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Touring from LA to DC for Obama's inaugaration in January! I need some advice

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Touring from LA to DC for Obama's inaugaration in January! I need some advice

Old 11-18-08, 08:48 AM
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Touring from LA to DC for Obama's inaugaration in January! I need some advice

Hey Touring Folks,
I'm going to be riding from Los Angeles, CA to Washington DC by January 20th, 2009 when Obama will be inaugurated.

I need advice, suggestions for how to cross the country in Dec/Jan, equipment advice, practical advice, logistics, time tables, maps, etc!

I've never done any serious touring before, this is my first time ever even dreaming about something like this. I am a daily rider, fit, a collegiate athlete and 22 yrs old. Here's more about my plan www.bikeforbarack.blogspot.com

Thanks for all the support/help to come!
ryan
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Old 11-18-08, 09:25 AM
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I would definitely use the adventurecycling Southern Tier and Atlantic Coast routes. The easy of identifying camping and lodging alone is worth using the route. It will keep you in the warmest weather possible, but don't expect it to be balmy. You must be prepared to ride in temperatures at or below freezing. The days are very short, so you can't wait for it to warm up before starting out or you will be having very short days. Snow and ice is possible anywhere along the route that may hold you up for days.

For all these reasons I would start as soon as you can get away. After all the weather warnings, I would also say that you will have some fine warm days as well.

Heck, you are 22 and can take all the crazy conditions that come your way. Just be well prepared with lots of different clothes(including very warm and wind proof), a good sleeping bag and shelter that will take you down to 0 F. and you will have a real adventure!

Start to plan on what you will do with your gear in DC. Lodging is all taken. Your will have to be with your gear constantly if you don't have other arrangements. You may find a bike shop that will store your gear for the day.

https://www.adventurecycling.org/
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Old 11-18-08, 09:58 AM
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Ryan,

So you are riding from LA to DC in 36 days? That must be one heck of a motor on your bike.

Do you have a place to stay in DC? Radio reports are that even campgrounds are sold out for the big day.

Keep in mind DC can be cold in January. I don't want to throw ice water on a young person, but I don't think you've thought this through.

May I suggest an alternative? Bring your bike out for the swearing in and then ride back to LA.
 
Old 11-18-08, 09:59 AM
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Sounds like a great idea. But... you better get going!
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Old 11-18-08, 11:25 AM
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I suggest you take a plane.

Weather will be OK for awhile, but by the time you get to Arkansas it's likely to get cold. By the end you'll be riding 75 miles a day (assuming you go straight across the US and do not take any rest days at all) in 20 - 25 F and likely snow as well.

I think you can find a better way to support the President-Elect.
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Old 11-18-08, 11:44 AM
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I love crazy adventures!

You will be pedaling against the wind through hostile territory with time constraints in the heart of a freezing winter. Entering DC and pedaling past the Lincoln Memorial, the reflecting pool, the White House and up the Mall to the Capitol Building will be one of those unforgettable moments in life.

I envy you. Go for it!
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Old 11-18-08, 12:08 PM
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Weather can be good or bad in DC that time of year. I would stay south and come up the coast, but it is longer by a good bit that way. Adventure Cycling's Southern Tier and Atlantic Coast routes would be a good bet as was already mentioned. Do you really have time to get there? When are you leaving?

Assuming 85 miles per day it would be about 37 days given my route recommendations. 85 miles is possible but tough given the shortness of daylight and the chances for bad weather this time of year.

60 miles per day average is more realistic, but that would be 53 days.

Keep us posted.
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Old 11-18-08, 01:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Losligato View Post
I love crazy adventures!
+1

Entering DC and pedaling past the Lincoln Memorial, the reflecting pool, the White House and up the Mall to the Capitol Building will be one of those unforgettable moments in life.
It gives me "goose bumps" thinking about it. It will be am amazing experience if he can pull it off. I am rooting for him.
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Old 11-18-08, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
Weather can be good or bad in DC that time of year. I would stay south and come up the coast, but it is longer by a good bit that way. Adventure Cycling's Southern Tier and Atlantic Coast routes would be a good bet as was already mentioned. Do you really have time to get there? When are you leaving?
Assuming 85 miles per day it would be about 37 days given my route recommendations. 85 miles is possible but tough given the shortness of daylight and the chances for bad weather this time of year.

60 miles per day average is more realistic, but that would be 53 days.

Keep us posted.
That trip by yourself during that part of the year isn't wise. You have 10 hours of daylight. As you get closer to DC coming from the south, you'll hit freezing temperates with snow and ice. Right now, it's 37 degrees in DC with 30 mph wind. Plus there's no place to stay here during the inaguration.

Fly here and do that trip later in the Spring
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Old 11-18-08, 01:53 PM
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Originally Posted by StanSeven View Post
That trip by yourself during that part of the year isn't wise.
The ST part is routinely done that time of year. Coming North on the coast it is likely to above freezing until he is within two days of DC. DC is a crap shoot. It is likely to be freezing, but it isn't that rare for it to be 50 either. Snow... they get snow a few times a year. It usually lasts a few days at most. Worst case he takes a bus/train from Virgina Beach.

You have 10 hours of daylight.
This does make it harder to make good time.

As you get closer to DC coming from the south, you'll hit freezing temperates with snow and ice.
That is a big maybe and only likely at all for the last 2 days assuming staying near the coast.

Plus there's no place to stay here during the inaguration.
Worst case come to Parkville (North side of Baltimore). You can stay here, but might have to sleep on the floor depending on whether my daughter is here or at grad school. Better yet find a warmshowers.com host near DC. Even better yet someone here on bf who lives closer to dc offer to put him up. You guys who have been the recipients of hospitality on tour, this is your chance to pay it forward. One of you guys in Northern Va. would be ideal. Helping an idealistic 22 year old bike tourist out shouldn't be much of a hardship!

Edit: I work between DC and Baltimore and could pick up and drop you and your bike if need be. If you can make it work, I would be delighted to be a part of it.

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Old 11-18-08, 01:55 PM
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I would ride to as far as I could and then take the train.

But I would make sure to tell myself I am not going all the way on bike and enjoy myself.
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Old 11-18-08, 02:13 PM
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Ryan, this sounds like it'd be so insanely idiotic that it could be an awesome trip. I've done touring in the winter, and lots of night riding, but never the two together for more than the ocassional night I got caught out late.

Don't let the naysayers discourage you, but be careful. That kind of riding in the winter is nothing to sneeze at. If you haven't already, you'll want to invest in some serious lights and maybe some solar panels to charge them.

A search on Crazyguy turns up a few journals about winter touring.
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Old 11-18-08, 03:03 PM
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It's time for a sanity check, folks. There are so many things wrong with this picture. The inauguration is 63 days from today. Ryan has never toured before. He apparently doesn't have equipment at this time. No stated plans yet for the route or the logistics. Daylight will be short in December & January. The weather is LIKELY to be awful and even dangerous for cycling during a portion of this "adventure". It will certainly be unpleasant riding at times. You can't hug the coast to get from LA to DC. And if you try to stay as close as possible to the Mexican border, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic Ocean, you're probably talking about a 4,000+ mile route. (the "southern tier" route is about 3,100 miles, and it ends in St. Augustine, Florida, which is about 750 miles south of DC on interstate highways) It will probably be a largely unscenic 4,000 miles in the winter. And even the Deep South can have some pretty nasty weather in January. Today, November 18, the weather from DC south to Raleigh, NC, has afternoon temperatures in the upper 30s with strong winds and occasional snow flurries.

Ryan, it's time to come up with a plan B for getting to DC by January 20, 2009.
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Old 11-18-08, 03:41 PM
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Keep 'em coming!

Thanks for all the replies so far!
I really am loving the advice AND concerns that you have brought up. I know this may seem like a foolish venture, but I am fairly set (already have over 200 supporters), and the movement is building. So please keep the comments suggestions, and warnings coming.

Here's a pertinent question: BESIDES the winter weather, what kind of risks does my body entail from riding like this?
Any suggestions for how I should train for the next 3 weeks?
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Old 11-18-08, 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by flyinryan08@gma View Post
BESIDES the winter weather, what kind of risks does my body entail from riding like this?
Any suggestions for how I should train for the next 3 weeks?
In the past you were (and perhaps still are) a sprinter. Touring uses the exact opposite type of physiology. Slow twitch muscle fibers for touring vs fast twitch for sprints. Long slow distance for touring vs short bursts for sprinting. Aerobic vs Anaerobic.

You are young and have a good overall fitness level. Clip a few packs on your bike, fill them with rocks and go for long rides. Next day get up and go further. You need to get your body used to providing a steady stream of energy and power over the long haul. You must get comfortable in the saddle and work the major bugs out of your setup before leaving home

Avoid the temptation to go fast. Slow and steady will win this race you've set before yourself. You will be amazed at how fast your body will adapt. Even in the three weeks before departure you can make major changes to the way your body will deal with the stresses of life on the road. Get out there and ride

After the first few rides you will wake up the next morning and say to yourself that there is no way you can go on. But then you will climb on the bike and fall into the routine.
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Old 11-18-08, 04:58 PM
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Originally Posted by flyinryan08@gma View Post
Any suggestions for how I should train for the next 3 weeks?
Pack your bike and head east.
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Old 11-18-08, 05:20 PM
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Wait.

You are going to film and interview people along the way? And get there on time.

Ask yourself this: if you miss the inauguration because you chose to bike; for whatever reason, it takes longer than estimated...

how will you feel?
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Old 11-18-08, 05:22 PM
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If you have to wait 3 weeks to leave you will never make the ride in time. Days too short, weather too iffy. If you left now you would spend the first couple of weeks getting in shape while you travel and just might make it.

An alternate suggestion is above. Check into Amtrak and how your travel route can intersect with a big Amtrak station. Maybe Birmingham, AL or Atlanta, GA. It has to be a major station that deals with checked baggage, because you will have box and check your bike. Amtrak has boxes available.

You could also start out on Amtrak and go to New Orleans and ride from there.

I wouldn't plan on getting on the Amtrak Southern Crescent(New Orleans to DC) the day before the event. I would say that the Southern Crescent from Atlanta to DC will be booked the night before going north and the night after going south. It is a night trip both ways and way to go to the inauguration and not have to spend the night(except on the train).
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Old 11-18-08, 05:26 PM
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Don't forget to plan for the in-DC stay; they are expecting 3-4 million people on the mall that day.

The next largest event was the Pro-Choice rally a few years ago.
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Old 11-18-08, 06:11 PM
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I agree that the sooner you can leave the better your chance of success.

I don't really think that high end lighting is very easy to use on a tour. High powered battery packs are heavy and charging is a hassle. Solar panels are big and bulky and heavy. In addition the limited daylight and low angle of the sun make them less effective. I say use your led headlamp that is your flashlight around camp (a little thing that takes AA or AAA batteries) and a cheap blinkie if you get caught in the dark and just try to maximize use of the limited daylight hours.

If you need a place to stay in Virginia Beach I can PM you some contact info for a nice couple who help touring cyclists when they are not touring themselves.

I am not normally big on training with a load, but the longer you wait to leave the more you will need to hit the ground running. I think that starting easy and building mileage is usually the way to go, but if you wait 3 weeks to start...

That is what worries me most, I have to doubt if you are allowing enough time. You really want to leave as soon as you can.
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Old 11-18-08, 11:06 PM
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Originally Posted by neilfein View Post

Don't let the naysayers discourage you...
No one has naysayed. We've critiqued his proposal - a cyclist with no touring experience, no equipment, and no plans riding across the US at a pace that will require him to ride a century a day for a month or more.
 
Old 11-18-08, 11:07 PM
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Originally Posted by flyinryan08@gma View Post
Any suggestions for how I should train for the next 3 weeks?
Amtrak to New Orleans.
 
Old 11-18-08, 11:13 PM
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Originally Posted by flyinryan08@gma View Post
Thanks for all the replies so far!
I really am loving the advice AND concerns that you have brought up. I know this may seem like a foolish venture, but I am fairly set (already have over 200 supporters), and the movement is building. So please keep the comments suggestions, and warnings coming.

Here's a pertinent question: BESIDES the winter weather, what kind of risks does my body entail from riding like this?
Every accident imaginable for a touring cyclist, magnified by your inexperience.

I don't mean to tell you "No you can't", but based on the distance and your start date, I don't see you making DC unless you are capable of hundred mile days, day in and day out. Or you get a lot of rides and use bus and train transportation too.
 
Old 11-18-08, 11:13 PM
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Sounds to me like you`re gonna need this or something similar.
https://www.peterwhitecycles.com/schmidt.asp
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Old 11-19-08, 07:25 AM
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35 days to do what is probably 3400-3600 miles is really pushing it for this time of year. Can you do at least 100 mile days? With no days off? With short daylight hours? With possible weather delays the last few days?

Remember that you need to eat, sleep, shop, wash your clothes, make camp, break camp, and other stuff. Consider shortening the trip, leaving sooner, or being open to using the bus or train at the end. To me starting in El Paso or Houston or something would be better than having to catch a train in the end. Leaving in a few days would be even better.

I am hoping you can make this work, but fear that you are allowing too little time.
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