Some people zoom from coast to coast to coast at 70 or more miles per hour, never really seeing America as all becomes lost within a blur of convenience stores, chain businesses, and fast food restaurants. Tim and Faye Kuhn's experience of these United States, however, has been somewhat more akin to the horse and […]
Some people zoom from coast to coast to coast at 70 or more miles per hour, never really seeing America as all becomes lost within a blur of convenience stores, chain businesses, and fast food restaurants.
Tim and Faye Kuhn's experience of these United States, however, has been somewhat more akin to the horse and buggy, except they traveled more slowly, averaging about 10 miles per hour on one of their cross country tours by bicycle.
If you opt to ride a bicycle across America, you don't just grab a bunch of camping gear, throw it in a bicycle trailer, hop on and ride. A journey like this requires a significant amount of training and planning.
Tim Kuhn shared the wisdom that he and his wife Faye have garnered from riding together across the northern and southern tiers of our country; for example, the southern route takes less time (about 55 days) and is also significantly less expensive than up north.
Here is a short list of several essential items that any cross country cyclist should carry: 1) Cycling gloves reduce the pressure of leaning upon your handlebars all day. 2) Bicycle shoes clip into special pedals and subsequently help to smooth out your pedal stroke while allowing you to both push down and pull up on the pedal for maximum effect. 3) Waterproof maps are available from an organization called Adventure Cycle and are invaluable during inevitable rainstorms. 4) Water bottles help you to stay hydrated as you sweat your way across the desert and elsewhere. 5) Panniers or a bicycle trailer will be needed to carry your gear and bicycle supplies. 6) A marine air horn is lightweight and comes in handy to scare away aggressive dogs, which are 'a real problem' in the south, according to Tim.
These are just a few items that you'll need. Overall, the key to touring America on two wheels is to pack light. After all, you can only carry so much stuff with you and also make it up and over the hill and mountain ranges you'll encounter along the way.
Camping options ranges widely along the way. Tim said that he and Faye have camped in city parks, back yards, churches, motels, and rented trailers, to name a few places. The cost of the trip will vary, depending upon how often you eat at restaurants and stay in hotels and campgrounds. Those who shy away from hotels and paid campgrounds and also prepare their own meals should expect to budget around $20 a day. For the 1% who have ample funds to live large"staying in motels and eating out frequently"that figure can easily rise to $120 a day. For most cyclists, the price of a coast to coast adventure falls somewhere in between these two extremes. Tim said he and Faye averaged around $50 a day for expenses.
Perhaps the biggest challenge of a cross country bicycle trip is figuring out how many miles you'll need to pedal each day so you have a place to stay and also are within reasonable distance of a place to sleep on the following night.
The best way to get to and from your destination? Amtrak, which may be more expensive than a bus or plane, charges only a small fee for your bicycle.
One plus of a vacation like this is that there's no need to worry about your diet. Cycling expends a lot of energy and calories, so you can go ahead and enjoy that slice of pie or an extra-large milkshake.
All in all, for any long-distance bike ride it's not the ultimate destination that's important. It's the journey and meeting people along the way that make a two-wheeled vacation a unique and meaningful way to discover America and the frequent kindness of strangers.