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  1. #1
    Fredly
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    2018 Trans-Am & Pacific Coast

    After discovering that I was actually very serious about doing a tour to celebrate my being cancer free for 20 years my wife asked that I wait till 2018 which will be my 25th anniversary of being cancer free. Her reasons for it make a lot of sense as doing it next year means she will likely be pregnant and not feeling like spending long hours in the car. Additionally, my daughter will be old enough to ride many of the days with me. The thing that actually sold me on it though is my wife offering to drive sag for me. I'd previously thought that they'd probably just fly ahead to where I'd be but she apparently spent a lot of her childhood travelling the country in an rv and thinks the kids will have a good time doing it too.

    So I'll essentially be doing the Trans-Am but leave from Manteo, NC (celebrating our anniversary where we got married) and travelling to Santa Cruz, CA (where I was living when we met). From there we'll turn north and ride up to Ocean Shores, WA (possibly not staying on 101 the whole way as I'm aware of the winds but there are some good spots I do want to see like the lost highway). The reason for my not going the Trans-Am route to Portland and heading onto the Western Express from Pueblo is because my wife's argument that if she's driving sag then she gets a say in where we go is totally valid.

    The plan for now is to buy or borrow a used camper van / rv and then return/sell it when we're done. We'd rent but we think it will be cheaper just to buy one and then sell it when we're done. The rentals seem incredibly expensive.

    So this leaves me with a few things that I'm wondering...

    First, my plan is to have my wife drive sag and essentially drive ahead and do her own thing with however many kids aren't riding. There are a few must see places on the way that we'll be going to such as the Grand Canyon. I've read threads with people talking about leapfrogging but my thinking is that as long as she's within about 120 miles of where I'm at she can scout out where to stay for the night, take the kids to whichever fun things she'd like to do, and we'll get together in the afternoon to unwind, have fun, eat, and sleep. Infact, I'm totally okay with her driving ahead and my sleeping overnight in a bivvy if she doesn't feel like coming back although in reality the chances of that are probably pretty low. Does her driving sag like that sound like it could work to y'all? Any thoughts on what to watch out for?

    If my wife is driving sag and I'm able to fix most bike problems with my mobile bike fixing kit (she'll have my TS-2.2, work stand, and a variety of parts and stuff) what're the chances of finding people to go with? (She'd prefer I (or 'we' if my daughter rides too) go with more than just ourselves. Any suggestions on how to find people to go with?

    What do you think the minimum fitness level for anyone going should be? I'm not concerned about myself as I can do 50 miles, not feel tired, and do the same thing the next day. After about 4 days of it I do benefit from an easy day but it's not something that kills me. I'm more concerned about making sure that anyone that goes with me is able to make it whether they're my daughter or someone else that wants to go.

    I have a lot of mountains here by my house that I ride often. What sort of elevation gain should I be looking to train on? On my longer rides I'm often doing 3-4k of gain with grades averaging 10% (when there are grades) but certainly a number of 14-22% spots depending on the route.

    Prior to the 2018 trip, I plan to do some tours on the east coast so that we have worked out what works and what doesn't work. I'm thinking about something like from MD to GA. Do you have any suggestions for multi-day trips from MD?

    Are there any methods for budgeting that work to plan for long tours? I figure that you probably eat more but how much more I don't know at this time.

    Finally, any thoughts on how to get a camper van or rv for cheap?

    Thanks!
    Kevin

  2. #2
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Finally, any thoughts on how to get a camper van or rv for cheap?
    Craig's list , auto-trader ads?
    Getting wealthy enough and it will feel relatively cheap.
    $4 a gallon will just be a cost of doing business

  3. #3
    <riding now> BigAura's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iconicflux View Post
    Prior to the 2018 trip, I plan to do some tours on the east coast so that we have worked out what works and what doesn't work. I'm thinking about something like from MD to GA. Do you have any suggestions for multi-day trips from MD?
    Wow, you can certainly dream ahead. If I were you I'd focus on doing tours now. I'd recommend the Outer Banks, I did it in a one week loop many years ago.

    ALSO: I'm not sure how old your daughter will be in six years but I wouldn't count on her commitment at this time .

  4. #4
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    2018? That's 6 years from now! Anything could happen between now and then. Look back 6 years ... could you imagine then you'd be where you are today? I certainly couldn't.

    Celebrate now! Go for a tour now! You don't have to do anything long or extensive at this point. Just get out there and enjoy for a week or two or three. Then do it again next year, and the following year.

    All the while, build up your touring experience and collection of touring gear.

    Then, if you still want to do the big trip in 2018, you'll be prepared.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    Machka
    Celebrate now! Go for a tour now! You don't have to do anything long or extensive at this point. Just get out there and enjoy for a week or two or three. Then do it again next year, and the following year.
    +1

    This is a short piece that I've carried in my Day Planner for at least 20 years. While it may not be applicable to the OP's situation, It is food for thought for anyone postponing something they really want to do until............................................

    THE STATION by Robert J. Hastings

    Tucked away in our subconscious is an idyllic vision. We see ourselves on a long ttrip that spans the continent. We are travelling by train. Out the windows we drink in the passing scene of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at a crossing, of cattle grazing on a distant hillside, of smoke pouring from a power plant, of row upon row of corn and wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of mountains and rolling hillsides, of city skylines and village halls.

    But uppermost in out minds is the final destination. Bands will be playingand flags waving. Once we get there our dreams will come true, and the pieces of our lives will fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. How restlessly we pace the isles, damning the minutes for loitering--waiting, waiting, waiting for the station.
    "When we reach the station that will be it! we cry."
    "When I buy a new 450L Mercedes-Benz!"
    " When I'm 18."
    "When I put my last kid through college."
    "When I have paid off the mortgage."
    "When I get a promotion."
    "When I reach retirement, I shall live happily ever after."
    Sooner or later we come to realize that there is no station. No one place to arrive at once and for all. The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly out distances us.

    "Relish the moment" is a good motto...... It isn't the burdens of today that drive men mad. It is the regrets over yesterday and the fears of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves who rob us of today.

    So stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead climb more mountains, eat more ice cream, go barefoot more often, swim more rivers, watch sunsets, laugh more, cry less. Life must be lived as we go along. The station will come soon enough.

  6. #6
    Fredly
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    I know it seems strange for people to plan that far in advance but we do regularly. It's true that "anything can happen" but by planning that far in advance for things we're able to do things that we wouldn't otherwise be able to do.

    I've done some touring before but mostly in the San Juan islands. My long rides (100+ miles) I've done just for the fun of it and perhaps twice because a short cut turned into an epic ride.



    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    2018? That's 6 years from now! Anything could happen between now and then. Look back 6 years ... could you imagine then you'd be where you are today? I certainly couldn't.

    Celebrate now! Go for a tour now! You don't have to do anything long or extensive at this point. Just get out there and enjoy for a week or two or three. Then do it again next year, and the following year.

    All the while, build up your touring experience and collection of touring gear.

    Then, if you still want to do the big trip in 2018, you'll be prepared.

  7. #7
    mev
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    Quote Originally Posted by iconicflux View Post
    If my wife is driving sag and I'm able to fix most bike problems with my mobile bike fixing kit (she'll have my TS-2.2, work stand, and a variety of parts and stuff) what're the chances of finding people to go with? (She'd prefer I (or 'we' if my daughter rides too) go with more than just ourselves. Any suggestions on how to find people to go with?
    Two suggestions:
    1. You've got a little bit of time now, so spend some of it riding with a local bicycle club, ideally one that also does an occasional overnight trip. This gives you a chance to meet other folks that might be compatible from goals, personality and cycling perspective.
    2. Somewhat before the trip, you can post something in a "companions wanted" section of group such as Adventure Cycling. As people reply you can be clear about your expectations and screen appropriately.

    What you are suggesting is slightly unique in suggesting both semi-supported trip along with looking for a level of self-sufficiency in riding ability. I had a long tour from Amsterdam to Vladivostok where I thought it might be handy to travel with someone else, particularly as my Russian was only rudimentary. On the other hand, I was also very goal driven to ride across Eurasia and didn't want anything to stop that dream. I put a companions wanted section in Adventure Cycling that listed rough end points and dates. I had ~15 people reply with some interest. I directed those to look at a web site I had set up that contained links to other trips people had done as well as rough idea on my trip. From that there were ~5 more seriously interested. I talked with those and even suggested we do a shorter shakedown ride as appropriate. For a variety of different reasons it ended up being one person seriously interested. We emailed and talked through rough ideas - though no shakedown ride as we were in different continents. Before we left - we had rough understanding that it could be good to ride together but if necessary each had ability to travel independently. That gave us both some reassurance on planning travels with total stranger for five months.

    In hindsight, that turned out to work fairly well. With exception of 10 days where we accidentally lost each other - we cycled from St Petersburg to Vladivostok together. Our cycling speeds were a bit different (she was faster) but we did this by leapfrogging through the day and camping in same places. Our styles were occasionally different but we figured how to make this work; and overall it was nicer to have two people problem solving things along the way than one.

    Your parameters on finding other rider(s) are in some ways more simple but with different twist. Hence, either finding someone you are related to or know already - or doing some form of companions wanted posting but also screening in way to make it work.

  8. #8
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Wow! Planning 6 years ahead! Six weeks is more usual for me. That is about what the lead time was on my first tour (Trans America) Six months is really long term to me.

    My only comment is to mention that having a car involved really changes the nature of a tour in many fundamental ways. It may work for you guys, but consider the following in the decision.

    Some of those issues of having a car involved change the whole character of the tour. You will not be able to camp in hiker biker sites and as a result will rub elbows with fewer cyclists. You will probably not be able to stay with hosts, again missing the social aspect, this time of meeting local folks. You will not have the same feeling of independence and of really riding across the country solely by bicycle. There will be times when the temptation to skip boring or difficult terrain will be strong and there will be plenty of boring and difficult terrain.

    Then there is the experience for the driver. I met a number of folks who had a wife driving a support vehicle and the wives were pretty bored and not all that happy. They were stuck in tiny towns with nothing to do but take care of their husbands cooking, shopping, and laundry only to be joined briefly by a tired and maybe grumpy husband. On the TA there will be many places where it will seem like an endless stream of towns of 50-500 people. We got to be good friends with one couple and the wife driving the shuttle had the patience of Job and was a greatly supportive of her husband, but from what she told us it was really a pretty boring task for her, something to be suffered through and not enjoyed.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    Wow! Planning 6 years ahead! Six weeks is more usual for me. That is about what the lead time was on my first tour (Trans America) Six months is really long term to me.

    My only comment is to mention that having a car involved really changes the nature of a tour in many fundamental ways. It may work for you guys, but consider the following in the decision.

    Some of those issues of having a car involved change the whole character of the tour. You will not be able to camp in hiker biker sites and as a result will rub elbows with fewer cyclists. You will probably not be able to stay with hosts, again missing the social aspect, this time of meeting local folks. You will not have the same feeling of independence and of really riding across the country solely by bicycle. There will be times when the temptation to skip boring or difficult terrain will be strong and there will be plenty of boring and difficult terrain.

    Then there is the experience for the driver. I met a number of folks who had a wife driving a support vehicle and the wives were pretty bored and not all that happy. They were stuck in tiny towns with nothing to do but take care of their husbands cooking, shopping, and laundry only to be joined briefly by a tired and maybe grumpy husband. On the TA there will be many places where it will seem like an endless stream of towns of 50-500 people. We got to be good friends with one couple and the wife driving the shuttle had the patience of Job and was a greatly supportive of her husband, but from what she told us it was really a pretty boring task for her, something to be suffered through and not enjoyed.
    A big +1 to the above. I can't imagine it being fun for the sag person over such a long period and for me it just wouldn't feel like an adventure with a car following me the whole way. When I do the TransAm... I am thinking about having my family fly out and ride the Katy Trail with me for about 5 days in MO. This way they get to actually experience bike touring.... At the conclusion of the tour I'll meet them on the west coast for another little vacation. So our longest period apart will be 5 weeks and they will get to go on two vacations (vs one months long car ride-vacation).
    Last edited by mm718; 08-30-12 at 10:06 AM.

  10. #10
    Walmart bike rider gpsblake's Avatar
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    I guess the thing you can do to prepare for a 2018 tour is save money or make sure money is there. Local trips from Maryland, a lot will say the C&O canal, but if your already in some sort of shape and want to see what touring is really about, perhaps the National Highway in Maryland (rt 144 for the most part) instead, will which be complete with tons of hills and some good history. US bike route 1 goes through Virginia and North Carolina and South Carolina & Georgia both have solid bike routes maps.

    As far as touring, it's easy to tell someone to do it now, when in fact, with most people, jobs and family take priority.

  11. #11
    Canadian Chick Aquakitty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    2018? That's 6 years from now! Anything could happen between now and then. Look back 6 years ... could you imagine then you'd be where you are today? I certainly couldn't.

    Celebrate now! Go for a tour now! You don't have to do anything long or extensive at this point. Just get out there and enjoy for a week or two or three. Then do it again next year, and the following year.

    All the while, build up your touring experience and collection of touring gear.

    Then, if you still want to do the big trip in 2018, you'll be prepared.

    Sorry but this thread is funny, I am lucky if I plan things a month in advance and this guy is posting about a tour in 6 years... Honestly if I ever get to the point that I have to plan for something 6 years in advance in order to do it, it really doesn't seem worth doing. Yeay for having no commitments ! Now that I did plan for

  12. #12
    Senior Member skilsaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Celebrate now! Go for a tour now!.
    +1
    The one who has the most bikes wins.

  13. #13
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aquakitty View Post
    Sorry but this thread is funny, I am lucky if I plan things a month in advance and this guy is posting about a tour in 6 years... Honestly if I ever get to the point that I have to plan for something 6 years in advance in order to do it, it really doesn't seem worth doing. Yeay for having no commitments ! Now that I did plan for
    That may be a little harsh on the OP, but I understand. If I plan 6 months ahead I am likely to change my mind several times and usually do a different trip. I am usually only committed is when I buy non-refundable airline tickets and even then the route timing and style of trip may change drastically. If I planned 6 years in advance, I would probably lose interest long before I did the trip.

  14. #14
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I actually did have a 5-year-plan once in my life ... and I accomplished it (a bit of a surprise for me!). That was from 2004 to 2009. Early 2004 I decided to quit my job and go back to uni, but with an extended break for travel. A few months later I was touring Australia, and Sept 2005 I started uni. June 2009, I graduated with another degree.

    But a whole lot of other stuff happened in those 5 years!! Unexpected, unplanned stuff. When I made my general 5-year plan in 2004, I would never have expected what happened during that time.


    Even for the tour we're on now, it was more a matter of ... when the time is right, we'll go. We booked the collection of flights in about May, and were on our way in June. We were tossing around some ideas of where to go, and for how long, on and off since I arrived in Australia in June 2009, and we picked up bits and pieces of equipment over the past year or so (new mats, new sleeping bag for me, etc.), but didn't start to get serious about it till earlier this year.

  15. #15
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    Random comments:

    First, I'm with the "do it now" crowd. If you're waiting on your first child, maybe you can work in a week-long trip where your wife supports you in a car; you'll get a feel for touring, she'll get a feel for SAGing.

    Second, you probably don't need all those tools. Especially if your wife has an RV handy, she'll be able to carry you and the bike to a bike shop within a day's drive, and you can take a day or two off if it's catastrophic. (It probably won't be.)

    Third, you might try to trim off a state in each direction and ride Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway from Virginia to North Carolina. (I've got a few ideas on how to extend it to Georgia for masochists and skinny hill climbers...)

    Finally, see #1. Too much might happen in five years that would keep you from completing this trip. That's why I've never hiked the Appalachian Trail (but I have biked across the country!).

  16. #16
    Fredly
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    Interesting bunch of comments from people. I especially like the comments about doing local week long tours as that was my requirement for giving up on doing the trans-am next year instead of 6 years from now.

    I went camping this weekend and used it as a chance to talk about what type of camper/rv we'd like. I think we're settled on a tow-behind that has pop-outs. Came back and found out that my boss gave me a nice bonus so I'll probably put this towards the camper.

    Speaking of camping, I got my wife to spring for a couple of Big Agnes SL3's this weekend to replace our aging car camping tent. She knew I was doing it partially because the tent would fit in my panniers but she was cool with it as it would allow us to split up the kids at night and get them to sleep easier. (First night without them split up was BRUUUUTAL.)

    As for number of kids... if we have another next year it will be our third. It's hard for us to have kids and my wife's afraid of needles so I have to be around. (It's also why she doesn't want me leaving for 70 days while she has to watch 2 kids every day.)

    With regards to the route, we met when I was living in Santa Cruz and got married at the aquarium in Manteo so I have to find a route between those places. The reason for ending at Ocean Shores, WA is that I have family with places in Oregon (Bend & Lincoln City) and right by Ocean Shores.

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