I started bicycling from Bar Harbor, ME on April 23 and just got to San Francisco, CA this last Tuesday. I rode 7600 miles over 24 states, met all sorts of people, learned a ton about life/myself, and had a generally great time.

I started out to see what I was capable of--I had spent the last couple years losing 80lbs, overcoming depression and alcoholism, and generally pulling myself out of a pretty bad place. If I can do it, you can do it.

My Proof: Here's my travel blog, though I'm still working on the last few entries up to and including the "finish line": www.whereswinslow.com

edit

If you're interested in doing something like this yourself, check out:

www.adventurecycling.org -- A great organization that sells amazing maps and route information. The TransAmerica Trail route they have is kind of the Appalachian Trail of cross country bicycling.

www.crazyguyonabike.org -- Tons of travel blogs from people all over the place. Penny farthing rides around the world...Trips that are still going on after 5 years...Or just a nice journal from someone riding in your area. It inspired me every day while I worked a cubicle farm job to save money.

Comments: 168 • Responses: 66  • Date: 

osfan45613 karma

How many tubes did you go through?

geoffreybeene6 karma

Must've been something like 4 tubes and 3 tires, got a total of 15 or so flats. Patch kits work wonders to keep your tube up and running.

That being said, I have friends who rode these really great tires called Schwalbe Marathons and didn't have a single flat the entire way across the country. I got myself a pair and haven't had an issue since.

apineda501 karma

What kind of tires did you use?

geoffreybeene2 karma

Started out with stock Continental Touring Pros. Burnt through one by Virginia. Then another Continental TourRIDE, which was the only available one, and some other Continental something or other at a bike shop in Omaha. They all gave me flat tires and burnt out fairly quickly. Schwalbes from now on.

ImHereToBlowSunshine13 karma

Absolutely amazing and something that I hope to do someday, though maybe not quite as far as you went. How did you prepare financially? Did your job let you take a leave of absence or will you be seeking new employment when you return home? Can't wait to read your blog!

geoffreybeene14 karma

I worked a job at a law office for three years, putting money in a savings account at a credit union. It takes me an hour to drive to the credit union, so getting my money out was a pain.

I had enough money for the trip before I left, but I was happy to receive a final insurance payment for this car accident I was in in 6th grade. It helped loosen the financial weight enough that I didn't really have to worry about money too much while I was out there, and probably made me spend way more than I should have.

I quit my job to do this. I asked for 6months leave of absence as a formality, but knew I'd get denied (and was denied). They'd take me back if I wanted to, but I don't think I want to go back. It seems like a relic of a past life, and I'd like to keep moving onward and upward!

drifting_8 karma

How much did it cost you roughly?

geoffreybeene6 karma

About $15k, I think, but I did it pretty expensively. Also broke the chromebook I started with and bought a new laptop about halfway through, so that was expensive.

joethetipper2 karma

So... what's the next step then?

Congrats on this awesome achievement!

geoffreybeene12 karma

Pursuing a master's degree in Portland or Seattle in urban planning, to help develop bicycling infrastructure across the country!

alent123411 karma

did you ride through NYC? since you are still alive, i assume you didn't

geoffreybeene19 karma

No, I went around it the long way. The concept of NYC scares the shit out of me--that's too many people in one area.

I did bike through East St. Louis, though.

mrdude8175 karma

I did bike through East St. Louis, though.

Well, you survived St. Louis without getting shot, you should be able to manage NYC without getting shot. Chances of getting hit by a car are still high though.

geoffreybeene8 karma

East St. Louis was definitely super depressed and I'd hate to be there at night time, but I think seeing a white dude in spandex on a loaded yellow bike was more confusing to the locals than enticing.

Faraz1279 karma

Are you tired?

geoffreybeene18 karma

Au contraire, I've never been in such good shape! My legs are disproportionately friggin' jacked.

Angry_Tanker3 karma

Never skip leg day

geoffreybeene39 karma

Every day is leg day

Kaitohi2 karma

Picture?

geoffreybeene6 karma

You can see my ridiculous tanlines too

pic

misanthropics5 karma

What was the most dangerous situation you encountered?

geoffreybeene11 karma

Traffic. Traffic all day every day. Semi trucks, RV's, camper vans, pissed off people, impatient assholes, farm equipment, animals, bad terrain.

I guess the most dangerous traffic-specific area would've been Highway 1, because of a 500 foot drop to the ocean on one side, and weekend vacation traffic on the other.

alexanderpas3 karma

Yup, and sadly, it is mostly due to the design of the road and the (lack of) regulations traffic is dangerous for bikes in the US.

Biking on highways is very illegal in the Netherlands.

geoffreybeene3 karma

I daydream about having bike infrastructure like that someday. Helping develop it is actually what I want to do with my life.

alexanderpas1 karma

Have you already visited the Netherlands?

geoffreybeene2 karma

No, just seen youtube videos of the bicycle commuters getting around! It looks incredible.

micmea12 karma

Oh man, we did a slightly shorter version of this trip this past summer (Virginia to Oregon). The Ozark mountains were tough, but the Missouri drivers made it that much tougher. Kind of scary having someone in an RV barreling up your asshole on a steep uphill. I wound up off the road and walking a bit after that.

geoffreybeene2 karma

TransAmerica Trail?

micmea12 karma

That's the one! Tho we changed it up a bit towards the end considering parts of it were on fire

geoffreybeene2 karma

I rode with a bunch of people in Virginia who were doing that, and then hopped back on it around Lander, WY. I liked the social scene that route establishes for itself!

auomkire5 karma

Amazing! sometime I've always wanted to do. Maybe when I feel financially stable I will one day.

What is the most amazing place you've bikes to and why?

geoffreybeene8 karma

Crater Lake was incredible, and a lot of work to get to. It's something like 5700 feet of climbing to the base of it from the Oregon Coast, and then another 2k to the rim of the lake. To go around it was another 4k of climbing. Doing that much work makes you appreciate the hell out of every viewpoint you reach.

cdotjizz4 karma

Obligatory where was your favorite place?

geoffreybeene8 karma

Do I have to pick just one?

On the Eastern side it was probably the Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike.

South of that, it was Skyline Drive in Virginia

Then there was the crossing of the Rockies through Poudre Canyon

and then Glacier National Park which is probably my #1 favorite, if I had to choose one over anything. It doesn't look real, not even when you're standing in the middle of it.

cdotjizz2 karma

wow, those are all awesome places to see along a journey like yours. That abandoned turnpike is fascinating.. Where was that exactly? Somewhere outside Philly or Pittsburgh I presume..

geoffreybeene3 karma

It's a little east of Pittsburgh. I think if you Google Map "abandoned PA turnpike" it'll show up, or there's www.pike2bike.com/

Angry_Tanker4 karma

First, that is amazing, congrats. Two questions; 1. What training if any before the trip? and 2. How much did it cost total, to include supplies and equipment?

geoffreybeene13 karma

I cycled a lot before the trip. Commuted 11mi every day to work, and then did 30-50 mile rides on the weekend. Unfortunately, I'm from Illinois, and we have absolutely no serious elevation. There's really nothing that'll get you ready for 6 hours a day on a bike besides being on a bike for 6 hours a day, though.

I haven't had the courage to look at my bank account yet, let's see....

oof, about $15k. That's pretty high--a lot higher than many tourists do it/have done it. I did not do it very cheaply, though--motels on really bad days, eating out for breakfast a lot, losing lots of sunglasses/wallet/cell phone...

Angry_Tanker5 karma

Colorado must have broke you off with no elevation training

Edit: or where you happened to cross the rockies

geoffreybeene11 karma

Surprisingly, Colorado was wayyyy easier than the east coast. Maybe it was because I was in shape by then, but they don't grade the roads in New England/Virginia/Kentucky like they do out west. Some places were impossibly steep, and that was along the recommended route! I stopped walking my bike after East Kentucky, I think.

hooker_reacharound3 karma

Except for climbing Beirstadt! You were dragging the crew down! :)))

geoffreybeene1 karma

If I had wheels, I woulda flown up that mountain.... ;)

gif_claven2 karma

I almost always stop for a restaurant breakfast, even if I've already eaten breakfast before getting on the bike. I could never resist, even when I was almost out of money.

geoffreybeene2 karma

It's the best meal of the day. I had so many waitresses tell me, "Are you sure you want the pancakes? They're really big..." and I just said, Look lady, you don't know who you're talking to.

geoffreybeene3 karma

Whoah sorry I had to go to bed last night! This thread has gotten a lot bigger. Working on catching up now.

smicycle3 karma

Who was the most handsome/funny/intelligent/athletic/fearless person you met on your trip? Specifically somewhere near Pippa Passes, KY?

geoffreybeene2 karma

Mark Rizzo.

rellakmediums3 karma

What was your "jam"/theme song/music you were listening to during the trip?

geoffreybeene4 karma

Oh I love this question.

Little Dragon - Test is the first song that came to mind. The bassline made me bounce around like a goofy idiot all across the Midwest.

Otherwise, Bela Fleck's Bluegrass Sessions #2 is probably the album I listened to the most. It's so appropriate for so much American scenery.

kimburgly3 karma

When do you plan on going to the dermatologist? Will you take me to Glacier National Park first? :D

geoffreybeene2 karma

I'll be seeing a dermatologist when I get home, Kimburgly, and I'll send you pictures when I do :)

punctual3 karma

Sincere question: were you ever scared?

As a female, I would never, ever do this alone. It wouldn't even cross my mind as a possibility. I'm not complaining; I just think it's interesting when I notice how different the world can look to different people.

You are awesome for such an accomplishment and I'm envious!

geoffreybeene3 karma

I was scared my first few times stealth camping. One night was along the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Appalachians and it was so absolutely silent that night that every leaf falling, twig shifting, or bug hopping made me think a bear was bearing down on me.

As far as being a female goes, I thought the same thing. It seems really dangerous for a woman, but you know what? I met at least 5 women who were doing it solo, and had been doing it solo, with wonderful experiences. If anything, people out there are MORE willing to be kind and supportive of a woman out there on her own. Of course, I'd still keep the mace handy.

gooberzilla23 karma

How do you plan to get back, that is if you live in Maine.

Scariest and best double rainbow type experience of the trip?

geoffreybeene17 karma

Actually from Chicago, but I'm going to take the California Zephyr Amtrak train back home. Bike shipping is cheap via train, plus a 51 hour train ride seems like better decompression time than a magical 4-hour flight. 5 months across the country and POOF you're home! seems a little jarring.

Scariest experience: First and foremost is traffic. Traffic is fuckin' terrifying, and you never get used to it. A buddy equated it to being shot at all the time, and some days it feels that dangerous. Twice I had a vehicle blow past me so fast I could feel the slipstream--one must've been 4 inches off my left elbow. I cut those days short.

Second scariest was this ride through a stretch of abandoned turnpike in Pennsylvania--it's just old highway thats been overgrown. They filmed the movie The Road there, and it seriously looks like the end of the world. I pulled onto the pathway, and the first dude I saw was this huge guy shuffling along by himself, and hanging off his hip was an enormous knife--and then I had to go ride through a mile-long, pitch black highway tunnel by myself.

gooberzilla23 karma

There is an old abandoned 2.5 mile long tunnel here in the Seattle area here that would be scary to rude through.

What was the most euphoric experience you came across?

geoffreybeene6 karma

Seeing the Rocky Mountains for the first time was incredible. The Midwest is a daunting place to cross via bicycle... you're looking at weeks of corn, soybeans, and wheat. Getting to the mountains was the first moment where I really FELT like I had biked across the country... seeing the ocean was the second. I maybe sorta cried a little each time.

edit Are you talking about the Snoqualmie Pass Tunnel? I rode through that--it was super cool. Here's a pic of the entrance

gooberzilla22 karma

Yes I am. I've been meaning to hike it. I haven't looked at your blog yet, but did you go through the Pac NW or just straight from Maine to California? This is awesome by the way. Congrats

geoffreybeene2 karma

I went all the way up to Seattle, biked around the San Juan islands, and then down the coast to San Francisco. I took the reallll long way around :)

btw, I encountered two hikers in the middle of the Tunnel--that's some creepy shit to hike. You have some serious guts to want to do it.

jimlii3 karma

Chunky or smooth peanut butter?

geoffreybeene8 karma

Chunky, the natural kind.

truthhurtsman-10 karma

Seriously asking this question?

geoffreybeene1 karma

I figured this dude was in on the bike touring lifestyle. I ate peanut butter from Maine to California. Literally every day. Peanut butter/Nutella/Banana/Pita bread. It's magic.

rbi_machine2 karma

Is this something you might want to do again? Maybe hit the southern part of the country?

geoffreybeene7 karma

I'd love to do it again, but I think outside of the USA. Maybe out of Western Civilization entirely. It's an adventure, to be sure, but there's a difference between bicycling through Uzbekistan and knowing that there'll be another 7/11 in 30 miles.

rbi_machine2 karma

Well you've inspired me. Since I found your AMA and read your blog, I've spent most of the night researching bike trails to travel.

geoffreybeene2 karma

What state do you live in?

LEARN_ME_STUFF3 karma

I'm from Alabama and intend to do this in a little over a year. Where did you usually stay/eat and how did you manage to do laundry/take showers? As of right now, these are my only two concerns with actually following through with my plan.

geoffreybeene4 karma

Neither of these concerns should... concern you. I admit that the biggest question of my day was usually "Where am I going to sleep?" but between a combination of campgrounds, www.warmshowers.org hosts, random strangers inviting me to stay in their house, and the odd motel, you can always find a place to sleep. Plus, the longer you're out, the more comfortable you get with stealth camping. Near the end of my trip I stopped planning places to sleep because I knew I'd find something eventually.

Food is similarly easy. This is America. We have food. There are gas stations and grocery stores all over the place--the biggest question is your budget. Are you bringing a stove, or eating out a lot? Do you feel OK just eating cold food?

Laundry usually came with Warmshowers hosts or friends that put me up. I got OK with smelling bad for long periods of time... the end of my trip was no laundry from Seattle to San Francisco, save the occasional soak/rinse of my riding clothes in a sink.

Showers are oddly plentiful too.. either find a host for the night, stay in a campground with showers, go swimming in a river, or just learn to love the smell of your own body. Chances are, no one's around to smell you anyways.

geoffreybeene3 karma

Also check out www.adventurecycling.org

They're the biggest organization setting up amazing rides all across the United States, and I used their maps to piece together a general idea of where I'm going.

hooker_reacharound2 karma

How many hookups did you manage out on the road? Did tinder ever deliver?

geoffreybeene3 karma

One hookup in Montana. Tinder got me a new friend who showed me around Manhattan, Kansas, but never any sort of action. By the time I got connected with someone and got to talking, I was already out of the area. And no one's gonna drive out of their town to come to a tent in the middle of the woods.

glofish1232 karma

What did you miss the most during this trip? Like were there any regular things you missed doing since you were biking all day instead? :P

geoffreybeene3 karma

This might be a little lame, but I really missed video games! I'm a pretty big PC gamer in my "real" life. I enjoyed the trip as a way to get me off my computer for a bit, but I'm looking forward to going home and nerding out hardcore for a little while.

Otherwise, I missed my cats, and my friends, and Chicago food.

mrdude8172 karma

Not sure if anyone asked, but what kind of bike did you ride? And how many miles would you say you averaged in a day?

geoffreybeene6 karma

2014 Novara Randonee. I loved it. I recommend it. It's great.

I probably averaged about 50mi a day. If I didn't go 50mi, it felt like a "short" day. I had some really short days, like 14mi to a town where I took a break, and the longest day I had was 98.5mi. I really wanted to hit 100, but wasn't willing to do circles around a parking lot to make that happen.

RustAndroid2 karma

[deleted]

geoffreybeene16 karma

One thing to know is that riding a bike all day costs a ton of calories. You have to eat all the time. I knew this before I went into it, but decided to start eating tons of food before my metabolism actually started turning into an unstoppable furnace.

One morning, I pounded down a ridiculous amount of food at a continental breakfast--shitty waffles, shitty muffins, shitty everything. I had a stomach full of terrible things. It came back to me as I was bicycling through the backwoods of Massachusetts, and I found myself caught short on the side of the road, thankful for the low stone walls that farmers built 100 years ago as I jumped over one and painfully gave back to Nature what was rightfully hers in a horrible, terrible blowout.

mrzara2 karma

Any injuries such as knee trouble? Would love to do something like this but am afraid I will get injured the first 200 miles.

geoffreybeene7 karma

I really fucked my knee up when I started due to bad bike fit. If you want to do this, go to a bike shop, shell out for a professional bike fitting. Tiny adjustments are everything on a bicycle, and something that may not hurt after one long bike ride may cause serious injury over 1000 miles of daily use. Ibuprofen and taking it easy on myself got me through the knee injury, but I really thought I wasn't going to make it.

weissbro2 karma

Was there a moment on your trip (or even before the trip) where you almost gave up and decided to go home? What drove you to that point and how did you handle that?

geoffreybeene3 karma

I thought I'd have to quit about two weeks in due to knee pain. I went to an urgent care clinic, the doctor did a little wiggle check of the ligaments, and said "I don't think you're going to finish." That pissed me off, and motivated me more than anything. Ibuprofen and determination got me through that one. I think I'm going to send that ass a vitriolic postcard, now that I think of it.

The other time was after leaving Seattle, and almost reaching the coast. I'd already been out on the road over 4 months, and I was sad to be leaving my friends to go back out on the road. I figured I'd already been out long enough, and all I wanted to do was get to know people and have social interaction, and I kind of lost sight of why I was out there. I was nostalgic for fall back home and hanging out in the woods with my friends, so I just wanted to hit the coast and go home. Fortunately, I met a lot of great people when I reached the ocean and never looked back.

Lemawnjello2 karma

Thanks for doing this! You already answered the "What was your favorite place?" question, but which was your favorite state to ride through?

geoffreybeene3 karma

The scenery of Montana was incredible (Steinbeck writes, "I’m in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection. But with Montana it is love." and he's right) and the Oregon coastline was stunning.

But you know what? I loved riding through Kansas. I expected it to be flat, miserable, headwindy hell, but it was really charming. Huge expanses of space, and you a tiny speck in the middle. Friendly locals.

Plus, it's pretty. Beautiful sunsets every single night.

Pics 1 Pics 2 Pics 3

Lemawnjello2 karma

I agree that Montana is a mountain man's wet dream. Only been there once and I wish I had appreciated it more when I was 10 (but you know how 10 year olds are on long road trips). I'm from Oregon and count myself very fortunate that I can just pop over to the most beautiful coast in the US whenever I want and it only takes about an hour to get there. Heck, those highway pictures from Kansas look almost identical to several stretches of I-5 around Linn County. I'll have to include Kansas on my road trip plans.

geoffreybeene2 karma

Get off the Interstate in Kansas and take the northern highway across the state. it's much prettier up there than the middle/south part of the state.

kykinson2 karma

Are you Forrest Gump's brother?

geoffreybeene1 karma

I'm the one in the family who keeps the beard trimmed.

iamfaithon2 karma

Did you have to lube often?

geoffreybeene7 karma

Well, I answered in another thread that I only had one hookup on the trip, so....

window51 karma

You mention East St. Louis. Did you bike thru other black towns and cities? Were there rural areas you passed thru which had majority black populations? Are there any reason for safety concerns biking thru any parts of the US?

geoffreybeene2 karma

If I did, I didn't know them especially as black towns.

I think there are as many safety concerns biking across the US as there are for people to stay in their own hometowns. The way I saw it was, people die slipping in their bathtubs. They get in car accidents. They get random illnesses unexpectedly. The world is a dangerous place to live in no matter where you are--I may as well be doing something fun.

FireFromtheHorizon1 karma

So what was the motivation for all that?

geoffreybeene5 karma

Basically at the end of college I weighed about 260lbs, was an alcoholic, super depressed. I moved home and changed my situation, which involved getting a job and picking up a bike.

Biking changed everything. It's a non-stop effort of self motivation and accomplishment. Each bike ride is a series of small victories, and with the confidence that came from losing weight and gradually going farther and farther, I got to the point where I wanted to see just how much I was capable of. Turns out it's quite a bit :)

woodworthington1 karma

Was there a moment when you feared for your life while on this journey, or was it smooth sailing?

geoffreybeene3 karma

Smooth sailing as far as people and sleeping situations went, but I'll sound like a broken record here--traffic. One sedan came so close to me going at least 50mph that I couldn't tell if it was the slipstream of the car or my elbow brushing up against the side panel that pushed me aside. It was like having a gun pointed at my head.

Warranthad1 karma

Did you experience physical pain anytime during this trip? How fit were you before?

geoffreybeene2 karma

I was fit enough to do easy 40-50 mile bike rides, but not particularly fit otherwise.

Physical pain is kind of a fact of life of bike touring. Or not pain, maybe, but discomfort. Bike seats can get pretty comfortable, but nothing shaped like a tiny leather wedge is going to feel comfortable against your ass after 5 hours. Your knees ache after mountain climbs, your hands go numb from holding the handlebars, your head and shoulders get tired. You sleep on a sleeping pad for nights at a time and get dirty and smelly.

And none of that ends up mattering when you crest a hill and see something beautiful before speeding down it again at 30+ mph :)

0fficerNasty1 karma

Do you have before and after pics like the hiker?

geoffreybeene5 karma

Nothing nearly as dramatic as that guy, but here's Maine vs. San Francisco. The leg tan is pretty hilarious.

Before/After

punctual6 karma

Ooh, you are cute. Now I'm reading this thread entirely differently.

Congrats! Such a great achievement!

geoffreybeene2 karma

Why thank you :)

rollerband1 karma

Do you plan for Asia tour? How about Taiwan or Vietnam?

geoffreybeene6 karma

I'd love to do Asia, but it's going to take a while to save money back up. Plus I kind of had a "I Know What I Want To Do With my Life" epiphany on the road and have a long road ahead of me...

kippy32671 karma

What do you wanna do?

geoffreybeene4 karma

I want to pursue a master's degree in urban/regional planning and help develop bicycle infrastructure across the country! Anything to get more people on bikes!

edit

I'm looking to go to Portland State or University of Washington for this, and due to my aforementioned depression/alcoholism my undergrad GPA/transcript is pretty bad. I'm going to have to do a lot of schmoozing and volunteering to get myself accepted. If anyone has any ideas or connections for volunteering/internships/related jobs around Portland or Seattle, let me know!

Bwtadpole3 karma

Don't ever come back to the office here, Geoff. It's too small for you.

-The guy on the other side of your old cube wall

geoffreybeene2 karma

The concept of a cubicle makes my skin crawl right now. I'll probably end up back in one eventually... I don't want to think about that yet.

Cyrano_De_BIRDATTACK1 karma

What was your longest stretch between towns/resupply?

geoffreybeene2 karma

I think it was something like 60 miles between the last town in Western Kansas and the suburbs of Denver. People kept telling me "You're about to jump off the edge of the world!" the farther west I got in Kansas, but I don't think I ever went one whole day without encountering a town of some sort.

Hipstergster1 karma

What kinda stuff did you pack for your trip? Like how much clothes, water, snacks etc?

geoffreybeene2 karma

Here's my pre-trip list of gear. I have to do the post-trip gear review writeup still, but it didn't change too much from that list.

harrisonsvp1 karma

Wow. This seems like it would be so much fun to do with a small group of friends. This story is truly intruiging to me and thank you for doing this AmA!!!

My question is: What inspired you to do this journey? Was it something you wanted to do to get more fit and for health reasons, or was it something you've always dreamed of doing and seeked it as a way to help you get out of your depression?

geoffreybeene4 karma

It'd be good to do with one or two friends, but I think it depends what you want out of it! When you're going solo, you talk to way more strangers, get lots of invitations for help and food, and have a much different experience than with a group.

I rode with a few groups along the way, and had a ton of fun but it changes. You lose some freedom when you're making compromises and having to deal with the logistics of feeding an army/finding places to sleep. I'd recommend going alone, personally, but it's nice to be able to high-five someone when you get past a tough part or reach something amazing.

As for my motivations, I kind of talk about them here. I was out of my depression before the trip, at least the worst of it. I think I still have fits of melancholy and certainly did while on this trip, but I've learned that almost everything is temporary. Moods, thoughts, bodily discomfort... you forget about how hard it is to ride up the mountain when you're coasting down the other side.

Naf71 karma

1 question: Would you do it all again?

geoffreybeene1 karma

In a heartbeat. I wish I didn't have to stop.

detective_scrots1 karma

Heeey I've always wanted to do this and will some day... just curious as to how much you forked out for your bike and panniers... and any other equipment/cadgets you deemed necessary...? congratulations on overcoming your depression. i've been making some ground on mine. you're a bit of an inspiration there champ.

geoffreybeene1 karma

I'll preface this by saying my mantra while shopping for gear was "People have ridden across the country on unicycles and penny farthings." Gear is gear, and while it's helpful, you can probably make do with a lot less than you think.

The bike was brand new a month before I started, a 2014 Novara Randonee. I think it was like $1200 with tax, after REI discount. I asked for panniers, tent, sleeping stuff, and other "big" items for Christmases and Birthdays the 3 years before my trip, so I didn't fork anything out for those :)

I did a lot of photoblogging on the road, so a good camera and laptop were important to me and weren't cheap. I got a Sony NEX3N for $300? I think? and started out with a $60 used Chromebook but finished with a Surface Pro 3, which was about $1k if I remember correctly. But either of those are (really) necessary, though I'd argue that a camera definitely is.

zombiecslover1 karma

This is something that I have wanted to do since getting a bike. I will have all the equipment soon and my bike is ready to go. http://i.imgur.com/VKKcx0s.jpg . My question is looking at my bike is there anything you recommend? what was the gear ratio you were working with on this trip? How many spokes do you think are necessary to support weight? I'm assuming i could increase tire size.

I think it is amazing what you did and even better that you righted yourself

geoffreybeene1 karma

YESSS! This makes me so happy!

Your bike looks friggin awesome, just a couple questions--

Can you get a third water bottle cage on there? You may consider that. Water is important, and the summer is hot.

Is that a double chainring? Unless you're a super strong rider you may want to consider a triple up front. I never used the big ring, and was happy to have granny gears if I needed them.

Spokes--as many as possible, especially if you're loading the front and the back. I had 36 spoke wheels and they were perfect.

This was my bike, I didn't change any of the drivetrain components from it: http://www.rei.com/product/816068/novara-randonee-bike-2014

Thanks, and be sure to let me/us know about when and where you're going! I'd love to read about your adventure.

zombiecslover1 karma

Thanks for the amazing response and input! No third brazon unfortunately but I suppose I could do seat mounted or like a velcro cage.

Just two chain rings up front. I suppose I'm strong (I don't use a car just ride everywhere) but I was considering a granny gear when hitting the road. I will look into purchasing a new crankset. I think I might be at 34 spokes . I'm. Ok sure of my loaf on the bike but it stated 360 pounds. What was your final load weight. I think not having enough spokes is what worries me the most. I'll look into wheel options. Was thinking if anything fatter tires might make up for it but then I'd potentially lose speed.

I will definitely shout out to you when I take a trip. Thanks so much and safe travels

geoffreybeene1 karma

What sort of tour are you looking to do? Cross country? Scenic or speed?

You'll appreciate the granny gear, trust me. I "ride everywhere" too but there's a difference between riding around town and spending 7 hours climbing a mountain pass.

34 spokes is pretty strong, if you don't overload it you should be OK. I wouldn't worry too much about it, tbh. I met people touring on old 10 speeds, brand new bikes, road bikes, and everything in between. You'll be OK :)

My bike and gear weighed about 100 lbs exactly when I had it weighed in Missoula. Otherwise I never thought about weight.

I know you're in the pre-trip mindset so there are a million questions, but trust me, a lot of these little questions stop mattering when you're actually out there doing it :)

DoctorBandaloop1 karma

I'm a little late to the party, but I was wondering, did you find it challenging to stay sober on the road?

geoffreybeene2 karma

Nope, not at all. I was worried about having to turn down peoples' hospitality (hey, you want a beer?) but no one made a big deal out of it, so I didn't either.

JasJ0021 karma

A little late to the game but a shameless plug for /r/randonneuring and if anybody wants to see an insane cross country race check out the race across america where people will do 3000 miles in just over 7.5 days.

Anyway my question, toughest climb, day, stretch of your journey?

geoffreybeene1 karma

I really want to get into randonneuring now that the trip is over! Something a little faster paced but still self-sufficient and long distance. Very cool :)

Toughest day was easy--crossing the Bighorn Mountain range in Northern Wyoming. 5000 feet of climbing in 35 miles, and it started hailing on me at the top. It was exactly like my first day on the road in Maine, and I got a little emotional yelling at the storm about how far I've come since then, and I'm better than this, and yeah.. :)

Toughest stretch was also in Wyoming.... between Laramie and Gillette. You ride through this area called Thunder Basin National Grassland which is infinite yellow nothingness. The place you start riding looks like the place you finish riding and at the end of the day, you're not sure you went anywhere but you sure are tired.

Jynx31 karma

What is the longest stretch you went either distance or time without seeing another person and where were you?

geoffreybeene2 karma

I did a 71 mile rail trail through the Idaho Panhandle where I didn't see another person, and spent a day in the cornfields of southern Illinois all by myself. Otherwise, I almost always saw people, or at least cars, eventually.

SgianDubh-2 karma

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geoffreybeene4 karma

The USA is 3.79 million square miles. There's a lot I didn't see.