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how much does it cost to ride cross country

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how much does it cost to ride cross country

Old 01-03-15, 12:08 PM
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spectastic
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how much does it cost to ride cross country

I want to do a 2100 mile trip from the TX/LA border to San Francisco. I want to be as light as possible, so I'll probably only bring a backpack of clothes and a tooth brush. I would like to knock out around 100 miles a day, and then take a greyhound back. I will look at warm showers, but I don't expect to get 100% success with it. So that will mean hotels or rest stops, because I don't want to bring a tent (maybe a sleeping bag if it's quiet and dry.) As for food, 100 miles/day would mean I need to consume about 5-6000 cal/day, meaning I would probably spend a lot of time at cici's pizza buffet section.

Here's my estimate after some crude assumptions:
$350 on hotels (assuming I have to spend 7 days paying for a low budget $50/night hotel)
$315 on food (assuming $15/day for 5 clif bars, a good breakfast, and a $6.99 buffet at cici's)
$100 on the bus ride back, seeing the countryside
$400 on hookers and blow (just kidding)
-----------
~$800 on the trip, what do you think?

This is just a tentative plan. I'm not totally committed yet. Can someone who's done this before shed some light on the cost of a trip like this? I'll be going solo most likely.
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Old 01-03-15, 12:28 PM
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Sounds like you've thought this through.

Still, if I wanted to save money, I'd bring a tarp and sleeping bag. Not much weight and this will make it easier to find a place to rest at night. The mountains are beautiful. That will be the best part of the trip and sleeping outdoors may enhance the beauty of the trip for you.

I'd want to eat something other than just cliff bars and cici's all you can at buffet at $6.99 everyday for 3 weeks. Food is entertainment as well as fuel. Live it up a little.

Also you may well not find the chains you think you will on the road. These will be secondary roads and smaller towns. You may be pleasantly surprised by how few chains you see.

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Old 01-03-15, 12:33 PM
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Less than the cost of living in a apartment at Market Rates in College Towns, Utilities like the ISP, Cell phone Bill ,and electricity.

Cable TV and owning and Insuring a Car. ... Dating ..

Dumped the car and reduced my pile into a storage locker. and Flew to Europe..



Having hitchhiked across US and Canada once each , at least, in the 60~70's .. I just flew over it to ride in other countries instead ..

and I did have my camping gear aboard ..

just write it down and you will know what it cost.. Credit cards are all about spend now Pay Later..

You May Find Hostels in the Big cities , 1st night costs a bit more to join the IYHA, to use them,
but less for the other nights, already being a Member in Good Standing.





you can cross Luxemburg E-W between the German and Belgian borders between Breakfast and Lunch.

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Old 01-03-15, 12:38 PM
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Some suggestions based on my experiences with that route...

There are some long stretches with not much in the way of services, but plenty of opportunities to wild camp. I stayed in roadside picnic pavilions a good bit in Texas. I'd suggest taking a bivy or bug bivy and tarp. My Titanium Goat bug bivy is about 5.3 ounces, my Borah side zip is about 7 ounces, my Integral Designs Siltarp 1 is 7 ounces. Add some cords and stakes and shelter can still be under a pound. With full camping and cooking capability I was able to pack with only 14 pounds of gear weight even before I got the lighter gear.

Clif bars get old really fast on a long tour in my experience. I'd suggest real food from a grocery store. You won't see very many cicis along the way. That said you can probably eat for the prices you list with a little effort.

Personally I like to get plane, train, or bus travel out of the way at the beginning and ride toward home.

When do you plan to go? I found Feb. - March was nice. I definitely wouldn't go when it is hot. YMMV, but I'd find that miserable.

I found the scenery really boring most of the way. I did enjoy the people and the food though. I'd suggest eating lots of good Mexican food, barbecue, and Cajun food.

I think I managed an 80 mile per day average with a lot of 100 mile days, but averaging 100 miles per day for the whole trip is pretty ambitious. Towns are pretty far apart so you will often not have the option of doing the length day you choose unless you are willing to sleep by the dide of the road in the middle of nowhere.

Last edited by staehpj1; 01-03-15 at 12:50 PM.
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Old 01-03-15, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by bikemig View Post
Still, if I wanted to save money, I'd bring a tarp and sleeping bag. Not much weight and this will make it easier to find a place to rest at night. The mountains are beautiful. That will be the best part of the trip and sleeping outdoors may enhance the beauty of the trip for you.

I'd want to eat something other than just cliff bars and cici's all you can at buffet at $6.99 everyday for 3 weeks. Food is entertainment as well as fuel. Live it up a little.

Also you may well not find the chains you think you will on the road. These will be secondary roads and smaller towns. You'll may be pleasantly surprised by how few chains you will see.
I agree with a lot of that.

I will say that you will regret trying to camp close to Louisiana without some kind of bivy or tent. The mosquitoes were horrible there.

I will also say that yes the mountains are beautiful, but there is surprisingly little of them if you stay anywhere near the ST.

On the fast food chains... There will be a lot of days with none.
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Old 01-03-15, 12:51 PM
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Add at least 33% to any estimate...that way you will have a contingency
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Old 01-03-15, 12:53 PM
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You'd save a lot of money by camping. On my last tour I used a hammock, bug net and tarp, using the latter two only if needed. Could setup silently in the dark in 5 minutes or less, and get a good nights sleep. Hardly weighs a thing in a pack, especially if you don't think you'll need a tarp.

For me the biggest cost was food.

One way I'd save money on food was stopping at roadside fruit stands. You can get produce dirt cheap. Not sure how many would be operating this time of year, but going through rural VA, WV and OH I was getting 5 bananas for 20 cents, 4 apples for 50 cents etc. Fruit is excellent road food because it helps keep you hydrated too.
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Old 01-03-15, 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Buffalo Buff View Post
One way I'd save money on food was stopping at roadside fruit stands. You can get produce dirt cheap. Not sure how many would be operating this time of year, but going through rural VA, WV and OH I was getting 5 bananas for 20 cents, 4 apples for 50 cents etc. Fruit is excellent road food because it helps keep you hydrated too.
I agree that fruit is great road food. I also agree that roadside stands are worth a stop. The thing is that I have seen precious few of them on any of my long tours. This is probably especially true of the Southern Tier. They will be a very rare thing most of the way. So yeah use them when you can, but I wouldn't count on seeing many especially on the proposed route.
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Old 01-03-15, 02:20 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
I agree that fruit is great road food. I also agree that roadside stands are worth a stop. The thing is that I have seen precious few of them on any of my long tours. This is probably especially true of the Southern Tier. They will be a very rare thing most of the way. So yeah use them when you can, but I wouldn't count on seeing many especially on the proposed route.
Around here I often find fresh fruit sold at convenience stores. Do you find that common in general?
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Old 01-03-15, 02:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Walter S View Post
Around here I often find fresh fruit sold at convenience stores. Do you find that common in general?
I think it is likely to be spotty depending on where you are. I'd say most places I have been there was some but selection is probably going to be very limited. In really small town general stores fresh produce of any kind is likely to be shop worn and of very limited selection. Those towns tend not to have convenience stores. In bigger towns there are likely to be real grocery stores with a bigger fresher selection. Basically you have to just take what you can get.

It is kind of sad, but Walmart often does better than the grocery stores in some towns at stocking a good food selection.
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Old 01-03-15, 03:54 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
It is kind of sad, but Walmart often does better than the grocery stores in some towns at stocking a good food selection.
Yeah, I'm car free. I don't like it but the walmart 1/2 mile up the road is a common destination for me. When I was a youngster you could find dry cleaning, drug store, groceries, hardware, etc. all within several city blocks or so. Now even in the city there's not such a heterogeneous mix of stuff. What used to be a downtown with a diverse set of businesses, is now more specialized. In my part of the country downtown is often just restaurants and lawyers. Then different sectors of the city are more specialized on things like medical care, industrial or engineering, auto dealerships, etc. That's a lot of traveling to do routine business if you're not driving a car. Walmart packs a lot of convenience under one roof.

Unfortunately it continues to be all that Walmart is. So there's no "happy spot" for me on this issue.
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Old 01-03-15, 04:28 PM
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Checkout some of the southern tier ride journals at crazyguyonabike.com: Bicycle Touring: A place for bicycle tourists and their journals.

CiCi's get mighty thin west of San Antonio.
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Old 01-03-15, 04:33 PM
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This may help...

crazyguyonabike.com: Bicycle Touring: Solo tour of the US Southwest, by Kenneth Payton
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Old 01-03-15, 08:30 PM
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jackpot! thanks
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Old 01-04-15, 12:27 AM
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you wont get a bus across country for 100 bucks,you won't find a 50.00 hotel when you feel like stopping,,,,the hookers and blow might be your most negotiable part of the trip,,,good luck and have fun
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Old 01-04-15, 02:58 AM
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if'n you ride through the smaller towns in texas and new
mexico, you can often find no-name hotels for $15-20.
ask road crews or contractors where they're bunking.

local diners will have cowboy-sized lunch specials.

don't expect fresh anything at the convenience stores.
small shoppettes might have a few mangy onions or
taters.

some of the kfc's have $5 lunch buffets.

mexican places sometimes have them "if you can eat
it all, it's free" promotions. you can do it!

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Old 01-04-15, 04:17 AM
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I'm warming up to the idea of stealth camping with a tarp and a bivy. I should be able to store everything in a pair of rear panniers, with the bivy resting on top. I don't know if I want to bring cooking supplies though. I've camped maybe 3 times before, and the cost probably won't be much less than my $15/day proposal.

thanks for the food suggestions. If I go, I will definitely be on the look out for those promo signs.


also, the greyhound ticket I found was $109 from SF to east tx


after reading some of the journal entries, it looks like it's common to bring a lot of tools. i understand lube, spare tubes/tire/pump, allen keys.. but extra spokes? cables? What am I not understanding?

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Old 01-04-15, 05:54 AM
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Originally Posted by spectastic View Post
I'm warming up to the idea of stealth camping with a tarp and a bivy. I should be able to store everything in a pair of rear panniers, with the bivy resting on top. I don't know if I want to bring cooking supplies though. I've camped maybe 3 times before, and the cost probably won't be much less than my $15/day proposal.
A few points...
I don't think stealth is likely to be required very often much of the way. You can typically camp in for free in plain sight over much of the route.

As far as packing you ought to be able to get everything into two small panniers. As far as the bivy on top, my bivy packs to about the size of a pair of tube socks and even the bigger bivys are likely to fit in your panniers.

On the cooking thing... There will be times when you will not pass a restaurant all day. You can eat cold food, but it is much nicer if you can have warm food even if it is ramen noodles and foil backed tuna or instant oatmeal. It is quite possible to cook with very little weight or bulk of gear. A pop can stove setup can be about an ounce and you can cook in a metal mug. Full cooking setup can easily be under 10 ounces (plus a few ounces of alcohol) even if you take a pot.

On the spares... I typically carry a few spokes and an inner tube or two, but fairly minimal tools and no spare tire or cables. I have done a good bit of touring and been in the company of a lot of other tourists. I have had seen break downs with a broken rear derailleur, broken spokes, a cracked rim, a bent fork, and other things, but never once a tire that couldn't be booted. Spokes seem to be one of the most common things to fail. There is a chance you might have to hitch a ride due to an unrepairable tire but it is much more likely to be something else. You can't take everything and it isn't that hard to hitch a ride, folks typically stop for an obviously broken down cyclist in the middle of nowhere.

You might find some helpful info in my articles at:
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/Ultralight
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/frugal

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Old 01-04-15, 06:32 AM
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There are always trade-offs when it comes to gear. Not bring a tire saves weight. Still I bring an extra tire when I tour as I've been on tours where I could not boot the tire.

A cooker can be very minimal or just minimal. A mini trangia has more parts than a pop can stove but it's inexpensive and light weight (330 grams for the cooker and pot, pan, handle, windshield, and burner). It's a really fine stove.

Robot Check

There are trade-offs with any shelter you choose. You could pick up a tarp and bug shelter or a lightweight tent. Either will give you good protection from bugs and it will give you a place to hang out in inclement weather.

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Old 01-04-15, 08:12 AM
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My recent long tour in the US cost about $750/month, and I averaged about 2400 miles per month, so I'd say your estimate is right on.
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Old 01-04-15, 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post
My recent long tour in the US cost about $750/month, and I averaged about 2400 miles per month, so I'd say your estimate is right on.
did you go the credit card route, caveman route or somewhere in between?
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Old 01-04-15, 11:56 AM
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When do you plan on going on your tour? I am planning on going west & north from Austin on Feb. 1. I plan on doing ~100 a day. Let me know if you wouldn't mind some company.
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Old 01-04-15, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by dredredre View Post
When do you plan on going on your tour? I am planning on going west & north from Austin on Feb. 1. I plan on doing ~100 a day. Let me know if you wouldn't mind some company.
fa shaw. I don't know yet. It's still pretty cold. I would prefer to let it warm up a little before doing this
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Old 01-04-15, 08:29 PM
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I have never been able to go far for less than $20/day average. I have a couple of 5000+mile trips under my belt in the USofA and several others around 2000 miles. I have spent more per day, but never less on average. I don't like going hungry but I don't mind sleeping in the bushes. I like a shower every couple of days. If surface water is clean, like in most mountainous areas, stream baths are fine. Otherwise, I am seeking state parks with shower facilities.

So when I go, I plan on $20/day at least. You want hotels...at least $50-$75 a day.

Hope this helps.
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Old 01-08-15, 07:51 AM
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for my first long tour of 1600 miles, i wasted lots of money. my advice is to ride shorter miles per day.

my max is 80-100, but my long distance is 60-70. if i rode 40-50, i could have had more time to scout stealth camping spots and less days resting. my resting days ended up costing me more because i would get bored and spend lots of money.

my other advice is to have basic knowledge about stealth camping in emergencies. if you don't know your area, know the qualities of a good stealth camping location.

also, if you ride fewer miles per day, you can eat fewer calories. if you are more relaxed and have more fun, that saves more calories than trying hard and being stressed.

also, be comfortable. if you are too cold or too hot or wet from rain, your body is having to do something about it. that's probably using up more calories than you need to.
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