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Brit hoping to cycle San Diego to Corpus Christi ('TransAm')

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Brit hoping to cycle San Diego to Corpus Christi ('TransAm')

Old 05-11-23, 03:55 AM
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sj8070
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Brit hoping to cycle San Diego to Corpus Christi ('TransAm')

Hi everyone
Been a dream of mine to cycle across America, but I only have 45 days to try and attempt it (mid-June to Early August) due to other commitments.
The only route that seems doable is the first part of the 'Southern Tier' route - and finishing in Corpus Christ or similar - so I can dip my bike in both oceans!
I plan to have some friends join along the way, but it will mostly be solo, and of course - very hot!
Has anyone attempted this route? Would love some advice!

I'm coming from the UK... the really NOOB question is... should I box my (fairly basic but touring capable) ridgeback bike from the UK?
Or buy a relatively cheap Walmart or even second hand bike in San Diego?
Money is a smaller factor than my pretty weak bike mechanic skills... I'm fairly nervous to totally deconstruct then rebuild my UK bike without c*cking it up..!
If I bought one in the US in Diego then tried to sell it at the other end, I guess I'd have about $500 to play with as all said and done thats probably the cost of transport.
The other consideration is buying the kit - panniers etc - that fit the bike...!

My cycling experience is so far limited to fairly long 80 mile day trips, but nothing on consecutive days just yet, though I'm now upping the training.
Maybe y'all will tell me i cant do it!

Of course any thoughts very very welcome!
I should also say please shout if you have any interest in joining!

Last edited by sj8070; 05-11-23 at 04:52 AM.
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Old 05-11-23, 04:45 AM
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I like weatherspark.com to check out weather history and averages for unfamiliar places.

It's going to be hot!

For example: Tempe Arizona, showing charts for June-July-August:
https://weatherspark.com/m/2619/7/Av...-United-States

~~~

Temperature by time of day is very useful for cyclists:

~~~~~

and humidity, using dewpoint for the ranges.
Here in the humid midwest, I avoid cycling above 90F. Dewpoint ranges can go a little higher for cyclists, since we are generating some breeze while riding. A 65F dewpoint, labeled "humid", is reasonable for riding. But that's for a few hour ride on a road bike, not touring. "muggy" isn't great, even in the mid-80s temperatures, but I do adapt somewhat over the summer.

Dewpoints above 70F "oppressive", "miserable", will have me dripping with sweat and looking for shade. Dewpoint rarely gets above 72F or so around here.
(Dewpoints around 60F or below are fantastic for riding.)





I also look at previous years actual weather, to get an idea of the range of conditions day-to-day.
https://weatherspark.com/h/m/2619/20...es-Temperature

Last edited by rm -rf; 05-11-23 at 05:02 AM.
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Old 05-11-23, 04:51 AM
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Thank you!!

Yes one idea to combat this was to start at 6am each day and do 4 hours - break for lunch and a rest.
Then another 2-3 hours in the afternoon from 4pm...

This *should* get me to the 60-80miles a day mark !
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Old 05-11-23, 05:14 AM
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Originally Posted by sj8070
Thank you!!

Yes one idea to combat this was to start at 6am each day and do 4 hours - break for lunch and a rest.
Then another 2-3 hours in the afternoon from 4pm...

This *should* get me to the 60-80miles a day mark !
You really don't get much of or even any break from the heat in the afternoon or evening. It is pretty late before it cools down. Waiting to ride in the evening doesn't work very well. I'd recommend riding really early and doing all the riding before noon if you must ride there that time of year. Start as early as you have to to get your miles in. Shoot for 4 AM and ride until you have your miles in hopefully before noon. Start even earlier if you find you have to.

Me, I just rode it mid February to mid March and avoided the heat altogether. I have had enough of the heat in the SW.
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Old 05-11-23, 05:28 AM
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Pete (above) gave you great advice.
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Old 05-11-23, 05:31 AM
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My two cents is this seems both foolish and dangerous. High temperatures in the southwest deserts average above 40C and do not cool much in the afternoon.

Everyone body works differently with heat but I found for myself that more extended riding above body temperature (37C) was tough and also got heat exhaustion in Sudan on a day it got to 47C.

For that time of year, I suggest perhaps a different "crossing" of America such as from Canada to Mexico along the Pacific Coast or perhaps a ride from Pacific Coast to Chicago this year and finish the job on another ride.

Two general issues with the ride early scheme (a) you'll want to start earlier probably in dark and finish ride by 11am (b) you'll want some place out of the heat for the afternoon into the evening; some places motels ($) and a few spots have longer gaps between accommodations. Adventure Cycling has a route along much of your path and here is the page they describe for when to go - https://www.adventurecycling.org/blo...southern-tier/
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Old 05-11-23, 05:31 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
You really don't get much of or even any break from the heat in the afternoon or evening. It is pretty late before it cools down. Waiting to ride in the evening doesn't work very well. I'd recommend riding really early and doing all the riding before noon if you must ride there that time of year. Start as early as you have to to get your miles in. Shoot for 4 AM and ride until you have your miles in hopefully before noon. Start even earlier if you find you have to.

Me, I just rode it mid February to mid March and avoided the heat altogether. I have had enough of the heat in the SW.
Ah thank you. Great advice. 4am starts it will be!
Which route did you take?
Any key places to fit in / avoid on the trip?
Were you camping?
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Old 05-11-23, 05:35 AM
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Another Brit here. I did a west to east Southern Tier in 2013. Started mid March. Temps were not a problem anywhere. A few hot days in the first week. Start early drink plenty fluids. Below freezing overnight in Silver City, New Mexico.

Bikes? Take your own. Honestly. A comfortable bike which you have confidence in is the most essential item. If you aren't confident in reassembly there are plenty bike shops in San Diego.
For getting it there. On British Airwats a boxed bike counts as a suitcase. So free on Premuim Econmy or better. In cattle class costs you about £70 each way. A big cardboard box is all you need. Disassembly required?

What I do is remove saddle/seatpost, pedals, bottle cages, and front rack. These go in my case to ensure boxed bike is under 23Kg.

Thereafter front wheel comes of and is cable tied to front triangle. Bars off and turned sideways. Cable tied in place. Reomove rear derailleur and either pack seperately or cable tie to frame. Cable tie pipe lagging to frame tubes. Re-enforce corners of the box with rolled up cardboard tubes. Use a 100mm length of tubing to put between front fork dropouts with QR to protrect them.

Cable tie everythng so it all comes out the box in one piece. That way if inspected nothing gets lost.

Biggest decision, I would say is how light to go. I use 4 panniers and no bar bag. But I carry a small laptop, tent, sleeping gear, cooking gear etc. If you are prepared to go light two rear panniers and a bar bag is workable. Even for camping. Lightweight tent. No laptop. Ditch cooking gear.

Once you ditch the front panniers you are probably saving 5Kg. 2Kg for the panniers and rack and at least 3 Kg for the stuff you aren't putting in them.
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Old 05-11-23, 06:43 AM
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Originally Posted by sj8070
Ah thank you. Great advice. 4am starts it will be!
Which route did you take?
Any key places to fit in / avoid on the trip?
Were you camping?
I rode from San Diego to Pensacola and roughly followed the ACA route, but tended toward staying with larger roads. I kind of like roads with the US designation and don't mind riding some interstate hwy where allowed and it makes sense. I think if doing it again I'd consider riding a lot more on US 90, Maybe considering riding the length of it. I haven't completely explored that possibility, but have ridden some of it, driven some, and live near it.

Yes I camped. Camping sites can be scarce at times and I improvised here and there. Also I did get rooms at times. In Texas I camped in roadside picnic spots where there were not many choices. The trucks rolled in and out all night, but I can sleep through that. I have heard that I might have has a problem if I had pitched a tent, but I was bivy camping and had no problem.

The country is pretty empty and boring a lot of the way and it is a long haul across Texas. So be prepared for that. Just enjoy cranking out the miles, eating regional food, and meeting interesting people.
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Old 05-11-23, 06:51 AM
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Originally Posted by irc
Another Brit here. I did a west to east Southern Tier in 2013. Started mid March. Temps were not a problem anywhere. A few hot days in the first week. Start early drink plenty fluids. Below freezing overnight in Silver City, New Mexico.
March/April is an ideal time for the Southern Tier.

I did a west to east ride in 2001. I had snow in mountains above San Diego on March 9th which was abnormal. Also below freezing near the AZ/NM border. However most ideal temperatures everywhere.

I did a ride between Tucson and El Paso in December 2019 and had snow overnight once but generally cool but rideable temperatures.

I also did a ride between El Paso and Austin in May 2018. The day I left Langtry, May 8th, was officially 95F and my bike computer registered 102F on hot pavement. Much warmer than that and I'll not be out for extended periods riding.
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Old 05-11-23, 06:54 AM
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Box your bike. It seems time is of the essence for you. You think hitting the ground and finding a capable bike (How are you planning to carry gear?) in the right size is going to be a snap? Have a local shop reassemble it if you donít have the skills.
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Old 05-11-23, 07:02 AM
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Originally Posted by mev
My two cents is this seems both foolish and dangerous. High temperatures in the southwest deserts average above 40C and do not cool much in the afternoon.
This may be a problem that will be hard to solve in some places. There were a few places where shelter and resupply was pretty widely spaced. At least once I was overnight without resupply or shelter and had to carry water for the day. If it were 110 or 120 F That would be a problem. It was challenging enough in a Feb - March timeframe. Be very careful planning your next stop in places without resupply of water or shelter. I can't advise on how to manage that since I have not done that the time of year you plan to go.
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Old 05-11-23, 07:42 AM
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There are some wonderful places to visit in the Summer in the US. The desert Southwest is not one of them. Riding in 110F/44C is going to be very uncomfortable, and dangerous. It will be too hot to sleep well in camp, and still quite hot even if starting at 4 AM.

Have you considered the Pacific Coast route?
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Old 05-11-23, 08:18 AM
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Originally Posted by mev
My two cents is this seems both foolish and dangerous. High temperatures in the southwest deserts average above 40C and do not cool much in the afternoon.
Concur on temperature warning. For instance, I tried to do an after work short ride a few years ago near Tempe, AZ. I was out of water in an hour and a half (48 ounces), and the temperature "dropped" to 106F (41C) by sundown.

If you do persist in this foolishness, I strongly recommend carrying lots of extra water, and budgeting for motels (for the air conditioning) most every night. Be aware that many of the services in the southwest are seasonal, and close in the summer (customers, owners, and operators go north for the season). You can get into trouble if the only source of water for the last 80 km, and the next 80 km, the one you were counting on for resupply, is closed when you get there.

For that time of year, I suggest perhaps a different "crossing" of America such as from Canada to Mexico along the Pacific Coast or perhaps a ride from Pacific Coast to Chicago this year and finish the job on another ride.
Your (O.P.'s) proposed timeframe is high season for these routes.
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Old 05-11-23, 08:48 AM
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Yes. Missed the proposed dates. Don't do it. Too hot. I got the odd 100f day in March and October that area.

45 days would get you a Chicago to San Francisco trip. Better scenery IMO and more pleasant temps. San Francisco is a lovely place to finish. The Western Express route finishes with a ferry ride across the bay from Vallejo to San Francisco.
I'm back in the USA this year and chose September into October specifically so that I was avoiding high summer temps in the southwest. In the shoulder season the peak daytime temperatures are a smaller part of the day as well.

From the UK perspective start and finish points at major airports is good.

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Old 05-11-23, 10:05 AM
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I would suggest taking the first half of the TransAm from Astoria Oregoon to Pueblo, Co. Fly into Portland or Seattle and return from Denver. Much, much better scenery and roads with lower temperatures, especially climbing out of Hell and the Snake Canyon, you'll then be at elevation and nice cool nights for the remainder

I'm crazy and would give second thought to Southern Tier in the summer. If I did, I'd start at 3 am and finish by Noon and would sleep in motels as often as possible but it would not be fun
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Old 05-11-23, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by timdow
There are some wonderful places to visit in the Summer in the US. The desert Southwest is not one of them. Riding in 110F/44C is going to be very uncomfortable, and dangerous. It will be too hot to sleep well in camp, and still quite hot even if starting at 4 AM.

Have you considered the Pacific Coast route?
To the OP... It is your choice, but this post sounds like the voice of reason. Definitely something to consider. Extreme heat is no picnic, and if you add in long distances between resupply and lack of lodging or campsite options in places and it can get ugly. The Pacific Coast is a beautiful ride. If you do stick with the ST please be careful out there.
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Old 05-11-23, 12:16 PM
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There was a thread on crazyguyonabike on this subject.

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/foru...d=0&v=I#686504
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Old 05-11-23, 12:40 PM
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North from Seattle then the Northern Tier to Chicago. Youíd have heat in some areas but not as bad as the ST.

Itís nearly mid-May. Do you even have a flight booked? A few weeks ago I heard on the news that summer flights between the US and Europe were at 75% capacity.

Dreams need to be tempered by realities.
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Old 05-11-23, 04:04 PM
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Sounds like you are one month away from starting a trip that most people are saying you should not do, or that you should find a different location instead. I won't pile on too.

Choice of bike - I looked up Ridgeback and they list three touring bikes. All three have triple cranks and what looks like an adequate drivetrain. Two of the three were listed as steel frame, I am not sure on the third. The best bike is the bike that fits, if your bike fits you well and you know it works well, bring yours and do not roll the dice on a different bike.

You can have a bike shop pack your bike, find a bike shop in California to re-assemble it. Pick one before you travel in California so that they can advise you on any extra details you may need to know.

I am not familiar with British Air luggage policies, but if you use Delta, United or American Airlines, these airlines canceled their oversize fees for bicycles a few years ago and to the best of my knowledge you can bring a bike over in a bike box without an oversize surcharge with those airlines. Other airlines probably have extra fees for a bike. But before you buy a ticket, look at their luggage policies to make sure that there are no nasty surprises.

Panniers, you should be able to buy some good ones in UK, make sure that they fit your racks. Ortlieb are very popular panniers. In UK, Carradry are also a good brand. I have used both Ortlieb and Carradry, happy with both. I however did find that Carradry did not fit my rear rack well, that is a good reason to make sure everything fits the way it needs to before you leave home. I fabricated a different set of lower hooks for my Carradry to fit my rear rack.

You did not say enough about your plans for me to elaborate in more detail, are you planning on camping or staying indoors, etc.

In UK, you have a national health care plan, here I have no clue what your plan covers, if anything. That is something to research.

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Old 05-11-23, 04:28 PM
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There is no surcharge only if it meets certain dimension limitations, IIRC.
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Old 05-12-23, 12:53 AM
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Dude,
For June, Seattle to San Diego, it's a no-brainer. Especially now, with global warming, record heat in the desert every summer. Like people die from heat exhaustion kind of heat, it is no joke.

But seriously, good luck with whatever trip you choose.
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Old 05-12-23, 04:07 AM
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If (like my British wife), you are a typical UK resident, you will overheat and burn and die on this ride. (So would I, for what it is worth, but everyone I know from the UK has had to aclimatise to the sun and heat over a long period.)

Why not try the West Coast ride? You could do the whole thing in your allocated time. Fly into Seattle (or Vancouver, BC) and then bike down the coast with a relatively cool tail-wind and wind up in San Diego. Lots of people ride this in the summer, so it is safe, and you will meet people along the way.

Here is a good guide-book you can get on amazon.co.uk

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Old 05-12-23, 05:11 AM
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Originally Posted by sj8070
Hi everyone
Been a dream of mine to cycle across America, but I only have 45 days to try and attempt it (mid-June to Early August) due to other commitments.
The only route that seems doable is the first part of the 'Southern Tier' route - and finishing in Corpus Christ or similar - so I can dip my bike in both oceans!
I plan to have some friends join along the way, but it will mostly be solo, and of course - very hot!
Has anyone attempted this route? Would love some advice!

I'm coming from the UK... the really NOOB question is... should I box my (fairly basic but touring capable) ridgeback bike from the UK?
Or buy a relatively cheap Walmart or even second hand bike in San Diego?
Money is a smaller factor than my pretty weak bike mechanic skills... I'm fairly nervous to totally deconstruct then rebuild my UK bike without c*cking it up..!
If I bought one in the US in Diego then tried to sell it at the other end, I guess I'd have about $500 to play with as all said and done thats probably the cost of transport.
The other consideration is buying the kit - panniers etc - that fit the bike...!

My cycling experience is so far limited to fairly long 80 mile day trips, but nothing on consecutive days just yet, though I'm now upping the training.
Maybe y'all will tell me i cant do it!

Of course any thoughts very very welcome!
I should also say please shout if you have any interest in joining!
first question........why? sure, it sounds cool to go coast-to-coast, but you so far have limited experience and are starting with a massive undertaking, and will have multiple 100-mile days carrying a full load. if you research the routes, you'll have a collection of really cool spots interspersed with many miles of utter nothingness. i would suggest picking the best bits and connecting them in a custom tour.

can't imagine planning such a grand adventure, then considering NOT taking your quality bike, but instead going with a $99 wallyworld special. and if money is less of a factor than your mechanical skills, then spend the cash to upgrade and service your present bike rather than buying a clunker from a big box store.

and do your intertubes research before you go, park tools has a nice collection of youtube videos on bike maintenance. there's a whole lotta empty out there, and you may have only yourself to rely of to get out of trouble. don't count on having cell phone coverage everywhere. i believe there are still large areas in the southwest where the only cell coverage you'll get is in the cities, and a narrow corridor along the interstates.

do consider a trailer. you're gonna be riding through the desert in the heat. towns can be pretty sparse in some areas, and that little dot on the map you're planning to resupply at may only be a 20-person village that went extinct back in the 60's. plan to carry loads of water, more than you can comfortably carry in saddlebags.

this is the thermometer at furnace creek ranger station in death valley.............120 degrees.
yes, i was biking, but used to the heat living in sw texas.
wasn't so bad, it was a dry heat, and the temps dropped to 90 degrees at night.
still had to be careful, though, as the water from the taps in the campground was scalding.


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Old 05-12-23, 05:16 AM
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Or, put a USA trip on hold for a future year. Ride LEJOG instead.
Tourist in MSN is offline  

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