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  1. #1
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    I Need Help With Cross Country Road Bike Trip!! Please!

    I am planning to ride from California to New York next summer alone. I have so many questions and would really appreciate any help I can get.

    1. Not too sure if the bike I have will do the trick. I will attach a picture: This bike is a full carbon 2008 Argon 18 Krypton medium frame (54/56cm) and it has a full Shimano Ultegra Groupo. The wheelset is Ksyrium Equipe with Armadillo Tires(Not in Picture). The saddle, seat stem and handlebar stem are Ritchey and the handlebars are Scott 44 cm out to out. If it will do the trick, what do i need to change to make it work? If I need to sell and buy a different bike overall, any suggestions on what to purchase?

    2.Any advice on planning the trip in general. I'm putting money aside and trying to find my route.

    3. How will I load the bike? Trailer, Panniers? I plan on just sleeping wherever maybe the occasional hotel to clean up.

    4. What shape should I be in prior? I really don't think any training could prepare me for that much riding.. I plan on 60-100 miles per day.

    5. What kind of riding gear should I be looking for? weather proof? any suggestions?

    6. And what kind of things will i need to bring to survive? budget? food to bring? how much water/nutrition? Grill or how to prepare food?

    Thanks for reading, and any help or suggestions will benefit me on this crazy idea.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member YOJiMBO20's Avatar
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    I would go check over in the touring section. Chances are there are more people over there who can help you with that. The 41 probably only has Machka and Rowan who do that type of riding.
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  3. #3
    Administrator CbadRider's Avatar
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    Moved from Road to the Touring forum.
    Quote Originally Posted by toddles View Post
    So Tom only hires people that are nutty? Is part of the requirement to be a moderator on this site is that you have to be nuts??
    Forum Guidelines *click here*

  4. #4
    Senior Member mtbikerinpa's Avatar
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    As far as the bike, reliability is major. It looks like a decent rig as a start point, but you will want tires that are "city" or "flat resistant" such as the newer crop that have integrated lining/kevlar. Spare tubes will be a good thing to have, but the majority of long distance flatting will be reduced or eliminated that way. The biggest tire enemy around here(not sure in other areas) is when the road crews tar-chip the road surface. The chips act like glass if you have normal slicks.

    You will want lights, particularly tail lights, that can run for more than your rated daily run time. A dead light at the end of your ride day is a real hazard/killer, especially in unfamiliar territory.

    Cargo carrying is a case-by-case thing. Determine what you absolutely need for your mission, then find what you can carry on board. Front racks and panniers are often used for long runs for the stability and low position, and a rear can carry a good amount of weight. If the equipment you MUST have will not fit readily and the budget is available, a BoB trailer can be a handy thing without much penalty of drag. Rain resistant/proofness is important and be sure to check since many pannier designs are not.

    The fitness level is something that can be worked up to, but the mentality is the key. Making the body accustomed to 100 miles is not the same as making the mind accustomed to it. Some people rely on music to preoccupy the mind and while that works well it can detract from the ability to percieve threats. One thing I do sometimes on the longer trips is to sort out on the map where "checkpoints" would be. Each time you cross one it gives a mind boost. Map out what source stores will be on your route so that you know where you can get supplies if needed. Depending on the availability, I would carry inert foods such as cliff bars or peanutbutter/jelly etc. To carry meats or perishables would pose a much greater logistical dilema. Certainly there are other opinions on the matter, but that is mine.
    Aviation Mechanic, Bike racer, Fitness Equipment Restorer

    http://pedalmybike.com/userTrackies/myTrackie4758.jpg[/url]

  5. #5
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CbadRider View Post
    Moved from Road to the Touring forum.
    What about the copy in Long Distance?

  6. #6
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by poplid View Post

    4. What shape should I be in prior? I really don't think any training could prepare me for that much riding.. I plan on 60-100 miles per day.
    You tell us absolutely nothing about yourself, and yet expect answers.

    Let's start with this one ... your question #4.

    What kind of cycling do you do now? What's the longest distance you've ridden recently? What are the longest distances you've ridden back-to-back recently?

    Do you feel comfortable riding 100 miles, camping overnight "wherever" (as you say), and then riding 100 miles back?

  7. #7
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    Inteneresting about the ways to occupy the mind...I have some training in geology, and find it useful to read or carry a guide to the roadside geology of a mountainous area I'm touring through. Then, when climbing a long pass, one can look and try and figure out which rock formations are exposed in the road cuts. Examples when crossing the Sierra from west to east along highway 4 would be the Tertiary Ione sediments along the ancient shoreline, the Table Mountain inverted lava flow, the ancient suture zone along the Mother Lode belt that led to the gold mineral veins along the subduction zone, the relatively young Cascade-Arc-type volcanics that sit atop the much older Sierran granites, and the abundant hydrothermal veins that cut both granites and volcanics near the range crest and on the eastern side, leading to silver mines.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    You tell us absolutely nothing about yourself, and yet expect answers.

    Let's start with this one ... your question #4.

    What kind of cycling do you do now? What's the longest distance you've ridden recently? What are the longest distances you've ridden back-to-back recently?

    Do you feel comfortable riding 100 miles, camping overnight "wherever" (as you say), and then riding 100 miles back?
    I am 23 and in good overall shape. I swam competitively for 8 years and played waterpolo competitively in high school and college for 6 years. The longest I have ever ridden in one day was about 60 miles. Never have a really rode back to back long distance, to be honest i haven't cycled in 1 year besides the weekly spin class at my gym ha. I don't want to get burned out, but the struggle is half of the fun. I feel comfortable sleeping anywhere, I am very low maintenance when it comes to that. What scares me is the mechanics of the bike. I feel fairly competent when it comes to the basic components to the bike, but what i really don't want, is a rim twisting or some carbon piece snapping.

    thanks for the reply btw so friendly here

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbikerinpa View Post
    As far as the bike, reliability is major. It looks like a decent rig as a start point, but you will want tires that are "city" or "flat resistant" such as the newer crop that have integrated lining/kevlar. Spare tubes will be a good thing to have, but the majority of long distance flatting will be reduced or eliminated that way. The biggest tire enemy around here(not sure in other areas) is when the road crews tar-chip the road surface. The chips act like glass if you have normal slicks.

    You will want lights, particularly tail lights, that can run for more than your rated daily run time. A dead light at the end of your ride day is a real hazard/killer, especially in unfamiliar territory.

    Cargo carrying is a case-by-case thing. Determine what you absolutely need for your mission, then find what you can carry on board. Front racks and panniers are often used for long runs for the stability and low position, and a rear can carry a good amount of weight. If the equipment you MUST have will not fit readily and the budget is available, a BoB trailer can be a handy thing without much penalty of drag. Rain resistant/proofness is important and be sure to check since many pannier designs are not.

    The fitness level is something that can be worked up to, but the mentality is the key. Making the body accustomed to 100 miles is not the same as making the mind accustomed to it. Some people rely on music to preoccupy the mind and while that works well it can detract from the ability to percieve threats. One thing I do sometimes on the longer trips is to sort out on the map where "checkpoints" would be. Each time you cross one it gives a mind boost. Map out what source stores will be on your route so that you know where you can get supplies if needed. Depending on the availability, I would carry inert foods such as cliff bars or peanutbutter/jelly etc. To carry meats or perishables would pose a much greater logistical dilema. Certainly there are other opinions on the matter, but that is mine.
    wow man thanks for all the words. Lights are the key for sure ha(that's why i am saving my money now! ) As for the maps, I bought the recreation map/ atlas of nevada and colorado from amazon just to check them out( not sure how much help they will be at 15$ a piece, but worth a shot). So far the trailer sounds like the best, and maybe just a small pack somewhere on the bike. What about a good seat, my rear-end already hurts. I am definitely "there" mentally, I actually am counting on doing this (if that makes any sense). This is something to get my mind off of having a full time job, going to school full time, and commuting an hour both ways every day. Im burned out, and this seems like the ultimate stress reliever. I will definitely bring an iPod. But im leaving my cell phone behind. Maybe just buy a to-go phone for emergencies.

    Thanks for the reply

  10. #10
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by poplid View Post
    I am 23 and in good overall shape. I swam competitively for 8 years and played waterpolo competitively in high school and college for 6 years. The longest I have ever ridden in one day was about 60 miles. Never have a really rode back to back long distance, to be honest i haven't cycled in 1 year besides the weekly spin class at my gym ha. I don't want to get burned out, but the struggle is half of the fun. I feel comfortable sleeping anywhere, I am very low maintenance when it comes to that. What scares me is the mechanics of the bike.
    Well, it's still early autumn so the weather isn't too bad yet. I'd suggest getting out there and riding 5 days a week. Before too long, you'll be able to answer your own questions about riding gear and nutrition, etc. (Your questions 5 and 6).

    Do some long rides back-to-back and see how you feel. Find food along the way in grocery stores and convenience stores ... you'll start to get an idea of how much a day's riding might cost you, and how much you need to eat. Get caught in the rain ... and then go check out Sierra Trading Post or REI or Performance or Nashbar for a rain jacket. Throw some things into a backpack and do an overnight ride, and then make a list of some other things you'd like to bring with you.

    When you get a bicycle that you can pull a trailer with or put panniers on, head out for a long-weekend tour with more stuff that you might want to take. Then do a week-long tour.

    Most of us did a lot of trial and error riding before embarking on our long tours. There is no one right bicycle, tent, sleeping mat, rain jacket etc. There are lots of choices and different people like different things for different reasons. And each time you go on a tour, you'll think of something else you should have brought with you, or discover that you didn't need all the stuff you brought, or perhaps figure that there has to be something better than what you've currently got.

    And find a mechanics class. Some bicycle shops offer classes, and so do some universities/colleges, or cycletouring clubs. They'll range from an evening to multi-week classes.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Well, it's still early autumn so the weather isn't too bad yet. I'd suggest getting out there and riding 5 days a week. Before too long, you'll be able to answer your own questions about riding gear and nutrition, etc. (Your questions 5 and 6).

    Do some long rides back-to-back and see how you feel. Find food along the way in grocery stores and convenience stores ... you'll start to get an idea of how much a day's riding might cost you, and how much you need to eat. Get caught in the rain ... and then go check out Sierra Trading Post or REI or Performance or Nashbar for a rain jacket. Throw some things into a backpack and do an overnight ride, and then make a list of some other things you'd like to bring with you.

    When you get a bicycle that you can pull a trailer with or put panniers on, head out for a long-weekend tour with more stuff that you might want to take. Then do a week-long tour.

    Most of us did a lot of trial and error riding before embarking on our long tours. There is no one right bicycle, tent, sleeping mat, rain jacket etc. There are lots of choices and different people like different things for different reasons. And each time you go on a tour, you'll think of something else you should have brought with you, or discover that you didn't need all the stuff you brought, or perhaps figure that there has to be something better than what you've currently got.

    And find a mechanics class. Some bicycle shops offer classes, and so do some universities/colleges, or cycletouring clubs. They'll range from an evening to multi-week classes.
    perfect, thanks so much.

    so happy I posted on this forum, great advice.

    What, in your experience, is the best cross country bike/brand to get your hands on?

  12. #12
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    What about a good seat, my rear-end already hurts.
    take the affected backside to a number of bike shops and sit on a variety..

    nylon-foam rubber, thin cover of 'pleather' or real hide, manufactured saddles,
    and thick hide stretched between 2 rivet ends, have their proponents,
    but its between you, your butt and the saddle. not mine.

    A good bike shop may even let you buy one and trade it in, if you don't like it.

    as far as the best touring bike brand thing.. Bruce Gordon a frame builder and rack maker
    in Petaluma is at the level of the best.

    lots of people are happy with the Asian sourced bikes.. of several brands..
    what is in your favorite bike shop?
    Last edited by fietsbob; 09-23-12 at 02:27 PM.

  13. #13
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Remember what I said ... there is no one "best" choice of bicycle. Personally, I like Thorn and Marinoni for long tours.

  14. #14
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    I payed 1000 for that carbon bike, what do you think it could be worth on Craigslist? starting price?

  15. #15
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by poplid View Post
    I payed 1000 for that carbon bike, what do you think it could be worth on Craigslist? starting price?
    No idea ... maybe half what you paid?

  16. #16
    Senior Member bikemig's Avatar
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    There may not be one best choice for touring but most folks going on a cross country would not opt for a bike like the OP has. Now I'm not saying you couldn't make it across the US with a trailer for your gear using that bike but it is an unusual choice. That said, two things stick out to be about the bike: the wheels and the gearing. I wouldn't opt for a low spoke count wheel on a frame that can't take more reasonably sized tires and I wouldn't do it on a double. Now the OP seems pretty fit so maybe this gearing will work for him but a tour is different than a race. A triple is a better choice. I'd go check out some of the full on touring bikes (like the Surly long haul trucker) to see how they differ from your bike. If you don't feel like paying that much for a bike (the Surly runs around $1200), find a used steel road frame with a triple. That won't cost you a lot and figuring out how to fix it will be good experience before going on a tour.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
    There may not be one best choice for touring but most folks going on a cross country would not opt for a bike like the OP has. Now I'm not saying you couldn't make it across the US with a trailer for your gear using that bike but it is an unusual choice. That said, two things stick out to be about the bike: the wheels and the gearing. I wouldn't opt for a low spoke count wheel on a frame that can't take more reasonably sized tires and I wouldn't do it on a double. Now the OP seems pretty fit so maybe this gearing will work for him but a tour is different than a race. A triple is a better choice. I'd go check out some of the full on touring bikes (like the Surly long haul trucker) to see how they differ from your bike. If you don't feel like paying that much for a bike (the Surly runs around $1200), find a used steel road frame with a triple. That won't cost you a lot and figuring out how to fix it will be good experience before going on a tour.
    hmm am i the "OP" ha?

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    take the affected backside to a number of bike shops and sit on a variety..

    nylon-foam rubber, thin cover of 'pleather' or real hide, manufactured saddles,
    and thick hide stretched between 2 rivet ends, have their proponents,
    but its between you, your butt and the saddle. not mine.

    A good bike shop may even let you buy one and trade it in, if you don't like it.

    as far as the best touring bike brand thing.. Bruce Gordon a frame builder and rack maker
    in Petaluma is at the level of the best.

    lots of people are happy with the Asian sourced bikes.. of several brands..
    what is in your favorite bike shop?
    The only bike shop I have ever dealt with was Bicycle Trip in Santa Cruz(was not impressed). I just really want as much information as possible because this is definitely happening

    Thanks for the advice!!!

    P.S. I guess our butts are not the same.. good point, is there anyway to really tell without actually taking it for a test drive?

  19. #19
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Regarding saddles ... try Wallingford Bicycles and get a Brooks B17. If you don't like it within the first 6 months, you can return it.


    You've got to test ride saddles, and a decent shop will let you test one for at least a week, a good shop will let you test for a month or more, and a great place will let you have a 6 month test.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Regarding saddles ... try Wallingford Bicycles and get a Brooks B17. If you don't like it within the first 6 months, you can return it.


    You've got to test ride saddles, and a decent shop will let you test one for at least a week, a good shop will let you test for a month or more, and a great place will let you have a 6 month test.
    ok sounds like step 1, is to sell the argon and get a touring bike. Then start riding with it(overnight) and try different saddles. Then if i like it, start setting it up with lights and all that kind of stuff.

    Ill call it the Machka Plan

  21. #21
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    Take a look at Adventure Cycling Association's web-site. They have artilces, etc., in their how-to section. It's a good place to start. They also have maps for routes all around the country.

    Note that the only way to actually ride your bike into NYC from the west is over the George Washington Bridge. Keep that in mind when planning your route. There are, however, several rail and ferry options, such as the ferries from Hoboken and Jersey City, NJ, the PATH train from Hoboken or Newark and NJT Trains from a couple of places into Penn Station. (Some time restrictions apply on PATH and NJT Transit trains.)

  22. #22
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    A lot depends on how much you want to carry. I like to pack very light and would be happy on a CF road bike. I rode the Southern tier with a guy who used a CF road bike and a trailer and have met a number of others doing the same on the Trans America and on the Pacific Coast.

    As far as lights go... Most of the folks I have met on tour carried minimal lights and seldom use them. Carrying a minimal blinkie for those rare times you get caught out is sufficient IMO.

    Saddle comfort... In my experience it is more about getting used to what you have than in getting the right saddle.

    Training... Spending lots of time in the saddle helps, but on a coast to coast tour you have time to train as you go. Just don't over do in the beginning if you take that approach.

    Edit:
    I should have mentioned that if you do go with the road bike, you will probably need much lower gearing than is standard on it.
    Last edited by staehpj1; 09-24-12 at 08:48 AM.

  23. #23
    Because I thought I could ks1g's Avatar
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    If the OP's current bike is comfortable for him, he could make it work, but it will be a compromise. Things I'd consider changing: Wheels - higher spoke count and nothing exotic in case repairs required enroute. Lower gearing - I have made an Ultegra 9-speed derailluer work with a wide-range (MTB) cassete. Never got 10-speed Shimano to work but that was a few years ago. On my current road bike (SRAM drivetrain), I get 34x32 low gear (compact cranks) with a 12-32 SRAM Apex cogs and long-cage Apex derailluer (Force doesn't work with the 32t cog). Might be able to do similar with a current Shimano MTB derailluer and cassette to get the rear cog range capacity. Compact gearing would be better - depends on how light load and how strong a rider. But cost of new derailluer, cassette, and compact chainrings starts approaching the cost to sell current bike and get one designed for touring.

    I'd test how a modest-size handlebar bag affects handling. On my road bike, it makes things sufficiently twitchy that riding momentarily no-hands is a non-starter. OK for a day trip but not for a x-country. P-clips and a seatpost clamp with threading to hold a conventional rack may allow mounting a rear rack without too much weight penalty; of course chainstay length may be a problem for the OP. A carradice-style bag may be sufficient if the OP travels light and uses motels & hostels vs. camping.

    2 of my neighbors have each done the Trans-Am east-west pulling a Burley Nomad, one of them had a ride partner pulling a single-wheel Bob. They had no solid opinion on 1-wheel vs 2-wheel trailer vs panniers. It's whatever you have and works for you. One of them (college age) used a hybrid and would prefer a lighter bike if he did it again, his mom used a touring bike. Depending on the hitch design, either style could work with a CF frame. Up to the OP if the cost/weight/complexity of a trailer is easier than adapting his bike to carry bags/panniers. I would not go cheap on a trailer - the Nashbar knock-offs or converting a kid trailer to a flatbed cargo - I don't think either would hold up and a busted trailer stops/ends the ride right there. Cumulative cost of wheel & drivetrain mods may be enough to justify a different bike designed for longer rides while carrying gear.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by ks1g View Post
    If the OP's current bike is comfortable for him, he could make it work, but it will be a compromise.
    Thanks so much for all the advice.

    I am pretty adaptable, and as much as I want to sell my bike and buy a touring set up, it doesnt seem like the right thing to do.
    I could increase my knowledge of how the bike functions by changing the gearing and learning exactly what it needs. Would you be able to expand a little on the tires I may need? And how much would it cost to buy brand new gearing to get set up ideal like you described?

    Thanks.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    Spending lots of time in the saddle helps, but on a coast to coast tour you have time to train as you go. Just don't over do in the beginning if you take that approach.
    That is exactly how I feel, but i wasn't too sure, thanks for clarifying. I just don't want it to be a total surprise, i think either way im in for a rude awakening.

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