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Thread: What route?

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    Senior Member bikexcountry's Avatar
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    What route?

    Hi everybody,

    So I am planning a cross-country ride this summer. I live in California, and want to get to relatives in New Hampshire, so I figured I could do a coast-to-coast ride.

    I looked on Adventure Maps and saw their maps running for about $100, with marked locations for food, water, and hotels. However, the only routes I saw ran from Washington to Maine, a little North of where I wanted, and the ones in California ran across the South to Florida. Also, the Washington route was longer than I wanted, around 4000 miles. I plan to set a pace of around 100 miles a day, but, due to a number of factors, I only have 40 days. Factoring in inclement weather, I think it would be best to be doing a distance closer to 3000 miles.
    Check their website out http://www.adventurecycling.org/routes/southerntier.cfm.

    The other option I was looking at was google maps. I know its silly, but the biking feature has been reliable for some other, shorter rides. The problems I see are the unmarked locations of food and shelter, etc. Also if part of the map is wrong I am stuck and have to turn around.

    Could you guys give me some advice on the route I should take? I appreciate it.

    I also need a lot of help with planning so check out my other posts!

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    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    Patch together ACA routes that most nearly match the distance you need and the time you've got. That may not get you to Maine, but will give you bragging rights for a coast-to-coast race across America. Get on to Maine via commercial transport.

    You could also patch together your own route, navigate and find services with the aid of a gps.

    In the western states, ride the interstates to cut distance and simplify routing.

    Hauling enough water will be your biggest issue in some western areas.
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Pick up a paper map of California and the next state over. Follow some appealing-looking roads.

    When you get to the next state over, pick up another paper map for the next state or two ... and repeat till you're across.

    Explore. Be adventurous. Travel without being told where to go.

    BTW - when was the last time you rode 100 miles? When was the last time you did three 100 mile days in a row?

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    Senior Member Clarabelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Pick up a paper map of California and the next state over. Follow some appealing-looking roads.

    When you get to the next state over, pick up another paper map for the next state or two ... and repeat till you're across.

    Explore. Be adventurous. Travel without being told where to go.

    BTW - when was the last time you rode 100 miles? When was the last time you did three 100 mile days in a row?
    Machka has a good point. 100 miles in one day with no load is one thing, several 100 mile days in a row with your bike loaded would be quite another.

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    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clarabelle View Post
    Machka has a good point. 100 miles in one day with no load is one thing, several 100 mile days in a row with your bike loaded would be quite another.
    While few people average 100 mile days on tour, it is certainly possible. Still most of the folks I have met on the road who said they had planned 100 mile days wound up averaging more like 80.

    Even a broken down 60+ year old like me can do 100 mile days here and there and can manage an 80 mile average on some trips. So a younger fitter rider should be able to manage it. The question is do you really want too. I recommend planning a route with either a flexible duration or a flexible end point. Having a fixed schedule and deadline sucks the joy out of a tour. That way if you manage your goal fine, but if you don't it isn't a big let down.

    BTW, a flexible budget is nice as well.

    Edit:
    Forgot to mention... I recommend picking a route you will enjoy riding and forget the specific end points. Use public transit to get to and from the end points. The Trans America from Florence Oregon to Yorktown Virginia was very nice. If going in the winter is an option the Southern Tier or picking a similar route of your own is OK. It is shorter, has nice folks along the way, great food, and mediocre scenery much of the way. You could hop a train to NY at the end. I would not do it out side of late Fall to early Spring though.
    Last edited by staehpj1; 05-03-12 at 05:14 AM.

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    Try Google Maps, "Avoid Highways" option. This gives a reasonable start and then look through in more detail with state highway maps. Once you are underway, fine tune further with feedback (if you get questionable "not good for cycling" ask at least three opinions). Even prior to Google Maps, I did some of the equivalent with first mapping programs and worked some reasonable travels across US that weren't really ACA but were my own routes. With such a route, it probably makes sense to carry at least light tent/sleeping bag so you've got options on the largest gaps. Working with a site like motelguide.com you'll also get some ideas. 3000 miles is probably pushing it but a little more than that should be ok.

    As others have mentioned, a tempo of 100 miles per day is pushing it and on high side - particularly if you are carrying your own gear. I'd make sure with shorter tours that you are in position to do this - or find way to add some extra time. My first trip across USA I took five weeks to travel 3500 miles averaging 95 miles per day including a rest day (see tail end of http://www.mvermeulen.com/crossusa.txt for daily points from Astoria OR to Boston, MA and then followed to Portland, ME). I spent most all of my time on most days riding including 17 days over 100 miles. That was 20 years ago and not sure I could keep that tempo at present.

    Trying Google Maps, avoid highways and avoid tolls and going San Francisco to New York gives distance of ~3120 miles. Good portions follow US 6/US 30 and I've ridden reasonable portions of the western parts. You need to get your seasons right and I wouldn't trust that route once I was past IL - fine tune it. However, this would give an idea of a more direct possible route.
    Last edited by mev; 05-03-12 at 06:48 AM.

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    All I'll add to the great advice above is to be careful about the Google bike routes in some areas. Where I live it tries to route me on some dirt or gravel roads in an attempt to stay off busy highways. Sometimes a busy highway with a wide shoulder is preferable to a dirt or gravel back road, especially if you want to approach 100 mile days.

    Google is pretty amazing for biking sometimes. It even accounts for hills in time estimates.

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    Senior Member mulveyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post
    All I'll add to the great advice above is to be careful about the Google bike routes in some areas. Where I live it tries to route me on some dirt or gravel roads in an attempt to stay off busy highways. Sometimes a busy highway with a wide shoulder is preferable to a dirt or gravel back road, especially if you want to approach 100 mile days.

    Google is pretty amazing for biking sometimes. It even accounts for hills in time estimates.
    I'm have 90% excellent luck with Google Maps for biking, and 10% "You have GOT to be kidding me". :-) In several cases on a bike tour last summer, the locations of some notable tourist attractions were so far off that it tried to route us in entirely the wrong direction. In a couple others, it tried to put us on private roads, or in one case, up a vertical cliff face.

    But overall, it's a useful tool, especially if you can check out the conditions of some roads ( shoulders or lack thereof, etc. ) with streetview.
    Knows the weight of my bike to the nearest 10 pounds.

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    the simplest solution is to fly to Seattle, get the ACA northern tier maps and take them as far as NH. they went right through the lower third of the state in '96. then get a local map. that should get you close. and should be close enough to your distance and time constraints.

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    State DOT maps are in their Offices.. I run a stack of them to an information kiosk
    that tourists doing the coast pass by, headed From WA down the coast.
    These are Oregon Coast Bike route Maps.

    Online versions exist, too..

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    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    These are Oregon Coast Bike route Maps.
    Great map. Not many states have maps that nice.

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    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Get the state where you live and pay taxes and Vote, to improve their maps,
    It may be as little as a highlight recommended bike roads on the maps
    they already publish for Motoring.

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    Senior Member bikexcountry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hueyhoolihan View Post
    the simplest solution is to fly to Seattle, get the ACA northern tier maps and take them as far as NH. they went right through the lower third of the state in '96. then get a local map. that should get you close. and should be close enough to your distance and time constraints.
    Thanks. Will the airline charge me a lot to bring the bike and loaded panniers?

    @fietsbob. Are the maps bike-friendly? Do they include food, etc?

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikexcountry View Post
    Thanks. Will the airline charge me a lot to bring the bike and loaded panniers?

    @fietsbob. Are the maps bike-friendly? Do they include food, etc?
    Scroll down to a point near the bottom of this webpage, and look up the airline with which you wish to travel:
    http://www.ibike.org/encouragement/travel/bagregs.htm

    The go to the airline's website and read everything they've got about bicycle baggage.

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    Junior Member ben80south's Avatar
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    From San Francisco I took the ACA Western Express to Baker, NV and then US Route 40 to Denver. Route 40 is pretty nice with a giant shoulder almost the whole way. Beautiful route. If you do something like that, plan on camping about half the time especially if you plan on keeping to your 100 miles a day because it will put you in between towns as they are spaced about 50-80 miles apart.

    I have heard that the Northern Tier is relatively flat once you get to Eastern Montana so you might get more miles out of that during the summer.

    Edit: You can use Bikemap.net to help create maps with elevation profiles. Vertical feet per day is a big determinant on how many miles you can do per day. You can also look at department of transportation for the states you are thinking of riding through. Kansas, Colorado and others have pretty good bike maps. Colorado's shows which roads are heavy traffic and which ones have large shoulders.
    http://www.coloradodot.info/programs...bicycling-maps

    Doing a tour with fixed end points/dates is not the best. It is much more fun to take it as it comes. Riding miles for the sake of riding miles is not much fun for weeks on end.

    Here is a list of baggage fees for airlines but I would double check with the airline you choose:
    http://www.airlinebagfees.com/bicycles/charts/

    You can also easily take a bike on many Amtrak trains. It is $15 and they supply the box. You only have to turn the handle bars and remove the pedals.

    http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/Conten...=1241337895554

    You can take a bicycle on Greyhound for free it just has to be boxed up. And they don't really care how well you box it.
    http://www.cycling2celebrate.com/hom...y-november-11/
    all-pictures-from-iphone-2011.12.2-1007-300x215.jpg

    That is the very pathetic job I did to get my bike onto greyhound and somehow it arrived in one piece.
    Last edited by ben80south; 05-04-12 at 03:22 AM. Reason: Forgot something
    Ben

    "Life is adventure. Fear and worry only spoil it."
    www.cycling2celebrate.com

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    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikexcountry View Post
    Thanks. Will the airline charge me a lot to bring the bike and loaded panniers?
    Some airline charge as much as $200. Southwest charges no baggage fees except $50 for the bike. Frontier charges $20 per bag for two bags and nothing extra for the bike with their economy class tickets. With more expensive tickets Frontier takes the bike and another bag for free. I recommend checking for flights on their web sites since Expedia and others do not always list their flights.

    I fly southwest most of the time and am pretty happy with them.

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    Ok, I'm finally going to chime in here. I'm normally very positive about people's plans, and I love seeing people get ready for their first bike tour, bike touring is great! And I realize you are a young person and I don't want to discourage you from doing it.

    But. You are straight-up biting off more than you can chew. You don't have a final bike or equipment, you ride about 30 miles at a time, your trip starts next month so there's no time to train, you don't have a route planned, you want to cross the US the longest way possible, you have 30-50% less time than most experienced cyclists take for that trip, you have no money to bail you out should you get sick or injured, you're underage so you can't rent a car even if you could afford it.

    I swear I'm not intending to be mean here - just realistic.

    Are you autistic? (Not trying to offend.) That will be an extra challenge because bike touring takes some communication-with-strangers skills.

    I strongly suggest that you do a shorter trip for your first tour. Visit your relatives in NH some other time, or ride part way and bus/fly/train the rest. (Don't ride the southern route in June, you'll bake in the desert. ) Why don't you take the bus to Seattle or Portland or San Francisco and ride home down the coast? It's a superb route, gorgeous scenery, good time of year, lots of cheap hiker-biker camp sites in state parks on the coast, easy access to train/bus if you need to get home, plenty of food and water, enough bike shops. Many people take 35-40 days to do the whole Pacific Coast.

    You can relax, have plenty of time to work out the bugs in your equipment setup. Enjoy your trip instead of making it a death march. Even if you just start in SF and ride home, it will still be a million times more adventure than most of your friends ever had. You can do your big charity cross country trip next year, with more time for planning, fundraising, perfecting your equipment, etc. Or do this one for charity, if you want.

    (By the way - no it's not appropriate to use any funds "raised for charity" to pay for your touring expenses. )
    ...

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    i would just disregard negative feedback and just go. you'll soon find out how far you can go in a day. and the bike doesn't really matter. and if you don't have enough money to fly to seattle, take the bus. i have had occasion in my life to take the bus a few times. i didn't like it, but hey, it don't cost much.

    if i listened to those who were discouraging me, i would never have accomplished most of the things in life that have brought me the most joy.

    good luck.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    Get the state where you live and pay taxes and Vote, to improve their maps,
    It may be as little as a highlight recommended bike roads on the maps
    they already publish for Motoring.
    Even if he was old enough to vote (he's 16 years old), this method of getting maps doesn't really seem practical. And we are talking about needing maps for a bunch of states.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hueyhoolihan View Post
    the simplest solution is to fly to Seattle, get the ACA northern tier maps and take them as far as NH. they went right through the lower third of the state in '96. then get a local map. that should get you close. and should be close enough to your distance and time constraints.
    +1. The NT goes through Lincoln, NH, which is in the northern half of the state, but closer to the middle than to the northern border. Find your own way from there.

    In MN, there is a route option that shortens the distance:

    http://www.adventurecycling.org/rout...?pg=detail&s=5

    The northern route option shown above comes down from Grand Rapids and meets up with the southern option at Diablo. If you take the shorter version, you will miss, among other things, the opportunity to walk across the headwaters of the Mississippi at Lake Istasca S.P., Mille Lacs and Grand Rapids, the home town of Judy Garland.

    You can also shorten it some by not going into Alberta, Canada. There are couple of ways to do this, but I would definitely not take U.S. 2 from West Glacier and miss Going to the Sun Road in Glacier, N.P. It's that spectacular. From the west end of GTS, there are ways to cut out the Canadian section and get to Cut Bank, MT to meet up with the route again.

    You will be charged something extra for your bike unless you fly Frontier. How much depends on the airline. It could be a lot. For example, U.S. Air charges $200 for a bike. United/Continental was $100 the last time I checked. I think Delta/Continental is something like $175. Carry on one pannier, put the rest of your stuff in a cheapo duffle bag that you can either toss or mail back home when you get to Seattle. Note that, technically, if you fly with a stove is may be confiscated because of ash residue and/or chemical residue. At least that's what the TSA told me. For that reason, I ship my stove in the same box I ship my bike in. That's one option for avoid airline fees. Ship your bike to a shop at your starting point.

    Another option is Amtrak if you have the time. The Coast Starlight goes between LA and Seattle. The bike charge on Amtrak is something like $15.

    In light of your circumstances as noted by Valygrl, I recommend sticking to an established route like the Northern Tier. The maps cost, but they could easily make up for that cost as they tell you where there is free or likely cheap camping (E.g., a city park in probably going to be free.) Also, there are several places along the route that you could catch the train back to Seattle and then south through CA should things not work out.

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