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Advice for Swedish chick cycling East to West coast this fall?!

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Advice for Swedish chick cycling East to West coast this fall?!

Old 03-09-11, 07:47 AM
  #1  
chickonbike
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Advice for Swedish chick cycling East to West coast this fall?!

Hello All!
I am totally new to this forum and to long-distance cycling, but have decided that this August I will fly to Jacksonville, FL (from Sweden) and pedal across the southern states (following ACAs Southern Tier route) to San Diego, CA, and then up the coast to finish in San Francisco. I will have three months to do this, which I think will give me more than enough time, and I want to travel light so I'm considering leaving my camping gear back home and mixing nights at motels/B&Bs and hopefully finding lots of nice hosts through WarmShowers and CouchSurfing.
I still have a few months to go, but I also have LOTS to learn (like how to assemble and disassemble the bike for flying, and how to fix a flat tire while on the road), and all my gear (including the actual bike) to buy. So basically, I'm here to learn from those of you who might want to share your knowledge and wisdom.

As for a bike, I'm very interested in the Kona Sutra 2011 which looks like a good, sturdy vehicle. Any thoughts on that - good or bad?

As for riding east to west, I know that's not the most common choice, but I figured the season will make for better temperatures heading west, sort of following the sun, and also, I've been told this means I won't have the sun in my eyes all morning... On the downside, I'm more likely to get head winds I hear... but it might not be too bad?

I've started a blog to document my preparations and thoughts, and I intend to take a mini-laptop with me on the road to continue writing during my trip - feel free to swing by! www.chickonbike.com

(As for the laptop, I hear there's wifi almost everywhere, but I guess I would need to buy a mobile internet connector? Do you have topup or pay-as-you-go options that I could easily pick up when I arrive in the states?)

Thanx for reading!

Anna
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Old 03-09-11, 07:54 AM
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Route

By the way, here is my intended route mapped out (very basically)

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Old 03-09-11, 08:11 AM
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You will probably have headwinds either direction. You may want to price shipping your bike directly to a shop in JAX vs bringing it on your flight. Sounds like a wonderful trip.
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Old 03-09-11, 08:55 AM
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I'm about to make my first trek (West - East) late this summer and have been trying to do all I could to prepare. There's a great website https://www.bicycletutor.com which has videos that teach you how to do repairs. Do several practices with changing a tire.

I'm also going to get a mobile broadband connection for my laptop and found that you can pay for the months that you need--but you'll have to pay the full price for the little gizmo (I'm not a tech person). Still, I think it's worth it.

Have a great trip!
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Old 03-09-11, 08:56 AM
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You'll get all the technical stuff worked out ok, so no advice there. And yes, headwinds are likely most of the way, so take account when calculating your daily average mileage. Plan on rest days to rejuvinate mentally and physically.

The ST in August/September can be brutally hot, and humid through the first half. Give yourself some short days early on to get acclimated. Drink lots of water and slather with sunscreen.

Spend a day or two in St. Augustine. Marvelous city. And plan a detour to New Orleans, rejoining the ST via the River Road.

Check out www.warmshowers.org and www.couchsurfering.net for overnighting.

Have fun.
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Old 03-09-11, 09:25 AM
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Several companies offer pay as you go broad band devices. Here is an example.

https://www.virginmobileusa.com/mobil...adband2go.html

Available at most big electronics retailers. There are more companies than this of course I picked that one since I use them for my blackberry service. BTW since they offer blackberry and a few other smartphone options, this might be a way to save weight. I am planning on blogging a month long tour in July using nothing but my blackberry, which will also double as my gps, alarm clock, music player, e reader and the occasional video at night.
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Old 03-09-11, 09:44 AM
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I sometimes carry a mini laptop with me when I tour. I usually carry it in my camelbak because, unless you have one designed specifically to withstand harsh treatment, the vibration and impact will slowly rattle it apart. If the laptop is on your back, your body absorbs most of the impact, sparing the electronics - I carry my camera too, for the same reason.

As far as access goes, if you're staying at hotels and B&Bs, they'll almost all have wifi. When they don't, you can rely on internet cafe's, restaurants, and bars (pay for a beer instead of internet access). If that all fails, you can always go a day without internet. If you get REALLY desperate, bang on a friendly door or a church. Also...

https://www.wififreespot.com/
https://www.openwifispots.com/
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Old 03-09-11, 10:14 AM
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Be aware that the weather will probably be very hot and humid for most of your route, particularly if you are used to the climate in Sweden. Temperatures will probably reach the 90s F (32-37 C) or higher on most days in August and September in the South, with high humidity until you reach western Texas and New Mexico. Late summer and early fall are also the hurricane/tropical storm season, which could mean extended periods of heavy rains, wind and flooding if any storms intersect with your route. Tropical storms are notoriously hard to predict, so you just need to be aware of weather forecasts during your travels.
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Old 03-09-11, 10:39 AM
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You don't need a mobile internet connector for wifi, you just need a wifi-enabled laptop. Unless you mean you want to be able to connect when there's no wifi. Personally, if traveling light, the computer would be the first thing to ditch. Bring your bike with you, paying to ship it separately will be way more money. You'll have headwinds on the coast northbound.

As a weather note, I did a cross country trip west to east starting August 1, using the Lewis & Clark to Bozeman MT & then self-routed through the northern plains states, ending in New Jersey. I had great weather. I would agree with the other folks who said you might get very hot conditions.

ALl that said, I'm sure you can make it work, have a great trip!
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Old 03-09-11, 10:42 AM
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Hi, Chickonbike,
This sounds like a great adventure. I like your idea of going lightweight as that's how I tour, but one word of caution, in the West the distance between food and a bed can be long and there will almost certainly be times when you need to camp.

If you have a good smartphone (iPhone, Android etc) you should be able to use wifi without buying anything extra. Wifi is often free and any smartphone or notebook computer will pick it up and connect you to the internet without you having to buy anything extra. I travelled to Europe last year and used lots of free wifi connections to send email, Facebook and blog from my iPhone. The 3G connection also worked, but it's VERY expensive so I use it only for emergencies. I'd ask your Swedish phone provider if they have plans for foreign travel if you plane to use the phone network. A notebook PC will also work well and in combination with a camera you can do a lot. However, a smartphone is usually enough now as long as you can deal with the limitations of the camera and keyboard.

I have a blog too and I have info about a trip I did to the UK where I explain how I packed and carried my bike and also go over lots of ideas about gear. My approach is more lightweight than most tourers, but it will be a starting point for you. Also for lots of US Southern Tier blogs check out

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com

Good Luck!

https://wheelsofchance.org/england-2009/
https://wheelsofchance.org/2010/02/02/ultralight-setup/

Last edited by nun; 03-09-11 at 10:47 AM.
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Old 03-09-11, 10:52 AM
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Hi, Chickonbike,
This sounds like a great adventure. I like your idea of going lightweight as that's how I tour, but one word of caution, in the West the distance between food and a bed can be long and there will almost certainly be times when you need to camp.

If you have a good smartphone (iPhone, Android etc) you should be able to use wifi without buying anything extra. Wifi is often free and any smartphone or notebook computer will pick it up and connect you to the internet without you having to buy anything extra. I travelled to Europe last year and used lots of free wifi connections to send email, Facebook and blog from my iPhone. The 3G connection also worked, but it's VERY expensive so I use it only for emergencies. I'd ask your Swedish phone provider if they have plans for foreign travel if you plane to use the phone network. A notebook PC will also work well and in combination with a camera you can do a lot. However, a smartphone is usually enough now as long as you can deal with the limitations of the camera and keyboard.

I have a blog too and I have info about a trip I did to the UK where I explain how I packed and carried my bike and also go over lots of ideas about gear. My approach is more lightweight than most tourers, but it will be a starting point for you.

Good Luck!

https://wheelsofchance.org/england-2009/
https://wheelsofchance.org/2010/02/02/ultralight-setup/
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Old 03-09-11, 10:53 AM
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I personally wouldn't do the southern route in the summer. Texas and AZ in summertime is, ugh, HOT! Mycket varm!
Check the Transamerica or Northern Tier as alternative if you're going in the summer.
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Old 03-09-11, 10:59 AM
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The Southern route in summer is warm. I rode it in 2009. Leave early, like 5 AM and stop at 12 N to beat the heat.




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Old 03-09-11, 11:10 AM
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I did almost the same route you are planning on, but starting on the Pacific Coast, two winters ago. Fall should be a really nice time to ride, but what do you consider fall? September is a good month to start, but realize this is tropical storm season on the Atlantic Coast, so plan accordingly. Depending on your fitness and experience, this should be possible in three months, but like all long distance trips, this is totally dependent on many factors you can't control especially weather. Either way, you will get where you need to go, it just always sort of works out on long tours.

As far as leaving your camping gear home, don't do it! There are many very rural places along the Southern Tier with no hotels or hostels or any sort of accommodations. If you are worried about weight, buy nice ultralight weight camping gear, but don't be without it. West of Texas, the elevations get high, and in the Fall you could experience below freezing weather. I don't mean to discourage you at all, but please bring camping gear. You never know when you will get five flats in one day and not be able to make it to your desired destination, so you will have to camp. Without camping gear, especially in New Mexico and Arizona, this could become a dangerous situation due to the cold nighttime temperatures at high elevations.

Also, if this is your first long tour, and especially if you are not familiar with many of the places you are going to travel, I would recommend the Adventure Cycling maps. We used them, and they were absolutely great!

Check out our blog that follows our trip from Portland Oregon to San Diego, San Diego to St. Augustine Florida. It is linked right below. It might have some helpful information for you.
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Old 03-09-11, 11:12 AM
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Looking at your website I see you are undecided on a bike. I have not ridden the Kona Sutra but I do think that bike will do everything you need. No matter what you do get a bike with multiple hand positions, this means no flat bars. When your wrists begin to ache and you are in the middle of nowhere, the more options for hand placement the better. You will probably want granny gears on the new bike, a low gear is going to be more valuable than a high gear. I would worry about getting a quality bike and quality waterproof panniers.
I don't know how the exchange rates are now, but it may be cheaper to buy a bike and gear when you arrive in the states if you factor in shipping to your home and then flying over to the US. You could get fitted at a proper bike shop on a new bike and avoid the hassle of breaking you bike down for the flight and rebuild on arrival. Maybe you could get in contact with some locals shops where you plan to land and work out a deal based on your purchases. If you need panniers and a new bike and etc. you have some bargaining power.
You don't want to be training on your trip if you want to enjoy it, so beat yourself to death on hills at home on whatever bike you can get your hands on. When it comes time for you trip it should be easy in comparison to the training and this will make the trip way more enjoyable.
Do your research, read the reviews before you buy and don't be locked in to a schedule on your trip. Don't book a hotel a week and half away as you may not make it in time due the great time your having along the way. You might decide to ride straight north into Canada who knows? I see you already have the vital resources, warmshower, couchsurf, touring pro absorb that info and go for it.

Good Luck
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Old 03-09-11, 11:23 AM
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Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
The Southern route in summer is warm. I rode it in 2009. Leave early, like 5 AM and stop at 12 N to beat the heat.
Nice photos .. how long did it take you?
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Old 03-09-11, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
You will probably have headwinds either direction. You may want to price shipping your bike directly to a shop in JAX vs bringing it on your flight. Sounds like a wonderful trip.
Yes, I did think of that, but I'd like to ride the bike quite a lot before I set out on the US trip, and also, I'm allowed 23 kg + hand luggage on the flight, so it shouldn't really be a problem. A bit fiddly to disassemble and assemble perhaps, but I'm sure it will be quite easy once I've got the hang of it
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Old 03-09-11, 03:04 PM
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Originally Posted by dengidog View Post
I'm about to make my first trek (West - East) late this summer and have been trying to do all I could to prepare. There's a great website https://www.bicycletutor.com which has videos that teach you how to do repairs. Do several practices with changing a tire.
I'm also going to get a mobile broadband connection for my laptop and found that you can pay for the months that you need--but you'll have to pay the full price for the little gizmo (I'm not a tech person). Still, I think it's worth it.
Thanx! I'll check it out!
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Old 03-09-11, 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Cyclebum View Post
You'll get all the technical stuff worked out ok, so no advice there. And yes, headwinds are likely most of the way, so take account when calculating your daily average mileage. Plan on rest days to rejuvinate mentally and physically.

The ST in August/September can be brutally hot, and humid through the first half. Give yourself some short days early on to get acclimated. Drink lots of water and slather with sunscreen.

Spend a day or two in St. Augustine. Marvelous city. And plan a detour to New Orleans, rejoining the ST via the River Road.

Check out www.warmshowers.org and www.couchsurfering.net for overnighting.

Have fun.
Thanx! I appreciate the advice!
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Old 03-09-11, 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr. Jim View Post
Several companies offer pay as you go broad band devices. Here is an example.

https://www.virginmobileusa.com/mobil...adband2go.html

Available at most big electronics retailers. There are more companies than this of course I picked that one since I use them for my blackberry service. BTW since they offer blackberry and a few other smartphone options, this might be a way to save weight. I am planning on blogging a month long tour in July using nothing but my blackberry, which will also double as my gps, alarm clock, music player, e reader and the occasional video at night.
Wow. Amazing stuff! Do you plan on charging that with solar power? I have an iphone, but of course it's tied to a Swedish "3" account... so if I surf on it when abroad it costs me like a zillion... I'll have to find out if there's a way of getting around that perhaps...
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Old 03-09-11, 03:12 PM
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Originally Posted by seenloitering View Post
I sometimes carry a mini laptop with me when I tour. I usually carry it in my camelbak because, unless you have one designed specifically to withstand harsh treatment, the vibration and impact will slowly rattle it apart. If the laptop is on your back, your body absorbs most of the impact, sparing the electronics - I carry my camera too, for the same reason.

As far as access goes, if you're staying at hotels and B&Bs, they'll almost all have wifi. When they don't, you can rely on internet cafe's, restaurants, and bars (pay for a beer instead of internet access). If that all fails, you can always go a day without internet. If you get REALLY desperate, bang on a friendly door or a church. Also...

https://www.wififreespot.com/
https://www.openwifispots.com/
Great! Thanx!!
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Old 03-09-11, 03:20 PM
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Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
Be aware that the weather will probably be very hot and humid for most of your route, particularly if you are used to the climate in Sweden. Temperatures will probably reach the 90s F (32-37 C) or higher on most days in August and September in the South, with high humidity until you reach western Texas and New Mexico. Late summer and early fall are also the hurricane/tropical storm season, which could mean extended periods of heavy rains, wind and flooding if any storms intersect with your route. Tropical storms are notoriously hard to predict, so you just need to be aware of weather forecasts during your travels.
That's good to know! Is there a different time of year that you would say is better? Should I, for example, wait an extra month and take the trip Sept-Nov instead? I guess I chose August because I figured by the time I arrive on the west coast (in October), I'd still like it to be somewhat warm and nice... I've been checking up on the average temperatures by month for the states I'll be crossing, but of course it's impossible to know for sure... I've only been to the US once before, at the end of March, and visited Arizona, Southern Utah, New Mexico and California, but it was pretty cold then (had to wear a jacket almost all the time)...

I think if I can take it a bit slower during the first weeks to get acclimatized, it shouldn't be too much of a problem.
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Old 03-09-11, 03:27 PM
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Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
You don't need a mobile internet connector for wifi, you just need a wifi-enabled laptop. Unless you mean you want to be able to connect when there's no wifi. Personally, if traveling light, the computer would be the first thing to ditch. Bring your bike with you, paying to ship it separately will be way more money. You'll have headwinds on the coast northbound.

As a weather note, I did a cross country trip west to east starting August 1, using the Lewis & Clark to Bozeman MT & then self-routed through the northern plains states, ending in New Jersey. I had great weather. I would agree with the other folks who said you might get very hot conditions.

ALl that said, I'm sure you can make it work, have a great trip!
Well, I figured I could bring one of those mini 10" screen laptops. They don't really take much space... I guess I have a few nights to sleep on it
I'm ok with temperatures in the 90's... the 100s I fear a bit. Would you say choosing to cross further north would be a smarter option (starting from NY for example)? There's plenty of places I'd like to see in the south, which is why I've been planning that path, but I'm open to suggestions.
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Old 03-09-11, 03:30 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by nun View Post
Hi, Chickonbike,
This sounds like a great adventure. I like your idea of going lightweight as that's how I tour, but one word of caution, in the West the distance between food and a bed can be long and there will almost certainly be times when you need to camp.

If you have a good smartphone (iPhone, Android etc) you should be able to use wifi without buying anything extra. Wifi is often free and any smartphone or notebook computer will pick it up and connect you to the internet without you having to buy anything extra. I travelled to Europe last year and used lots of free wifi connections to send email, Facebook and blog from my iPhone. The 3G connection also worked, but it's VERY expensive so I use it only for emergencies. I'd ask your Swedish phone provider if they have plans for foreign travel if you plane to use the phone network. A notebook PC will also work well and in combination with a camera you can do a lot. However, a smartphone is usually enough now as long as you can deal with the limitations of the camera and keyboard.

I have a blog too and I have info about a trip I did to the UK where I explain how I packed and carried my bike and also go over lots of ideas about gear. My approach is more lightweight than most tourers, but it will be a starting point for you. Also for lots of US Southern Tier blogs check out

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com

Good Luck!

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https://wheelsofchance.org/2010/02/02/ultralight-setup/
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Old 03-09-11, 03:35 PM
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chickonbike
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Originally Posted by AltheCyclist View Post
I personally wouldn't do the southern route in the summer. Texas and AZ in summertime is, ugh, HOT! Mycket varm!
Check the Transamerica or Northern Tier as alternative if you're going in the summer.
The plan is to leave Florida i August, so I guess I would be in TX mostly during Sept and AZ in Sept/Oct. It shouldn't be too bad then, should it? The average highs for Sept should be about 80-90?
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