After a long-awaited family vacation the two typical responses go somewhat like: best trip ever or worst trip ever.
In many ways that is the same reaction that people feel who finally realize their goal of riding a bike across America.
If a cyclist prepares before the ride and expects physical, emotional, and psychological bumps in the road, then the cross country bike ride can be a joyful adventure.
If poorly prepared for to bike across America, some cyclists have been known to retire their bikes for good after a cross country ride or head home early.
Here are some tips for successfully biking across America.
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Choose a Comfortable Bike to Cycle Across America
There aren’t many changes you can make to your bike in the midst of the route, so it’s best to have a comfortable bike to start. Test out numerous bikes and sizes before settling on one that you’ll be spending quality time with for 6+ hours a day for potentially months.
Prepare Before Leaving to Bike Across America
You’ll get stronger during the ride, but it’s best to be reasonably fit before leaving on the ride. If you are out of shape, you should start regularly riding and exercising at least a few weeks before leaving. But don’t overdo it. If you’re planning a casual bike ride across America, then you don’t have build superhuman leg muscles.
Many experienced tour riders have said yoga was a great way to build core strength needed for climbing and being in relatively stationary poses for extended periods of time.
Start Early in the Day to Beat Heat
It can be tempting to sleep in, especially with tired legs from the previous day. However, doing so will not only cost you valuable daylight hours, it will affect your efficiency as the temperatures rise starting at 10:30-11:00 in the morning.
You should be well into daily cycle by mid morning to avoid the heat, which often means kicking off around 7:00 AM.
Realize that You Will Get Stronger As You Bike Across America
You may be behind your calculated pace the first 3-4 days of the trip, but understand that the lost time will be made up on the back half.
In fact, many people who bike across America report doubling their daily distance from around 50 miles at the beginning to ‘centuries’ (100+ mi.) towards the end.
Stretch Out and Take Breaks from Cycling
It’s important to get limber in the morning as well as anytime you feel cramping and numbness during the ride. It’s a marathon, not s sprint, so take breaks and get off the bike.
I suffered from lower leg pains, so I regularly removed my shoes to massage my feet and calves. I found a great remedy by soaking them up to the knees in cool streams and sometimes frigid mountain streams.
Hydration (and replenishing lost calories) are the most important aspects of a successful, pleasant bike ride across America. Many cyclists may wait until they are thirsty to take a drink, when in actuality you should be taking in at least 22 oz of water every hour on the ride.
Tap water is quite plentiful on a bike ride across America. You can often find it at churches, public buildings (like fire stations), and public restrooms. Conserve water if you have a significant distance between stops, but consistently replenish your water so you can keep drinking without concerns for running out.
Multi-Task to Combat Boredom (if you get easily bored)
While seeing the sites and “being one with yourself” are some of the biggest reasons for biking across America, the flatlands of Nebraska or Kansas can only pack so much excitement, which means cycling every day can become loathsome and potentially cause you to bail out.
Many riders use the time to listen to an audiobook or learn a new language, especially when traveling alone.
Document your Bike Ride Across America
Although the trip will make lasting memories in your head, don’t forget to take pictures for yourself and to share with friends. Many riders update social media profiles daily so friends can follow along with their adventure across America. This kind of publicity among your friends group will keep you motivated.