Transam Route; Statistics and Planning Considerations (page 2) - CycleBlaze

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Transam Route; Statistics and Planning Considerations (page 2)

Jeff LeeTo George Hall

I want to push back on this a little bit, because I believe that it's at least a slight exaggeration, and I think that exaggerating the difficulty of bicycle touring - specifically bike touring on paved roads in the USA - might discourage people from trying it. I know that when I meet local people while bike touring, I frequently hear variations of "I could never do that." I always tell them that when I started riding, I could barely ride seven miles on the shoulder of the highway next to my office. And the next year I rode from coast to coast. Which is true.

When I rode the TransAm east to west in 2006, at age 40, I'd been riding about a year, and I think I'd only ever done three rides that were more than 70 miles. Two of those rides were on flat rail-trails. Until the spring of 2006, I didn't own a pair of bike shorts or a bike jersey. I was riding in jeans. I bought all my my stuff (panniers, bike clothes, etc.) a couple of months before the start of my trip. So I think it's fair to say that I wasn't really "prepared", certainly not prepared compared to people that make detailed plans before their tours.

And I'm a firm believer that you can "ride yourself into shape" on a tour. That's been the case in pretty much all my bike tours, where I usually start out overweight and not having ridden much in the previous weeks. The first couple of days of the tour are, admittedly, a little rough, but it's always worked out.

Finally, lest all this sound like self aggrandizement on my part: I've met people who knew even less than I did at first, and were even less prepared than me, who were doing long self-supported bike tours. For example, the 20-year-old couple from suburban New Jersey who had never ridden AT ALL, and who bought a bikes at REI and started the TransAm from the east. I met them on the Western Express. They'd figured it out and were having a great time.

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1 month ago
George HallTo Jeff Lee

At age 40, you were still a young man!  And the 20 year olds you mentioned can, of course, survive most anything. I was 62 when I rode the Transam - like you, I was relatively inexperienced as well. I got through the Appalachians and the Ozarks, but it was tough. 

There are some tours where you can start and ride yourself into shape. And some folks might be able to get away with that on the Transam.  But showing up in poor condition for an east to west Transam is going to make for a very tough first few weeks, and is more likely to lead to failure than it would on other routes.  Some folks might get through it, some won't.  I do know of inexperienced and relatively unconditioned folks who made it - but I also know of others who failed.  I would encourage any cyclist to ride the Transam route, but in the same breath I would tell them to show up prepared for climbing (especially so if going E to W).

BTW, one of my long-term goals is to ride the Transam again - sometime after I turn 70.  I certainly wouldn't be the only 70+ person to do so, but there aren't  many who have done it.  Maybe that will happen, maybe not...

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1 month ago
Wayne EstesTo George Hall

In my 40s I generally felt stronger at the end of a tour than at the beginning. In my 50's I began to feel gradually weaker as a bike tour progresses. Definitely no more riding into shape for me .

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1 month ago
John EganTo Jeff Lee

Ah, Jeff, you is a mere "yute" as My Cousin Vinny would say.

No question, nearly anybody can do a cross-country ride.
I would say the biggest thing is time and money.
Often, if you have the money, you don't have the time.
And if you have the time, you don't have the money.

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1 month ago