Bicycle from Milwaukee to Denver

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jul 14, 2012 9:44 PM GMT
    Hey Guys,
    So I am planning to move to Denver from Milwaukee in the spring. I love adventure. I love traveling, seeing new things, exploring places, and being physical. I was thinking that since I don't own anything, I'd ship my few belongings and ride my bicycle to Colorado. I would set aside a week or so for the travel time, with which I could explore this beautiful country, camp out, and just take my time and enjoy the ride.

    What do you guys think? Is that actually a really stupid idea and maye I'm just caught up in the fantasy? Or is that a journey I should really consider making?

    Has anyone else here cycled long distances like this? Would love some input if you have.

    Thanks,
    Greg
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jul 15, 2012 2:38 AM GMT
    Unfortunately there's not a whole lot to see through the great plains!
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    Jul 15, 2012 5:17 AM GMT
    Good idea, except that's the most boring part of the country.
  • Swoon

    Posts: 17

    Jul 15, 2012 6:41 AM GMT
    mindgarden saidGood idea, except that's the most boring part of the country.


    Curious if the previous comments are from experience or assumptions?

    Sounds like it could be an amazing trip!
    Granted the Iowa/ Nebraska route seems like it could be pretty flat. Just north of that could be a beautiful route. I hear the Badlands in South Dakota are amazing. Its not he most direct route but worth considering!
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    Jul 15, 2012 6:44 AM GMT
    Experience. Many times.

    I almost said try a circular route through the Dakotas and Wyoming, then back. But that would be a brutal ride. You'd need a sag wagon. Couldn't carry enough water.
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    Jul 15, 2012 10:13 AM GMT
    I am so fed up with my average boring mundane life that I want to get a good bike, get some gear and see how far I can cycle up the African continent.

    Sell all my stuff and spend the next year cycling up Africa.

    Of course I realize there are many obstacles; both physical, geographical as well as political (war, conflict, kidnapping & piracy).





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    Jul 15, 2012 12:11 PM GMT
    teamzissou saidI would set aside a week or so for the travel time, with which I could explore this beautiful country, camp out, and just take my time and enjoy the ride.

    Have you checked your route & mileage? It's over 900 miles, will take more than a week. If you haven't done this before you'll average about 60 miles a day. And that's pedaling the better part of the day, allowing for rest stops and food, pauses for sightseeing, and delays going through cities. Or if you detour around the cities, increase your mileage.

    The terrain may not seem hilly if you've driven it by car, but to a bicycle even gently rolling land seems mountainous. And remember, Denver is the "Mile High City".

    If you want to camp and be self-sufficient you'll be carrying quite a lot of gear. That not only further slows your pace, but ideally requires a specialized bicycle. Appropriately called a touring bike, those are hard to find in the US today. I've owned several, and bought one of the last Cannondale versions made before they discontinued it, still have it and ride it down to Key West.

    An alternative is using motels. You get a better night's sleep, have a good shower (campground showers can be primitive, or none at all along the wooded roadside), and it's secure. A problem is making advance reservations, since you'll find your daily mileage will be highly variable, and you may not be able to reach the place you booked. Make sure you plan your trip with maps that show the terrain & elevation.

    You can also mix your travel, using mostly motels but doing some camping, too. Pre-select campgrounds along the way, and ship your gear to them a week in advance, waiting for you when you arrive. Some will accept your shipment, and hold it until you arrive, for a handling fee. Then you pack it up and they ship it to your final destination.

    Phone & e-mail them to arrange. Obviously you can likely do this only once, over the span of a 2 or 3-week ride, unless you have the means to send several duplicate shipments at once. Small tents are cheap, under $50, and a light sleeping bag also costs little. Some campgrounds also rent simple shelters, from tents to shacks (I've seen some adapted from small round grain bins, to garden sheds).

    Here's what a touring bike looks like when loaded:

    ff09484b.jpg

    Here's my 2008 Cannondale touring bike with factory rack, last of a breed, with light bags for local in-town use:

    DSC01808_2.jpg

    Here's the same Cannondale, stripped for a specialty ride to Key West, with nothing but a large handlebar bag, but also carrying 3 water bottles because of the Florida heat:

    e7fed621.jpg
  • a303guy

    Posts: 829

    Jul 15, 2012 12:38 PM GMT
    Just do it.

    As one poster already mentioned, hauling enough water (much less food to keep you going) may be a challenge - Nebraska, the Dakotas and eastern Colorado/Wyoming are breathtakingly desolate places.

    I've made the drive (not the ride) across these area many times, both on interstates and back roads, and the sheer amount of mental sortings and clarifications you'll make about yourself and life in general, plus the huge number of just nutty midwestern things you'll see, will make memories that will last a lifetime, and very likely could alter you future destiny. (much like fellow RJ member Constantine's walk across America has done)

    Plan well, get your route sorted, and accept that your plan, and your timeline are certain to be altered, frequently.
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    Jul 15, 2012 9:01 PM GMT
    Thanks for the input, guys.

    Some of you say it's the most boring part of the country. But they are called the Great Plains for a reason! It's definitely taking the road much less traveled by. It's about seeing the beauty in all things.

    To Art Deco- I'm aware of the 950 mile ride. I do not own a car, and commute everywhere by bicycle, averaging 500 miles a week just going around the city on daily business. A week would mean I'd be cycling a bit more, but I'm fairly conditioned for it, and would train even harder before the ride. But yes, maybe you're right that motels would be better than camping.

    Still have a lot to thing about I guess!
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    Jul 15, 2012 10:37 PM GMT
    If you're down with the plains, I say 100% go for it. You'll probably regret it if you don't!
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    Jul 16, 2012 3:51 PM GMT
    I thought the plains would be boring. Quite the opposite. I love the sky.

    When cycling west, you will need lots and lots of water. People underestimate how dry it is. By the time you get thirsty, you are already dehydrated. I just wonder, how do you carry enough water? The western plains were not called the Great American Desert for no reason.

    I don't know how you find this out, but some sections of the interstates in Colorado are open to bicycles.
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    Jul 16, 2012 5:05 PM GMT
    Don't even think about it. Thinking is bad. Just ship your shit, hop on your bike, and go.

    Then post pictures of you naked and sweaty at the end of the ride. icon_biggrin.gif
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    Jul 16, 2012 5:13 PM GMT
    mrrumples saidWhen cycling west, you will need lots and lots of water. People underestimate how dry it is. By the time you get thirsty, you are already dehydrated. I just wonder, how do you carry enough water? The western plains were not called the Great American Desert for no reason.

    Yes, an experienced long-distance bicyclist will drink water according to a distance traveled formula, not merely his sense of thirst. Here in hot Florida I usually drink a bottle (20 oz) every 20 miles, whether I feel I need it or not. My touring bike accepts 3 frame-mount bottle cages, but most times I only use 2. And often only 1 bottle carries water, while the other has an electrolyte, and I switch between them. A popular option these days is a saddle-mounted cage for 2 bottles, but for long touring rides you probably will be hanging a bag under the saddle for other items.

    Another option is a CamelBak backpack bladder, with a hose and bite valve you clip to your shirt. In different sizes that can hold quite a lot of water, you can also get an inline filter option, nice for when you are replenishing with tap water. Problem for me is that I have a bad back, already stressed from riding, and so I don't tolerate any extra weight on my spine very well.

    Also, I find I lose too much cooling surface to any kind of backpack when I'm perspiring, even though some guys say the water can absorb some body heat. I'm not sure how long that's true in our brutal Florida sun & heat, with the water warming up. And the Great Plains are often above 100 degrees F in July & August.

    rec_packs_2012_rogue_racingredcharcoal_s

    http://www.camelbak.com/Sports-Recreation/Packs.aspx
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    Jul 16, 2012 5:29 PM GMT
    Art_Deco said
    mrrumples saidWhen cycling west, you will need lots and lots of water. People underestimate how dry it is. By the time you get thirsty, you are already dehydrated. I just wonder, how do you carry enough water? The western plains were not called the Great American Desert for no reason.

    Yes, an experienced long-distance bicyclist will drink water according to a distance traveled formula, not his sense of thirst. Here in hot Florida I usually drink a bottle (20 oz) every 20 miles, whether I feel I need it or not. My touring bike accepts 3 frame-mount bottle cages, but most times I only use 2. And often only 1 bottle carries water, while the other has an electrolyte, and I switch between them. A popular option these days is a saddle-mounted cage for 2 bottles, but for long touring rides you probably will be hanging a bag under the saddle.

    Another option is a CAMELBAK backpack bladder, with a hose and drinking nipple you clip to your shoulder. In different sizes that can hold quite a lot of water, they even come with filters, nice for when you may be replenishing with tap water.

    Problem for me is that I have a bad back, already stressed from riding, and so I don't tolerate any extra weight on my spine very well. Also, I find I lose too much cooling surface to any kind of backpack when I'm perspiring, even though some guys say the water can absorb some body heat. I'm not sure how long that's true in our brutal Florida sun & heat, with the water warming up. And the Great Plains are often above 100 degrees F in July & August.
    I use a camelpack bladder for riding here. I fill the bladder with refrigerated water, then put two bottles of frozen water next to the bladder. That keeps my back nice and cool even in 115 degree heat with no clouds or shade. Then I have another frozen bottle in the frame's bottle holder for the first stop (thaws out quickly). I usually drink one 20 oz bottle every 10 miles here cause it's so dry.

    If I were going for a longer ride (50+ miles) I'd get a 3 liter bottle and freeze it overnight before the ride, in addition to the water I already have for shorter rides.
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    Jul 16, 2012 5:43 PM GMT
    paulflexes saidI use a camelpack bladder for riding here. I fill the bladder with refrigerated water, then put two bottles of frozen water next to the bladder. That keeps my back nice and cool even in 115 degree heat with no clouds or shade...

    I'm still considering a CamelBak for our November Key West ride. Might get the 70 oz (2L) reservoir, with an in-line filter, and possibly the flow-rate meter. One thing about a CamelBak is you don't know exactly how much you've been drinking without the flow meter option, and again, during a century ride I'm trying to drink about 20 oz every 20 miles, which is the typical distance between our SMART Ride pit stops.

    For that reason I likely wouldn't fill the whole reservoir, to keep the weight down, knowing that there's fresh water guaranteed every 18-20 miles. And I'd still keep one bottle on the bike, filled with electrolyte. At the same time, riding an entire day doesn't allow for your tactic with the ice, except for the first few hours at dawn when it's cooler anyway, since there's no ice available along our route. That might also be true for our OP riding all day, as convenience store ice usually only comes in big heavy bags.

    Maybe at fast-food stops he could fill his bottle with ice at the soft drink bar. Although personally I can't always drink ice-cold water on the road when I'm hot and exerting myself without getting stomach cramps, actually prefer it around 70-80 degrees.
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    Jul 16, 2012 5:58 PM GMT
    Art_Deco said
    paulflexes saidI use a camelpack bladder for riding here. I fill the bladder with refrigerated water, then put two bottles of frozen water next to the bladder. That keeps my back nice and cool even in 115 degree heat with no clouds or shade...

    I'm still considering a CamelBak for our November Key West ride. Might get the 70 oz (2L) reservoir, with an in-line filter, and possibly the flow-rate meter. One thing about a CamelBak is you don't know exactly how much you've been drinking, and again, during a century ride I'm trying to drink about 20 oz every 20 miles, which is the typical distance between our SMART Ride pit stops.

    For that reason I likely wouldn't fill the whole reservoir, to keep the weight down, knowing that there's fresh water guaranteed every 18-20 miles. And I'd still keep one bottle on the bike, filled with electrolyte. At the same time, riding an entire day doesn't allow for your tactic with the ice, except for the first few hours at dawn when it's cooler anyway, since there's no ice available along our route. That might also be true for our OP riding all day, as convenience store ice usually only comes in big bags.
    A 3 liter bottle of ice will stay cold all day in an insulated camelpack (I don't have the Camelbak brand - lots of extra room in mine). The current setup I use stays cold for more than 5 hours in direct sunlight. Adding a 3 liter bottle to that would keep me hydrated all day.

    Of course, I probably won't be able to work back up to century rides again...knees are already telling me to stop after 30 miles. icon_sad.gif
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    Jul 16, 2012 6:14 PM GMT
    paulflexes saidA 3 liter bottle of ice will stay cold all day in an insulated camelpack (I don't have the Camelbak brand - lots of extra room in mine). The current setup I use stays cold for more than 5 hours in direct sunlight. Adding a 3 liter bottle to that would keep me hydrated all day.

    Of course, I probably won't be able to work back up to century rides again...knees are already telling me to stop after 30 miles. icon_sad.gif

    As I mentioned above, with my bad back I wouldn't want to try carrying 3 liters on my back. A nice think about a CamelBak and some similar brands made for water is that some use a minimalist cutaway design, unlike a full backpack for gear, and they cover less of your back for better ventilation.

    But the important point is that there are options to fit many different riding conditions, and many different personal preferences & needs. Hopefully this discussion is giving our OP and others some ideas to look into.

    http://www.camelbak.com/Sports-Recreation/Packs.aspx