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Cycling Coast-to-Coast

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Cycling Coast-to-Coast

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Old 02-06-09, 11:21 PM
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jizenber
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Cycling Coast-to-Coast

Hi All,

I imagine maybe there are many previous threads that address some or all of these questions but I skimmed through and couldn't easily find the answers. If anyone would prefer to just give me the link to any information buried in the mass of threads that's fine too, but I figured I'd just go ahead and post a few questions right here in one place, and open this thread up to any and all things related to cycling from coast-to-coast.

1. Can some one recommend a good value touring bike that's up to the job of a trans-continental ride? I'm looking in the range of 1000-1200 dollars. I've read about a few Cannondale models that are well-reviewed, but I'm open to any and all suggestions.

2. I've heard conflicting things about which direction is preferable (west-east or vice versa). Personally, I figured the prevailing westerly winds would play a big role, but I've read conflicting reports, some of which suggest that the winds don't really factor in to much, and there are more compelling reasons to go from east to west, including the difficulty of the Appalachians relative to the Rockies, the spring weather in the Rockies in June, and of course the romantic "go west" thing. Could someone please give me some good insight into this question? To be more clear, I'm wondering if the prevailing winds are reason enough to neglect all those other reasons for starting on the east coast.

3. Shipping a bike: When I get to one side or the other, I will have to get my bike back across the country (either before I leave or after I finish). What is the best way to do this, and what sort of costs are involved? Has anyone checked a bike on a flight recently? What sort of costs were involved?

4. Training program: I am a strong cyclist, but I've never done any serious touring before. Should I consider a specific training program prior to the trip? I have about one month of time to train because I will be out of the country until May 1 and we will be leaving June 6 or so. If anyone has any advice on this it would be appreciated.
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Old 02-07-09, 02:19 AM
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1. I used an '07 Trek 520 on my cross country ride. Worked like a charm, no issues with it at all the whole way.


2. I went East-West and if had to do it over again would go the same direction. The whole thing about prevailing winds - while maybe true overall - is pretty much negligible. You'll have headwind days and tailwind days no matter which direction you travel in. Wind shouldn't be a deciding factor in the direction you choose I believe. Alot of people are also concerned about the difficulty of the Appalachains, and starting out E-W means tackling the tough stuff first. This is true. The Appalachains were the most difficult section of the trip for me personally. It was the heat/humidity and steep grades that proved a triple threat combination. If you train beforehand tho you will be perfectly fine. I did no training so found it tough, and I was coming from a much cooler climate in New Zealand. However after 2-3 weeks my legs were broken in and I was fine.

Yes, going E-W you will also appreciate the scenery more the further west you get. Virginia and Kentucky are very nice, but I found everything from Kansas west spectacular. You leave some of the nicest stuff for the end, when you are much fitter and can enjoy it more


3. It might help to know the route you are taking. I did the TransAmerica trail from VA to OR. though I'm from New Zealand so I first had to fly to san francisco, then washington dc, then williamsburg, so I guess I have some experience in carting a bike around. I bought a special bike bag that stored my bike, just like a duffle bag. Just took my bike to bits, threw some bubble wrap around it, and it was fine. It was just a piece of luggage like any other. Most airlines have an oversize/odd shaped luggage allowance, and they handle it with more care, keeping it separate from regular luggage. In short, taking a bike on a plane is no big deal. (its free, or the cost is just the same as any other piece of luggage that incurs extra cost).

I finished my ride in Florence, Oregon, and when I was done, I didn't want the hassle of packing up my bike and taking it with me, so what I did was just to take it into the local bike shop and have them box it up for me and ship it back to NZ for me. the local bike shop in florence does this thing regularly seeing as they get alot of tourers in who end their trip there. It was fairly pricey for me to say the least but they were shipping 2 large boxes international, but it gave me peace of mind knowing I didnt have to worry about it. Shipping local within the US would be far cheaper I'm sure.


4. This is entirely up to you. The more training you do, the better you will feel in the first few weeks of you trip (especially if you are going E-W). You can still do the trip with no training if you are a regular cycler (ie ride to work, ride your bike a few times a week that sorta thing). I would suggest training if you are very unfit tho. I did no training so it took about 2-3 weeks to get match fit. I'm doing a short 2 week tour back in the states in July , and this time I have decided to do a couple of weeks beforehand of riding, so that I don't take the entire trip getting fit

Hope this info has helped, if you need any more info just ask.
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Old 02-07-09, 02:29 AM
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Originally Posted by jizenber View Post
3. Shipping a bike: When I get to one side or the other, I will have to get my bike back across the country (either before I leave or after I finish). What is the best way to do this, and what sort of costs are involved? Has anyone checked a bike on a flight recently? What sort of costs were involved?
http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=509001
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Old 02-07-09, 10:39 AM
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1. Any of the touring specific models are fine. The Cannondale Touring 2 is a great bike. If the budget isn't tight you can't go wrong with it.

2. Prevailing winds favor starting in the east if you are riding the Trans America. The winds are typically out of the SE in Kansas and Eastern Colorado in summer. This is where the wind is the biggest factor. The West bound TA goes NW in those states.

That said winds should not be the deciding factor. I went W-E and the main reason was to avoid the Appalachians until we were toughened up by several thousand miles of touring. I don't regret that choice, but either way is fine. I like to get air transportation out of the way in the beginning and having friends and family greeting us at the end was nice. They threw us a nice cookout on the water in Yorktown.

Weather is the biggest factor for most. If you start early in the season from the east you can avoid the heat and humidity in Missouri, Kentucky, and Virginia and hit the Rockies when it is way less likely to be cold.

3. We flew with ours, but shipping ahead is probably cheaper. It was cool riding out of the airport though.

4. I am a big believer that you really don't need to train for a tour as long as you are used to fairly long rides. Just take it easy for the first week to ten days. That is a good idea either way.

You can find a bit of info on our TA trip page. I tried to document some of the stuff that worked for us and some that didn't. http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/staehling2007

The biggest thing that can make or break the tour is how much you carry. In my opinion less is usually better. I would shoot for 30 pounds or less. Failing that I and would try very hard to stay below 40. Some will say that they need a lot of stuff for comfort. I find the greatest comfort is a light-ish load.
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Old 02-07-09, 12:39 PM
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I have heard a few things about the Fuji tour $1,100
http://www.fujibikes.com/Specialty/Touring/Touring.aspx

It is basically between this or a Surly LHT for me. Another bike I have heard about which would be somewhat cheaper (depending on local REI's and or membership deals) is the Novara Randonee.

It is a tough call though because the best bike "for the money" would be the bike that fits you the best and you feel most comfortable on. So if theres any local shops that have tour bikes, see if they feel good to you.
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Old 02-07-09, 12:55 PM
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I don't own one, myself, but if I had to buy a touring bike right now I'd opt for the Windsor Tourist from Bikesdirect.

http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/windsor/tourist.htm

It's a heck of a deal for the money. You could buy the Tourist and buy some high dollar touring wheels with the savings. Then sell the stock wheels on Ebay.

The way I understand it, the Windsor Tourist has the same frame, from the same manufacturer, as the Fuji Tour.
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Old 02-07-09, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Thulsadoom View Post
I don't own one, myself, but if I had to buy a touring bike right now I'd opt for the Windsor Tourist from Bikesdirect.

http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/windsor/tourist.htm

It's a heck of a deal for the money. You could buy the Tourist and buy some high dollar touring wheels with the savings. Then sell the stock wheels on Ebay.

The way I understand it, the Windsor Tourist has the same frame, from the same manufacturer, as the Fuji Tour.
We rode three of them coast to coast and they worked out well. The stock gearing is too high, but it was easy to put a Sugino XD 600 ($80) crank on them. If the budget is tight or you are just frugal and you don't need too much support from the LBS they are a good way to go.
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