Road Bike, Cycling Forums banner
1 - 18 of 18 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Dear Like-minded People,

Me and a friend are going from American East Coast to the West Coast. There are a lot of questions to be asked, but I would like to focus on a couple of them.

Any advice on where in Jacksonville to buy a touring bike? (We are flying to Miami, so we could solve it there to) And what brands, models and features to look for.

Other advice on where to buy gear? - we plan to buy most things (carrier bags, spare tools etc) after arrival.

We are doing it april - july and have two different routes to choose from
1. along the southern coast, austin, touching the mexican coast, and towards LA
2. starting more or less the same, when reaching western Alabama starting going north-west against Colorado (are there any good roads in this area? I am asking since aca does not show any (http://www.adventurecycling.org/routes/RouteNetwork.pdf)) After reaching the southern parts of Colorado and Rocky Mountains, passing Grand Canyon and through Nevada towards LA.
The two routes are pretty much equally long.

Opinions? (regarding temperature, most interesting route, road quality on the two alternatives, etc.)

We have got tent and portable kitchen with us.

Any other advice are most welcome,
Thank you
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14,713 Posts
Have you joined ACA, so you can get more detailed advice? I think that would be $40 well spent.

I am guessing you're coming from Europe? You may not have a good conception of how big and wild and empty some parts of the American West are. Your proposed route from southern Colorado is a vast stretch of rugged desert. There are many good roads, but in some places it may be 100 miles or more between real towns (and small ones, at that). It's doable, but would require some real planning.

It's also very hot out there in the summer -- at lower elevations 40-45 C is not uncommon.

I applaud your ambition, and wish you well. But get the good information from ACA.

As for the wind that others mention, it is true that the prevailing winds at those latitudes are from the West, but it doesn't blow all the time. There's much to recommend your direction in terms of scenery and cultural interest, riding from the humid, crowded east into the open desert west -- and ending in L.A., in many ways the most American of cities - for good and ill.

Good luck.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
81 Posts
East to west

Unless you want to ride 3000 miles against the wind, you should ride from the West coast to the East coast.
The southern tier actually has just as much prevailing winds from the east. I have a ride planned for September from Savannah to San Diego. We've done a lot of wind research. Due to the wind coming out of the gulf, there is really no advantage either direction.
Any route north of there is a different story.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
714 Posts
Having done east-to-west across the northern USA (supported tour with Bike and Build):

I think the north is a better option. The weather is better, you get to see the Appalachians, and I think you have a little bit more community in the upper Midwest as opposed to the expanses of harsh desert in the American SW. So if you're flexible on route, consider a change!

That said, I can't help you much on southern routes as I haven't ridden most of those roads. I have done a Pan-American tour from north to south so I can give you some recommendations on gear:

It's easy and relatively quick to order things online if need be. We purchased a lot of equipment (like Schwalbe tires) from Modern Bike.

If you're buying a bicycle, I'd find a Surly dealer in Jacksonville. Ideally they'll have a Long Haul Trucker. Put a Surly rack on it and you're good to go. Ortlieb bags are good. Pack light. You'll never forget it.

I learned a long time ago that there is no such thing as a bad route, as long as you stay away from traffic. Never be afraid to take the long way around, anywhere. Backroads are your friend.
 

·
Cowboy up
Joined
·
3,886 Posts
Your plan takes you across the desert, in the summer, into the wind. I have a hard time cycling at 40C, same for high head winds. If you take the southern route you will bake in the sun and die. Texas, and the other states in the west, get very hot in the summer during the day. It's also very windy in the south west states (often from the west IME). Tumbleweed tumbles.

Any touring bike should work (Surly, Trek, Fuji etc). You will want a triple with rack mounts and ability to take wide tires (38s or more for example). Many mountain bikes would work too. I prefer the ride of the Surly Cross Check much more than the Long Haul Trucker. The LHT has better wheels and components though. The Cross Check can be changed to a triple for a small charge but the wheels are lighter, that's good and bad. If you can ride them both that should help you decide.

For me I would go with just a rear rack and not use a front rack for this trip. Try to pack light. Weigh all your stuff before you go, practice loading it on a bike, and then try to eliminate stuff if you can. I like Ortlieb panniers and Tarptent brand tents if you want to save some weight. Bring a good camera and use the Ortlieb handlebar bag and camera insert to carry it.

Wear a reflective vest and triangle for the bike and get a mirror.

Enjoy! It will be a great trip!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
484 Posts
if I were you, I wouldn't just buy a bike to ride across the country... that is just me. Definitely pick up the American Cycling Association maps. These will tell you where to get water, where bike shops are, places to sleep, etc. One of the advantages of East to West is, the sun rises in the east, sets in the west, so you won't have the sun in your eyes in the morning. I would be careful about the desert, make sure your route is well mapped and planned out.

Good Luck
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21,724 Posts
if I were you, I wouldn't just buy a bike to ride across the country... that is just me. Definitely pick up the American Cycling Association maps. These will tell you where to get water, where bike shops are, places to sleep, etc. One of the advantages of East to West is, the sun rises in the east, sets in the west, so you won't have the sun in your eyes in the morning. I would be careful about the desert, make sure your route is well mapped and planned out.

Good Luck
I think you meant Adventure Cycling Association (America's Bicycle Travel Experts | Adventure Cycling Association).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Well hello there!
Thanks for all the good tips. We made it to Dinosaur, CO. It is just on the border to Utah. We ended going through Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, touching Tennessee in Memphis, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado. It has been a blast so far, and everything worked out fine without much planning.

Now, the west is a different thing. Does anyone have a suggestion of good roads to take through Utah and Nevada towards San Francisco?

Our current plan would be to continue on highway 40 towards Salt Lake City, and then catch up with 50, through Nevada. There are some 150 miles stretches there without anything, but I think we can make it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14,713 Posts
That's great. Glad you're having fun. I don't know about Utah, but highway 50 is probably the only practical way across Nevada. People do ride it, but you are right to be aware of the long stretches between towns. In Nevada they call 50 "The Loneliest Road in America" with good reason. Be sure to carry enough water. The road has good shoulders, and traffic is moderate (but fast).

Be aware that it is not flat. 50 crosses several mountain ranges in Nevada. There are some long climbs, and it is often windy.

Enjoy the rest of your adventure.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,280 Posts
Cool, BP. This is a pretty nice time of year to cross the great basin- a little windier than in the fall, but you can`t win them all. 50 straight across (to Tahoe area) or 50 +6 (down by Yosemite) are just about the only options for E-W across Nevada. don`t let that "Lonliest Road" title scare you. It isn`t like you`ll be all alone and not see another soul for days at a stretch. Plan on a lot of short climbs, like J Cavilia mentioned. It isn`t a pancake. Also going against predominant wind, though you might well have a few tail wind days in there.

For the crossing Sierra, there are more options than crossing the basin. I`m pretty sure the ACA route takes Hwy 88, and is probably the most direct route to SF. Up HWY 395 through Reno to CA route 70 and/or 49 will also get you over to the central valley in California. Those are lower passes with less traffic. The scenery is still very nice, though not as majestic as further south. If you take 6 across most of NV, you`ll be set up well to cross the Sierra on 120 or 108, which are both mega climbs though incredible alpine scenery. I haven`t ridden either, but have heard the traffic on 120 can be a bit tough at times. Both of those should be open soon (if not already), but be sure to check ahead if you plan for either of those crossings.

I live on the north outskirts of Reno, and can offer bed/shower/kitchen/laundry if you happen through here. When you get closer in, PM or contact through Warmshowers if you`re a member (Brian and Lupita in Lemmon Valley).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14,713 Posts
Good points, Rodar. I've lived on the East Coast for some time, but I was born and raised in Reno and still have lots of family there.

They said in their first post that their destination was L.A. If that's still the case, they need to consider options past Reno/Carson. If they do one of the northern Sierra crossings (50, 80, 70), then they have to decide on the southbound route, either the coast highway, some combination of roads a little inland, or the central valley (which would be relatively ugly and unpleasant, IMHO). Or they could take 395 south, which has a lot to recommend it, but another big desert crossing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21,724 Posts
Well hello there!
Thanks for all the good tips. We made it to Dinosaur, CO. It is just on the border to Utah. We ended going through Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, touching Tennessee in Memphis, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado. It has been a blast so far, and everything worked out fine without much planning.

Now, the west is a different thing. Does anyone have a suggestion of good roads to take through Utah and Nevada towards San Francisco?

Our current plan would be to continue on highway 40 towards Salt Lake City, and then catch up with 50, through Nevada. There are some 150 miles stretches there without anything, but I think we can make it.
Adventure Cycling uses US 50, with service gaps ranging from 63 to 84 miles. The map notes the challenges of carrying water and supplies for those distances. The longest "no service" gap is on UT 21 from Baker NV to Milford UT which is the same distance as from Delta, UT to Baker, NV.

From Carson City, the route heads south on Nevada 206 connecting to California 88 to Cooks Station through Fair Play to Placerville, then Green Valley Rd. to Folsom, the bike trail to Sacramento on to Davis, Winters, Vacaville, Fairfield, Rockville, Vallejo and the ferry to San Francisco. Lots of local roads so you need the Adventure Cycling maps or some other map source.
 
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top