Resources

Websites and Apps

Worldwide

  • Warmshowers.org - THE website for people who host long distance cyclists. The website is free but the app cost money. I highly recommend buying the app. It'll help the organization a lot and is very convenient to use while on the road.

USA

  • AdventureCycling.org - A very popular route planning website for long distance cyclists. You can buy paper route maps and/or download them on your phone or bicycle computer.

Cycling Tips

These are some of the things I wish I had known before my 2018 cycling trip. And some I think are just good advice...

General

  • Waterproof panniers - 90% of long distance cyclists have Ortlieb panniers. They are the gold standard and easily fit on most bike racks.
  • Kickstand - Some cyclists decide to avoid the extra weight of a kickstand but I highly recommend one. You can park your bike anywhere rather than finding a tree or something else to lean on.
  • Toe clips with straps - I like to have toe clips with straps rather than the ones where you have to buy special cycling shoes for. This way, I can wear any normal shoes and only bring one pair of shoes.
  • Bike computer - Though not important in the operation of a bicycle but I highly recommend one. There are three things I think are good to know: trip distance, speed, and total distance.
  • Combination lock - U lock is overkill and too heavy. A chain lock with a combination is the best option. You just have to remember the passcode rather than having a key. Also, you only need to bring one lock. No need to carry extra ones to lock your panniers and other items. If someone really wants to steal your bike and your items, they will do it any way they can.
  • Reflective vest - Definitely a good one to have so drivers can see you better. This is a safety issue. I also see a few cyclist have flags attached to the backs of their bikes. I think that's a bit too much and most long distance cyclists don't have them. Anything that is reflective is good on a bike, such as reflective stickers on panniers, but a reflective vest is the best.
  • Bike lights - Mandatory for safety reasons. I was thinking why I would need them if I don't ride my bike at night. But I use them in the early morning and on foggy days. Make sure to have one for the front and the back of the bike. Blinking LED ones are the best.
  • Start with 20 to 25 miles the first day of riding if you didn't train before the trip. - On the first day of my 2018 trip, I rode for over 36 miles and my back and legs were aching that night. Start off slow if you didn't train before your cycling trip. Add a few miles each day until you're comfortable with the distance. Most cyclists average between 40 to 60 miles a day. Some do 70 to 75 miles. Very few riders average 100 miles a day.
  • Rain gear - Some cyclists bring them and some don't. They add a little extra weight and don't always keep you dry due to the moisture that often collects inside the rain jacket or rain pants. I brought them along for short rainy days. If it's going to rain the whole day then I usually take a rest day. What about your shoes if they are not waterproof? You can deter the wetness by wearing plastic bags around your socks. But that's not completely waterproof. Unless you have waterproof shoes your feet will get wet in the long run.
  • Granola bars, trail mix, beef jerky, and ramen - These are the foods I carry when I need the extra energy. I carry ramen in case there are no restaurants, cafes, or convenience stores and I really need a meal. That said, I also carry a MSR Pocket Rocket stove and a small MSR Alpine stowaway pot.
  • Wool clothing - I have two wool T-shirts and three pairs of wool socks for the trip. They are great because they dry quickly, create less odor, and made of natural fiber rather than synthetic. I like the brand Woolly. There are probably other brands. You can try the discount code THANKS15 to save 15% at Woolly.
  • Warmshower hosts - I highly recommend setting up an account on warmshowers.org. You'll meet a lot of interesting people along your trip. Plus places to take showers and maybe sleep in a bed!
  • 15 degree sleeping bag - I thought I could get away with a thinner sleeping bag, that was a mistake. I'd rather be hot and not use my sleeping bag rather than freeze and catch a cold. A 15 degree sleeping bag will be good for the mountains and the occasional cold spell. I use the Nemo Disco.
  • Bar ends - If your bike doesn't allow multiple hand positions on the handlebar, bar ends are great to have so your wrists don't get too sore.
  • Mirror - I rode with a mirror attached to the helmet, but it wasn't secure. Then I attached it to my sunglasses, but it dragged my sunglasses down. I ended up ditching it because I couldn't see much from the one square inch mirror anyway. I rode without a mirror for a long time until another cyclist told me to get one that goes on the left side of the handlebar. That worked out great and I don't have to look back as much. My suggestion is to get a mirror that's about 2.5 inch in diameter that goes on the end of the handlebar.

USA

  • Dog repellent/Pepper spray - I was told to get one in Damascus, VA, as I was heading west to Kentucky. Kentucky is infamous for the dogs because the state doesn't have a leash law. When the dogs start to chase you, shout at them. Most of them will back off. If they get close, grab the spray and aim for their eyes. I suggest keeping the spray on your bike for eastern Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, and western Virginia. "Halt!" is the most popular pepper spray for dogs.

Gear and Cost

2018 Bicycle Across America

CategoryItemCost (USD)
Bike1999 Cannodale M400$600
BikeSaddle bag$12
BikeHandlebar bag$15
BikeTopeak Explorer bike rack$31
BikeHandlebar headlight$10
BikeTail light$10
BikeLock$20
BikeCateye Velo 5 cycling computer$25
BikeSKS bicycle front fender$20
BikeTopeak cargo net$7
BikeTopeak smartphone dry bag for iPhone 5$11
BikeZefal "Cristophe" mountain bicycle half toe clips$7
BikeAvenir Flo dual mini pump$10
BikeOrtlieb City Panniers$160
ClothingJogalite reflective bands (2)$13
ClothingNew Balance ML574 sneakers$45
ClothingMountain Made Crestone cycling gloves$13
ClothingMens deluxe padded cycling boxers$10
ClothingExOfficio Men's Give-N-Go boxer brief (3)$53
ClothingWoolly Men's merino wool short sleeve shirts (2)$80
ClothingUnder Armour ColdGear zip vest$45
ClothingCycling sunglasses$30
ClothingMarmot Precip rain jacket$100
ClothingNorthface waterproof pants$80
ClothingLL Bean Cresta hiking wool socks (3)$45
ClothingRohan travel pants$50
ClothingBell cycling gloves$20
ClothingBicycling shorts$20
ElectronicsUSB Type C cable$10
ElectronicsEX Technology 22400mAh portable external battery charger$55
ElectronicsGoogle Pixel 2$650
ElectronicsApple iPhone 5S$200
ElectronicsApple iPad$328
FoodClean water bottles (2)$20
FoodLifeStraw personal water filter$13
FoodMSR stowaway pot 1.6 L$25
FoodMSR Pocket Rocket stove$30
HelmetBell Helmet$50
MedicineOff! Deep Woods insect repellent wipes$8
RepairRocRide 16 piece bicycle repair kit$7
RepairEmergency mylar blankets$5
RepairPark Tool emergency tire boot (3)$5
RepairSpare tubes (2)$30
RepairTopeak cycling mulitool with allen wrenches$25
RepairCO2 inflators (2)$15
RepairBike chain lubricant$10
TentMSR Hubba NX 1-person tent$262
TentMSR Hubba NX 1-person tent footprint tarp$30
TentTherm-a-rest Z Lite Sol foam camping mattress (regular)$34
TentOutdoor Products dry sacks (3)$10
TentEnergizer Trail Finder Pro 7 LED headlamp$15
TentLight My Fire titanium spork$12
TentNemo Disco 15 degree sleeping bag$300
TOTAL$3,691

Trip expense for 100 days: ~$5000

2021 GAP and 2022 C&O

I brought almost the same items in both the GAP and the C&O tours.

CategoryItemCost (USD)
Bike2019 Trek Checkpoint ALR4$920
BikeGiro Helmet$50
BikeHandlebar bag$30
BikeHead light$10
BikeLock$20
BikeOrtlieb panniers$60
BikePortable bike pump$25
BikeSaddle bag$12
BikeSKS bicycle front fender$20
BikeTail light$10
BikeTopeak Explorer bike rack$60
Bike Ortlieb rack pack$105
ClothingAllbirds shoes$54
ClothingCycling gloves$10
ClothingCycling jacket$60
ClothingCycling sunglasses$30
ClothingExOfficio Men's Give-N-Go boxer brief (4)$53
ClothingLL Bean Cresta hiking wool socks (4)$45
ClothingMarmot rain jacket$80
ClothingMens deluxe padded cycling boxers$10
ClothingREI bicycling shorts$35
ClothingRohan travel pants$50
ClothingSwim shorts$15
ClothingUnder Armour long sleeved shirt$40
ClothingWoolly Men's merino wool short sleeve shirts (4)$160
ElectronicsApple 2017 MacBook and charger$1,000
ElectronicsCamera tripod$15
ElectronicsCanon G7X Mark III camera and extra battery$700
ElectronicsExternal battery power bank$30
ElectronicsGoogle Pixel 5A + Charger$220
FoodForks (2)$2
FoodFuel$6
FoodMSR Pocket Rocket stove$30
FoodMSR stowaway pot$25
FoodWater bottles (2)$0
MedicineFirst Aid kit$0
MedicineGeneric Zyrtec D$40
MedicinePain killers$10
MedicineSunscreen$8
RepairBike chain lubricant$10
RepairLeatherman multi-tool$40
RepairPark Tool emergency tire boot (3)$5
RepairRocRide 16 piece bicycle repair kit$7
RepairSpare tube$8
RepairTopeak cycling mulitool with allen wrenches$25
TentDry sacks (4)$20
TentEnergizer Trail Finder Pro 7 LED headlamp$15
TentInflatable pillow$25
TentMSR Hubba NX 1-person tent$262
TentMSR Hubba NX 1-person tent footprint tarp$30
TentNemo Disco Sleeping bag$400
TentTherm-a-rest Z Lite Sol foam camping mattress (regular)$34
TOTAL$4,931

  • GAP expense: ~$600 for 6 days riding from Cumberland to Pittsburgh and back
  • C&O expense: ~$500 for 4 days ride from DC to Cumberland