The Route (from Southern California to Florida)
There are lots of options when you decide you want to bike across the country. The first and it seemed to me primary decision is the supported or unsupported choice. If you choose a company to carry your stuff, help with food and lodging-that is "supported". Or you can choose to camp or stay at hotels (or some combination of both) and manage that all on your own or with a small group-that is called "unsupported".
Choosing whether to be supported or unsupported is a decision you make that takes into consideration cost, companionship and uncertainty. Unsupported rides are frequently done with a friend or three, where you share the organization and expense, you frequently camp, lack choices in food (lots of food decisions are made in the aisles of gas stations or fast food restaurants), and are willing to live with a level of uncertainty.
I don't know anyone similarly crazy who wants to bike across the country. I wanted a shower, a bed and someone else to worry about meals along the way. The challenge of completing the ride itself is what the journey is about for me. I wanted to be "supported".
Once I decided supported, I started reviewing tour companies. I say started, like that was a recent thing, but it wasn't. For the past five years, at least a few times a year, I spent hours reading websites, books, blogs and articles from fellow travelers who have crossed the country by bike. I read training plans, reviews of tour companies, reviews of routes (east to west, west to east) and the list went on.
I knew I wanted to ride with a compatible group in terms of ability. Which for me, left out all of the fast tours that advertise cross country tours in 40-50 days. There are even events where you can race across the states by bike. I am slow. I want to look up and enjoy the scenery. I crossed those off my list.
I decided I wanted to do the Southern Tier. If you click on the link below it is the brown route along the southern United States.
A couple of years ago, I found a company- Woman Tours (www.womantours.com) who only do bike trips for women. They are also one of the only companies that crosses the country on the Southern Route. It is one of the most accessible (least elevation gain, fewest miles per day).
I took one practice trip with them across Death Valley for a week a couple years ago. (And it was awful, but that's another story.)
We leave from San Diego, California on March 7, 2018 and 57 days later-May 2, 2018 we arrive in St. Augustine, Florida. I will bike 3100 miles. The tour averages 65 miles a day of cycling with 8 rest days.
That little brown line doesn't seem very scary, does it? 65 miles a day, that doesn't seem so bad, right?
Well, I live outside of Phoenix, on the east side, right up against the mountains. The second week we are going to bike right by my house. I know the road we climb east. That little brown line there, the one that looks easy, well the trip guidelines for that day is 77 miles, uphill- really, really, uphill. In a couple of days I'm going to train on that road. I'll let you know how it goes.
Another day, I'll talk about about why I'm doing this, when even some people closest to me think I'm crazy.