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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello0O0o. I am a straight up baby to cycling, and this forum in fact. But, I decided that I wanted to take a bike the distance. So I sold my car and did a little bit of research. Bought myself an already customized bike that some guy had made at this store and, never came to pick up. So now here I am with an eddy merckx cross frame with focus rims (that i cant even find any specs on) I put some bontrager race x lite tires on it. And have a selle italia saddle. I am quiet happy with it. The thing is, I'm only using it for less than 50 miles a day right now. And no matter how much I try to get the people at the bike store to quiet selling me stuff for one second and tell me about some stuff I'm really gonna need. So here's the question I'm faced with. "Did i make the right choice?"

So what would you fellas go for when planning to cross the country on a cycle?

Once again Ive got:
Frame: Eddy merckx cross
Tires: Bontrager x lite
Rims: Focus
Hubs: Focus
Crank: Ritchey
Peddles: speed play zero titanium clipless
Saddle: sella italia (would I want a hard saddle or one of them foam seats?)

I also think I'm gonna go with racks and saddle bags. I assume that would be far better than carrying a trailer behind me.

Any advice would be HIGHLY appreciated........
 

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I did a story on a guy who did it with a small seat bag...

No kidding--when I worked for the newspaper in Reno, I wrote about a guy who rode from somewhere in the SF Bay Area to the East Coast on a racing bike (I forget what kind) with 23mm tires, a light jacket and just what he could carry in one small seat bag, about the size of a grapefruit, plus a sleeping bag bungeed under the bag. You could have put it all in a grocery bag with lots of room left over. When I talked to him, he didn't even have a spare tube. I gave him one from my commute bike.
. He wasn't a particularly experienced rider--he'd ridden around the Bay Area for a few months, then just decided he wanted to do it and left. He was counting on people to offer him places to sleep, and said he found them about four nights out of five. The rest of the time he crashed in campgrounds or alongside the road.
I talked to him on his fourth day, and I was sure he wouldn't make it, but he kept in touch and sent me links to storied from papers along the way. Took him about five weeks to get to Camden, NJ, where a friend of mine was editor of the paper. I can't swear that he rode the whole trip, but he showed pretty convincing evidence, including pictures of towns along the way.
 

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Yo no fui.
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I think the first things you need are: (1) fitness and (2) a plan.

(1) Fitness. Riding across the county (I assume east-west or west-east) is, what, some 3,000 miles? That's a tall order for anyone, even someone who's been riding a lot for a long time. To compare, if you rode 8-10 hours a week for 50 weeks, you'd ride about 7-8,000 miles. We're talking some serious saddle time. You should be honest with yourself about how long, far you can go each day.

(2) Plan. Are you going to camp? Hotels? What's the route? Are there stops along the way? Do you want to just go across the country or do you want to go into towns and see the sights? Etc. Answering these questions will help decide what you need.

One last thing, you'll probably want some thicker, fatter, touring-style tires, like Panaracer Paselas.
 

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Adventure Cycling

loftyone said:
Hello0O0o. I am a straight up baby to cycling, and this forum in fact. But, I decided that I wanted to take a bike the distance. So I sold my car and did a little bit of research. Bought myself an already customized bike that some guy had made at this store and, never came to pick up. So now here I am with an eddy merckx cross frame with focus rims (that i cant even find any specs on) I put some bontrager race x lite tires on it. And have a selle italia saddle. I am quiet happy with it. The thing is, I'm only using it for less than 50 miles a day right now. And no matter how much I try to get the people at the bike store to quiet selling me stuff for one second and tell me about some stuff I'm really gonna need. So here's the question I'm faced with. "Did i make the right choice?"

So what would you fellas go for when planning to cross the country on a cycle?

Once again Ive got:
Frame: Eddy merckx cross
Tires: Bontrager x lite
Rims: Focus
Hubs: Focus
Crank: Ritchey
Peddles: speed play zero titanium clipless
Saddle: sella italia (would I want a hard saddle or one of them foam seats?)

I also think I'm gonna go with racks and saddle bags. I assume that would be far better than carrying a trailer behind me.

Any advice would be HIGHLY appreciated........
Go to AdventureCycling.org and read up on touring. You have a lot of issues to consider besides just the bike. Read their "How-To Department" and then come back with specific questions. BTW, there is a Commuting and Touring forum on this site, and that's a better place to post this sort of question.
 

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Like Cory, I'm not kidding either. When I lived in Las Cruces NM in the 80's I met a Japanese racer that was riding across the US. Seems that he had attended a meeting in Florida and brought his racing bike with him and was going to the west coast. The largest item that he had with him was an electonic device that did Japanese phases in English and vice versa and a wallet. He would contact people in the US that were listed on a piece of paper given to him by Japanese racers that had crossed the country before him. The last I saw of him he was headed west into a freak spring snow storm with a windbreaker. I have seen other riders crossing the country by bike that had a van pulling a trailer with their gear.
 

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Adventure Cycling offers a variety of ways to do this trip. I hope to do it once before I kick the bucket. I love to camp, and I love to ride, but I don't like the two of them together. First because I'm a minimalist. I don't like to carry stuff when I ride - just the essentials. Second, if I'm going to ride 3000 or more at between 80-100 miles per day for about 40 days, I want to sleep in an airconditioned motel and have someone else cook my dinner. Just my $0.02.
 

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Done it...

In 2002 I took a one way flight from Boston to Oregon and headed eastwards. Made it to Michigan, and had to hop a bus home, ran out of time. If I'd brought a small alarm clock and gotten up before 9 or 10 every day I'd have made it the whole way. It was a great vacation either way, and I have no regrets.

Planning is huge. I had a few ideas about things I wanted to do and see, and just headed out. I emailed a friend from public libraries along the way, and he put push pins in a map as I went, and my route looks like a lazy sine wave. Lacking a plan, I had no way to gauge how far I should have been by what date, to make it the whole way, and I had a hard time planning expenditures, since I didn't have a set arrival date. I'm sure I would have made better time across the plains, versus going through South Dakota, but I wanted to see Sturgis, and Mount Rushmore. (Rushmore is NOT worth the trip through the black hills. Don't go.) A chosen route, a daily budget, and a little homework ahead of time will make all the difference.

A traveling partner will help a lot too, if you're not a die hard loner. Having someone to talk to along the way helps the miles go by, and it helps when it's time to get up and get going first thing in the morning. It will also help to have someone to interact with while planning... or if something happens, and you break down.

Bicycle choice makes a difference. I don't know how old you are, or how this particular bike has been spec'd out. There's a huge difference between taking a hill in a race or on a ride with a double ring, versus taking cabbage hill in Oregon, on a bike loaded down with gear. It's a very different mentality, and your legs and knees will thank you for having a low ring, and a wide ranging cassette. I had a 3 ring Ultegra crankset, and an 11-34 mountain cassette. And there were some days when I spent hours, slowly crawling up the side of a mountain. In addition, posture can play a big role, too. Racing posture is different from touring posture, is different from lounging posture. Bolting aero bars onto your drop bars, I'm told, can make a huge difference. You're going to be on the bike all day every day, and there are only so many hand positions, so having more will be a very good thing, as well as the ability to get off of your hands for a while. You may be fine with regular drop bars, but if your posture on the bike isn't really dialed in yet, you should get it right before you go. Comfortable position will make the ride enjoyable. Uncomfortable posture is uncomfortable posture, and all day every day is very unforgiving. I rode a recumbent with a trailer, and loved every minute. But that's me.

One more reason for a trailer... On a bob trailer, you an mount a rear triangle kickstand mount backwards, on the trailer. So you'll have a kickstand when you're pulling a trailer, and you'll have a clean bike when you take the trailer off. It may not seem like a big deal, but picking up and putting down a bike that's loaded with gear is a little more awkward, and it's worth sacrificing a little bit of roadie grace for some long haul practicality.

Basic mechanical know-how is huge. Things happen. Not always, but they do. Being able to handle mechanical issues when you're miles away from civilization can really save the day.

Re: fitness, I rode a lot for the month of April, but in May it got really f'in cold. I think it snowed once. June I packed up and left. And I was NOT traveling light. Steel framed recumbent, plus trailer, tent, gear, etc... wen it was all weighed up in Michigan, it was ~150 lbs worth of stuff.

I think if you're looking to keep the amount of travel time down, maybe some training is in order. But the truth of the matter is, you're going to be biking for most of the day, every day, for at least a month. At one point, I was doing daily centuries, plus. You can only train so hard for that. Better off just planning for a few slower days or weeks up front. Assuming you sleep well and eat well, you'll get into very good shape pretty quickly. If you're comfortable on a Selle, you're spending enough time in the saddle to be ready.

Don't believe the hype in here... traveling with a bare, bare minimum of gear is possible for some folks, but I think it's really only suitable for a very particular kind of personality. You need tubes. You need tools. There are going to be times when you're a long way in between towns. I hear a lot of stories of people getting stranded close to home with mechanical issues or flat tires, and getting mugged or injured. Going cross country? Use your brains, not your balls. Don't be stupid. There's a reason they invented pannier bags and trailers.

There's a hell of a lot more that could be said, about any number of things, from redundant puncture protection, to keeping dish soap in a coke bottle, but it would go on and on and on...
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
thank you

Thank you for the advice so far by the way. I guess Id consider myself a minimalist. I was planning on going with not too much more than a tent, sleeping bag, clean socks, few cloths, and I dont know yet if there is much call too keep fresh water on me. Since Ill be in the states and fresh water is not too much of a rarity. I feel like an idiot to leave out some of the finer points...heres a bit more specific.

1. No time limit. (no intention of ever returning home.)
2. Im starting off from Nashville so its east to west. (didnt even think of the wind being aginst me the whole time.) ...doh!
3. I was gonna travel through the southern states since ill most likely be leaving near the end of summer.
4. Im 24 yrs old. I was thinking 50 miles a day for practice would be okay. should I jump that up too 100?


What is the average miles someone does a day on a trip like that? anyone know?

How much emergency money should I have set back?

Should I only use debit cards? minimal amount of cash? (id think so)

I figured Id try to get a part time job at a bike shop to learn more about bikes. Cause I wont feel too comfortable leaving unless Im sure I can build a bike from scratch with my pinky on the side of the road. Thing is im a hands on guy. So..... any ideas on how I could obtain that knowledge?

One other thing. The cross country part is only intended to be the first leg of the trip. I figured if i could get to Cali. Than id have the experience to go on forever if I wished. See Im not too wealthy of a person. So I will have to find work on the side of the road. Meaning a longer trip and long breaks.
 

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This is one of the best cross-country travelogues I've ever read. Lots of good info here: http://crosscountrymules.googlepages.com/

Reading your posts implies that you're really much too inexperienced to do this now. The fact that you're asking about riding 50 miles or 100 miles a day for "practice" suggests you don't know the first thing about endurance training. But, heck, if you sat around and worried about what could go wrong, you'd spend the rest of your life in Nashville. Please do a great deal of reading about how to prepare for a trip like this. And good luck.
 

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I understand where team_sheepshead is coming from... but PLENTY of absolute noobs have gone cross-country just fine, on bikes and gear that your lycra-wearing roadie snob wouldn't even touch. Don't let that hold you back.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
team_sheepshead said:
This is one of the best cross-country travelogues I've ever read. Lots of good info here: http://crosscountrymules.googlepages.com/

Reading your posts implies that you're really much too inexperienced to do this now. The fact that you're asking about riding 50 miles or 100 miles a day for "practice" suggests you don't know the first thing about endurance training. But, heck, if you sat around and worried about what could go wrong, you'd spend the rest of your life in Nashville. Please do a great deal of reading about how to prepare for a trip like this. And good luck.
I understand your point of view. And thank you for caring. But, you act as if I will die trying. Fact is, I am a big boy and pushing the peddles over and over again doesnt take a genius. Im sure the trip will train me. Everyday ill just go a little farther. Until im lance armstrong. And if not ill get off the bike and hitch hike. My main goal is to simply travel the world. I simply intend on trying it with a bike. And so, i must learn everything about this machine. To have the best results on this trip.

Im leaving in 3-6 months. Im riding to atlanta somewhere round 250-300 miles in a month. No matter what i am going. Ready with a plan and everything or not. All im asking is for the best advice on what to have and how to train for it. I dont need to be told i cant do it. I dont care if i cant. I am going to try though. And if i die trying.....so what.
 

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loftyone said:
... I dont know yet if there is much call too keep fresh water on me ....
This statement kind of jumped out at me. I don't head out for a 15 mile ride around my town without carrying fresh water with me. The general rule of thumb is that you should be downing a bottle of water about every hour, so most riders I know will usually carry two bottles for any "longer" rides and stop periodically to refill them.

Here in the eastern part of the USA, our concept of "far apart towns" and "desolate roads" pales in comparison to what you'll find in the western states. I have been on roads in the western states where there is nothing -- no cars, no houses, no trees, no buildings, nothing -- for 60, 70 mile stretches. Trust me, you will want to have a method of carrying a substantial amount of water with you for crossing those sections.
 

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loftyone said:
I understand your point of view. And thank you for caring. But, you act as if I will die trying. Fact is, I am a big boy and pushing the peddles over and over again doesnt take a genius. Im sure the trip will train me. Everyday ill just go a little farther. Until im lance armstrong. And if not ill get off the bike and hitch hike. My main goal is to simply travel the world. I simply intend on trying it with a bike. And so, i must learn everything about this machine. To have the best results on this trip.

Im leaving in 3-6 months. Im riding to atlanta somewhere round 250-300 miles in a month. No matter what i am going. Ready with a plan and everything or not. All im asking is for the best advice on what to have and how to train for it. I dont need to be told i cant do it. I dont care if i cant. I am going to try though. And if i die trying.....so what.
Sounds to me like you're young enough and ambitious enough to make a good go at this sort of thing. I think starting in a bike shop is an excellent idea, both for the technical experience, and because I found that it helps a lot when you walk into other bike shops, wherever you end up. Elitist roadies are one thing. But bike shop people are bike shop people. They're fringe, with working class issues liek everyone else, and they have to cater to the elitist types on a regular basis. Five minutes into any shop I visited I had a good conversation going about shop life, customer issues, and whatever else... and everyone loves to help a traveler once they know that he's not a jerk. That may even help you find work along the way... either at a shop, or working for one of their friends.

However this ends up going, I suggest you start to practice writing. You can always go online at public libraries, it would be good to hear how your trip is going. And at the end of it, might just make for a really good book, if you feel like writing it. Not a lot of money in it, but there's some. People in cubicle and day to day hell love to read about people like you who have gone forth and done something differently.

There's no guarantee that everything will work out as planned. Do your homework, go work in a bike shop. Figure out what you need to figure out, and then go.
 

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Even the die hard people I know needed a nice warm (or cool) bed at least once every 3 or 4 nights. Research temperatures, mountain passes. Have your complete route planned out so that you wont get any surprises. End of summer can present 90 degree heat, and freezing temperatures depending on storms, and how far north you ride. Have the clothes so you wont die out there. Oh, and a GPS unit wouldn't hurt either.
I'd say $500 bucks is your bare minumum. I would feel a lot safer with $1000 in the bank.
Email ahead to bike clubs that you will be going through. Like lets say you go through Oklahoma City. They have bike clubs and members there who would be happy to put you up a night. That's one nice bed and rest you don't have to worry about.
Also see about buying some M.R.E.'s or Meals Ready to Eat from a military supply store. They can fuel you up and take very little space.
Keep us posted.
 

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A Merckx cross bike will most likely have a somewhat high bottom bracket, which is the opposite of what you want for loaded touring. Also, it's very doubtful you'd be able to run a front rack with that fork. You might consider something more humble and purpose-built like a Surly Long Haul Trucker. Good luck. Sounds like fun.
 
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