Riding my new mountain bike from California to Alaska

Christina Hart

New Member
Hi everyone,

My name is Christina Hart. I live in California. I’m new to this website. Today I bought myself a 29 inch mountain bike from a Wal-Mart store in my local area for somewhere around $200.00. I’m thinking about riding my mountain bike from my residential address in California to Denali National Park, Alaska and back during the summer months. My mom is not to sure if my mountain bike would survive a journey of me riding my mountain bike from California to Alaska. I’m looking for an expert on bicycles. What do you guys think? Do you guys think my mountain bike could be ridden by me from my residential address in California to Denali National Park, Alaska? I went on a trip to Alaska in 2010 where I visited Denali National Park, and a town called Seward. I look forward to hearing from you. Goodbye for now, have a wonderful day.

Sincerely,

Christina
 

Sharky

Veteran
Location
Kent
How many miles is that? Sounds like a long way!

Any sort of bike can do any sort of distance. A cheaper bike is probably a bit heavier and parts might be a bit less robust, but if you get some miles in before you set off on your journey, you will gain confidence in the equipment and perhaps upgrade bits that are uncomfortable or showing signs of early wear.

Good luck with this epic journey and don't forget photos are compulsory on this forum.
 

CanucksTraveller

Macho Business Donkey Wrestler
Location
Hertfordshire
Depending on where you are in California that could be circa 3000 miles there, maybe more. And then the same back? Quite the adventure!

Firstly that's a truly Herculean task... averaging a respectable 70 miles a day you're looking at about 45 days to get there. You could do more and achieve it quicker but you'd be some athlete.

As Sharky says, any bike will do it. A cheap Wal Mart bike will likely be a magnitude less reliable than something better, and might potentially let you down more often, but rides of a thousand miles or more are done fairly often on cheap bikes, and shopping bikes, and folding bikes... even unicycles on the odd occasion.
Whatever bike you do it on, it's important to know how to repair it when something fails, and to carry the common spares because bike shops will be few and far between. This is some truly remote territory.

Probably most important, lest we put the cart before the horse, is to make sure any bike fits you and is comfortable for long rides. And that you, the rider, can complete long rides, day after day.

Have a read of the other threads in the touring and expedition forum to get some idea of what a ride like this entails in terms of preparation and kit to carry, accommodation and food considerations etc. Most threads here (being largely a UK forum) are European or British trips and not as long as yours.

I suspect you might be having a little fun with us, but welcome!
 
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Jody

Veteran
I’m thinking about riding my mountain bike from my residential address in California to Denali National Park, Alaska and back during the summer months.
How much cycling have you done already? A 7000 mile return journey is going to be quite an adventure and take a good few months.
 
Hi everyone,

My name is Christina Hart. I live in California. I’m new to this website. Today I bought myself a 29 inch mountain bike from a Wal-Mart store in my local area for somewhere around $200.00. I’m thinking about riding my mountain bike from my residential address in California to Denali National Park, Alaska and back during the summer months. My mom is not to sure if my mountain bike would survive a journey of me riding my mountain bike from California to Alaska. I’m looking for an expert on bicycles. What do you guys think? Do you guys think my mountain bike could be ridden by me from my residential address in California to Denali National Park, Alaska? I went on a trip to Alaska in 2010 where I visited Denali National Park, and a town called Seward. I look forward to hearing from you. Goodbye for now, have a wonderful day.

Sincerely,

Christina
Quite a challange you are setting yourself Christina. there are a lot of questions you have to ask yourself about this adventure. Ok the $200 bike will get you as far as you want to go however, it would be wise to replace some of the components with more suitable items for long distance touring, Depending how much wieght you have to carry, are you planning on only using hotels and motels, or camping. You might find it wise to replace the wheels and again depending what tryres the wheels are shod with might mean changing them as well, with the distance & conditions on some of the Alaskain roads & trails you are planning you will no doubt have to replace chain and rear cassette. Most of the same items would need to be replaced even if you had a very expensive purpose built touring bike. So dont worry about that. maybe this guys videos might let you now what you are letting yourself in for: https://www.youtube.com/user/istarusIG/videos
Good luck for your adventures
 
You could always read the @HobbesOnTour thread in the touring section for inspiration/indicators of long distance touring in USA, he may not travel the same roads as you may use but there will be plenty of similarities I would imagine

first things first though, make sure your comfortable on your bike and that you can manage such an undertaking, physically and mentally

best of luck with your journey
 

HobbesOnTour

Über Member
Location
The Netherlands
@Christina Hart

You'll get better advice if you supplied the following information;
Where you live in California (it may add a mile or two if you live in the south!)
What the bike actually is - a link, perhaps?
What your cycling/cycle-touring/outdoor experience is?
How you intend to sleep Camping/motel etc.?
What kind of gear/equipment you already possess and what kind of budget you have, in total, for your trip?

On a long trip like you are contemplating, the bike is only one aspect of the overall equation.
Route planning, navigation, mechanical skills, motivation, wildlife awareness and simple logistics (what and how much food and water to carry, where to resupply) are probably just as important.
You will be cycling in places where errors in any of those areas could be fatal.

Of course, the more pertinent aspect (for me at least) is will you enjoy it?
A rough calculation suggests a 7000km round trip from the (north) California border.
As others have said, that is a high daily distance, every day. Personally, I would not enjoy that.

Cycle touring is a wonderful thing to do and I tend to reside in the camp that says "it's not about the bike" so I have no doubt that you can have wonderful adventures on your new bike!
You're fortunate to live in California where the opportunities for cycle touring are immense, especially in comparison to other parts of the U.S.

CrazyGuyOnABike is a treasure trove of cycling journeys that can be used as a source of information from those that have done it before, but perhaps, most importantly, as a source of inspiration for those that want to be inspired.

To answer your specific question as to whether your bike will last?
Nobody knows.
Understanding how your bike works, being able to maintain it, knowing the capabilities of bike & components (and not exceeding them) will all help in keeping the bike rolling.

Some people will be stopped dead by a puncture while others have gone around the world after hospital trips or even the complete loss of the bike. It's as much what's between your ears and beating in your chest as what's under your ass.

Good luck!
 

mudsticks

Veteran
Have you come across the writings of this Lady??
She's done several long rides in the States, http://theadventuresyndicate.com/kate-rawles

As others have said its as much about psychology as fitness. - although that helps too. But fitness will build as the trip goes on.

I mean it's only sitting down, pushing pedals round isn't it?

Definitely learn how to fix your bike (although ppl on the road are usually pretty helpful too) .

I've done most of my touring on a mid range hybrid.. Nothing amazing, but slightly fancier than what you're talking about.

Does it make any difference? Probs not as much as some would make out.

Due to other commitments, I've only ever managed three weeks touring at a time so far. (I know - first world problems :whistle:)

So a mountain bike won't be super speedy, but could be more reassuring on rougher roads.

Might be worth upgrading the tyres slightly at least.
And going tubeless? if possible (controversial point there)

As a woman I'd say there are also particular undercarriage issues which need to be thought about, and attended to, if you're going to spend multiple days in the saddle.

We're not quite so 'standard issue' down there..
If you know what I mean - I'll spare your blushes - as there's no point going into detail - we are all different.

Also I'd never leave home without at least some sort of shelter, and sleep system.
Even if you mainly intend to guest house it.

I've lost count of the times I've either gone way beyond, or fallen short of intended destination.
And its reassuring to know you have full capacity to look after yourself.

Have a great trip, but don't be afraid to trim your ambitions, or take a different tack if it doesn't go to plan.

It's supposed to be enjoyable mostly*..
So if it consistently isn't, then do something else instead .

Some days will inevitably be dull, frustrating, too hot, too cold, too windy etc etc.

But that's real life on the road.. Not just the Instagram highlights :okay:
 

Debade

Senior Member
Location
Connecticut, USA
Good advice from Hobbes. I would add pay close attention to the direction most people travel. Most people say the prevailing winds are north to south. Double check if that accepted knowledge is correct. If true it will impact your daily distance calculation and perhaps the enjoyment of the trip.
 
First thing to do is probably change the tyres to some quality touring tyres rather than the cheap mtb tyres that are presumably fitted at the moment.

In 1992, I cycled from New Mexico to Alaska on a Cannondale touring bike, great trip, took me three months and three weeks, to cover the 5400 miles.
 
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