Tonight I met with Beth and Bob who are planning their own cross country bike journey on the ACA Southern Tier route later this year. It’s fun to meet with those who are just starting their adventure and looking into all the same questions and concerns I had.
The biggest advice I can give anyone is there is no wrong way to do it, except not doing it at all.
Topics we covered and my responses:
- Did I use rain pants, jacket, or shoe covers and how did it work?
- No rain pants, but did take a rain jacket and neoprene socks. I went through 3 rain jackets until I found a good one that worked after 30 minutes of soaking.
- What type of bike pump did I use and how did I keep my tire pressure up?
- I took a frame pump and since touring tires need only about 75 psi the frame pump was easily able to get them up to 60 psi, then top off at each bike shop we found.
- Was I ever worried for my safety and and what protection did I take?
- This can be a polarizing question, but the biggest protection I had was a good cooking knife. Use common sense and don’t stay out too late as alcohol can fuel situations that can get you into trouble.
- Did I prefer both front and rear panniers or just rears?
- I started with both since I was carrying cooking gear, but once I found that I wasn’t cooking I ditched the fronts and got a bigger handlebar bag for my DSLR camera. I did notice though that the bike rode better with the front panniers.
- How did we prepare for chains breaking or other breakdowns?
- Who was your cellular carrier and how did it do?
- I had AT&T (GSM) and for the TransAmerica route it wasn’t so great in the rural areas. The guys I rode with had Sprint & Verizon (CDMA) and it seemed to work much better.
- What tips would you give before leaving?
- For sure go on a overnight training run fully loaded to test out all your gear and weight; work out the kinks.
- How would you compare camping vs hotel?
- A real personal choice; camping will save you money but a hotel is quite a treat and can save you the weight of taking a tent . You may still want to take a sleeping bag if you choose to stay at hostels, churches, and fire departments.
- What type of gloves or head wear did you take?
- Typical finger-less cycling gloves, full winter cycling gloves, and a pair of cheap $1 magic gloves. When it was really cold I wore all three. For head wear I took a cheap little beanie I wore under my helmet.
- Did you use a 3rd water bottle cage and how much water did you need?
- When distances between towns were really far or it was a hot day I used a third bottle, but our weather was pretty mild. If you don’t have a 3rd water bottle cage you can bungee extra water to the rear rack.
- What was the closest you came to quitting and how did you deal with it?
- For me adapting in the first few weeks were really the toughest, but I had read others say the same so I worked to prepare my expectations as much as I could and just tried to enjoy the changes.
- I noticed you used WordPress, did you have any training on how to use the site?
- WordPress gives you more features and options than say Blogger does, but of course there are complications in understanding more functions. The easiest way to learn is to see features someone else is using on WordPress then figure out how to duplicate it. If you can’t figure it out check the WordPress Documentation and Forums or let me know and I will be glad to help if I can.
- Where else did you go to ask questions?
- I spent hours upon hours at BikeForums.net Touring, but just remember everyone has opinions but only you know what works for you and at some point stop planning/reading and just go; you won’t regret it.
- How did you ship your bike to the start and what options are there?
- That was one of the many questions I had and got answered at Bike Forums.
- How did you get the ACA maps on your phone?
- For Android the built in Google Maps works fine for both GPX and caching the maps, for iPhone I saw these options with a easy Google search.
- What did you take to prevent flats or have spares?
- I had three spare tubes and probably 20 patches since they are small, compact, and easy to carry. I would recommend also taking a presta to schrader valve adapter.
Have other questions? I have opinions 🙂