Route map

Sorry the map is not updating but if you want to see our progress and atcual route go toBike tour map and click next


Chocolate milkshake... I mean protein shake

So yesterday I was craving chocolate milk but all I had was coca powder ,so I look up how to use it to make one.  It was really good.   Today after mountain biking I decided to have a protein shake.  I have been making these non powder shakes for a while and there great. 
I never measure it out so here is the way I do it:
Equal parts riccotta cheese, cottage cheese
About half that amount of vanilla yogurt.
Some flaxseed oil for good fats. Not needed
Milk to consistency and blend. 
I will often add a peach or just some honey to sweeten of up.

But today I tried the coca powder and some honey and it is just like a chocolate milk shake. 

Too bad I can't one of these on tour.

Oh by the way this is my first post from my phone. So sorry if it isn't pretty.


Long time no Post? - Life on a bike

Ok I know it has been a while, but life has been a little crazy(trying to do too much at once). Since my last post I: lived off my bike for 2 weeks, was home for a week, then headed up to Alfred for my first week of my last semester of undergrad.

So 2 weeks on a bike commuting 15 miles or more depending on where I decided to set up camp that night. Not bad right? Well sorta. The first few days were ok, but riddled with not sleeping well. The first nights camping alone every noise sounds like the boogie man coming to get you, or maybe just BooBoo.  But either way it does not lend nice to getting a good night sleep. 
Then I helped a buddy move and crashed at his place, thanks again Rich, 
but we drank quite a bit.  To follow that a really hard night of drinking at Eat Me's birthday party.  maybe I'll be ok I'm young right. 
Well I thought so.  The next night was fine.  The following evening was a NVHHH trail, I set camp up before trail near the start.  during trail it down poured.  I had lots of Hashers asked me if I wanted to stay with them but I figured this was part of learning for the trip.  That night was actually fine once I dried off. 
On trail some one had abandoned and trashed a campsite.  After cleaning it up, from this I took a rain fly and ground tarp which over the next week I made into a nice tent.  I'm sorry I don't have a pic right now.  
The rest of the week had scattered storms but I was lucky to never ride in one and camp was always set up before it rained.  Friday around 2 pm  I started to head home I got to the spot I had plan on in only (37mi) Bald Eagle state forest and enjoyed my extra time before dark.  I slept the best I had for those 2 weeks that night, but I woke up exhausted.  I didn't get on the bike till 9:30ish (7 would have been more like it), and riding was just tough. 
After 40ish miles I got to Shamokin Dam and decided to call it.  I called my dad up and about 2 hours later he picked me up.  I hate that I did this, but at that point I wanted to be home and if I kept going I would have gotten hurt.  On tour I would have taken a day off but I didn't really have that option. 

The last two weeks have been a lot of packing unpacking driving and socializing with friends (drinking), and not so much riding.  After my ride yesterday I could taste alcohol in my sweat.  I am done drinking heavily maybe done entirely.  It would not be the first time I stopped, but it looks like it is again necessary. 
I have a lot to do and a lot of riding to do before I can do this trip. 

I also got a new smart phone while I was home.  I should be posting this on my phone to practice but I am not.  It is taking some time but I think i am figuring it out.  I will hopefully be able to post and update a map with my route as I go.  which is pretty awesome. 

I think that is all for now.  Hopefully I can keep up to date with this more now again, and get some ride maps up as test. 


Acceptable route map

Ok so I got this up I think it is fairly clear. Let me know if you think otherwise.

It was done using the Google earth spreadsheet mapper. I will be editing the mapper to suit my needs and will post it if any one wants my version then. Just let me know.

Please take a look and feel free to comment on the route including places I need to visit, I can stay, and any other thoughts or concerns. Thanks.


Route map

So I finally got something posted.  It is not great but it is a start.  As I tweak it I will tell you more but it is based off of This. Check it out if you like. 

As for the current route; only weekly or other stops/check points are labeled, routes are not necessarily determined yet.  I included all family, on route, as stops, if you don't want me to stay with you just say so (I plan to send an email out soon too). 


DIY Rear Panniers update.

So after finishing the front Panniers I decided to change the rears.   I cut them apart sewed the channel around the top for a draw string and added hooks and bungies.

I also added straps to hold them up nice. 

There is no goo way to carry them right now.  I may add a bar across like the fronts have so the a handle can be added.

They worked out really well on the trip up to state college.  Could probably make them deeper anda bit wider but I don't think I will need the extra space.


First long multi day ride with gear!!!

As I mention before I had decided to drive home and bike back to state college with just the stuff that fit on my bike.  This, I still think was a good idea, but boy do I hurt.

Saturday around 11:15 I left home, this was a lot later then I hoped and I paid for it.  I had a lot more to do when I go home Friday then I had expected, or rather it took longer.  First - unpack. This was harder then just dump and run, because my parents are remodeling the bathroom/my room so I couldn't just put it all in there.  Second off, finish up the mods no the rear bags(I guess I should post on that). Oh, my Dad also helped mod a old fanny pack into a handle bar bag.  Third figure out what I was taking and pack it.  So even though I got home at 3 on Friday, stayed up till 11, and woke up at 7 I still didn't leave till 11. Oh well.

So even though I was riding in the middle of a mid 90 degree day the first 25ish miles were not so bad, with a pace around 13mph.  Sounds kinda slow but I had way too much weight on, I really need to get lighter gear(clothing). 
At that point my GPS decided to run out of batteries(lesson- charge batteries before a trip), so there is no track of the trip sorry. :(   Oh I did alter the route from before,  I went 897 instead of 422 and took 501 instead of camp swatara.  camp was really steep and 422 is too busy. 

During that first section I stopped to refill my water bottle from one of the two bladders I brought with(wine bag and camel back) every hour.  My first major pit stop was a grocery store in Bethel at the base of the mountain on 501.  I got a cold drink and a sports drink, I felt I needed some electrolytes.   I then headed up the mountain. Close to the base a man in a truck pulled beside me and asked If I wanted a lift to the top,  I said I was fine.  He then offered water, I had plenty.  I later wished I took his ride but at the time I wanted to do it all.  Thank you sir for asking, next time I will take you up on your offer.
I eventually got tired and decided it was nap time.  I happened along a trail that I pulled my bike into and  then just laid along the trail.  I didn't realise it at first but there was a little shack behind me up the mountain a bit.  looking at a map that was actually one of the Appalachian trail huts.  I wish I knew because it may have been more comfy then the ground.  After about an hour I kept on and made the top. 
After the down hill and a ride through Pine grove I decided to stop and eat, figuring it was the last big town.  I stopped at Buddy's log cabin family restaurant.  They had a little outside portion so I ordered a cheese steak and hung out.   There an older couple came by who said they had just started biking.  They were nice to talk to. The steak was big but I ate it all, which was a bad idea because I started biking right away and didn't feel real great for a bit. 
Molleystown road started off being really nice and I stopped at a creak in the state game lands to freshen up.
After this the road got ugly (really steep).  This hill compared if was not worse then the one on 501.   The only cool part was seeing all of the lifted jeeps and buggys.  I didn't know this until I was at the top but that land is Rausch Creek Off Road Park.   I stopped a lot on that road I mean a lot some times only after 100 yds. 

After that it wasn't so bad, but I was beat.  The goal was, still, to make it close to Shamokin dam so I pushed on.  As it got to be 8pm I started looking for places to set up camp.  I stopped at one spot again to freshen up and maybe camp I brought my water bottle down to cool it of, and while I was washing it must have floated off. I decided it was not a good place to stay and now I no longer had a bottle, but down the road was a Gatorade machine so I got that and it fit. 
I passed a older gentleman sitting on his porch and he waved after two seconds of thought I turned around to ask if he knew a place to set up a tent.   I asked and he went to the door and moaned, his wife came out and said I could set up a tent in their yard.  As it turned out he had a stroke back in 2001 so he couldn't talk anymore, but I talked to her about this and that as I drank some cold water she gave me.  I never did get there names even though she told me she grew up just down the street and that they lived in that house since 57'.   They were very nice and I thank them very much.  I hope this is a showing of how the cross country tour will be. 
Since I didn't have trees to use I used my bike to support the tarps.  I think I will build my actual tent this way. 

After sleeping pretty well I hit the road early and made good time since the temp was nice, 60's.  I actually shivered going down a hill, it felt good.  
In about an hour and a half I made Shamokin dam.
There I got food and water for the day(I drank almost all of it the day before) and some breakfast.  I continued on making time and continuing my stop ever hour practice.  I pushed until Bald Eagle State Forest, where my last sizable hill was.  I climbed a good bit then stopped for lunch and a nap.  After an hour the sun when behind some clouds so I got moving. Near the top was a picnic area and I though the sign was funny, but maybe I was just tired.   
The rest of the ride was large rolling hills, and my legs were shot.  I got to state college around 4pm  and walked my bike through the rollers in town, I decided I was too beat to do the stupid hills. 

Over all my bags worked well, I had too much weight in them, and people were nice.  I got thumbs ups and waves from people driving by, and talked to some other nice people.  Like I said I hope the big trip is the same, just me in better shape and carrying less weight. 


Average Temp, Weather, Wind, etc. maps

I have heard from many people how brutal the wind is across certain states and that even though topography wise they shouldn't be bad they are.  To confirm this I wanted to find average wind speed and direction maps.  That way if possible try to use the wind to my advantage instead of disadvantage. 
This ended up being way more difficult to find then I had hoped, but after quite a bit of time I finally came to NOAA's Climate maps. They are pretty nice and give a general idea of averages.

From them, I found, I am pretty much SOL threw the mid south, Mean cross wind.  Also it doesn't really matter if I start in Nc or Ga because the average lows are similar.


DIY Front Panniers - Update, Long ride this weekend

So after Building and riding with the first bag I had a couple of changes I wanted to make.

Firstly and very simply, was to add a handle so it could easily be carried off the bike.  For this a short pice of webbing was added in between the top bolts. 

Second was to add a draw string so the top could be pulled in.  

This was done by rolling the end of the fabric to make a channel and sewing along the  bottom edge of it.

 This also made the initial pattern more simple, the first time there was a complicated lid flap. 
I will need to add a lid if I want it to be water tight.

So far with one bag of each style it works out for what I have been carrying.  They do work nice when I balance the load.  the only issue is the webbing wanting to slide out of place.  The next step will be to sew it on at least at the bottom.   

Currently the rear bags are being redesigned more like the front bags.  I still pan to have them frame less but they will now be separate and have drawstring tops. 
The wine bag hydration bladder is also under way,  but because of the blag bloating out and becoming to wide, it may be more difficult then first thought.  Either a smaller bag will need to be used or a coffee box bag?  I need to stop by either Starbucks or dunkin donuts and see if they will give me one. 
I do need to get these done in prep for the ride this weekend. 

On another note I will be driving home and riding back to Penn State with only what fits on my bike this weekend.  It is 150 miles so I am not sure yet if I will just do it in one day or camp a night.   It will be a good first test of my ability to find a place to camp if it is needed.   As for camping I will just use a tarp as a tent and for food I will hopefully be getting a Wisperlight International stove to carry as well.

Home to PSU

EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking in Pennsylvania
This route misses most of the big nasty hills that I would hit going other ways.   


DIY Front Panniers

So, since I am a wimp and I don't want to died in this 100 °F, that's 38 °C for you metric system folks,  weather, I have been inside working on these panniers instead of riding.  I am only doing about 10 mi a day right now which is disappointing, but considering....

These were a little more difficult then the rears since I couldn't get away with just drooping them over the wheel for support.  Instead they needed to hook on individually.  I started with just one figuring I can work out bugs then make the second one better.  This was definitely a good idea.   Not to say I am not happy with it I just think it could be better.
I took some 3/4" 12 Gauge steel and made hooks.  They are long so that they can act as a frame for the bags.

I really wish I was home where a vice would have made this much easier.

Next holes were drilled and fit was check on the bike.  The bag was the cut and sewn up just like the rear ones were done.  Webbing was cut to fit.  Sorry I don't have more pics mid build I kinda spaced.  Its the heat, I swear. 
After a nap and a cold shower, I assembled it.   I wanted to protect the bike and the racks so I took an old bike tube and cut it so I could still put in and tighten the bolts.    

a bungy connects to the bottom cross member and is used  to secure the whole thing to the rack.

Here are some more pics of it completed.  As you will see I haven't done the finish work.

A few things I want to do for the other side to make it better:
- Add extensions to the top of the support bar so the bag can be taller
- Possibly connect the webbing even higher  than the top of the bag, to provide more support.
- Give the top a drawstring closure.  2 reasons for this -pull everything in - better rain protection
- It would also be nice to add a handle on the top.

Well that is all for now.   I may work on the second front pannier tonight but we shall see.  I also am completely redesigning the rear bags after seeing how this one worked.  I will not be adding a frame (yet), but they will be two separate bags.


DIY Panniers (touring bags) Rear

I have found multiple other people online who have done this and seem to be happy with the results, and if you know me you wouldn't expect anything less (you may be surprised I didn't build my own bike, trust me I thought about it).

I really like Ken Kifer's concept and weight distribution ideas, so I kinda based mine off of his.  I started the bags by coming up with a design that I drew up(not great sketches so I will spare you a pic.), then just winged it from there.  I bought some cheap nylon to make a prototype set that I can use for a while and figure out the issues before I buy the good, expensive material. 

So some of you may want to hit me for this, but I didn't use any sort of template or anything I just measured, marked with electrical tape, and cut.  Yes, I really used electrical tape to mark things, I didn't have anything better at the time.
Here is a picture of the rear bags all cut out. 

I then started sewing it all together, by hand.  It took a little while but here is what I ended up with.
The bags are just packet with clothing and other random things I had around just shoved in there, so they are not packed well or properly.

 As you can see here there is stress on the bags.  I think putting a closure on the tops that can be tightened down may resolve this.  Also the bag on the right is built out so that it should not hit the derailleur, but currently because of the sag it is touching it.

I do need to finish sewing the edge of the tops, to keep them from fraying, but I decided I was done for tonight. 
As stated above, I will need to add a closure of some sort and maybe straps to pull the bags up from the outside.  Some sort of straps will be needed to keep it on the bike as well.  I will be getting the materials for that this weekend.
At this point I am going to leave it frame-less, but I feel it will need a frame at least to hold shape in the back.  I have a concept for a "soft" frame that I will probably try(I will explain this when I get to adding it).

Front bags will be started shortly as well as a DIY Hydration pack that uses a wine bag as the bladder.

Suit up Bike, lets get ready to party (making it that much more awesome)

So the LHT is pretty sweet to begin with but there are quite a few little things that can make it that much better. 

First off front and rear racks.  You know to put all that gear you'll need on.  I got a Bontrager Rear rack and a Salsa Down Under Front rack. 

Wait how do you put gear on those?   Well I will be building my own paniers.  I actually bought the material and started making a first version last night.  More to come on that later.

So next I realized when I went for a test ride I kept reaching for breaks when I was on the hoods (My '71 LeTour has wraparound breaks).  So I got some Inline breaks to solve that issue.
I also wanted to make sure my but would feel good for 10,000 miles, so do to many suggestions and online articles, I went with a Brooks B17
The bike did not come with pedals so I got a set of fully serviceable Crankbrothers eggbeaters.  I currently have a set of there low end pedals and love them, so I figured why not stick with them.
 I was able to get all of this from Freeze Thaw. It was also all discounted, since I bought the bike from them.  
A few other adds I need to do soon.  A center stand which I will get from Freeze Thaw and lights which I will most likely get from nashbar (I have some cheap taillights I got from them a while back and they work great). 

So so far I have put about 40 miles on the bike.  I wish it were more.  I am moving the handle bars around a little (shorter stem, up) but otherwise it feels great.  I am really excited to get my panniers done, so I can start riding with weight. 

Oh, also, sorry for the low quality pictures. They are from my phone, There is another needed add-on - camera.


Route - where I am going to be when(hopefully)

I am currently trying to figure out the best way to set this up I am thinking of doing something on everytrail.

But currently lets put it this way, I want to try to follow the Adventure Cycling Routes where possible since they are established and known to be good roads. 

So, I will follow the Atlantic cost stating some time in late January, early February.  Then I will continue across the southern tier to the great divide route.  Going up into Colorado then taking the western pass to Ca.  I will then ride up the western coast and then back across the northern pass or some combination of the other routes across the north.  

This is just the general plan as I figure out stops it will start to get more detailed.   I will alter the route for really any reason, especially beds and the chance to visit with anyone willing to have me.   Any route suggestions, sites to see, or places to stay will be greatly appreciated.  

If you would like to let me stay with you or would like to ride a section with me please leave a comment or send me an email.  I would be happy to share my experience with other riders and it is always nice to have others to ride with.  Please become part of this story because I know everyone I meet along the way I will never forget. Thank you

Surly Long Haul Trucker

Anything you are going to use a lot and are going to rely on needs to be thoroughly researched.  I spent the last 2 months looking at guides, review articles, talking to experienced people, and coming up with my own conclusions.  Some of the best websites I found and reviews that helped me choose the LHT are: palmbeachbiketours, crazyguyonabike, adventurecycling
There were many other sites but these also have a lot of other great information if you are looking to go on a long bike tour.
I talked to a lot of local cyclist, but there are 2 people I want to note.
A co-worker of my fathers, Gary,  who has done several tours and has a lot of experience with all sorts of bikes.  He told me he had heard nothing but good things from friends that have the bike, and many of them had done very long rides and one had recently gone cross country. I think Gary convinced my dad this was a good bike and the tour was a good idea. For this, Gary, I thank you.
I also talked to a friend from Wi, Terry.  He has a trek 520 so is partial to it, which I also considered(slightly higher price not much upgrade). even thought he is partial to the trek he also saw no problem with the bike.  He gave me many other pointers and sites to check out.  I hope to get to ride portions with both of them.
So I know it is just 2 people and the internet but I thought it seemed right.  The next step was a test ride.  I did not get to ride it with weight but anyhow it felt like I was riding a Cadillac in comparison to my 71' Schwinn LeTour.  It was really sturdy and comfortable but still quick.  I am very excited, now that I own it, to load it up and go ride.


So now it is real!!!

 I was waiting to start a Blog until I knew I was really doing this trip I had been dreaming about for at least the last year.  Well, now I know it is going to happen and here is how.

My Parents came into town today to visit me here at State College, and to check out Arts Fest.  I figured I would take them to check out the bike as well as some other gear I have been looking at.  You know to try to convince them that it was all a good idea.  We get into Freeze Thaw, I show them the Surly LHT, and in what felt like less then a minute my mom says "so do we buy it?"  I gave her a crazy look, cause I did not expect that.  They had apparently decided they were going to support the trip, and to start things off I needed a bike. I'll explain the bike choice and such later.   So hopefully this evening I will have a awesome bike and will be going for a nice long ride tomorrow!!!