Biking cross-country…Tips you need to know!
It is really a serious venture to embark on a cross-country bike adventure. You shouldn’t take it lightly. I made a decision when I was 24 years old to undertake such a venture. Sam Ryan was a guy I had met and he had an interest in joining up with me to do the same thing. We began the training earlier on, once I made the decision to go. We trained hard, cycling for up to four hours each day to get as fit as we could. Before, we knew it, the day of the trip came and before long, we understood that there was actually no definitive way to train for such an undertaking. In a few days after we began the trip, we were both tired and beaten up. We figured out that we had done everything the wrong way.
Before the Trip
Prior to the trip, we packed all the stuff we needed – jeans, sweat pants and sweat shirt, extra footwear, dress clothes, additional bike parts and tools, the list goes on. Our bikes happened to weigh approximately 80 lbs. When we looked at it, we were bringing too many things with us. It became impossible to climb up the hills, even though; we had trained and were fit. So, we had to make some adjustments so that the trip could be manageable and successfully.
This is what we did and recommend that you do the same:
- We consumed all the additional food and decided to carry less food since, there were stores in the towns that we passed on our way. We just shopped at those stores when we got hungry.
- We shipped the tools, jeans, sweat pants, non-cycling dress clothes, footwear, bike parts and sweat shirts back home. We realized that this stuff wasn't necessary because it became a tough haul.
- We choose bike paths that ran along water flows like the Erie Canal and Hudson River. We noticed high hills in the background - away from the water. However, there were minimal changes to the elevation level on the nearby roads so this really helped us!
- Three weeks into the trip, I finally realized a sustainable idea that we should adapt for cycling long distance so that we would not feel beat up. I decided to send my panniers back home, but I reserved one rack pack, a sleeping mat, a sleeping bag and a mosquito net. How was this able to fit in a standard bike rack? I didn’t let it all fit. Instead, I purchased a Hibachi grill for only $5 and threw away everything else except the top of the grill. I put the top of the grill on the rack so I could create a large rack to fit everything. When packed at the back of the bike, the grill also minimized the resistance to wind, which was perfect while riding. From then, Sam and I rode our bikes from Minneapolis to Seattle without any issues. My plan worked well.
- We went from east to west. As we entered Wisconsin, New York, Michigan and Canada, we had to deal with a lot of crosswinds, no matter which direction we took. The wind resistance was hard to fight. However, when we got to the plain states, the wind primarily travelled from the west. From the morning until the night, wind resistance was a factor and a real challenge. Don't make the same mistake I made, try going west to east.
- Like us, if you are traveling by bike, you should skip going to national parks and tourist attraction, especially during the peak seasons. I rode my bike through the Yellowstone Park. Though, it was a beautiful scene, it was also a very dangerous one. In addition, the park is always filled with RVs and RV owners seem to be in a rush to complete their vacation trip. Many times, I almost got ran over by some RV owner in a rush.
- Never be embarrassed to hitchhike. I had to do that several times. I hitchhiked to get to bike shops in order to fix issues with my bike. I also hitchhiked to escape a few tornado-force winds. I also hitchhiked to quickly pass a prison since no cyclists are allowed near some of the prisons. Once, I hitchhiked to escape the rain that fell for four days in Washington State. I just had too much of that rain.
To recap, I would suggest that you follow these tips, especially, if it is your first time as a tourist. Do not take too many things with you, but instead, put the minimal stuff you bring on a Hibachi-style mega rack. Store everything behind you on your rack, so that you minimize the resistance of the wind. Remain on the pathways that follow different bodies of water. Travel in a westerly to easterly direction. Avoid major tourist attractions, especially during the peak seasons. Bring only two changes of clothing because you can always buy additional clothing. If your bike breaks down or your body gets weary, you can hitchhike because it is usually safe to do so in America.