Video Tutorial on Riding across the USA

I am often asked about how I go about planning my bike tours. I do my best on this blog or in person over brews of various kinds with friends but it’s hard to convey what planning and riding a bike tour is like.

I came across this video today by Ryan van Duzer. The video goes well beyond planning a tour. Ryan, who has no shortage of enthusiasm for bike tours, can’t help but share his joy of touring.

As you will see, Ryan makes liberal use of drone shots. They make for amazing panoramic vistas but, sad to say, most of the time bike tourists don’t get such amazing perspectives. And exception is when you are in the mountains and can look out over the landscape. Northern Cascades and the GAP Trail east of the Eastern Continental Divide are notable exceptions.

This is a quibble. Good on Ryan to lug all that electronic stuff with him so you don’t have to. Here’s the video.

My only disagreements with Ryan have to do with riding direction and riding yourself into shape. I agree with Ryan that you’ll encounter headwinds regardless of which direction you go. As the famous bike tourist Milton Friedman once said, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” I disagree with the concept of riding yourself into shape. You’ll have a much better time if you get your body ready before you leave, especially if you are riding west to east. The reason is that the first few days heading east involve beaucoup climbing. I heard from a Warmshowers host in eastern Washington that it was not uncommon for eastbound riders to quit after only a few days. The Northern Tier route that they use goes from sea level to over 4,000 feet in a matter of 100 or so miles. Then there are four climbs over 5,000 feet in the days that follow. I had over 3,000 miles under my belt before I hit this climbfest. So eastbounders, bring your A game. folks. (Not to belabor the point but the climb from Sacramento to Carson Pass on the Western Express route goes from near sea level to over 8,000 feet in 90 miles. Good thing it’s pretty, because I didn’t see any cardiac care units on my ride west out of the Sierras.)

Fair warning: Ryan’s videos are addictive.

While I am on the subject, another source of great bike touring info are the videos of Bike Touring Mike. He’s a bit droll but he knows his stuff.

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