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Take Bikes on Drive Across the Country?

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Take Bikes on Drive Across the Country?

Old 10-03-08, 02:46 PM
  #1  
TromboneAl
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Take Bikes on Drive Across the Country?

In the spring we plan to drive from California to St. Louis for our daughter's graduation ceremony. We can take as much or as little time as we want, and will camp most nights. The question is, do we take the bikes?

Pros:

Could take a day off and ride.
Could ride at the end of each day.
We'd get exercise
Could try fun new routes (our routes at home are quite limited)
Could take advantage of some nice flat riding

Cons:

Have to worry about bikes getting stolen
More stuff on our small car (Echo)
Bikes will get dirty/scratched from road dirt
More difficult to get stuff from the trunk
Slightly less good gas mileage

--------------

Anyone do this? Thoughts?
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Old 10-03-08, 03:48 PM
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If you had a minivan or SUV it would be a no-brainer. But in an Echo, I'd hesitate. You won't have the luxury of stopping where you want. I did a trip from NYC to Chicago over 2 weeks with lots of stops and I threw my bike in the back of the minivan when we went inside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and again in Chicago to the Sears Tower. And since you're camping, you can't even leave it in the hotel.

OTOH, I did a 2 week driving trip out west 2 years ago and I kept kicking myself for not bringing the bike.
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Old 10-03-08, 03:54 PM
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The better trailer hitch racks give decent access to the trunk, and don't seem to affect the fuel consumption as much as a roof rack. There is definitely something to be said for stopping for an aerobic workout every now and then on a long drive.
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Old 10-03-08, 04:17 PM
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I looked at pics of an Echo, since I'm really not familiar. Is it the 2 door, 4 dr, or hatch? If it's 4 dr, I'm thinking you can pack the trunk; remove wheels; lower seats; wrap bikes (and wheels) in blankets. Pack wrapped bikes on top of other stuff in trunk. Arrive at destination; remove and assemble bikes; unpack camping equip and proceed with evening. Reverse and repeat the next day. Use back seats for quick access to other stuff during day. Bikes will be disguised and locked inside (no scratches and no theft).
I have to laugh at the "reduced mileage" item on the Con list. Combined weight of bikes is that of traveling with a kid. Forget this one, it's not an arguement.

Rent a bigger vehicle? This econo car suits a purpose, but this isn't one of them. What you save in owning it will make up for the difference of having a shortterm rental.

Forget a utility trailer. The weight and wind drag will drag that Echo down (hence your point about reduced mileage.)

Then again, what about just staying someplace each night where you can hike or swim in the afternoon/evening??

Last edited by BRNRBR; 10-03-08 at 04:21 PM.
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Old 10-03-08, 04:42 PM
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Is it the 2 door, 4 dr, or hatch?
Four door (see photo).

The bikes in the car idea is a good one, but I tried it with just one, and it just takes too much space, even with handlebars turned and pedals off.

It's actually the wind drag that decreases our highway gas mileage from 45 to 43 MPG. I'm a bit of a "hypermiler" and measure this often.

You can barely see it in the photo, but I have a cable lock that locks the bikes to the tow point underneath the car.
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Old 10-03-08, 04:52 PM
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I would take the bikes on the rack that you currently have. We have hauled our mountain bikes all over the country on the back of our motorhome and they really don't get all that dirty. You will be able to take some nice rides and if you are camping your bikes will be with you to ride around the campgrounds. Unless you are going to be in some big city and away from your vehicle your locking system should be fine. While in St. Louis you can take them inside where you are staying. I'll bet there are some nice bike trails in St. Louis.
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Old 10-03-08, 05:12 PM
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I think a big factor is you are passing by some quality trails

MO = katy trail
while you are there this is a trail not to miss riding (its not paved so you need hybird or mtn)
CO -greater denver has 650 miles of trails,
bike path goes from keystone to vail
the trail in the glenwood canyon is wonderful as is glenwood springs to aspen
(these are all paved)
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Old 10-03-08, 05:14 PM
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Have hauled our tandem + single bike from Tucson, AZ to east coast, west coast, Canada and places in between for several years.
We have a 97 Honda Accord station wagon and keep everything inside the vehicle. A snug fit, but works for us without any extra outside drag and good fuel economy!
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Old 10-03-08, 05:37 PM
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We always take our bikes in our minivan.

We love to explore a small town that we might stop in by bicycling around the town, etc. It makes a nice evening realxing and exercise time.

Plus, there are some GREAT trails on the way, as ColoradoDale pointed out.

If you get to Denver, I will give you a personal tour of a few of our 650 miles of trail. Let me know.

If you don't bring your bikes and get to Denver, well, I have 5 bikes, 2 for the wife, 3 for me.

Think about using Glenwood Springs as a base camp for 3 days to ride the Rio Grande Trail and the Glenwood Canyon Trail - both spectacular.

Then, go to Frisco or Breckenridge for 3 days or more and ride to Breckenridge, Keystone, Frisco, Vail Pass, Vail, Edwards, etc., etc.

Then spend a few days in Denver as a base camp. Great trails in Denver and Boulder.

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Old 10-03-08, 08:00 PM
  #10  
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
Have to worry about bikes getting stolen
More stuff on our small car (Echo)
Bikes will get dirty/scratched from road dirt
More difficult to get stuff from the trunk
Slightly less good gas mileage
I've gone Reno to South Dakota with two bikes on a Honda Civic, and it was no trouble. I did see a big drop in gas mileage, from @34 to mid-20s, but gas was cheap back then.
I didn't ride as much as I expected--we stayed mostly in cheap freeway motels, and riding conditions weren't appealing there. But on similar trips when I camped, I wished I'd brought the bike, because you can get around without moving the car and riding is often more pleasant around campgrounds.
I don't see dirt and scratches as a problem. I bought the bikes to use, and they're going to get scuffed when I do. Trunk access wasn't an issue because I have a roof rack (your tradeoff would be significantly better mileage, I imagine. The roof rack creates a lot of drag). Unless you've been pretty judicious in your selection of camping gear, you'll be putting a lot of stuff into a small car, but I hauled two kids around in a '79 Corolla two-door back when Corollas were tiny, and it handled the load fine.
I'd do it. But I'd make a point of creating time and finding places to ride. You'll feel dumb if you haul the bikes across the country and don't use them.
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Old 10-03-08, 09:00 PM
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For me, the variable would be time. If you were inclined to take two or three or four weeks each way, driving slowly, hunting around for good riding areas, getting to know some small towns, visiting some cyclist friends, etc. it could be a great trip.
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Old 10-04-08, 05:28 AM
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
In the spring we plan to drive from California to St. Louis for our daughter's graduation ceremony. We can take as much or as little time as we want, and will camp most nights. The question is, do we take the bikes?

Pros:

Could take a day off and ride.
Could ride at the end of each day.
We'd get exercise
Could try fun new routes (our routes at home are quite limited)
Could take advantage of some nice flat riding

Cons:

Have to worry about bikes getting stolen
More stuff on our small car (Echo)
Bikes will get dirty/scratched from road dirt
More difficult to get stuff from the trunk
Slightly less good gas mileage

--------------

Anyone do this? Thoughts?
I think your pros outweigh the cons Take the bikes!

I have a minivan with a trailer hitch rack. I've hauled bikes from Ohio to Florida and several other locations without any problems. If I'm taking one bike it rides inside the van. More than one and they're on the rack securely locked down. I haven't noticed any damage to the bikes from road debris.

I pack the items I'll need frequently near the front of the van. Those items needed when biking get packed in the back.
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Old 10-04-08, 06:53 AM
  #13  
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BTW, there are state park campgrounds right in the City of Denver or nearby. Cherry Creek State Park is about 5,000 acres of openspace right in the SE section, and Chatfield State Park - another 5,000 or so acres in the SW section. Both have miles of biking trails within the park.

http://parks.state.co.us/

Bear Creek Lake Park on the western side (City of Lakewood) has camping, also.

http://www.ci.lakewood.co.us/comres/...orInformation/

All need to be reserved early.

All three are on the main Denver Bike Trail Systems. All three have lakes with boating and may have rental boats available.

Just nearby west in the foothills there is Golden Gate State Park.

Chatfield also borders Waterton Canyon, a popular recreation area with a bike path bordering the S. Platte River going up into the mountains 6.5 miles - you pass through several ecological zones.

Last edited by DnvrFox; 10-04-08 at 07:07 AM.
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Old 10-04-08, 07:56 AM
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It sounds like a great opportunity for a lot of fun. With the same # of pros as cons, you might evaluate them on the basis of which overrides the other. Pros might give you so much fun and good times that they'd outweigh the cons.
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Old 10-04-08, 07:58 AM
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Thanks for the ideas. Certainly leaning towards taking them at this point.

And thanks for the invite, Fox, that may work out for us.

Last edited by TromboneAl; 10-04-08 at 08:07 AM.
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Old 10-04-08, 12:14 PM
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take the bikes. life is for living. don't deny yourself. ya know ya wanna.

think of all the places you could wear you 50+ jersey and talk up the forum!!

seriously... take the bikes and have as much fun as you possibly can. you two are bike riders.

be well,

jim
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Old 10-04-08, 01:54 PM
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We have a hitch rack that fits both our minivan and our small sedan, and the bikes always join us on vacation if we drive.

On the road we enjoy cycling a short while in the morning before getting back in the car for a long haul. You get to see the cyclist's view of the areas you're travelling through.

You can also pull off the interstate and refresh with snack and a short ride. If you're a history buff, ride a few miles along one the pioneer trails, or the Pony Express route. From northern CA, to St Louis you could probably also ride pieces of the Lewis and Clark route.
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Old 10-04-08, 02:16 PM
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The last longer road trip was from N Florida to Newfound Land island. Took two mountain bikes and two road bikes. The mountain bikes were on a rack behind a small travel trailer.

Made it a point to ride every two or three days at least. Otherwise you lose condition fast if you are at an advanced age.

Sold the trailer, next trip is too Moab and surroundings with a Honda CRV. Two mountain bike will be on a receiver mounted rack.

I don't worry about scratches or anything else except water in the bearings. It appears that doesn't happen often

I lock the rack to the receiver, lock the bikes to the rack including the rear wheels. I use a very thick cable and a strong lock. The front wheels are in the vehicle. I also use bike bras to keep the sun off the leather saddles and under the bras are vinyl-cloth covers which the wife made to keep the rain/dirt out of the handlebar stuff.

Al
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Old 10-04-08, 02:16 PM
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On an extended trip, your biggest enemy is rain. If you can bring alongs some plastic wrap and bags with tape, you'll be able to bag the saddles and protect the headset area from driving water at highway speeds. Keep the computers inside the car and clip on when needed. Bring back lots of pics.
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Old 10-04-08, 02:25 PM
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Two summers back we took a week in Manhattan to see Wagner's Ring Cycle (begin cycling content!). We got a reasonable hotel in Manhattan that would let us keep tthem in the room and take them up in the elevator, put a trunk rack on my Prius, and drove from Michigan to NYC. The gas mileage decreased from around 50 to 42 due to the added air resistance. We biked during the day to recover from the extended sitting and rapt attention 4 days in a row (that alone is tiring, but worth it). Around Central Park, and up and down the Hudson River; great vacation!

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Old 10-04-08, 08:37 PM
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I agree with the "Rent a vehicle" camp. California to St. Louis is a long
drive. Renting a Van would be so nice. Lots of room for you both, your
stuff and your bikes.....all safely stowed inside out of sight and out of
the elements. We own a Camry and a Ford E-150 Conversion. The comfort
that the van provides far outweighs the increase in gas costs. All our
traveling is done with the Van. Rent a Van.
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Old 10-04-08, 08:56 PM
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Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
Bikes will get dirty/scratched from road dirt
And the problem with your bikes earning a few battle scars is ...

Richard
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Old 10-05-08, 05:38 PM
  #23  
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Since this trip is planned for next spring Christmas conveniently falls between now and then. I suggest that you and your SO buy each other folding bikes as gifts. Folders are great bikes and are highly capable. I'd start with Bike Friday's web site and go from there.

Two really good grab and go folders are the Bike Friday Tiket and the Brompton. Each folds and unfolds in seconds. The Brompton folds to a slightly smaller package and will fit in the Boot(trunk) of a Mini Cooper.
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Old 10-06-08, 08:01 AM
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I did a bike tour last summer. When the summer started I was terribly under-trained. I'm a teacher with summers off, so time wasn't an issue - I had plenty. I could have stayed at home for a couple of weeks to ride myself into shape before setting off on the drive to the start of the tour, but I was fed up from a tough year and needed to "get away." So I left right away, but on the drive north I drove for a day, camped, then took a layover day where I went on a ride. It turned out to be a most enjoyable practice. I rode in some beautiful places. I upped the mileage with each ride. The next day while I was driving was a rest day. Coming back to the campsite after a ride was great - camp was set up; all I had to do was sit in my comfortable chair, drink cold beverages, and enjoy the endorfins. I may take another trip some summer where all I do is drive, ride, drive, ride, etc.

Take the bikes!
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