Jamie Ramsay’s newest expedition saw an impromptu journey evolve into 48 days (or 376 hours) on a bike, with temperatures reaching 48 degrees Celsius in Furnace Creek and a total vertical gain of 65,273 metres.
With experts “warning against visiting Death Valley” – the hottest place on earth, Ramsey took to the “intoxicating” atmosphere and rode to the finish line. The trip, co-sponsored by Bike Rental Manager, involved heights of over 3300m and lows of -71m.
Visiting 16 states and 5 national parks gave Ramsey an opportunity to learn and reflect on his human-powered adventure. To aid readers looking to take their next cycling journey, Doug Stoddart, CEO at Bike Rental Manager has rounded up five learnings from the incredible trip below.
1: Overplanning takes away from an adventure
When embarking on a bike adventure, Ramsay had the issue of wanting to explore as much of the United States as possible while also having the ability to change course based on his health and any tips he received along the route.
Knowing he wanted to gain a greater appreciation of the real America, behind television shows, Ramsay’s route went beyond just a straight line from NYC to San Francisco. For those looking to explore the USA, we would recommend considering a rough route as opposed to a fully-fledged schedule.
Here, you have the flexibility to spend longer in destinations that catch your eye, take rest days where necessary, and explore areas you may have missed if on a regimented route.
2. Riding partners can provide a needed energy boost
Despite being a solo rider, Jamie ran into two riding partners on his USA trip, the first being a 12-year-old backpacker, Scarlet Zeigler, and her father. While many cyclists prefer to spend their trips alone, the energy boost a cycling partner can provide should not be underestimated.
For Ramsay, making the connection with Scarlet and Flint allowed him the opportunity for two days of gravel riding and nights camping under the stars. Solo cyclists should consider meeting up with other riders for small legs of their longer adventures, as an opportunity to share experiences and provide a well-needed energy boost for the next part of the journey.
3. Find tyres to cover all ground types
While they had been incredible off-road, the Panaracer Gravelking tyres on which Ramsey started the journey were unable to cope with the heavy bike on longer stretches of asphalt. This meant punctures became a regular occurrence, demonstrating the importance of picking the right tyres for various types of terrain.
Switching to the Schwalbe Marathon (700x37c) after 23 days of riding meant punctures were no longer hindering the trip, making Ramsay’s journey a little smoother.
4. Prepare for camping challenges with hot weather
Although experts warned against riding across Death Valley during June, it was the camping that proved to be the real challenge on the trip for Ramsay. While the bike allows for a self-created breeze, camping in a tent offers no escape from the temperatures which fail to fall below 35 degrees and hit heights of 47 degrees.
For those considering their own trip, ensure you are prepared for the intense heat the night brings, or consider moving your trip to a cooler month.
5. Seeing less can allow you to appreciate more
Ramsay highlighted the constraints which arise once you have committed to the notion of cycling across the country. Cyclists should consider that whilst it is nice to say you have crossed a country by bike, there may be other routes that offer better visual stimulation and more exciting adventures.
Seeing less of a place might sometimes help you to enjoy it more, allowing you to focus less on the outstanding figures and more on creating an experience you will remember long after the trip is over.