Bicycle Ride Across United States
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  1. #1
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    Bicycle Ride Across United States

    I was diagnosed with a spinal cord disorder in 2017 (caused by a flu shot). Formerly a competitive runner, for fun, and quite good, but my first sport back in my teenage days was cycling. I can't run anymore, but can bike (not fast these days) and am considering a ride across the United States to raise awareness of this condition and funding for research.

    This is my big middle finger to the condition that took me out of the fight in the sport I loved most (running.) Now, cycling gives me freedom my two feet in running shoes cannot, and I want to see this beautiful country from atop a bicycle.

    I am in the very beginning stages of assembling a plan, now, but was wondering what thoughts folks have on routes across the U.S. My biggest concern is (should be obvious) safety, since I'm traveling solo (with a sag wagon). While I plan 40-50 miles per day, I do not desire to stick to a set distance because how I feel each day can vary wildly. I have a big fear of riding any distance in large cities as traffic isn't friendly and I can't defend myself if I had to.

    That said, I do want to touch St. Louis and Springfield, MO, as they are "home."

    Timing would be 120 days, May through August, though I might slide forward a month to an April start.

    Appreciate thoughts on route.

    Also appreciate thoughts on tires. For cross country, supported, touring (no panniers here), 23c width seems a bit narrow but I'm open to folks' thoughts.

    Thanks in advance.

    Now which bike to take...the '85 Allez SE, '86 (Merz SE), or '87 Allez SE? Or the '87 Sirrus? Or the Serotta? Decisions, decisions... (Planning on the '86, repainted like the '85 but with signature complete, and outfitted with Force 22...)
    Last edited by mml373; 2 Weeks Ago at 07:42 AM.

  2. #2
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    For a solo rider you can't go wrong with the Adventure Cycling Association's original (Bikecentennial) TransAmerica Route from Astoria, Oregon to Yorktown, VA. The communities along the route are used to touring cyclists (even unloaded, supported riders) and it does go through Missouri - though how close to Springfield I was unable to verify this morning (the map wouldn't load for me).

    Ride the bike you find to be the most comfortable with gearing that will allow you to tackle some long, steep climbs. As far as tires are concerned, for an unloaded ride 23s will do fine, though you may be more comfortable with 25s or even 28s (some of the roads you will encounter will be chip seal).
    Life is short... enjoy the ride.

  3. #3
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    I appreciate your advice. I'll check to see if I can find more info on the TransAmerica Bike Route. Would probably start in VA.

  4. #4
    Russian Troll Farmer
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    So, you are planning to cross the country against prevailing winds? You're gonna love Kansas, dude!

    BTW, considering how much riding supported is going to cost, why not do it in something newer than your collection of 35 year old bikes? At least with a modern bike, if something breaks along the way, you'll find spares a lot easier.
    "L'enfer, c'est les autres"

  5. #5
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    I'm not afraid of the wind and I love 35 year old bikes. Especially great steel frames with modern components. Spare parts problem solved, but I must say my experience has been that the old stuff is more durable than today's new components...and cheaper to replace. ;-) (I've got a bin full of spare parts.)

  6. #6
    Russian Troll Farmer
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    Quote Originally Posted by mml373 View Post
    I'm not afraid of the wind and I love 35 year old bikes. Especially great steel frames with modern components. Spare parts problem solved, but I must say my experience has been that the old stuff is more durable than today's new components...and cheaper to replace. ;-) (I've got a bin full of spare parts.)

    So.....you're also going to bring your "bin full of spare parts" along? I think you need to plan this out better. As I said before, considering how much all of this is going to cost you, I doubt you want to be spending extra time fixing old equipment on the road every day. Also, 40 miles a day on a cross-country ride seems like a low number.
    "L'enfer, c'est les autres"

  7. #7
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    "I'm not afraid of the wind"

    It is not "being afraid of the wind" as much as planning to have the most enjoyable ride that you can. Day upon day of bucking strong headwinds can be very demoralizing. I have a friend who started an east-west transcontinental ride the year he graduated from college. After bucking strong headwinds three days in a row in Nebraska, he turned around and headed back (and covered the same distance in one day that he had the previous three days).

    Four years later he joined another friend and I as we rode from Seattle to Savannah. As we were being blown up Bozeman Pass at 22mph (fully loaded) we saw a couple of tourists riding the opposite direction, working their butts off to go downhill. They called across to us "enjoy that tailwind!". My thought was, "well, we chose to ride with the prevailing winds".

    That being said, my usual advice on a point to point tour is to start in the area with which you are less familiar. That way, during the portion of the ride where you are just starting to get your legs and butt used to the ride you will be traversing country that is new and interesting. We were from Georgia and by the time we crossed the Mississippi River we were already cranking out 100 mile days on a constant basis. It didn't bother us to charge across Georgia like Sherman's army as we were on roads we had already ridden.
    Life is short... enjoy the ride.

  8. #8
    pmf
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    You definitely want to go from west to east. It doesn't guarantee a constant tailwind, but the odds are better for the wind to blow in a favorable direction. And you'll need all the help you can get. There's mountains, heat, cold, rain, traffic, dead animals, mechanical issues, etc. Why not make life easier using something you have control over? Plus you get the steep stuff in the East Coast over with early.

    I too love steel bikes, but ... modern components are better. Wheels these days are better. The wider rims really do corner better. Larger tires for a long tour would make a lot of sense. Go test ride something new. It doesn't have to be a $10,000 ubber carbon miracle bike.

  9. #9
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    Not too concerned about mechanical issues with the older bikes or the old frame/new components.

    My first road bike (1987 Sirrus, Shimano 105) saw probably 12,000 to 14,000 trouble-free miles during the two years I rode and raced it before replacing it with an Allez Epic. My daily rider these days is a 1986 Allez SE with Shimano 600 EX. No mechanical issues at all, now going on a year after I found her on Fleabay. I take the bike out in the rain, dry it off, put new lube on the chain and pivot points, and do it all over again. Never misses a beat. So I fail to see why I need to worry TOO MUCH about broken components, as I'll be carrying an identical spare for many parts or at least a suitable replacement if I ride vintage components. The old bikes are still rock solid, even these days, as they've been well kept.

    Indeed, planned daily mileage is low, but I'm disabled. 30 to 50 miles a day, especially in the mountains, is reasonable. I can adjust mileage up as fitness increases but there is no schedule and nowhere I have to be. The other reason for the tour is to spend time with my wife and our newborn son. Given the nature of my condition, I have no idea what is in my future for the long term and this may well be our one epic trip as a family and my only chance to accomplish something like this and see some of the prettiest places in the U.S. up close.
    Last edited by mml373; 1 Week Ago at 05:38 PM.

  10. #10
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    OP sounds like he's got everything covered and doesn't need any advice from the peanut gallery.

    not sure why he posted looking for input.
    Ancient Astronaut theorists say, 'YES!'

  11. #11
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    Actually have gotten some good advice and welcome constructive replies. I've got the bike issues in hand - I can adapt and overcome if there are equipment issues - but route info, info on tours that already do this kind of stuff, etc., is helpful. I've not done anything like this before, and appreciate advice from folks with more experience.

  12. #12
    pmf
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oxtox View Post
    OP sounds like he's got everything covered and doesn't need any advice from the peanut gallery.

    not sure why he posted looking for input.
    Sounds like he's going to have his family following him around in a car, so the need to travel light, as one needs to do while touring, or ride a bike that's not held together by rust isn't an issue. Hell, he can pack another ancient bike in his support vehicle. I feel sorry for his SO though. Seeing the entire U.S. 40 miles a day sounds pretty tedious.

    It would make more sense to try to get in shape before attempting the trip, than count of the trip getting you in shape. But then again, he's got the support car to bail on.

  13. #13
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    Wife will be riding with me, we'll be sightseeing along the way, and I've got a great driver who is retired and likes to read. You guys make this sound like it is gonna be awful...

    Those who through hike the Appalachian Trail aren't always in shape when they show up. Strength develops on the trail. I am confident I will be riding as much or as little as I want, not limited by fitness. I'm not soft and squishy - was a competitive runner for years before this hit a couple years ago and am still more fit than many.

  14. #14
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    Go for it. When you do go, keep us updated along the way.

  15. #15
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    Thank you, Dennis.

    Turns out there are others with the same condition I have doing huge miles... Found this one on Facebook today...

    https://www.facebook.com/neurosarcoidosiscycling/


    Good to know this fella isn't letting this stuff keep him off the bike...

  16. #16
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    A friend of my nephew bought a bike and equipment and rode east to west and lived. Prior to the ride he was an occasional cyclist who needed to get his life in order. In fact he enjoyed it so much that the last I heard he rode Paris-Brest-Paris last year.
    Too old to ride plastic

  17. #17
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    Good things come from cycling. It is encouraging to see that folks are using the sport to overcome challenges, whatever those challenges may be.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by mml373 View Post
    Good things come from cycling. It is encouraging to see that folks are using the sport to overcome challenges, whatever those challenges may be.
    Yes sir. It helped me clear the crap out of my head when I quit drinking.
    Too old to ride plastic

  19. #19
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    I'm hoping it'll get me fit after a severe spinal cord disease struck in 2017. Doc said it would have left me paralyzed if I'd not been in such good shape when it hit (was a competitive runner and also a backpacker back then.) Smallest guy in my military unit but if you put 40 pounds on our backs and told us to run, nobody could keep up.

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