Oceanside/San Diego to the ACA Transamerica Trail; Crossing Deserts in June
Can anyone offer any routing insight for the trek mentioned above? I found the RAAM course, which will take me close enough to Pueblo where I plan on picking up the ACA transam trail, but they ride fully supported and obviously dont stop much. Im mostly worried about running out of food and water while traveling through the desert. Any tips for staying healthy/happy while riding in excruciating heat would be appreciated as well.
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Keep care Sebastian
I wouldn't worry about what trail to take if there are no places to stop. Route yourself in an area where the towns are no more than 70 miles apart. Carry three one gallon water jugs hung from your bike, a bag of rice w/stove, and you should be fine. If you have the room, a tarp to create shade for naps. Stop every hour in super heat to cool down and guzzle. It's not as bad as you might think, but then again, it could kill you.
You wrote that you are looking for:
Any tips for staying healthy/happy while riding in excruciating heat
Since you have no experience and no knowledge of the situation I suggest that you find another route and avoid the desert. You can get into serious trouble if you don't know what you are doing.
I hosted a number of cyclists who came through Las Vegas, NV (where I live) a couple of years ago in the middle of summer. The temperature never dropped below 100 degrees the 3 days they were here. To say they were miserable is an understatement. And only one of them left town on their bikes (his wife stopped cycling and drove a rental van behind him).
The forecast is for 104 today here, by the way.
Wow, thanks for sharing. I'm hoping the difference between me and those people is that I'm asking instead of just heading out and assuming I'll be fine. I'm from Los Angeles and have spent hours cycling in 100 degree+ weather, and I've suffered dehydration and heat exhaustion from being foolish about it. I'm just used to knowing that I can go home at the end of the day or shower myself in refrigerated water at the next gas station- in the desert I'll be without those comforts. Taking a train to sf/Oregon could be an option, but an expensive one. I know the desert will be an enormous challenge, but I think its possible-
I know to only ride between dawn and the end of the morning. I have a rain fly I can attach to the bike for shade and cooling, and with the ACA map Ill be able to find calories and water every 50 or so miles. I plan on carrying 3 24 oz bottles and 2 extra gallons. These are the sorts of things I'm looking for, or any empirical observations from someone who has toured for a week or so in the heat. Thanks again
JD: Be sure and take a small container of Vaseline. Your butt will chafe in severe heat and feel like you are sitting on the BBQ. Don't know why but use liberally when needed.
I have a page with tips on my website from my cross country last year. If some of them are appropriate, I hope they help.
If I can do it at 67, it can't be that hard.
If you were to acclimate yourself to cycling in the heat it helps tremendously. But if you are coming from a relatively cooler environment, the heat hits you like a blanket and can quickly sap your strength and motivation.
If someone unavoidably had to cross the desert on their bike in summer I think the most comfortable way to do so would be to ride at night. They should also plan to cycle long hours in order to cross the desert as quickly as possible.
Please note that I do not recommend this because it is still pretty warm in the middle of the night. Most businesses will be closed overnight (remember that most desert communities are small towns). Because it is summer the nights are short and the days are long. Also, it is hard to get fully rested if you invert your sleeping habits (and you probably want to stay in a motel or something to get out of the heat so you can sleep).
I have hosted a few cyclists who were cycling at night. Most recent was a nice young guy from Germany who came through in late September last year.
On my first bike tour many years ago I left Las Vegas heading due north in early July. My plan was similar to yours: start cycling as soon as it was light and stop cycling during the hottest hours of the day. I was so miserable the first few days I swore I would never do it again. Once your water gets warm it becomes unappealing and, in the heat of the day, you simply cannot seem to get enough (warm) water to quench your thirst.
Planning to use your rain fly for shade is a good idea. Many people are unaware that there is virtually no vegetation over waist-high in the middle of the Mojave desert.
I'll conclude by mentioning that if you run out of water many motorists will have some that they will share with you. I have found it effective to face approaching vehicles with your water bottle in one hand and using your other hand to point at it.
I wish you the best of luck on your upcoming tour!
P.S. If you anticipate taking a week to cross a desert I would strongly encourage you to take a couple of days off somewhere in the middle if you possibly can.