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Biking across America - RAAM route?

Old 11-09-11, 11:36 PM
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Biking across America - RAAM route?

A couple friends and I are planning a trip across the US next summer. Is the 2011 RAAM route a good route for just a touring trip? All the maps are online and I can download the GPS data for free, seems like the easiest way to me. Does anyone know about campsites along this route? Are they frequent enough to camp every 80-100 miles or so?
We want to be as self sufficient as possible, what kind of food/nutrition product is best for touring?
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Old 11-10-11, 12:10 AM
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Welcome to the touring forum.

www.adventurecycling.org - maps for cross country routes that include locations of services (camping, food, bike shops) with roads selected to be safe and enjoyable for bike touring. The TransAmerica is the most popular route, but depending on when you want to go and where you want to start, there are a number of other routes both across the USA and that don't go across, but rather follow some other big natural pathway (rivers, mountain range, coast).

www.crazyguyonabike.com - touring journals, many include packing lists and info about various nutrition choices/strategies. Most people posting journals here are self-supporting.

There is no one nutritional product for touring - there is just food, and lots of it. Mostly you won't have a lot of choices about where you are buying it, so you'll have to improvise.

I wouldn't use RAAM routes as a starting place. RAAM routes are not necessarily chosen to be scenic or interesting, and there is little thought to lodging or services, as they don't really do much sleeping and nutrition is provided by the support crews (with vehicles).
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Old 11-10-11, 07:05 AM
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I wouldn't take the RAAM route, unless you're looking for a fast route, and then what's the point?

I personally think that the the whole idea of riding the across the US is over-rated. I've done it, and I don't really think I'd ever do it again without a big time reason. It's nice in the east, and nice in the west, but there's several weeks of cornfields and crosswinds and flatland in between. I think most people do it just so that they can say they've done it.
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Old 11-10-11, 07:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Strempcycle
A couple friends and I are planning a trip across the US next summer. Is the 2011 RAAM route a good route for just a touring trip? All the maps are online and I can download the GPS data for free, seems like the easiest way to me. Does anyone know about campsites along this route? Are they frequent enough to camp every 80-100 miles or so?
We want to be as self sufficient as possible, what kind of food/nutrition product is best for touring?
I don't think the RAAM routes are likely to be well suited to touring and I personally wouldn't even consider them. Much better to either use an adventure cycling route or a plan your own route. Personally I like the AC routes a lot. The maps are a bargain and contain a ton of info. I suspect they will likely save you more money than they cost, but if you just want the route in gps format they are freely downloadable.. I really enjoyed the Trans America route and highly recommend it. I find that riding a route where there are other tourists doing the same route is a big plus. I know that on both the TA and the Pacific coast tours I made friends and had a great time camping with other tourists. I missed that when I toured in less toured locales.

On the TA we managed to camp for free more than half the time and cheaply most of the rest of the time. This would be possible without the maps, but the maps made it easier. Much of the time we camped in town parks or stayed in churches. I managed to do that on other improvised routes, but it is easier on a route like the TA because others before you have blazed the trail and the AC maps have contact phone numbers.

Food/nutrition products? Not sure what you want to hear there... I will say food and lots of it.

Breakfast
Instant oatmeal or just a granola bar in camp often followed by a diner stop later. If there is no diner I snack on whatever I an carrying.

Lunch
Bagels, tortillas, or some other durable bread with peanut butter and jelly or honey are a fav. Hard cheeses and/or salami with crackers, tortillas or some kind of chips is good. Add avocado or salsa to enhance it a bit. Wraps work well too. Wraps are good too. Sometimes I buy a sandwich for later at a breakfast stop and sometimes I stop for lunch at a diner.

Dinner
Personally I eat a lot of ramen noodles with foil packed tuna, margarine, and a veggie added. I also eat boxed rice, noodle, and potato dishes. Quinoa is easy to fix with a minimal cooking kit. Dried soups or things like red beans and rice are good choices. I like to supplement meals with a bag salad and wine once in a while.

I have a single titanium pot, windscreen, home made pop can stove, and lightweight utensils that allow a cooking and eating kit that weighs under 10 ounces.

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Old 11-10-11, 07:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Thulsadoom
I think most people do it just so that they can say they've done it.
I'd like to say I've done it. (I haven't.) I think I might agree with you. I undertook what I considered a really long tour once. I made a big deal out of it and all my friends knew what I was doing. Halfway through I kept thinking, "Why did I undertake such a long tour? I would have been satisfied after completing half my route."

But still, someday I'd like to be able to say I've done it (a cross-country tour, that is.)
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Old 11-10-11, 07:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Thulsadoom
I wouldn't take the RAAM route, unless you're looking for a fast route, and then what's the point?

I personally think that the the whole idea of riding the across the US is over-rated. I've done it, and I don't really think I'd ever do it again without a big time reason. It's nice in the east, and nice in the west, but there's several weeks of cornfields and crosswinds and flatland in between. I think most people do it just so that they can say they've done it.
Different strokes, but I found that the people in the eastern Colorado and Kansas were awesome and their hospitality made up for the lack of good scenery. Some of the nicest memories of my TA were there. Besides the monotonous miles (Pueblo CO to Golden City MO or so) only take something like 10 days on the TA at a somewhat average pace. I found crossing the plains to be a worthwhile experience and have even gone back and crossed Kansas again (KC to Santa Fe this time).

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Old 11-10-11, 09:35 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1
Different strokes, but I found that the people in the eastern Colorado and Kansas were awesome and their hospitality made up for the lack of good scenery. Some of the nicest memories of my TA were there.
+1 on the sentiment. While I did the Northern Tier, not the TA, I too had some nice/interesting experiences in the "flyover areas" of central/eastern MT and ND. Many nice small towns with friendly people. (ND, BTW, is not as flat as you might think.) MN, which took 2 weeks (including rest days) get through, was anything but empty, flat plains. Lake Itasca, where the Mississippi begins, the kitch of Paul Bunyon country, Mile Lacs, where we saw a bear, two days in Minneapolis, following the river into IA where one night we were invited to stay in the senior citizen center of a small town to beat the incredible heat and humitidy. And while IL and IN were not that spectacular, we spent a combined total of 6 nights in those states. One hot day in IL, a few of us stopped at a rural school to get water and ended up speaking to a class about who we were, what we were doing and all the possibilities that were out there in the world. When we arrived in Bowling Green, OH, there was an envelope filled with thank you letters from the children. I would show you a photo of an experience I had in a bar called Staggers in IN but I am sure doing so would violate the rules of the forum. The experiences definitely made up for the lack of majestic scenery.

In any event, the information contained in the AC maps really is helpful, and you can always deviate from the route if you want to visit specific places that are not on route. Another way to find camping information is to pick areas your route passes through, go to Google Maps and type in "Camgrounds near (name of town/city)." Zooming out will expand the results. Works the same way for motels and restaurants.
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Old 11-10-11, 11:31 AM
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Different strokes, but I found that the people in the eastern Colorado and Kansas were awesome and their hospitality made up for the lack of good scenery.

Many nice small towns with friendly people.


Sure, I agree totally. I've always found, somewhat ironically, that you meet the nicest people in the crappiest places. You find the best hospitality in the most inhospitable areas. There's lots of nice people and pleasant societal vibes in the flat states. If that's a big part of touring for you, and I agree that it is for many, then you'll probably enjoy traveling across the middle of the US.

It's really just my own personal opinion that it's over-rated, but...surprise, I'm not much of a people person. I don't avoid anyone, but I don't care much for meeting new people. I'd rather enjoy the topographic scenery than talk to folks. For me, riding across the middle of the US was a literal pain in the butt. I could've happily spent that time touring around on one side or the other.

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Old 11-10-11, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Thulsadoom
It's really just my own personal opinion that it's over-rated, but...surprise, I'm not much of a people person. I don't avoid anyone, but I don't care much for meeting new people. I'd rather enjoy the topographic scenery than talk to folks. For me, riding across the middle of the US was a literal pain in the butt. I could've happily spent that time touring around on one side or the other.
Well, now you know. For the rest, ride on, brothers!
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Old 11-10-11, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Thulsadoom
I'd rather enjoy the topographic scenery than talk to folks.
Nothing wrong with that. Everyone tours for different reasons and enjoys different aspects of it.
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Old 11-10-11, 03:04 PM
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Agree with Pete, different strokes for different folks.

One more reason for cycling coast to coast, at least once, is to gain a sense of how big and how varied the U.S. really is. You can fly over Kansas or west Texas, look down on a clear day, and get bored. But you'll gain a visceral appreciation for either when you bicycle across them. You can read that the continental U.S. is about the same size as Europe; but again, you'll have a personal feel for the size of the country once you've ridden across it. And someone else can tell you how different people are in New York, Kansas, and Colorado, go meet them on their home turf if you want to be the person telling somebody else how different we Americans can be.
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Old 11-10-11, 06:43 PM
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Originally posted by pdlamb
One more reason for cycling coast to coast, at least once, is to gain a sense of how big and how varied the U.S. really is. You can fly over Kansas or west Texas, look down on a clear day, and get bored. But you'll gain a visceral appreciation for either when you bicycle across them. You can read that the continental U.S. is about the same size as Europe; but again, you'll have a personal feel for the size of the country once you've ridden across it. And someone else can tell you how different people are in New York, Kansas, and Colorado, go meet them on their home turf if you want to be the person telling somebody else how different we Americans can be.
Good job of capturing the essence of touring for me. My wife and I have toured in many different places, but the idea of riding across Nebraska again has worked its way into many of our conversations. On our cross country trip, we were rolling our own as far as routes went, and crossed Nebraska and Iowa in the northern portion of those states. Nebraska was a great place to ride for all the reasons folks have already talked about. I'd do both Nebraska and Iowa again in a second, but would have to think a little longer about doing the eastern part of my own state, southern Idaho, and southern Wyoming again.

P.S. Nebraska and Iowa are not flat.
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