Author Topic: Cycling across the USA  (Read 1897 times)

Oscar's dad

  • aka Septimus Fitzwilliam Beauregard Partridge
Cycling across the USA
« on: 15 November, 2021, 10:40:01 am »
Just an idle enquiry at the moment...

I'm thinking of riding across America, perhaps in 2023.  I fancy Route 66 from west to east then Adventure Cycling's Chicago to New York route .

The provisional, very loose plan is that I'd take 4 months starting in May and my wife would fly out a couple of times to meet me so in total I'd probably have 4 weeks off the bike during the 4 months.  As I said, the plan is very loose at the moment.

Does anyone have any thoughts, experience, ideas, suggestions?  Thanks in advance  :-*

Cudzoziemiec

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Re: Cycling across the USA
« Reply #1 on: 15 November, 2021, 10:53:11 am »
My immediate thought is that Route 66 west to east is anti-canonical.  ;) And that whichever way you ride it, you'll probably meet some "interesting" (and some interesting) characters on it.
Riding a bike through a city is like navigating the collective neural pathways of a vast global mind.

Oscar's dad

  • aka Septimus Fitzwilliam Beauregard Partridge
Re: Cycling across the USA
« Reply #2 on: 15 November, 2021, 11:11:07 am »
My immediate thought is that Route 66 west to east is anti-canonical.  ;) And that whichever way you ride it, you'll probably meet some "interesting" (and some interesting) characters on it.

If you mean that Route 66 is traditionally travelled east to west as it was the route taken by folks travelling west to find a better life then you're spot on.  But the perceived wisdom is that west to east takes advantage of prevailing winds.  In fact I remember reading an account of a couple attempting to ride west and they had a nightmare with wind (as do I on occasion  ;D )

robgul

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Re: Cycling across the USA
« Reply #3 on: 15 November, 2021, 11:40:48 am »
Don't want to a damper on the plan but I think the vast distances of nothing will be pretty boring . . . driving in a car is pretty tedious outside of the big cities.

If I was thinking of a US cycling jaunt I'd probably do the Pacific Highway, north to south.  (IIRC Charlotte OTP did this some years ago?)

Re: Cycling across the USA
« Reply #4 on: 15 November, 2021, 11:46:25 am »
I know you were not keen on the Tour Divide route when I suggested it, but how about the Eastern Divide? It is flatter than it's western cousin, and has 5500 miles of variety.

https://bikepacking.com/plan/introducing-the-eastern-divide-trail/

Eddington: 130 miles

Re: Cycling across the USA
« Reply #5 on: 15 November, 2021, 12:10:15 pm »
Don't want to a damper on the plan but I think the vast distances of nothing will be pretty boring . . . driving in a car is pretty tedious outside of the big cities.

If I was thinking of a US cycling jaunt I'd probably do the Pacific Highway, north to south.  (IIRC Charlotte OTP did this some years ago?)


I've done Seattle to San Francisco as well.  It's very pretty & quite easy, but I have better memories of the circular route I did in Arizona & Utah,  fantastic scenery.    Josie Dew's "Travels In A Strange State" records her cross country trip & the bit about the Great Plains sounded pretty monotonous. 
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quixoticgeek

  • Mostly Harmless
Re: Cycling across the USA
« Reply #6 on: 15 November, 2021, 12:15:29 pm »

Is the route of the Transam not originally a tourist route?

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Oscar's dad

  • aka Septimus Fitzwilliam Beauregard Partridge
Re: Cycling across the USA
« Reply #7 on: 15 November, 2021, 12:19:10 pm »
Don't want to a damper on the plan but I think the vast distances of nothing will be pretty boring . . . driving in a car is pretty tedious outside of the big cities.

If I was thinking of a US cycling jaunt I'd probably do the Pacific Highway, north to south.  (IIRC Charlotte OTP did this some years ago?)

I know you were not keen on the Tour Divide route when I suggested it, but how about the Eastern Divide? It is flatter than it's western cousin, and has 5500 miles of variety.

https://bikepacking.com/plan/introducing-the-eastern-divide-trail/

I take both your points as they are valid.  But its the "cycling across" bit which excites me, the idea of doing a recognisable journey, a bit like LEJOG.  I wouldn't rule out doing other tours in the US, in which case one or both of your suggestions could well fit the bill.

Re: Cycling across the USA
« Reply #8 on: 15 November, 2021, 12:20:14 pm »
Didn't the Things do just this some time ago?
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Oscar's dad

  • aka Septimus Fitzwilliam Beauregard Partridge
Re: Cycling across the USA
« Reply #9 on: 15 November, 2021, 12:22:45 pm »
... Josie Dew's "Travels In A Strange State" records her cross country trip & the bit about the Great Plains sounded pretty monotonous.

Purchase made, thanks  :thumbsup:

Oscar's dad

  • aka Septimus Fitzwilliam Beauregard Partridge
Re: Cycling across the USA
« Reply #10 on: 15 November, 2021, 12:34:01 pm »
Didn't the Things do just this some time ago?

Good tip off, I'll PM them  :thumbsup:

Re: Cycling across the USA
« Reply #11 on: 15 November, 2021, 01:36:27 pm »
20 years ago, I lived just off Route 66 in Rancho Cucamonga, very eastern edge of the LA conurbation although known as part of the Inland Empire and not part of LA itself.  I have twice driven Mexico to Canada, one trip had so many detours I made it 4000 miles.  Back then, I asked work mates about driving across country, and they said not to because the great tracts of featureless flat lands go on for days, even by car.  Back in the 70s I remember quotes from the late Chris CCP Davies when he said you look out in the morning and see the distant mountains.  You ride your 120 miles for the day and they are still in the distance.  When I lived there, I thought about riding the Pacific Coast, but much of the year I would think it too busy for my taste.

Another good read for you might be "After The Gold Rush" by John Stuart Clark (a.k.a the cartoonist "Brick") about his travels East to West, Washington to San Fran following the trails of the 49ers gold rush.  You can read about his struggles with the wind in certain places.

jiberjaber

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Re: Cycling across the USA
« Reply #12 on: 15 November, 2021, 01:54:19 pm »
By way of subscribing to this thread worth hunting out the 2 volumes of the book covering this chap. It can get a little monotonous but an interesting read, Vol 1 covers the American bit - I recall it's one of those books that is so old, it's now free to get hold of.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Stevens_(cyclist)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1045674.Around_the_World_on_a_Bicycle_Volume_I

 
Regards,

Joergen

robgul

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Re: Cycling across the USA
« Reply #13 on: 15 November, 2021, 02:59:38 pm »
I assume you know about these people . . .    https://www.adventurecycling.org/ 

Oscar's dad

  • aka Septimus Fitzwilliam Beauregard Partridge
Re: Cycling across the USA
« Reply #14 on: 15 November, 2021, 03:01:53 pm »
I assume you know about these people . . .    https://www.adventurecycling.org/

Yes, the links in my first post go their site and it's their routes I'm considering using.

Re: Cycling across the USA
« Reply #15 on: 15 November, 2021, 04:09:19 pm »
[waves]
Ha, the only time we cycled across the states was during RAAM, which is definitely it's own insanity! That said, having lived out there for a few years we did get to cycle in quite a few states on other occasions and meet quite a few folks who did long distance routes.
I believe PAC tour do a couple of route 66 tours and the itineraries may be useful https://pactour.com/route66.html & https://pactour.com/route66eastern.html. The adventure cycling association maps are pretty good, and there's a community of folks who provide updates which is very useful!
The main thing I'd say is that you shouldn't underestimate how big the country is, and how sparcely populated it is in areas - you can't really make it up as you go along for facilities in the same way as you can in Europe. That was part of the reason why we didn't get around to riding the RUSA pony express permanent, or the ACAs Western express. The other reason was other road users. Like everywhere else most are fine but it's difficult to believe how little care and attention is given by some folks. Where there's a big shoulder and you can ride out of the main traffic stream it's fine, but on smaller roads it can be more of a problem as drivers are just not expecting to see cyclists, and don't always know how to drive around them (or on very very rare occasions, just don't care).
California Dreaming

Oscar's dad

  • aka Septimus Fitzwilliam Beauregard Partridge
Re: Cycling across the USA
« Reply #16 on: 15 November, 2021, 04:26:27 pm »
Thanks Thing 2, much obliged!

I have travelled in the US, but not by bike, so am under no illusions about the bigness of the country.  Also how different the US is to quaint (relatively speaking) UK and user friendly Europe (again relatively speaking).  It's this difference that I want to explore. 

To be honest, days on end of prairie or some such, isn't something I'd actively try to avoid as I guess it's part of the experience.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Cycling across the USA
« Reply #17 on: 15 November, 2021, 06:02:00 pm »
Isn't the general idea to cycle away from the banjo music?

yorkie

  • On top of the Galibier
Re: Cycling across the USA
« Reply #18 on: 15 November, 2021, 07:47:14 pm »
By way of subscribing to this thread worth hunting out the 2 volumes of the book covering this chap. It can get a little monotonous but an interesting read, Vol 1 covers the American bit - I recall it's one of those books that is so old, it's now free to get hold of.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Stevens_(cyclist)

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1045674.Around_the_World_on_a_Bicycle_Volume_I


I certainly agree about the recommendation for these books, especially when you consider that he was riding a High Ordinary (aka. Penny Farthing) across mainly dirt roads (and that's where there were any roads!)


They can be obtained from the Project Gutenberg website free of charge, I think they're far enough out of copyright now, being published in the 1880s and the author passing away in 1935.


I also recommend the Josie Dew book mentioned above by andrewc, I think I've got a copy somewhere! Must dig it out and have another read...
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Karla

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Re: Cycling across the USA
« Reply #19 on: 15 November, 2021, 07:58:25 pm »
When I did it, the South was an interesting social experiment, the  Midwest was boring, and everything west of the Rockies was stunning.  The Nevada desert was an experience not to be missed but you did have to be prepared for up to 90 miles between water stops. 

Are you planning to camp or stay in motels?  Camping facilities are next to non-existent for a lot of the crossing, though once you get west of the Rockies there are so few people that it's easy to wild camp.  If you do the west coast on the other hand (e.g. Anchorage to Mexico), there are inexpensive and well-equipped campsites along most of the route.

Oscar's dad

  • aka Septimus Fitzwilliam Beauregard Partridge
Re: Cycling across the USA
« Reply #20 on: 16 November, 2021, 06:41:59 am »
Thanks for all the input folks.  I've also joined the Adventure Cycling forum which also uses Simple Machines so is nice and familiar. 

Planned accommodation...  I plan on taking camping kit but would use whatever is available. 

Re: Cycling across the USA
« Reply #21 on: 16 November, 2021, 09:11:34 am »
I did a solo East to West (Virginia to Astoria, Oregon) about 6 years ago. It was totally awesome. The Adventure Cycling maps are really great - I did a mix & match of routes, so got the relevant sections. There is a need to have a plan but also be flexible - as Karla says, sometimes there really is 50-90 miles between places to get food/water and even then it's just a gas station (with a casino in the back  ???). Also, it's useful to know that certain things are very different in the US compared to the UK. If I see a 'Road Closed' sign in the UK, I know that 99.9% of the time I will be able to get off the bike and push. In the US, they might have completely removed the road for 10 miles.

I stopped in a lot of gas stations for food. Once out of towns, that resulted in a surprising number of people talking to me. I also found that I had surprisingly few negative interactions with motorists. Although they aren't expecting to see you, sometimes that results in them just taking a massively wide berth.

When planning your route, make time to actually see stuff. There are a lot of really stunning natural features that aren't well known and so can be quiet spots. I also quite like some of the random industrial heritage in some of the towns in the mid West - they haven't grown so much that buildings from the foundation of the town have been removed.

Oscar's dad

  • aka Septimus Fitzwilliam Beauregard Partridge
Re: Cycling across the USA
« Reply #22 on: 16 November, 2021, 09:26:40 am »
Thanks Jasmine  :thumbsup:

My new friends on the ACA forum are suggesting the TransAm route would be betterer than Route 66 so I'll look at that.  Also there's a chap who is planning a bespoke cross country route which he believes will take the best from a variety of routes and he's willing to share so that's another option to consider.

There are no decisions which need to be made for ages so weighing up all the options is going to be fun!

Re: Cycling across the USA
« Reply #23 on: 16 November, 2021, 09:47:04 am »
If I see a 'Road Closed' sign in the UK, I know that 99.9% of the time I will be able to get off the bike and push. In the US, they might have completely removed the road for 10 miles.


Yes.   I tried to get past a "road closed" sign in Washington state, and the road wasn't there.... landslip.   


I spent a day on Route 66, the main town I went through was Kingman , which looked like it was only kept going by Route 66 tourists.


Charlotte did a cross US motorbike trip a few years ago, which may also give useful ideas http://hardtailchop.com/
Not fast & rarely furious

tweeting occasional in(s)anities as andrewxclark

T42

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Re: Cycling across the USA
« Reply #24 on: 16 November, 2021, 09:58:38 am »
My immediate thought is that Route 66 west to east is anti-canonical.  ;) And that whichever way you ride it, you'll probably meet some "interesting" (and some interesting) characters on it.

I always thought that the attraction of doing Route 66 was that you'd be riding away from Chicago.

But they never got to Carcassonne.