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Anyone here done a cross-US ride? Good or bad experience?(16 posts)

Anyone here done a cross-US ride? Good or bad experience?commuterguy
Jan 23, 2003 7:08 AM
For some reason, a copy of Bicycling magazine showed up in my mailbox. In addition to a few photos of a very attractive bike mechanic, what really catches my eye are the ads for fully supported cross-USA rides: e.g., LA-Boston, Seattle-Maine, etc., taking from 32 to 52 days.

I have always had in the back of my mind a plan to do this "someday." Has anyone here actually done this? Is it fun? Are there safe/bikeable routes the entire way? Do the tour companies make provisions for good food? (I don't think I could bike across Rhode Island on a fast food diet, so I assume a tour averaging >100 miles/day figures out a way to provide lots of pasta.)

Thanks in advance for your input; second-hand stories welcomed.
re: Anyone here done a cross-US ride? Good or bad experience?netso
Jan 23, 2003 7:13 AM
It is a dream of mine to ride across the USA. Two of my friends have had the time and money to ride on one of the tours. They talk about it like they had a spiritual experience. They absolutely loved it. The food was good, the roads were good as was the accomodations.
It was a once in a life time experience.MB1
Jan 23, 2003 7:30 AM
Every cyclist ought to do it once in their life. I'd do it again, Miss M burned her tent and sleeping bag when she got home (we didn't meet until years after we had each ridden across America). We will likely do it again but will opt for a delux and fast trip.

It is more than just riding for a month. You are going to be with strangers in tough conditions in places you don't like. You are also going to share wonderful experiences and make new friends and see great things.

I'd suggest that you think about the non-riding part of the ride and see if it meets your defination of a nice vacation. If you don't like the arrangements no amount of good riding will make up for it. If the non-riding part of the trip is enjoyable the ride will be a lot more fun for you.

One thing-a few years ago Miss M and I rode the first week of a cross country tour with a friend who was going to do the entire trip. Everyone on the trip ended up hating the tour director/owner. I have never seen such a poorly run trip and such a bad route (we half in jest called it "America by Freeway"). The company "America by Bicycle" out of Atkinson, NH is still running cross country rides.

I still get mad thinking about that company.
MB1, didn't you say once thatOldEdScott
Jan 23, 2003 7:49 AM
the mountains here in the East were tougher than the Rockies out West? I seem to remember you saying that, but don't recall if you said what was harder about them. Surely the climbs aren't as long.
Not as long but steeper, more frequently. nmLen J
Jan 23, 2003 8:05 AM
Slope.MB1
Jan 23, 2003 8:10 AM
The climbs in the east are so much harder you can't imagine untill you do them. Most of the climbs you will do touring out west tend to be very long with fairly gentle grades-the highest elevations are pretty impressive though. In the east the climbs are fairly short and the elevation gains are minor compared to the west but STEEP!!!!

The downhills out west are long and you get a nice rest before climbing again. In the east the downhills are so steep that you cannot relax before you start climbing again. Also touring in the east it seems like the climbing lasts all day, in the west after you finish the climb of the day you can coast to the end of the ride.

There are exceptions to both but I believe that if you ask anyone who has ridden across the US the hard climbing they mention is in Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland, Tennessee and Pennsylvania. Parts of New York will get your attention too.

YMMV
don't forget georgia nmJS Haiku Shop
Jan 23, 2003 9:40 AM
I'm glad you said that (about the East)tarwheel
Jan 23, 2003 12:34 PM
I thought it was just me. So now I have an excuse for being such a lousy climber. BTW, the slopes are pretty steep in North Carolina, too.

In a similar vein, I used to be a big backpacker and hiked a lot in Colorado, Wyoming, North Carolina and Georgia. But the worst climbs I encountered anywhere was when I hiked the Long Trail from end-to-end in Vermont. It was one of the first long trails built and has very few switchbacks. Apparently they thought switchbacks were for wimps, so the trail just goes straight up the sides of the Green Mountains and it is brutal. It also suffers from a lot of erosion from the lack of switchbacks, and I kept twisting my ankles due to the washed out trails.
re: Anyone here done a cross-US ride? Good or bad experience?CHRoadie
Jan 23, 2003 7:52 AM
A friend of mine did a cross country bicycle tour and kept a journal. You can read about her experience here:

www.gearspeak.com/gunnel/
re: Anyone here done a cross-US ride? Good or bad experience?commuterguy
Jan 23, 2003 8:44 AM
Thanks for this tip. MB1, this appears to be the company you had a bad experience with. This ride seems to have gone well.
re: Anyone here done a cross-US ride? Good or bad experience?PMC
Jan 23, 2003 8:10 AM
Check out this website

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/

It's loaded with touring journals from real cyclists. Pretty cool sight IMO.
Yes. 1978. In college. With sister.Brooks
Jan 23, 2003 10:11 AM
My sister (1.5 years older) and I layed out a route and biked from San Francisco to Boston by ourselves. Carried camping gear and spent the summer vacation touring. I am still amazed that we carried so little when I see these big loaded front and rear panniers on some tourers. We had handlebar bags and small rear panniers (about the size you see on a dog out camping and carrying his food).

Route went north from SF through Calif Central Valley, into eastern Oregon, Idaho along the Snake River, up into Tetons and Yellowstone. Then east to Black Hills and across to Wisconsin. Then north around the Great Lakes into Canada, Toronto, Niagra Falls, into upstate NY, Vermont, NH, and hit the Atlantic in south Maine. June 25 to Labor Day (68 days or so).

This was certainly a trip of a lifetime, done somewhat on a whim as we had never bike toured before. Just got out and rode. Not one of these crack of dawn, do a hundred miles before lunch kind of tours. And no strangers that can cause friction in a group dynamic. Met lots of wonderful people on the road, most of which would ignore a large tour group. Our house is always open to long distance cyclists.

MB1 is correct with the steep eastern mountains versus the longer, gentler grades of the West. Black Hills are steep though.

Brooks
re: Anyone here done a cross-US ride? Good or bad experience?abelson
Jan 23, 2003 10:16 AM
I road across Canada in 1997 (makes the U.S. seem like short weekend ride - just kidding) It was a great ride -- 4,500 miles. The ride is called the Tour Du Canada - its a good group -- check out cyclecanada.com (it is also a lot cheaper then the U.S. rides). If you decide to ride across the US or Canada for that matter its a lot of fun and not nearly as hard as you might think. As long as you have cycled enough miles beforehand and are mentally tough I think almost anyone can do it (on my trip we had 2 guys in their seventies) .
re: Not across the U.S but did ride from Panama to Texas..nmaldona
Jan 23, 2003 11:10 AM
Truly an amazing experience. Planned the route with two other guys but they bailed as the departure date got closer. I did the whole trip solo and nearly lost my mind a few times. I speak Spanish fluently so it made certain things a bit easier. I thought about doing a trip across the U.S. but when i worked out the numbers it turned out to be very expensive. Not getting too specific, I spent about a $US20 per day and it took me 34 days (mostly camping). Good luck with your trip.
2nd hand infoKeeponTrekkin
Jan 23, 2003 11:26 AM
I read an interesting account about 6 months ago posted at:

http://www.bikehighway.com

"Kevin Cycles Accross America".

You might benefit from reading it.

Keep a journal; take pics and post them!

KoT
re: Anyone here done a cross-US ride? Good or bad experience?Nug
Jan 23, 2003 6:55 PM
My good friend did a group tour this summer, 52 days. One of the riders posted a daily diary with stats and pictures. It's at greatoutdoorimages.com/Bike/Diary. Steve enjoyed the trip, said it was well run, etc. Wish I had the time!