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Thread: Call Me Crazy

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    Like a Bird in flight Osprey's Avatar
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    Call Me Crazy

    So, I'm in the initial planning stages of planning a solo bike tour accross the country, which I'll start at the beggining of the summer of 2011. Seems so far away...

    The only thing is, I've honestly never rode more then maybe 30 miles in a single day, and thats with plent of stops, And I honestly don't plan on, well, much planning.

    Someone once asked me, describe one Event in your life where you really wanted something very hard and went for it perserveering against all odds...

    I could'nt really think of a single event...

    I've always just coasted through life, I've always been OK, but I don't want to just be OK.

    Call it personal growth, or the delusions of a mad man.

    This is something I want to do, I fully expect it to be difficult, I Expect I will hit a point where every fiber of my being screams quit, I want to face that, and beat it.

    I've made far too many excuses in the past, and want to find that part of myself and rip it out, casting it aside on the road.

    Call me a "soul searcher" call me crazy, foolish, young, rash, call me what you want, I only ask for your Advice, your Answers, and maybe a bit of mental support getting started, for once I take that first step, I expect to endure the biggest challenge of my life yet, And I will be the most alone I have ever faced.

    But all melodrama aside, I know myself well enough to know that if I spend the next 9+ months planning I'll probably just get burned out and start looking for excuses to not go through with it, But I know without at least a little bit of planning I may end up ready to go but without the means to finish.

    I'm going to try and take it one step at a time, I have a loose idea how I'll go through with it, The bike comes first, then I can worry about other decisions like Panniers versus trailer, route to take, how much contact I'll have with the "outside world" and all the other specifics.

    So, Please bear with this newbie, I'm sure I'll have many questions, and many comments too...

    Thank you all in advance.

  2. #2
    Doesn't ride enough Lamabb's Avatar
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    Whoa, no one is going to insult you off the bat here. I think I speak for all of us when I say, we're always more than happy to meet someone interested in bicycling and bicycle touring. 9 months should be plenty of time to get in shape and collect the appropriate gear for touring. When I started cycling I lost 50 pounds and jumped from a D rider to an A in my local club in that amount of time. There should be no reason you can't do the same. It just takes mental strength.

    And by the way. Alot of riders here will tell you not to go with a partner, but it's not a bad Idea, especially if you're new. It sounds like you want to face hardships, but bicycle touring isn't all that hard once you get used to the lifestyle.

    Do lots of research

    Talk to people

    and most importantly... ride... lots.

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    Senior Member KDC1956's Avatar
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    Here is a look at my setup.I have a trip setup for 2011 to Bangor Maine.Click on the pic to make it bigger.This is my Surly LHT 2009Attachment 167453

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    Sore saddle cyclist Shifty's Avatar
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    Tomorrow ride 31, next day 32, and so on.
    Deserts are hot ad dry, with more hills than you might expect. The Rocky Mountains have long climbs with a lack of the oxygen you are use to. After that you will either be in better shape or on a plane home. Planning can help you avoid some pretty miserable days, why let them ruin your high.

    Ask away, this is a pretty good bunch of people.
    Those voices in your head aren't real, but they have some great ideas

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    Doesn't ride enough Lamabb's Avatar
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    KDC1956 - I wanted to ask on your other post about your rig but... what is that red cylinder mounted to the back of the BOB. A fog horn or something? fuel for a stove?

    O and, that's still WAY too much gear.... like jeez. I'm a minimalist of sorts, so looking at that just makes me happy I'm not hauling it up a hill

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    Ellensburg, WA scozim's Avatar
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    Good luck. I've just started thinking about touring - always kind of wanted to. So, I'm visiting here to learn a lot more.

    KDC - love the set up. I can only dream of going that far some day. Maybe when the kids are out of the house. Not sure I can envision a really long tour in the near future - but I'd like to be able to do up to a week at a time.
    1984 Gitane Sprint; 1984 Gitane Tour de France;1982 Trek 610; 1980's Univega Supra Sport; 1975 Teledyne Titan;1984 Peugeot PSV10N; 1968 Peugeot PL8; ;1982 Nishiki Marina 12; 1977 Peugeot PX-10; 1987 Trek 800 Antelope (touring/commuting set up); 1981 Trek 510; 1993 or 1994 Scott Comp Racing mtb; 1996 Klein Pulse II mtb; 1980's Peugeot Limestone hybrid;

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    Senior Member KDC1956's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lamabb View Post
    KDC1956 - I wanted to ask on your other post about your rig but... what is that red cylinder mounted to the back of the BOB. A fog horn or something? fuel for a stove?

    O and, that's still WAY too much gear.... like jeez. I'm a minimalist of sorts, so looking at that just makes me happy I'm not hauling it up a hill
    They are for fuel I have two of them.I have always had to much but it always pays for it's self too.

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    Insane cycling cook DwarvenChef's Avatar
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    When I went threw that phase in my life... I joined the Army I was also going nowhere fast and wanted to get involved in something I just couldn't get up and walk away from. I learned alot about myself and glad I went in, also glad I got out when I did I feel I grew up alot, I was 27 at the time and ya it kicked my butt.

    Now days I am a cook and going insane in a fast paced restraunt. The thought of getting out there for a tour across the states is becomming an overpowering urge I know I'll have to scratch before long Till than I'm doing a few over nighters and next year a self contained tour in Hawaii. I see these as small steps to build on till I can really plan my own cross country ride. My route idea is based on where my friends and family live as well as places I want to see. Not sure a pre planned route will cover that or not
    Slow is smooth, smooth is fast...

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    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    I did the Trans America as a first tour. I was joined by my daughter and a friend who had only a few short training rides under their belts due to the busy schedule of finishing their senior year of college. I think their longest ride pre tour was 33 miles. We all did fine.

    My advice is to keep it simple. I don't know what your budget is but you don't have to spend a bundle. We went with inexpensive bikes and gear and I really didn't want for anything "better". I like some of the less expensive options better, some as well as the top of the line stuff, and only a few where I would like to have had nicer stuff.

    The tour will be pretty much the same experience whether you are on a $599 Windsor Tourist like ours, an LHT, or a $5999 high end bike. It really isn't about the bike. When I think back on my tours I really don't think about the bike much. It is much more about the people and places.

    Stuff like racks and panniers...
    I like my Blackburn EX-1 rear rack, Nashbar low rider front rack, and Nashbar waterproof panniers just fine and really see no need to upgrade them.

    Tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad...
    We were OK with inexpensive stuff like a less than $100 Eureka 4 man tent (for three of us), an $80 Slumberjack bag, and a regular Thermarest pad, but these items are ones where spending a bit more will reduce the load. I have since bought a lighter tent, sleeping bag, and a Thermarest NeoAir pad. That made a substantial reduction in the load and increased comfort.

    My advice is to be skeptical of spending more for heavier items. I am inclined to splurge only if an item is at least as functional and lighter. Avoid stuff that is both heavy and expensive.

    Some experience with some kind of self supported camping is a huge plus and is probably as important as tons of miles of training. At the very least know how to use all of your gear.

    Training is a plus, but on a coast to coast tour you can always start out taking it easy and ride yourself into shape. Just don't over do to soon.

    Remember, a tour is about touring not about having stuff. The gear is just a means to an end.

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Osprey View Post
    So, I'm in the initial planning stages of planning a solo bike tour accross the country, which I'll start at the beggining of the summer of 2011. Seems so far away...

    The only thing is, I've honestly never rode more then maybe 30 miles in a single day, and thats with plent of stops, And I honestly don't plan on, well, much planning.
    You don't have to put much planning into a tour ... I tend toward the "winging it" side of things when it comes to the actual tour.

    BUT, I do recommend riding lots in preparation for the tour.

    On whatever bicycle you've got ... start increasing the amount of cycling you currently do. Not only will it make your tour more comfortable, but you'll get into shape as well.

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    I'll third (or fourth or fifth) that you should get out and ride regularly. In different conditions too. Don't be afraid of a light rain shower or some heat and humidity. You'll learn something about how to handle your bike and your body. Also, before setting out on a multi month tour at least try an overnight or two with your equipment to gain some experience with setting up camp, preparing food, working your stove, etc.

    My first self-contained tour was at 15, camping in the panhandle of Florida with a group of 12 for a week. No sag wagons, had to buy and cook my own food. It was a real confidence booster and helped me realize I could push through my physical and mental barriers when necessary. Don't let the size of a cross country trip beat you down, it's just one day after another. After the first week or two you'll have 90% of the experience that you need to complete the job. The other 10% is improvisation.

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    Godfather of Soul SBRDude's Avatar
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    I'm also planning my first tour for next summer, but it will be the credit card variety (i.e., staying in hotels), so I don't have to plan for heavier gear. To keep myself interested in a trip so far in the future, I do the following:

    Read this forum! It's a great place with friendly people and lots of information. If you keep up with the threads, you'll learn a lot in a short amount of time. Oftentimes, there are no right and wrong answers, so it's good to see the discussions and what works for some people and why.

    I have started to put together a detailed packing list. I kind of enjoy doing that and it lets me think about what my day to day experiences on the trip will be like and what I will and won't need.

    I picked out some different possibilities on routes and have been slowly trying to learn more about the tradeoffs of one place over another. I don't want to get too caught up in a specific route, but since I will be traveling in Europe, I want to have a basic idea about the options. I've been reading through some travel literature, searching the web, and using some online route planning software.

    Since I come from a riding background, I know myself pretty well in that area. For a novice, I would recommend getting out on a bike as soon and often as possible. Don't worry about mileage or do anything to make it feel like you're "training" (unless you like that kind of thing). Instead, just learn to enjoy the fun and freedom of being on a bike. This will help you in two additional ways. One is that you will slowly get accustomed to being on a bike in a world made for cars (doesn't have to be as scary as it sounds, but it is a reality). And two, hopefully you'll catch the cycling bug before winter so that you'll be looking forward to the spring/summer and riding across country.

    Finally, I'm hoping to do some short 1 or 2 night tours locally as a shake down to test my equipment and get an idea of what it will be like.

    Anyway, the good thing is that you have lots of time and no need to rush through anything because that might make it seem overwhelming.

    Oh, one other thing, check out the CrazyGuyOnABike.com website and read some of the journals. You'll quickly see that there are lots of regular folks without a lot of experience that successfully take on transcontinental tours. I find them to be informative and inspiring.

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    Like a Bird in flight Osprey's Avatar
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    Thanks for The Advice and Support Everyone! I've got to be honest, Its nice to not get the "yeah sure, that sounds great, tell me if you go through with it" response.

    I'm fortunate in that I do have a bit of a backround in backpacking, though I'm definitly a bit out of practice, and already have much of the gear required for camping lying around, stove, tent, sleeping bag and other odds and ends, though I'm still undecided how much of that gear I will bring. I'd prefer to go with as little as possible, while being realistic.

    I work at a retail store that sells Bikes and Camping gear which definitly helps when buying more gear.

    I definitly don't want to go crazy planning out the route, But I'll be starting in San Diego, And am leaning towards laying out 3 or 4 predetermined stops. Arizona where I have family I hav'nt seen in years, then Saint Louis, MO to visit more family, and onto Annapolis, MD to visit friends and family where i once lived, ending the tour on the coast of the atlantic ocean in Maryland or Delaware, about a 3,150 mile trip straight through, Which I'm quite sure It won't be.
    Then I can just leave the rest up to how I'm feeling and what I want to see, Giving me a nice general direction to follow with plenty of options.

    I feel like I could go crazy planning it out, And for now I'm going to tryin concentrate on getting myself a Bike.


    As I mentioned, I work alongside a Bike shop, And enjoy a bit of a discount, If I buy a new Bike I'm leaning towards either a Fuji, Marin, or Diamondback, and believe we may carry Rocky Mountain as well.

    Anyone know of any great touring bikes from those companies?

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    Osprey, are you asking for feedback? You can coast downhill but going uphill and against the wind takes work. What do you want?

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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    We all did fine.
    I think this one sentence is the most important one of your post...

    I had a buddy who sounded a lot like the OP. Made some money in the software biz and decided he was going to ride across the country. Bought a bike, some gear, did a half-dozen training rides, then took off! I think he made it 6 or 7 days before he abandoned the trip... Turns out he wasn't a huge fan of bicycle riding, didn't really like camping and, most importantly, he got tired of his only human contact being the occasional chat with a convenience store clerk.

    Remember the seven P's: Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance.

    I'd recommend that the OP do some research, so some training, and do some shorter tours before embarking on a cross-country tour. I think this is especially important if you're planning to travel alone. My buddy found out the hard way that the mental challenges of a long tour are often larger than the physicaly challenges...

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    The previously cited CrazyGuyOnaBike website has a wealth of information about touring across the United States and on it you will likely be able to find journals of riders who have covered the same route you are planning on riding. Reading their accounts will give you an idea of what it will be like for you to undertake this journey and you can prepare accordingly.
    Have a great ride.

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    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
    I think this one sentence is the most important one of your post...
    We are far from the only ones who had a similar experience. Many of the riders we met on the TA were on their first tour and most of them completed the tour successfully. It helped that like us most of them were experienced campers, so they knew what to expect in that regard.

    Quote Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
    I had a buddy who sounded a lot like the OP. Made some money in the software biz and decided he was going to ride across the country. Bought a bike, some gear, did a half-dozen training rides, then took off! I think he made it 6 or 7 days before he abandoned the trip... Turns out he wasn't a huge fan of bicycle riding, didn't really like camping and, most importantly, he got tired of his only human contact being the occasional chat with a convenience store clerk.

    Remember the seven P's: Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance.

    I'd recommend that the OP do some research, so some training, and do some shorter tours before embarking on a cross-country tour. I think this is especially important if you're planning to travel alone. My buddy found out the hard way that the mental challenges of a long tour are often larger than the physicaly challenges...
    That is probably good advice. I especially agree that "the mental challenges of a long tour are often larger than the physical challenges". That said short tours are just so different that I doubt that they really prepare you for the mental challenges of a long tour.

    Additionally, I will add that short tours don't give you a real feel for what a long tour is like anyway. Personally, if I had tried short tours first I might have never done a long one. It turns out that while I like long tours, I find short ones especially those close to home about as exciting as camping in the back yard. Some people may like short tours, some may like long tours, and some may like both, but liking one is no guarantee of liking the other.

    Regarding your buddy's aborted tour...
    When it comes right down to it, it wasn't a tragedy to find out he didn't like it in that manner. I am sure it was still a big adventure in a way that riding to a bunch of local state parks would not have been. Overall probably a good life experience that he will still remember and talk about 20 years down the road.

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    Senior Member Bentley6's Avatar
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    I'll be leaving Friday on my bike tour from Illinois to Colorado Springs and back. I've been planning it for over two years. I really never started training until this past March. I have a set route even though it has been changed dozens of times before finalized. It's also a Missions trip so I'll be spending about half of my 31 days gone staying at churches or a relatives and friends house. It's been kind of nerve racking with all the calls I've made setting up places to stay but it finally got done. I've left a few options in my itinerary in case of the unexpected as well as some space in my panniers. No need to get too carried away with the gear.

    My training miles are averaging 42.6 miles per ride now. I've did some 70 mile rides a few times. I've only put about 1025 miles on the road so far and around 250 on my trainer this year. I feel like I'm physically ready even though I'm 50 years old. I'm on a tight budget and my bike is a low end Trek mountain bike converted into a touring bike. I don't have a lot of expensive gear but I have what I think I'll need and I know how to use it. Some may get shipped home if not used enough.

    I agree with Pete, it's about the people you meet and the places you go and not about the bike. It seems like these past two years would never get over but the time has arrived and I can hardly wait to get this show on the road!

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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    Additionally, I will add that short tours don't give you a real feel for what a long tour is like anyway. Personally, if I had tried short tours first I might have never done a long one. It turns out that while I like long tours, I find short ones especially those close to home about as exciting as camping in the back yard. Some people may like short tours, some may like long tours, and some may like both, but liking one is no guarantee of liking the other.
    Perhaps I should clarify that by 'short' I mean: 3-7 nights away from home. In my buddy's case, a 3- to 5-night tour would probably have been enough for him to realize that he didn't like the hassle of camping after a hard day of riding, that there was a lot of relatively boring riding to accomplish on many days, and that he didn't have nearly as much human interaction riding and sitting alone in his tent as he did managing a group of 8 people in a busy office.

    If he'd been prepared for at least some of these realities, I think he probably would have gotten much further than he did. I didn't know anything about bike touring when he was planning for the trip, but in talking with him before he left his expectations seemed a bit out of whack. I think he envisioned that each day would be easy pedaling past Yosemite-like natural wonders, camp would take 5-10 minutes to setup, he'd have clean laundry and hot showers on a daily basis, and meet dozens of interesting characters every day.

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    You have close to a year before the tour, which is plenty of time to get in shape and start preparing yourself for it with progressively longer rides. Once you're used to biking long distances, then start doing mini-tours with the bike loaded up with gear, in order to get used to carrying loads. By the time next summer comes you should be a beast and have it in the bag.

    So start out by getting a bike you think you would want to ride across the country. This forum is a great place to find info about what bikes are suited to what purposes. Do you want to go heavily loaded and camp out, or go light and stay in hostels? On road or off road or both? Two big questions to think about but there's plenty more. So once you find a good bike then you'll have time to get used to it and find out if you really love it before it's time for the tour.

  21. #21
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    1. Commute by bike every day, any weather.
    2. Do overnight weekend rides.
    3. Read Crazy Guy on a Bike.

    You should be good

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    Junior Member SmokeyWater's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
    I had a buddy who sounded a lot like the OP. Made some money in the software biz and decided he was going to ride across the country. Bought a bike, some gear, did a half-dozen training rides, then took off! I think he made it 6 or 7 days before he abandoned the trip... Turns out he wasn't a huge fan of bicycle riding, didn't really like camping and, most importantly, he got tired of his only human contact being the occasional chat with a convenience store clerk.
    Funny story as I can relate. This summer I completed my first and only tour, a 4300km ride from my home of Calgary to Anchorage. I had done absolutely 0 tours before hand (not even an overnighter), but I had done one ride of 125km under my belt from years before.

    Day 7 of my trip rolled around and I was beat. I hated cycling in the rain, I hated not seeing anybody for hours at a time (and some days you wouldn't even see anyone), and I hated camping out all alone. I made it to Prince George and stayed in a hotel with the plan to ride South back towards Calgary. I called my best friend that night and she told me that if I did go south I'd regret it forever, wondering "what if". The next day I rode North. I finished my tour 3 weeks later and it was one of the best experiences of my life.

    I met a few other cyclists on my trip and many of them first-timers like myself had experienced the same events. There was something hard about getting over that one week barrier. Probably because touring life is so very different than normal life - it's a shock and can be hard to acclimate to.

    Anyway, point being that I bet your buddy would have been fine had he continued on. I found that every day out on the road there is going to be something "hard" that you'll have to overcome. I realized that no matter what that days "hard" was, it's up to you how you handle it.

    Good luck to the OP! It can be done, and should prove to be one of the best experiences of your life!

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    if you can read a map know how to keep warm when it cold cook a basic meal stay dry when the rain starts your half way there.
    the very best of luck hope you make it.

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    Senior Member Kimmitt's Avatar
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    In particular, this tour sounds like a good antidote to the things OP is worried about. Excellence and discipline transfer, as does self-confidence.
    I see unexamined people. All the time. I don't think they know they're unexamined.

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    I'm a wimp when it comes to training in bad weather, BUT ask yourself, "What am I going to do when I am on tour and the weather is bad?" You have to carry on... Therefore, make your weekly training schedule, and stick to it, come what may. Train in wind and rain, hot and cold, hills and flats... You will be glad you did.

    And if you don't, who cares?
    The pioneers that crossed the continent didn't know what to expect and they made it.
    Find your inner pioneer.

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