seeking advice on trans-continental ride

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Anonymous's picture

I'm thinking about riding cross country this season and I'd be grateful for any advice anyone can give me, about training, diet, equipment, informational resources etc.


Anonymous's picture
John Z (not verified)
Long Distance Riding


Go to tomorrow evening's monthly club meeting. I believe Diane Goodwin is doing a presentation, and she is one of our ""brevet"" experts."

Anonymous's picture
David T (not verified)

"I did a trans-am this summer from New Haven, CT to Seattle, WA. I was with a group ( of about 30 college kids following our own route (not any of the Adventure Cycling maps, although we were on their ""Northern Tier"" for a good 500 miles). We took 9 weeks to do it, averaging about 70 miles a day with a SAG van and 6 days ""off"" (spent building homes).

We were going East-West, which is (imho) more scenic, but you also hit mad headwinds across a lot of the plains. I remember one day in Ontario we were all swearing that we were going to quit. I ripped the reflectors off my bike in frustration (somehow I thought they were adding drag) and we just pacelined at 8-10 mph until we got there.

Go with a group if possible. We met a bunch of people doing it solo and they seemed to have a lot more trouble. Not just because they didn't have a SAG, but because half of what kept us going was the group dynamics. When it's 107 degrees (Wyoming... ""but it's a dry heat"") and you're sweating buckets, something about the group just keeps you going. And, yes, I know that riding in 107 degree heat is stupid. But the group kept us going.

Look forward to fixing flats in cold rain when you're shivering. Look forward to fixing flats in heat that makes it painful to touch the pavement. Look out for staples in Michigan (if you go that way)... we pulled more staples out of our tires in Michigan than any other state.

Look out for the hill going up to Mt. Rushmore. It's totally worth it, but it's a good 3-4 miles at 10%.

The first day is easy. Anyone who is trained can ride 70 miles one day. The second day is tougher. The third day is brutal. Then you start feeling a lot better. Sore every morning, but you get used to it.

Training? Lots of miles. Then some more miles. Then some more. You don't need sprints. You just need to get your butt used to your bike, get your body used to burning 6000+ calories a day, etc. Just go long. Take the first week or so easy (~40 miles / day) and then build up. Eat. Eat. Eat. That's all we did.

Feel free to contact with questions. I have tons of photos-of-me-in-spandex-in-front-of-national-monuments.

Are you going solo or with a group? Know your route?

It's a trip of a lifetime! Go for it!


Anonymous's picture
David T (not verified)
diet, equipment

"Diet: Food. Lots. Make sure you get enough protien, don't worry about fat or anything. Take a multi-v if you're really worried about it. Take two lunch breaks on longer days. Eat every hour (banana or bagel or powerbar). In Michigan they sell Oatmeal Creme Pies for $0.25. Grab a handful and toss them in your Camelback. Great snacks. You'll be burning so many calories that it really doesn't matter what you eat. Yes, you need to balance your diet to some extent. You need a solid dinner and a healthy breakfast to get you off on the right foot. But during the day anything that you can burn is fine. Milkshakes make great post-ride snacks. This is your chance to eat whatever you want. I lost 15 pounds (started 5'11"", 172... so I didn't really have all that much to lose) despite eating probably 7,000 kcal per day.

Equipment: Different if you have SAG. We didn't have to carry our stuff and we all rode Cannondale R-400s. Nobody had any major problems and I love mine. Literally the only problem I had was that the wheel got knocked out of true somewhere in South Dakota. The geometry isn't perfect for touring, but it's a great solid bike that'll get you 4022 miles across the country without a hitch. I use mine for NYCC now. If you're carrying your stuff then you need a stronger heavier bike... the R-400s will handle a rack on the back just fine, but probably not a full set of panniers.

Equipment 2: Gloves are crucial. Learn to love the tan line you'll get. A CAMELBAK (or similar) is an absolute necessity. There are days when there simply is not water along the route. Most of Wyoming comes to mind. You need two full bottles and a full large camelbak of water to make it through those days. Helmet with a VISOR. Sunglasses that fit perfectly, but you won't miss if they get run over. Rear-view mirror is nice, but not absolutely neccesary. Digital camera is great if you have a LOT of memory cards. Film cameras might be better since you can just mail used film home. I went digital but had access to a laptop. Took literally over a thousand pictures.

Tip: You can get mail delivered general delivery to any post office in the United States. They'll hold onto it for a month or so. Send stuff to yourself later on and pick it up. Or get friends/relatives/etc to send you stuff. Just make sure you know which post-office to go to. There is nothing better than mail day.

Okay, that's enough for now. Just put the miles in and you'll be fine. And your legs will HURT. A lot! But you'll survive.

I have never felt better in my life than when I saw the Space Needle of Seattle in the distance and biked down into the center of the fountain in the middle of Seattle and then dove into the Pacific after leaving the Atlantic behind 9 weeks earlier."

Anonymous's picture
David T (not verified)

Clothing: Layers. You'll see temperatures from 25 (Washington State) to 107 (Wyoming). Be prepared for all conditions. Snow is a possibility in some passes (depends on your route).

Saddle: Some people reported problems with gel saddles. I used a pretty standard saddle that cost me about $40. No problems beyond just a sore butt. Just make sure it's comfortable for you. If you do start to have issues in the posterior region then get Preparation H (if it's that sort of problem) and deal with it... or get some anti-fungal (if it's that kind of problem) and WASH YOUR SHORTS more often... or some anti-bacterial (if it's that sort of problem) AND WASH YOUR SHORTS more often.

Anonymous's picture
Mordecai Silver (not verified)
Cross-country tour

If you're planning on riding alone, go on some trips of a few days' duration, to experiment and see what you're comfortable with. For example, if you intend to camp out and cook your own meals, it would be a good idea if you tried that kind of touring beforehand, so that you don't end up cursing your tent and stove on the third day and deciding to return home.

One of my favorite bicycle websites is Ken Kifer's: If you want inspiration to try long-distance touring, and great reading on bicycling and life in general, look there.

Anonymous's picture
Diane Goodwin (not verified)


If you are truly interested in cross-country, you should contact Jean-Luc Friang - and expert. He's on the Hill Country Forum ( If you have a problem getting to the list - call me at work 212-255-9100 or cell 917-543-4333. At home, I have his email.

Jean-Luc is originally from France living in Austin, TX now. He rode the perimeter of the United States solo - counter-clockwise from his home in Austin. His family thought he was crazy. He's friendly and knows his stuff - BTW he'll be riding cross-country this year rather than PBP (his homeland). Every year he rides Texas Hell Week.

Another good source is Pat Carter from NYCC. She has ridden with PAC Tour ( and is personal friends with the organizers. She's ridden across the country along all their routes - northern, southern, middle, East Coast, Ridge of the Rockies, etc... Her info is in the roster. Again, I can put you in contact with her - she's in Disney now, though.

Alex Bekkerman, another NYCC member, rode RAAM (Race Across America). He's a great local source - he helped me train for my first 200 miler. I highly recommend listening to all his advise.

Chris Pile ([email protected]) has also ridden across the US in PAC Tour once.

One piece of advice regarding food ... Pop Tarts. Well, they use to be good on cross-country trips.

I don't know how you want to travel or where but I highly recommend contacting Jean-Luc.


Anonymous's picture
bill strachan (not verified)

i've gone cross country a couple of times plus a 9 month, solo, self-contained, 12,000+ miler around the perimeter. feel free to contact me for assistance in route planning and any other questions you might have.

cycling trips