Cross Country Bike Trip Summary

Origin: Philadelphia, PA
Destination: San Francisco, CA
Total Distance: 3396 miles
Start Date: 7/1/15
End Date: 9/4/15
Days in the saddle: 46
Days out of the saddle: 20

I want to remember and acknowledge those helping me from afar:

  • Raiana Mearns
  • Catherine Moore
  • Julianne Winikur

I want to remember and acknowledge the following hosts and friendly faces along the way:

  • Raiana Mearns (Gettysburg, PA)
  • Dan and Megan Edwards (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • Vera Grinshteyn (Cleveland, OH)
  • Kate Riordan and Andy Helmkamp (Fort Wayne, IN)
  • town superintendent and assistant (Royal Center, IN)
  • Etty, Seth, Sophia, and Claire (Peoria, IL)
  • Peder and Karen Schweigert (St. Paul, MN)
  • Jesse Mortensen (Minneapolis, MN)
  • Phil and Elena Treib (Gary, SD)
  • Frank Sanders (Devils Tower, WY)
  • Kaci McStay (Gillette, WY)
  • Andy and the good people ("Heathens") of Burlington (Burlington, WY)
  • Alvin Hipolito (Grant Village, Yellowstone Park, WY)
  • Alex Feeburg and Ragan Jolly (Jackson, WY)
  • Tamra Hyde (Teton, ID)
  • anonymous woman in truck who handed me an apple and a bar (near Fairfield, ID)
  • trucker who gave me 3 bottles of water at a rest stop (Brothers, OR)
  • Elan Wischkin and the Black Dog Farmstead crew (Rogue River, OR)
  • Francois (Burlington, CA to Westport, CA)
  • Brian Chase and Rachel (Fort Ross, CA)
  • Grzegorz Miaskiewicz (San Francisco, CA)

And for helping hook me up with new friends/hosts:

  • Sir Peter Gartrell d'Wyoming
  • Zhenya Grinshteyn (and Kori Moore, for riding out with me at 5a on Day #1!)
  • Amy Wilson
  • Robert Henning
  • Teri Anderson

For full route detail:

Full Route

Total Cost: $3569.74

  • bike 500.00 (gifted, retails for 1,400)
  • bike equipment: 660.44
  • camping equipment: 418.55
  • camping fees: 152.08
  • food and drink : 1167.27
  • hotel : 195.24
  • misc : 1.99
  • park fees: 35
  • transportation and shipping: 439.17

I spent probably more than average on food and drink and probably less than average on the bike and equipment (if you are new to bike touring, I would add an extra $200 to compensate for items I did not purchase for this trip -- had already buffered this somewhat).

Criteria ranked (this is how I chose my route)

  1. location of friends and family
  2. points of interest
  3. mountain passes
  4. grade and road surface
  5. bike-friendly streets and trails; took many trails where available
Some useful things I learned
  • US Highways are often the most bike friendly roads as you get further west.  This is especially true in mountainous areas, where US Highways are often the best graded, have the widest shoulders, and have the best chance of finding facilities (water, food, camping)
  • Interstate Highways are a good option west of Wyoming (and east of California?  I didn't take any interstates in California)
  • The wind will definitely be blowing against you most of the time if you ride from East to West in the summer -- and cross winds are as bad, if not worse, than direct headwinds
  • A water filter is a good backup in areas that have standing water, but is useless in desert areas without water of any kind
  • Back roads are really not an option west of Minnesota/East of California  (outside of urban areas), where surfaces rapidly deteriorate and roads themselves sometimes disappear in ranch land
  • The biggest bear danger is in Wyoming -- stay in a campground with bear boxes to save yourself a lot of trouble, and carry bear spray
  • You can camp out of sight from trails and roads in public Forests legitamately ("dispersed camping").  Same goes for other public land like BLM land.
  • Campgrounds out west often have a "hiker/biker" site fee that is much reduced from normal price (California ~$5)
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