. We think we'd be comfortable with a daily mileage around 120 if we don't weigh the bike down too much. We'd love to do a PAC tour 30-ish day cross country trip, but it isn't in the budget and the timing usually doesn't work so well for us either. I'm looking for recommendations or experiences in any of the following areas.
We haven't picked a route yet, but we're leaning toward the Adventure Cycling Transamerica route with Western Express for a total mileage around 3,800. Is it possible to ride this route in 28 days and stay in motels every night? Does anyone know another scenic, safe, and well documented route across the country that might be faster? The 3,100 mile Southern Tier route doesn't really appeal to us. Does anyone know a really nice route from Boston to Seattle or Portland (that would be convenient for us)?
We're still trying to figure how much storage space we'll need on the bike and how much we'll actually be carrying. How much bag space would you want for a non-camping self-supported tour. We don't currently have a trailer, high quality racks, or high quality panniers, so we aren't committed to either method yet. I'm leaning toward ~30L panniers on a front lowrider rack, ~60L panniers (Axiom Champlain, Jandd Large Mountain, Arkel GT-54, or MEC World Tour) on a Tubus Cargo rack. I don't want to buy panniers, and then discover that we need to tie a bunch of stuff to the top of the rack, however. For brevets, we normally use a rack trunk bag and a medium sized seat bag under the stoker stem.
We ride a circa 1994 steel Trek T200 road tandem with Dura-Ace barend shifters, XT rear derailleur and cantilever brakes, Thudbuster seatpost for the stoker, clip-on aero bars, alkaline battery-powered lights, 48-spoke wheels, Planet Bike hardcore hybrid fenders, 54-42-30 x 11-34 8-speed gearing. A new Brooks saddle for my wife is on order. I think this setup should be good for the trip. I plan to replace the brake pads, drive chain, and tires before we leave.
For brevets we usually use 700x32 Pasela TG tires or non-TG Paselas (if we want a little more speed) around 90psi (gross weight is roughly 320lbs). I'm going to get some new 700x35 tires for this trip -- probably Pasela TG or Schwalbe Marathon Supreme. We can't use larger tires with our current fenders.
We're not planning to bring a tent, sleeping bags, mattresses, tarps, towels, stove, plates, or utensils. We will bring headlamps and a first aid kit. Should we reconsider some of these items?
2 sets of summer bike clothes, 1 set of winter cycling clothes, 1 set of street clothes... right? I suspect we'll take flip-flops and swim suits as well.
Thanks in advance for your suggestions. If anyone's heading the same way and wants to paceline, drop me a line.