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  My Tour: Southern Tier 2006

Why

I think anyone who decides to go on a cross country tour gets asked this question the most.  For some this is hard to explain, for me it will be no different.  I guess I have to start at the beginning or at least give some background.  I've always enjoyed cycling.  Growing up in Elk Grove, CA I could be found riding my bike all of the time.  In grade school I road my bike during the school year.  I was always riding across town to my friends. When High School came around I would ride my bike to early morning seminary and then to school.  When I worked at the winery in town I would ride my bike to work every day.  But when I got my drivers license and was able to drive I started to cycle less and less.  But that did not  mean I never picked up a bicycle again.  

When I was 17 I went on a 350 mile cycling trip with my Scout Troop.  Of course I didn't quite make it the whole way, but that's another story.  When I was 25 I took a Scout Troop on a Bike Trip down part of the California Aqueduct, about 65 miles in a day.  Then when I was 35 I did the California Aqueduct Trip again and loved it just as much as the first time.  It was on this trip that I wanted to do something more, something bigger.  

When I returned home from this trip I began looking on the Internet for different tours and started to find a kind of tour that I had never heard of before, coast to coast.  That was it, I wanted to ride across the country like so many had already done.  That would be the trip for me.  The more I researched and read about it the more excited I got about it.

So after much reading and finally making the decision to go on this tour I went home that night at dinner and announced to my family that I was going to ride my bike across the country.  My wife looked at me and simple said, "Have Fun."  This meant she wasn't up for riding along with me and was used to me and my little trips and "Scout" activities.  My oldest son sat there and said, "Why would you want to do that." My 2nd son sat there eating dinner and didn't give it much thought, he's only 2 1/2.

When

This is the next logical question that is always asked.  And to answer this I must first give some background as well.  I am not one to just jump into something without having some time to prepare for such a task.  This is no exception.  While I could probably pull this off next spring I wanted to make sure I gave myself plenty of time to train, prepare, acquire the necessary equipment, save the funds needed,  and have enough vacation time to go on this endeavor.  So after some number crunching looking at my calendar of things to do in the coming years I came up with April 2006.  At first many think why that's such a long time.  Yes, but if you look at it this way, it's only 30 months from today and will be here in no time at all.  

How Long 

I have decided to take the Southern Tier for a number of reasons the main one being that it is the shortest route of the Cross Country Routes mapped.  It is a total of 3100 miles from Florida to California.  If I were to cycle for 6 days a week, taking one rest day a week, and I averaged about 65 miles a day it would take me approximately 50 days to do this trip.  Give or take a few days for weather, good and bad.  I would be on the road from The middle of April 2006 until the beginning of June 2006.

All Alone?

Once I came up with my brilliant plan I told my Dad about it looking to see if he would be interested in going along with me.  He recently retired from working at Elk Grove High School and has lots of time on his hands now.  He went with me on the California Aqueduct Trip earlier this year and seemed to thoroughly enjoy himself.  So when I talked with my Mom I told her to ask dad what he was doing in 2 1/2 years.  She passed the word along and he responded what do you want me to do in 2 1/2 years.  I told of my grand plans and he said that sounds interesting.  So at this point the plan is for me and my father to do this thing together.  After reading through a number of journals about groups and the schedule that is kept I would rather do this on my own than with an organized group.  But hopefully I will be able to have my dad with me.

Where will you stay

I plan on staying in hotels/motels along the whole route.  I have read a number of journals from cyclists that have gone on the Southern Tier and have successfully stayed in motels along the whole way.  The only problem I read of was a tiny little town made up of three buildings.  One was a real estate office, the second a closed motel, the third was a motel that looked to be open but was closed on Sundays.  So the cyclist had to push on to the next town 30 miles away.  Even though I am an avid camper and have enjoyed camping for years there is much to be said for a good night sleep and a hot shower.  

How much

I sat down and came up with the following figures:

Lodging: 50 days @ $50 a day =  $2,250.00
Meals: 50 days @$20 a day =  $1,000.00
Transportation to Florida* = $400.00
Miscellaneous = $850.00
Total $4,500.00
*Train would be half the cost but take 2 to 3 days

In addition to the above I came up with these additional expenses to be incurred during the next two years.

Bicycle  $850.00
BOB Trailer**  $325.00
Clothing***  $500.00
Tools***  $200.00
Miscellaneous  $500.00
Total $2,375.00
** This is the brand new price I should be able to get one on ebay for $150 - $200.
***Much of this I could probably purchase from ebay at a discount.

Trailer vs. Panniers

Of all the articles that I've read this has been the topic debated most of all.  When it comes down to it both have their pros and cons.  But I like the control that you gain when pulling a trailer verses being bogged down with the weight on the bicycle.  Of all the journals I've read many have talked about the spokes that have broken because of all the weight on the bike.  Now I'm sure that can happen to both but it just seemed like more was broken with a heavy load when using panniers.  Of course I've not used either setup as of yet so much could change in the next 6 months as I start to gather equipment.

Copyright 2003-2013 Devin Holmes