I have been wanting to go on some uni trips. To some of you it may not seem far but to me it would be huge. I would like to travel 200+ miles or so. First off, I am not one to do it in 2 days. I am thinking enjoying the ride, 30 to fifty a day-ish. Here lies the problems. How do I determine where I can ride? I have never been a long distance bicyclist so how do you know what roads would be ok to travel on? How do you route your trip? I am sure some of you do stuff like this so I was wondering if you may be able to help me get started. I would really appreciate any help. I also know I will be asking the essentials of what to take with too. If any of you have experience with this sort of unicycling please let me know what you encountered (good and bad). Thanks for the help!
You are not to far from Georgia. Look up “Silver Comet Trail”. It is about 60 miles long one way and it is really flat. You could ride into Alabama for some extra mileage. While in Georgia you can hit UDC during the week
On google maps under Traffic you can choose “Bicycling” and it will show you bicycle friendly roads or paths. In my experience, the roads they have listed have been either:
- an actual paved bike path, nice
- a road with a bike lane
- a road with a large shoulder
- a low traffic road with a low speed limit (but no shoulder, a little uncomfortable)
So, that may be a place to start but what may be safe for a cyclist spinning 20 mph through a curve may not be as safe on a unicycle moving at a joggers pace…
Start here maybe?:
I’ve had some of them on paper for quite a few years so they might not be totally up to date but they do try to warn about sections with traffic and other dangers. Google Maps as eastenn suggested would be good to check too.
Try using a Google Search for the state/area you want to tour in like “bicycle tours north carolina”. Then look through their information about routes, lodging places, what to bring, what they supply, etc. They will answer your questions and share the wealth of information they have with you hoping you will sign on as a bicycling client.
Or if you have a route picked out that you want to take Google it and find others internet articles about bicyclist who have toured the route.
Check out the information available at crazyguyonabike.com.
Or go to the library and check out the bicycle touring books and guides available.
Some times you can find someone giving a slide show / talk about their recent tour on a bike. Attend and ask questions, visit after the show, network with the other attenders.
Look at the routes that bicycle events use for point to point distance rides. Get a feel for what roads work for these events.
Pre-drive a perspective route and check out what hazards you will need to be prepared for.
Once you get comfortable touring you might decide that 55 mph two lane roads with a wide painted shoulder might be safer than 35 mph back roads with no line markings and deep ditches.
Your daily distances will be different but the routes that bicyclist use will be helpful.
I have used full or partial supported for most of the tours I have done. One group of “experienced” bicyclist I visited with traveled with only credit cards and the days necessities. Others bring everything including the kitchen sink. Now I tend to hedge on the credit card end of the baggage spectrum.
In Poland it works quite well to plan riding on small roads and then check them with street view. If Google car didn’t make it to the road then most probably it is crappy or not paved and it’s better to avoid it. And if they got there you can see what the road looks like.
Also get yourself comfortable with potholes and cars around. At some stage you will find yourself on a busy road.
I’m planning on riding the Virginia Creeper Trail, or at least a piece of it, in the first weekend of June. I have 2 cyclist friends who have committed to the ride. I also have a couple of uni riders from NC/VA in mind too.
It is an easy, gravel trail. Last year we rode the 18 miles, 1600 ft climb from Damascus to Whitetop. Then we turned around and went back down to Damascus. 36 miles <> 200 miles, and we do it in a day, but it would be a nice ride to do anyway.
There’s an additional 18 mile segment from Abbington to Damascus, if 36 miles isn’t enough.
@LargeEddie, I hope you are reading this post too! This is approximate to you.
The Creeper trail, like the Silver Comet, is an old rail bed that has been converted to a trail.
I’d be interested in riding the Silver Comet too… But it probably would not happen till fall though at this point.
I find riding roads in unfamiliar areas a bit skeery. My local rides are usually limited to the sidewalk or in suburban neighborhoods. The bike lanes with painted lines as the demarcation are a joke… SUVs roll into them all of the time. They really need rumble strips, a concrete curb, or some other form of motor-deterrent before I will ever want to ride in those things.
I don’t do very long road rides, but when I do plan a road route I often use google map’s street view to check the road shoulder width and camber. It’s absolute hell for me to ride on an off-camber shoulder for any significant distance.
Just echoing what others have said about google maps (BUT! as was said, check the Street View too!). Make sure you’re actually on a path/road too - sometimes Google maps wants to drag me over cow crap-filled fields and god knows what else.
Another good spot to look is Strava heatmaps. They show where the most riding is being done - cyclists know where cyclists like to ride. Sometimes you’ll be hurtling down a KOM main road where people on expensive road bikes are trying to hit 60mph, but generally you’ll be on relatively decent roads and paths.
Apart from that - just ride! Start riding on main roads now, and get used to it (Don’t just do it on your bike either, though that can help if you want to do it a bit more safely the first few times). Find out what your absolute limit is, then choose routes below that (I say below, because you want this tour to be fun don’t you?).
My limit is generally roads where I’ll have to turn right (I’m in the UK) across traffic too much - once or twice is alright, but I’m still rubbish at stopping on the spot for too long for a red light/car, so I try to avoid it where possible.
I’ve never done a multi-day tour, but I’ve done full-day rides on my road bike and my 29er uni (And plan to do some on the 36er when the weather picks up!) soo YMMV!
Thank you for all the help and ideas. I really like the credit card one combined with a days worth of stuff. I wonder how others did this before google maps! I have done some “same day rides” with the farthest being 25 miles.
I too am already planning the VA creeper this year. I am only going downhill though! All in all I really just want to ride and have fun, kind of like running a marathon just to say you did it.
What do you all put in your “day bag?”
A hour or two of water (2 small water bottles), a bit of “real” food, NO tools, NO first aid stuff, ID, emergency contact info, some cash, credit card, lip balm, sun screen, old white long sleeve dress shirt (cooler than any thing else when no shade is available), and a wash cloth in a ziplock bag.
I am TOTALLY on board with the challenges of road camber. I found that a fully inflated (like 50psi) Todd tire helps. But for sure, camber, especially on twisty climbs is worst than anything.
Now I’m curious… How do you get google to tell you the camber and shoulder widths? Street view? Or is there something more detailed.
@BunjeeJoe… The old dress shirt is an awesome idea!
Flapjack (granola bar)
4+5mm hex keys
sunscreen (only in midsummer)
@Biped - i think it is a quick look on street view. It does show you a lot of the glaring problems you may have missed in a route plan
White dress shirt
Here is a link to a picture…
Keep it damp and it will help keep you cool in the hot sun.
^^^ I agree. When I worked in construction years ago, I wore old longsleeve white dress shirts all the time during the summer, they were great in the sun.
I had a job interview a while ago that, thanks to a series of events, I was ‘forced’ to unicycle there, despite it being a ~10 mile trip through crazy traffic - I kept my smart shirt in my bag (folded CAREFULLY) so I wouldn’t be all gross and sweaty when I got there. The ride home was GLORIOUS! I kept the shirt on because who cares about a sweaty shirt when you’re home, and so rode back home fully suited-and-booted. It was like riding in the most perfect cool shade…
So yeah - just saying, I’m a convert to your idea. I can’t wait for another excuse to unicycle in a shirt!