Sunglasses

Sunglasses are an important accessory to protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. When choosing sunglasses always consider UV protection, vision and comfort before fashion.

When purchasing sunglasses, I look for the following:

UV protection – I only wear sunglasses with UV protection. Extended UV exposure can cause Cataracts, a clouding of the eye’s lens that can blur vision.

Polarized lenses – I prefer polarized lenses because I find that they reduce the glare on the road surface and car windows. This helps me to see the drivers inside the cars around me so I can see if the drivers are aware of me or have acknowledged my hand signals.

Brown tint – I also prefer a brown tint over a gray tint. I find that the brown tint gives me more contrast when cycling on asphalt roadways and makes it easier to spot obstacles and debris.

Comfort – I do not wear wrap around glasses because I don’t like the feel of then and it seems like they distort my peripheral vision. In addition, I use Croakies to keep my glasses in place.

Ken Whittaker


Updated April 18, 2018


Sunscreen 1st

While on the subject of cycling clothing, I should mention that the very first thing I put on even before a stitch of clothing, is a generous amount of sunscreen. Although I’m the type of person who tans easily and I rarely get a sunburn, it’s a ritual for me to apply SPF 90 sunscreen each morning before dressing while I’m cycle touring.

I make applying sunscreen the very first item of my daily agenda not only so I wouldn’t forget it, but also so I won’t miss some of the riskier spots for me getting sunburn. Since I am a balding man, I start at the top of my head and work down.

That said, my nastiest sunburn while touring was when I missed applying sunscreen to the top of my ears. Another problem area for me is when my sleeves and shorts ride up and I get a wicked sunburn line around my legs and arms on those areas normally not exposed to the sun.

The sun can be deadly, so don’t forget the sunscreen!

Ken Whittaker


Updated April 17, 2018


The Itinerary

Here is the itinerary for the ride. We will be eating the 2,938 mile elephant one bite at a time and taking a rest day about once a week.

Day Start Location State Finish Location State Milage
1 San Diego CA Alpine CA        41.5
2 Alpine CA Live Oak Springs CA        31.7
3 Live Oak Springs CA Calexico CA        62.5
4 Calexico CA Yuma AZ        63.8
5 Yuma AZ Dateland AZ        70.2
6 Dateland AZ Gila Bend AZ        52.1
7 Gila Bend AZ Casa Grande AZ        77.9
8 Casa Grande AZ Catalina AZ        70.1
9 Catalina AZ Catalina AZ            –
10 Catalina AZ E Tucson AZ        43.7
11 E Tucson AZ Tombstone AZ        73.3
12 Tombstone AZ Douglas AZ        49.9
13 Douglas AZ Rodeo AZ        58.8
14 Rodeo AZ Columbus NM         95.3
15 Columbus NM Columbus NM            –
16 Columbus MN El Paso TX        77.0
17 El Paso TX Ft Hancock TX        57.2
18 Ft Hancock TX Van Horn TX        72.3
19 Van Horn TX Marfa TX        74.7
20 Marfa TX Marathon TX        57.2
21 Marathon TX Marathon TX            –
22 Marathon TX Sanderson TX        54.6
23 Sanderson TX Comstock TX        81.5
24 Comstock TX Brackettville TX        72.7
25 Bracketville TX Concan TX        74.0
26 Concan TX Concan TX            –
27 Concan TX Kerrville TX        71.5
28 Kerrville TX Blanco TX        59.0
29 Blanco TX Lockhart TX        62.0
30 Lockhart TX La Grange TX        60.2
31 LaGrange TX Mexican Hill Ranch TX        88.6
32 Mexican Hill Ranch TX Mexican Hill Ranch TX            –
33 Mexican Hill Ranch TX Shepherd TX        61.8
34 Shepherd TX Silsbee TX        61.5
35 Silsbee TX De RidderLA LA        72.5
36 DeRidder LA Opelousas LA         91.1
37 Opelousas LA St Francisville LA        66.6
38 St Francisville LA Tour Loop LA         12.4
39 St Francisville LA Franklinton LA        86.4
40 Franklinton LA Poplarville LA        45.3
41 Poplarville LA Ocean Springs MS        67.9
42 Ocean Springs MS Dauphin Island MS        81.9
43 Dauphin Island MS Dauphin Island MS            –
44 Dauphin Isle MS Milton AL        85.4
45 Milton FL DeFuniak Springs FL        54.5
46 DeFuniak Springs FL Marianna FL        68.6
47 Marianna FL Tallahassee FL        75.0
48 Tallahassee FL Madison FL        47.8
49 Madison FL High Springs FL        77.2
50 Madison FL High Springs FL            –
51 High Springs FL Palatka FL        85.2
52 Palatka FL St Augustine FL        43.6
      Total     2,938.0

Tip: Enjoy the journey and don’t make it a race.  Take a rest day about once a week.

Final Thoughts on Packing

Prepare for cold nights. This week someone asked me, what’s the most important thing I should pack for my trip. Without hesitation, I said the right gear to keep me warm. However, I wasn’t just talking about staying warm on the bike, since I have cold weather riding almost down to a science.  Instead, what has me worried the most is staying warm at night.

Most nights I will be sleeping outside in a tent on an air mattress. While the organizer recommends that I bring a sleeping bag rated for 0°, the problem with his recommendation is that there are no standards for rating sleeping bags. In many cases, sleeping bag manufacturers greatly inflate their ratings.  Many times, the sleeping bag rating only means that, hopefully, you should survive at the rated temperature. It does not mean that you will be warm and comfortable.

I only hope that my trusted 25° rated down sleeping bag will do the trick.  Perhaps I will still pack a pair of wooly pajamas just in case. Does anybody know where I can get a pair of Dr. Denton’s?

Tip:  Never sleep in your riding clothes.  Change into dry clothes before jumping in the sack.  You can’t stay warm in clothes that are damp from perspiration.

Tip:  The coldest time of day is sometime just after dawn.

Tip:  Consider a sleeping bag liner to extend the temperature rating of your sleeping bag.  Also, they are required in youth hostels.

In the end,  I decided to pack a sleeping bag liner to extend the temperature rating of my sleeping bag and polypropylene long underwear for night ware, just in case I need them to stay warm.

Clothes to Pack

With my bike waiting for me in San Diego, I focused my attention on packing the clothes I’d wear while cycling across America. When I pack, I think in terms of kits. In my case, I packed four warm weather kits that included padded shorts, three pocket short sleeve cycling jersey, cycling gloves and light weight socks. Each of my kits were packed in a large gallon sized zip lock bag to help me stay organized. Also, when I am riding self-supported, packing each change of clothes in its own bag helps to ensure that everything stays dry in my panniers. From there I supplemented my warm weather kits with a rain kit, a cold weather kit and a hot weather kit.

Before I started bike touring I was a fair-weather rider. If I looked out the window and saw rain, or there was a remote chance of rain in the forecast, I wouldn’t even consider riding my bike. Consequently, I never fully realized what I needed to ride comfortably and safely in the rain. In retrospect, I cringe to think that the only rain gear I used to carry was a plastic garbage bag to serve as an emergency rain jacket. Needless to say, I quickly learned the error of my ways. Inevitably, there will be rain and cold weather and in many cases while touring, I had to continue riding regardless of the weather conditions. So, it is important to be prepared for anything that Mother Nature might throw at you. Otherwise, you may find yourself in a deadly situation.

Read more on CycleAcrossAmerica.com in my article 5 Step Guide on What Clothing to Pack

Ken Whittaker

 


Bike Arrives in San Diego

I was happy to learn that my bicycle made it safely to Bernie’s Bike shop in San Diego. Nevertheless, after reassembling my bike, the front tire was flat and wouldn’t hold air. While I had purchased new tires and tubes for the trip, I hadn’t had time to mount them before I packed my bike. Although I always fix my own flats, I had the bike shop fix the flat. I figured it’s just one less thing I had to worry about when I arrived and it would give me more time to enjoy San Diego.

Ken Whittaker


Boxing & Shipping

I found shipping my bicycle to a bike shop in San Diego, and having it reassembled and ready to go when I arrived, was much less stressful and less expensive than taking it on the plane with me.

After inquiring at several of my local bike shops about having my bicycle packed for shipping, I found that the price varied significantly from shop to shop. One shop wouldn’t even box my bike for me. They did, however, give me a bike box and all the packing material that came with a new bicycle so I could do it for myself.

Let’s face it, we love our bikes and I am no exception. So I chose to pack my cherished 1998 Trek 5220 myself to ensure it had a safe journey across the country with FedEx. I also used BikeFlights to make the shipping arrangements. I don’t know why, but it was less expensive using them than making the shipping arrangement myself with FedEx. If you choose to pack your bike yourself, BikeFlights also provides packing instructions that I found very helpful. All I had left to do was to leave my boxed bike in front of my garage to be picked up.

Tip: Put small parts in a separate box so they cannot fall out of the bike box if it is damage.
Tip: Use the smallest practical box for your bicycle. I used a 56x9x31 (LxWxH) box. Had I used a standard road bike box, 54x9x29, the shipping cost would have been considerably less expensive.

Ken Whittaker


Ready to Box

The next step in preparing to cycle across America was to get my bicycle ready for shipping to San Diego. I won’t bore you with a lot of the details but I will share a few tips. First, thoroughly clean your bike before shipping. Clean the chain, drivetrain, frame and wheels. If you’re not sure how to properly clean your bike, Bicycling Magazine provides “A Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning Your Bike” online.

Cleaning my bike gave me the opportunity to closely inspect it. This increased my confidence that my bike was ready for the journey we were taking together. After the cleaning, I inspected the brake pads and remove any objects embedded in them. Finally, I lubricated the chain, cables, derailleurs, and shifters.

With a clean and lubricated bicycle, I was it ready to box it.

Ken Whittaker


Intimidating

Since the maps for the 2015 Coast to Coast tour were posted online before the start, I had the opportunity to pour over them beforehand. However, after reviewing the maps, I was a bit intimidated by the +3969 ft. climb out of San Diego the first day and another +3788 ft. of climbing the next day. The route also crosses the Continental Divide several times and to make matters worse, the total elevation gain over the complete route was equal to twice the hight of Mount Everest.

Considering the elevation gains, and that I was going to be supported, I chose my lightest bike with narrow tires instead of my touring bike. This may have been a mistake. When I chose my bike I should have consider all aspects of the route, not only the elevation gain, but also what bike I would feel most comfortable with for the 52 days.

Ken Whittaker


Original post January 20, 2015
Updated April 12, 2018


More Maps

While I’m on the subject of maps, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the other great sources of cycling maps.

Adventure Cycling is a full-service site with a mission to inspire people of all ages to travel by bicycle.

Google Maps is where you can get directions for traveling by bike to anyplace and they offer a street level view that can greatly assist people who navigate by landmarks.

East Coast Greenway Alliance is developing a 3,000-mile route for safe cycling and walking throughout the Eastern Seaboard from Canada to Key West.

TrailLink is part of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a nationwide network of trails from former rail lines and connecting corridors to build healthier places for healthier people.

Ride with GPS is a site that makes it easy to map, analyze, record, and share your bike rides.

Local Bicycling Clubs and Shops are places where you can many times find great bicycling maps in the locations you want to ride.

 
 

Ken Whittaker