Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What are you, nuts? How far is this? How long will it take?
A. We are nuts. About 3,500 miles. 10 weeks or so.
Q. OK, but why?
A. Dave has considered himself a long-distance cyclist since the early 80’s when he rode solo from Springfield to Niles, Illinois (240 miles, 2 days) to visit an old college buddy. A coast-to-coast bike ride is the ultimate trip for most touring cyclists. Most people will never understand the joys of cycle touring, and we find it difficult to fully describe the thrills involved. The advantages of the father-son time together are obvious. A trip like this is also a nice way to raise money for charity.
Q. Are you guys going with an organized group?
A. We initially discussed going with a group of 12 or so led by Adventure Cycling. We would have had to pay them $2,300 each and they would have provided a group leader and all meals and camping fees. They do not, however, allow children on any of their trips. That’s fine; we can pay for a lot of meals and hotel rooms with $4,600. We can also set our own schedule. We want to stop and rest wherever we want. We may want to ride 100+ miles when we have a tailwind kind of day; we will probably spend an extra day in a Holidome if it’s raining. Adventure Cycling sticks to a schedule.
Q. Will you guys have a support vehicle following you?
A. No. That would be cheating.
Q. How many miles will you travel per day?
A. We are aiming for about 350 miles per week. We hope to do about 60 miles per day for six days, then take a day off. If conditions are favorable, we might be able to increase our daily mileage to 70 and take two days off in a week.
Q. How much “time in the saddle” per day?
A. We will probably spend about six hours riding each day. We’ll be stopping to eat, play baseball, eat, go fishing, fly kites, eat and nap. With those diversions, it may take us all day to ride six hours.
A. We don’t think so. We won’t be surprised by an immature teenage driver or two, and the occasional digital salute. But the USA is full of wonderful people, and we hope to meet many of them. We’ve also found that people are friendlier to parent/child combos.
A. Only with our wits (although formidable!) and some doggie pepper spray. We do plan on bringing some sporting goods. Since Will expects to miss the beginning of baseball season, we will have baseball gloves and a bat. I guess the bat could be used as a weapon. We don’t anticipate, however, the need to hit anything other than baseballs with it. Dave won’t be wearing his “I’m a lawyer” shirt.
A. We have purchased maps from Adventure Cycling Association. The route is primarily back roads. It has been tested and tweaked dozens of times by hundreds of cyclists.
A. We will carry all the camping equipment that we will need to live indefinitely. We will aim for campgrounds, both public and private. We expect to camp “in the wild” several nights when there are no alternatives. We plan to stay in hotels a couple nights per week.
A. We will eat just about anything that doesn’t run away! We will consume calories as fast as we can at times. We plan to eat at restaurants frequently, but we will buy groceries when camping. We plan to bring minimal fishing gear and Will might catch dinner at times. We will usually only carry emergency rations and snacks on the bike due to weight considerations. “All you can eat” places will be pleased to see us waddle out of the door as they re-think their marketing strategy.
Q. How much water will you carry?
A. We are prepared to carry up to 2 days' worth. There is a stretch out west that will take us 2 days between any services. We will have a capacity of 112 ounces in our standard water bottles, and 170 ounces in 2 "camelback"-type bladders. Just for this stretch, we will lash another 2 gallons to our trailer for a total of about 35 pounds of H2O.
A. Will is going to miss about 11 weeks of school. We have the full support of the principal of our school, Sister Ann Busch. Sister Ann immediately recognized the value of this life experience for Will. Will's teacher, Ms. Battaglia, has offered to e-mail assignments and tests to us for completion. We will download the assignments, teach the lesson, do the homework, then e-mail them back to her. The most important part of this semester seems to be learning the “times-tables” up to 12. We can do those drills on the bike. Will may qualify as a “roads scholar”!
A. Dave is an FAA Air Traffic Controller at O’Hare Approach Control and a lawyer. He has saved up vacation time over the last several years and has chosen to accept “credit hours” in lieu of the more lucrative overtime pay when possible (to save taxpayer dollars!). His law cases are easily shipped off to colleagues, but he will continue to “work the phones” during the trip.
A. Everyone supports us wholeheartedly. Fifteen-year-old Katie rode a tandem with Dad from Barrington, Illinois, to Washington (17 days, 1,039 miles) when she was 10. David did RAGBRAI XXVII (a 531 mile bike ride across Iowa with 20,000 riders) with Dad three summers ago when he was 10. Dad is convinced that both children cherish these memories. Mom prefers the ride characteristics of a German touring car, and the amenities of a 3-star or better hotel. Nevertheless, Dad is hoping for a European B&B tandem bicycle tour with Mom a few years down the road.
plan to carry a “sub-notebook” computer, two digital cameras, a digital voice recorder,
a cell phone or two, a Sony CLIE PDA, a Gameboy, and a radar detector to avoid
speeding tickets (we might end up skipping the radar detector to save
So far, Mom is withholding permission for a GPS receiver with
mapping. Stay tuned. Santa
brought us a Garmin GPS V! It has
mapping for every street in North America, and almost all campgrounds, hotels,
restaurants, and other points of interest.
It will drastically simplify our navigation, and make finding
accommodations a snap!