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Cross country: possibility, or a dream?

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Cross country: possibility, or a dream?

Old 08-07-12, 10:38 PM
  #26  
Savagewolf
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Absolutely you can do this. (Take this all with a grain of salt as I haven't done a cross-country trip myself yet) Something like this is as much about heart as it is fitness. You probably already have a strong fitness level if you are an active runner like you say. I've read quite a few blogs and a couple books about cross country trips from people that started off in not-so-great shape. You sound healthier than that.

My tips (most already mentioned)
#1- Get on a bike and ride, ride, ride. Start off small but increase your mileage. Get to the point where you are doing a century plus or minus (100 miles) in one day, camp/hotel it (whatever plan you are going with for the cross country trip) and ride another 50+ miles, camp/hotel it, and finish off with another 50+ miles to get home. If it feels like fun and you love it, then move on. If you feel like it's what you imagined doing for two months proceed on with your dreams. This is about your enjoyment of riding for long distance for day after day. Many avid cyclists like shorter rides and avoid long distance rides.

#2- Get a solid touring bike and get it fitted properly. The fine folks here can offer numerous bike suggestions. Something that is as pleasant to ride as it is fast and able to haul a load. It's probably more important to be a bit slower and comfortable than fast and hating life on the bike. Take the time to find the perfect saddle. Everyone has different tastes in what they like sitting on. I personally like Brooks Imperial. Choose a bike that has parts that you'll be able to self fix and get spare parts for easily. The most comfortable and fastest touring bike is worthless if it breaks and you can't get it fixed.

#3- Learn how to fix your bike. You should be an expert at changing flats. Knowing how to fix broken spokes, shifter/brake cables, etc is also going to be important. You never know when something is going to break.

#4- Scour this site and the web for packing lists and fit them to your needs. Review the list with some of the expert tourers here.

#5- Don't forget to keep riding. Cycling fitness is different than running fitness. You use your muscles in different ways.

#6- Plan a route, but leave plenty of options of places to stop/detour and be prepared to need to change your course

#7- Create a blog right away so we can all read about your trip, from the second you start planning to the final pedal stroke. Take a smartphone/laptop to keep us updated.

#8- Finish the ride in Oregon so me and the wife can cook you a decent dinner and hear about all your stories.
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Old 08-08-12, 09:33 AM
  #27  
tom cotter
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Lots of great advice on this thread. I agree with just get a bike and start riding and try to do some short weekend tours. Not so much to get in shape, but to figure out what works for you. That is equipment and riding positions. While having a base level of fitness would be helpful, others have crossed the country without it. You will ride yourself fit. Again, not advised, but riding these distances under load is more mental than physical.

About risk - I too am a pilot. I have a few thousand hours of flight time mostly in helicopters. Additionally I hang glide. Nothing serious, I'm a hang 3 with tow rating. By far the most dangerous thing i do is ride motorcycles long distances as a member of the Ironbutt Association.

In all these endeavors I have studied accident reports and studies. Motorcyclist cause roughy 50% of the crashes they are involved in. The most dangerous flying for low time private pilots is night time VFR. Hang glider pilots suffer from failure to consistanly use checklists and under estimate weather conditions. Knowing what gets people killed has helped me realize that the most significant risk factor in all these activities is me. I am the greatest threat to my own well being. Eliminating many of the risk factors that i control greatly improves my odds of not getting hurt. Does it eliminate them completely? No, but it does bring them to a level I can accept.

Relating this to bicycling is mostly common sense. You know what roads are safe to ride on. Even a road you are not familiar with will quickly reveal itself. You know you are more at risk in heavy traffic, fast moving traffic, bad weather, and night time riding. Friday and Saturday nights expose you to more drunk drivers etc. Reducing these risk factors lowers your risk of becoming a statistic.

BTW, the 520 is a great touring bike!!!!!

Last edited by tom cotter; 08-08-12 at 09:46 AM.
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Old 08-08-12, 09:18 PM
  #28  
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Rode 20 miles at the beach late today on an older, but very light, road bike. Really exhilirating and fun. Of course, not a hill to be found. Looking forward to another ride tomorrow.

Thanks again for all the encouraging and helpful words.
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Old 08-08-12, 09:32 PM
  #29  
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All of the above and --set a date, arrange for time off work if necessary, and then tell the people you really respect "that you are going to take a cross country bike trip starting on XXXXX." Those actions will help solidify your resolve.

Last edited by Doug64; 08-08-12 at 09:40 PM.
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Old 08-08-12, 09:57 PM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by Jim Kukula View Post
A rear view mirror is good. Mine hooks onto my glasses, but the helmet ones are nice too. Either is better than a mirror that mounts to your bike. It's nice to be able to shift your head around a little to scan behind you, rather than making big shifts of your body.
A rear view mirror is good but the EVT Safe Zone Mirror is AWESOME! Amazon lists it for around $40, I got it cheaper at Mt Airy Bicycles but anyway consider it a must. The sorry "dental" mirrors sold at most shops don't compare, the EVT is much bigger & gives superb rear visibility. http://www.amazon.com/Safe-Zone-Bicy.../dp/B003LVHZ4O Riding with the Safe Zone Mirror allows one to constantly scan overtaking traffic with little effort.

As for dogs, they can be unpredictable...last year a neighbor's poorly-trained dog spied a bike commuter going down the street & flew into his front wheel causing a crash. But if a dog is running behind or barking probably best thing is to not slow down & even holler back to show dominance.
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Old 08-08-12, 10:53 PM
  #31  
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I started riding again when I was 50. I laid out a slowly increasing program for longest ride and miles per week which, even though slowly increasing, I could not keep up with. The first thing I did was start climbing hills, not steep hills, but hills. I bought a $100 used bike and rode that for a while, then traded up to a $250 used bike, rode my first double century on that my second year of being back on the bike. It took me over a year to get comfortable, to find a saddle that fit me, get my position dialed, learn nutrition and hydration, and get so my legs didn't hurt like the devil after 50 miles. So start now. Any road bike of the approximately correct size will be fine.
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Old 08-08-12, 11:02 PM
  #32  
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Basically unless you want to race across country, you don't need to be fit at all or have riden a bike before you leave. Having a fitter partner than you are can qualify as racing though. This kind of trip appeals to at least as many non-cycling list tickers as it does to people with serious cycling CVs. Fairly small kids do it. You just get on your bike and ride off. When you leave, spend each day with being comfortable and motivated as the goal and keep going, eventually you will get there. It is at least as likely that a lot of practice will make you stale about the trip as that no practice will make you too weak to carry it off happily. Also, I am 53 and have some injuries that make me give consideration to just how much wear I can take. Doing thousands of pointless prep miles is not really an advantage for me,
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Old 08-09-12, 07:13 AM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by DropBarFan View Post
A rear view mirror is good but the EVT Safe Zone Mirror is AWESOME!
That is a great helmet mirror!

The eyeglasses mounted mirror to get is:
http://www.amazon.com/Bike-Peddler-C...dp/B000C17M26/

The mirror is smaller than a helmet mirror, but then it is closer to your eye, so the field of view is similar.
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Old 08-09-12, 07:47 AM
  #34  
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MSA-

Here are a few cross country cycling journals that might give you a sense of what a cross country trip is like...

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/...c_id=7645&v=Qe
https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/...c_id=8270&v=Jy
https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/..._id=1291&v=10F
https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/...oc_id=723&v=oO
https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/...c_id=9772&v=1C
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Old 08-09-12, 01:44 PM
  #35  
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http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/p...id=133444&v=sZ

This is one of my favorite CGOAB Journals. I ran into it when I was following friends on the Southern Tier Route. Both my wife and I really enjoyed the first couple of journal entries we read and her writing style, so we ended up following Jan vicariously throughout the trip. We thought she would run into our friends, but they missed each other somewhere in Austin, TX. Good inspiration!

Last edited by Doug64; 08-09-12 at 01:47 PM.
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Old 08-10-12, 09:10 PM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by Jim Kukula View Post
That is a great helmet mirror!

The eyeglasses mounted mirror to get is:
http://www.amazon.com/Bike-Peddler-C...dp/B000C17M26/

The mirror is smaller than a helmet mirror, but then it is closer to your eye, so the field of view is similar.
Lots of bikers use the eyeglass mirrors, that one is probably better than the one I tried. OTOH EVT helmet mirror has a long stem which allows fairly easy adjustment. Attaches to the helmet with zip ties which seems sort of cheap but works good at least for my helmet. Had another helmet mirror previously with a glue-on attachment that broke.. If one's helmet drops on the ground the EVT will just twist away & one can easily readjust. The stem is quite sturdy. Plus I figure a helmet mirror is nice since usually one would always wear the helmet when riding whereas sometimes one might not want to wear glasses.
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Old 12-05-14, 12:13 AM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by Tandem Tom View Post
MSA6,
I am 58 and my wife and I,we ride a tandem, are heading out on a 1600 mile trip in about a week. My goal is in 2014 when I turn 60 is to ride across the USA.
Hey man you have 8 years on me .GO FOR IT!!
Were you able to do it?
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Old 12-05-14, 12:43 AM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Were you able to do it?
are you digging up these old threads to make a point?

like people like to talk about it, but when it comes down to the short hairs, they back out? just curious.
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Old 12-05-14, 01:26 AM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by hueyhoolihan View Post
are you digging up these old threads to make a point?

like people like to talk about it, but when it comes down to the short hairs, they back out? just curious.
I am just curious ... I remember that 2014 seemed to be The Year for doing several of these tours. People started making plans several years in advance. So ... how did they turn out?
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Old 12-05-14, 06:35 AM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
I am just curious ... I remember that 2014 seemed to be The Year for doing several of these tours. People started making plans several years in advance. So ... how did they turn out?
I agree that it would be nice to know how folks who posted about planned tours made out. I am sure that plenty of folks talk about/plan tours and don't ever do them. I am also sure that some do their tour and we never hear from them after. That is just the nature of humans.

I also know that some of the folks who seem completely clueless make out OK. I stopped betting against the ones who seemed clueless or even crazy after two of the ones who I would have thought had absolutely zero chance managed to go coast to coast. They seemed to have no knowledge, all the wrong gear, a very suspect plan, and in one case a high level of paranoia; and yet they both had a successful coast to coast tour. They proved to me that it really is much more about committing to doing it than about having the right gear, training, or even just doing reasonable planning.

I suspect that the ones who plan years ahead are more likely to back out than those who do it more on the spur of the moment basis, but that is just a guess and based only on the few cases that I do know about. If nothing else they have more time to second guess it.

I also tend to think of the folks who are completely wrapped up in having the ultimate touring bike as being less likely to actually ride a coast to coast or other long tour. A lot of them seem to be much more interested in having the stuff than in making the pedals go 'round.

Also some folks are more into the dream than the doing. I am not knocking that if it makes them happy. A bit of a mental escape may help them cope with day to day life.
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Old 12-05-14, 07:21 AM
  #41  
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Yep, we did it! We ended up riding from Delaware to St.Louis then we followed the Lewis & Clark to the Pacific then as an bonus we rode the Pacific Coast down to San Jose.
Fantastic trip!! Already planning next year's trip! Thinking Europe.
Here is our link to our trip http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/undaunted
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Old 12-05-14, 07:26 AM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by Tandem Tom View Post
Yep, we did it! We ended up riding from Delaware to St.Louis then we followed the Lewis & Clark to the Pacific then as an bonus we rode the Pacific Coast down to San Jose.
Fantastic trip!! Already planning next year's trip! Thinking Europe.
Here is our link to our trip http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/undaunted
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Old 12-05-14, 03:58 PM
  #43  
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For My 50th I went to Ireland , Dublin To the SW coast then around the coast north, NI, and down the Antrim Coast, Ferry to Stranraer Scotland ,

north up that coast & Hebrides Island hopping [Bypassed Glasgow and Edinburgh] .. across the Great Glen then flew back from Aberdeen..

Via a plane change at AMS , to SFO. ('97, Photos on Film )

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Old 12-06-14, 05:56 AM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
...I suspect that the ones who plan years ahead are more likely to back out than those who do it more on the spur of the moment basis, but that is just a guess and based only on the few cases that I do know about. If nothing else they have more time to second guess it.

I also tend to think of the folks who are completely wrapped up in having the ultimate touring bike as being less likely to actually ride a coast to coast or other long tour. A lot of them seem to be much more interested in having the stuff than in making the pedals go 'round...
Perhaps an illustration of the adage, "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good."

(I also found this variation, "Give them the third best to go on with; the second best comes too late, the best never comes.")

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 12-06-14 at 06:49 AM.
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