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Information from other Long-Distance Riders

Bruce Weber, a writer for the New York Times, rode across the United States this past summer and kept a blog of his experiences.  That blog (written in reverse) can be found at:

http://intransit.blogs.nytimes.com/author/bruce-weber/page/3/

Good stuff!  (Thanks, Ed.)

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Cycling Across The America by Jerry Soverinsky.

While I had extensive trip planning experience and could have built a custom route by contacting state bike coordinators, bike clubs, and bike advocacy organizations (which can all be found in Adventure Cycling’s online Cyclists’ Yellow Pages), I chose to follow Adventure Cycling maps. Their comprehensiveness saves tons of research time and effort.

I would plan each day’s ride the evening prior, taking into consideration weather, terrain, and my energy level.  While to some, this might come across as annoyingly laid-back, finalizing overnight stops weeks in advance is impractical.  Too many factors — weather, your health, mechanical problems — can affect each day’s ride, so it’s nearly impossible to fix a long-term itinerary (a broad timeline, yes; a daily itinerary for two months, no).

Tending to your bottom region should be a huge priority on a cross-country trip, and you can do much to diminish the risk of discomfort. That includes adequate pretour training, making sure you’re comfortable with your bike seat before setting out, and applying chamois butter liberally before every ride, especially in warm weather (though having used both chamois butter and diaper-rash cream, I can attest that both get the job done).

You’ll have the option of preparing your own meals or dining at restaurants nearly every day, though like lodging, variety is often limited. Restaurants are nearly all local diners or fast-food chains, with the occasional Applebee’s or Chili’s as you approach larger towns.

In addition to an energy bar or fruit every couple of hours on my ride, I would stop for lunch in the late morning or early afternoon at whatever facility was most convenient. Over time, I tended to favor gas stations because they allowed me to watch my bike when I shopped (always a concern when all of your belongings are visible to passersby) and talk freely with the locals (amazing how many people stop to chat at a gas-station entrance when they see you dripping sweat and gulping a Gatorade, leaning against a bike loaded with gear).

For overall trip budgeting, expect to pay $20 to $35 per day total if you’re camping and preparing your own food, and $65 to $125 per day if sleeping indoors and eating dinners at restaurants.

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I have to give credit to Warren Sanders for the following advice.  He and his wife Esther Tacke stayed with us as Warm Shower guests.  Please visit their blog at http://estherwarren.wordpress.com for more information on these very dedicated cyclists!

Get a tent from Big Agnes – they are the best value ultra light tents and great service.

Panniers every time. None of the world record  use a trailer. Getting on a train, bus, up hills is easier. Trailer is 30LB dead weight and can oscillate violently down hill. Use a bike with normal gear system – we only used 1 chain all across and half again – Shimano mountain bike XT. Ortlieb Panniers and Tubus racks – no other. Guy we rode with who had a trailer got blown off the road.

We chose Merino wool blended clothing whenever possible in an effort to keep things smelling sweet. In all our equipment we spent money if we thought the product was the optimum available. ‘Buy cheap and you buy twice’, is our motto.

SHOES – SIDI DOMINATOR MEGA RANGE. These are possibly the widest bike shoes in the known universe, which is what I was after. They are hard wearing footwear with a mountain bike sole and recessed cleat. This means that you can walk around Wal-Mart without sounding like a horse and producing sparks

SOCKS – Ice Breaker Merino. These are the hardest wearing socks I have ever worn and I kill socks. Go for black rather than the white that you would wear out on your Carbon road bike.

SHORTS – Having made the decision to ‘GO LYCRA’, there is but one manufacturer to steer towards. ASSOS every time for me.

RAPHA COUNTRY JERSEY. If you, like me thought that ASSOS are expensive, then this manufacturer set new levels of pricing structure. Stupidly expensive, but gosh do they look good. The blending of Merino helps to reduce the number of times when you smell like a damp gun dog. That I only had two bike tops for 10,000 miles is impressive.

GIRO ATMOS HELMET. So light, you do find yourself reaching up if you are wearing a hat underneath, just to check it is still there. 5 MICE

MORE FROM WARREN!

Two cycle jerseys, two cycle shorts ( Bib design ). You will not need a charger – just sneak the phones charger onto a plug at food stops. Rain legs and coat as described in our blog plus an ultra light rain coat from Montane. Over boots – waterproof – keep feet warm as well. Down filled vest – can be used in sleeping bag to take rating down. Down filled sleeping bag – rated to +5’c. Ultra light pants – by Montane for camp wear and running long pants by Nike – to wear under them or in sleeping bag. Ultra light synthetic fill smock by Rab (for camp wear – you put the down vest over it to take you to freezing). Ultra light waterproof shoes by Inov8 for camp use and hikes + good quality sandals.
  Some sort of water filter – we had a big one but not total required on coast to coast. Ultra light cycling vest, arm warmers and leg warmers – we use this combination very often to get the temp just right. Base layers of Merino – short arm and long arm. If you have any none technical clothing – cotton or such you will be waiting for the stuff to dry – go technical every item. Merino cycling hat – stretch fit ultra light and can go under bike helmet. Bike hat with front peak to wear under helmet. Bike gloves no finger by Specialized – ultra light merino gloves – very thin to go under the bike gloves. Ultra light towel, silk sleeping bag liner.
And here’s a great site for ultra-light camping equipment:  www.backpackinglight.com/

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Click here for a great web site published by Tim Barnes on all aspects of planning and taking on a long-distance ride!

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