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


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!!!