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Messages - geegee

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1
I've ridden in most of the western European countries and several of the eastern ones. In general the northern countries (Holland, Germany, Scandinavia) had better bike infrastructure than the south, which make it easier to get in and out of cities. I've also toured through about half the States and all Canadian provinces, and the differences in road conditions in each one is sometimes more than the countries in Europe.

Most of the newer North American highways are built to superior standards, but it often means traffic travels so much faster, sometimes negating the feeling of security that a wide shoulder provides. It seems Europeans expect more bikes to be on the minor roads than Americans do, and the drivers react accordingly. Too many American drivers tend step on the gas wanting to pass a cyclist as fast as possible.

Europe has more established bike routes, but I'm impressed with the recent developments in the US this past decade.

Accommodation-wise, it really depends on the kind of lodging you are looking for. Europe has far more cheap hostels, and most of their campgrounds have a fee structure that's kinder to cyclists as they charge by the motor vehicle, tent and per person separately. America has a lot more stealth camping opportunities, and cheap motels. It is easier to find a cheap hotel in the downtown of a large European city like Paris or Berlin than say in Boston, New York or Chicago where you have to settle with the outskirts.

The variety of food on the road is getting better in America, but there's definitely more vernacular in Europe with its genuinely rich regional cuisines.


2
Routes / Re: Two Canadians biking across Canada & the United States
« on: March 17, 2015, 07:53:18 am »
Oh also I forgot to mention we're coming from Sudbury, Ontario

Well that changes everything, any direction out of there would be good. Just kidding, OK maybe half :)

Heading west would be cheaper and easier for camping. Atlantic Canada is a fine ride and really scenic but there is a lot of backtracking to get down to the States. The US eastern seaboard is an expensive urban mess from Massachusetts southward, with no cheap camping options.

With the Canadian dollar so low right now, I'd stick with your first idea of riding to Vancouver. Riding through Northern Ontario is a tough start, but hey, you're used to it :) The roads get way better when you get to Saskatchewan. Personally, I would take the Yellowhead Highway via Saskatoon - Edmonton - Jasper over the southern route. The Icefields Parkway towards Lake Louise is probably one of the most spectacular rides in the world. There are lots of WWOOFing opportunities in southern BC particularly the Okanagan.

3
About a year ago I hosted a cyclist from Japan who had come across Canada. She was probably your size, but she could barely communicate in English and was completely clueless about fixing her bike. She walked her bike up all the hills and placed her fate on the kindness of strangers along the way. I think some kind soul in northern Ontario completely overhauled her bicycle. All she had for tools were a couple of allen keys. I had to teach her how to twist her handlebar and remove her pedals for when she had to fly out (somehow they took her bike as is when she flew out of Tokyo), and helped her buy some basic tools. When she left, part of me thought her foolish, but a larger part of me wished I had half her courage and determination. She flew down to Argentina, I got a postcard from her from Chile, and another one from Australia.

Anyway it's best to know your personal limits, and take wise precautions for your safety and well being. Within those you can find ways to ride across the world, it may take longer than other people, or mean catching a ride when you don't feel comfortable in certain stretches, but you can do it.

I'm wondering if a folding bike such as a Bike Friday would be good for you. There's not that much difference from a 24" to a 20" wheel that gearing can't overcome. Even without a suitcase it would be easier to box.

Fast drying clothes is my key to cutting down baggage volume. You can take less of it, plus most synthetic fabrics are lighter anyway. Thermal underwear instead of a heavy coat for warmth.

It's hard to find accurate GPS data for some countries in Asia, you'll probably have to do a combination of maps and GPS verification to navigate.

Best of luck and courage!

4
I've been taking my 11" MacBook Air with me on my latest tours. I have Adobe CS5 and MS Office running on it for doing some job-related work (I'm self-employed) while I'm on the road, as well as for keeping a blog and staying in contact with family, friends and clients. I have a neoprene case for it and it tucks nicely into a pannier with clothes. I also have one of those 2 TB MyCloud drives at home that I use to archive everything, so I can access and upload/download any of my files wherever there's wifi. Last time I was on a 6 week ride it gave me peace of mind to be able to respond to urgent requests remotely.

5
Routes / Re: Rt. 2 across North Dakota
« on: December 26, 2014, 11:32:48 pm »
Summer of 2013 I rode on US 2 between Church's Ferry ND (just west of Devil's Lake) to Grand Forks and onwards to Duluth and the Michigan border. The highway is good for the most part in ND, lacking shoulders in some sections that are four-lane divided but traffic was really light. I had come down from Manitoba via Rolla, so I can't speak on the western stretch towards Minot. I did not see that many trucks on the road, but I did get a strange warning from a local who said to watch out for drunk drivers on ND's rural roads during late afternoons/early evenings

6
Routes / Re: Crossing into Canada?
« on: December 25, 2014, 10:43:11 pm »
If you do go through Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, drop by the folks at Velorution bike shop. They have a really cool free campground at the back of the store for touring cyclists, with access to the store's bathroom and shower. They're also actively advocating an alternative route towards Sudbury that avoids the busy Trans-Canada (Highway 17):
https://www.google.ca/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&oe=UTF8&msa=0&msid=214764887640319326754.0004e397f01a335380b26

Consider taking the Espanola-Manitoulin Island-Tobermory route as suggested above, as Southern Ontario has more parallel routes on quiet county roads compared to the rugged hilly north. Sudbury to the Ottawa Valley (into Petawawa) can be quite a challenge as the highway is narrow and steep at times with no alternative routes. Having said that, I've cycled across that expanse twice and I'm still in one piece :)

I rode through the south of Lake Superior last year and the roads in the UP are a mixed bag. Some stretches have no shoulder but traffic is generally light.

If you decide to ride along the shores of Lake Ontario and the St-Lawrence Valley, that route is documented here: http://www.waterfronttrail.org

As already mentioned, the Route verte in Quebec makes getting around by bike in that province really easy.

7
General Discussion / Re: That go-to meal
« on: December 15, 2014, 09:45:47 am »
Filet Mignon; grilled on an open fire with a cracked pepper crust, covered with Sauteed Mushrooms & Caramelized Onion in a Wine Sauce

Serve that on a long piece of bread and I say that sub is good to go. Would you like a drink and a bag of chips to go with that? ;D

8
General Discussion / Re: That go-to meal
« on: November 22, 2014, 10:47:50 pm »
I call this more like "Gas Station Store Cuisine", when there's no other place to buy food

Ramen and egg; Halfway into cooking instant ramen I break an egg or two into the pot. I like stirring it without breaking the yolk so it gets custardy while the white gets stringy n he broth.

Smoked mussel/oyster mac and cheese: make KD with 6 creamers from the coffee counter and mix in a can of smoked mussels or oysters including the oil. A can of tuna or flaked chicken works, too.

Minute Rice + Cup-A-Soup. Cook the minute rice with 50% more water than required and then dump a packet or two of cup-a-soup. Longer version, regular rice + a can of Campbell Soup

9
Routes / Re: contemplating riding TransAm in 2015....so many questions!
« on: September 29, 2014, 02:12:56 am »
On all my tours, I carry two water bottles and one of these MSR water bags bungied to the bundle on my rear rack. They're great because they're collapsable and can directly connect an MSR water filter or function as an outdoor shower hung from a tree. When I free camp I would fill it up at the nearest water source to have enough water for washing up. I have the 4-litre version which I find sufficient, but the 6-litre isn't much extra bulk or weight when empty.

10
General Discussion / Re: Sour clothing - after washing!
« on: August 18, 2014, 11:12:19 pm »
Try OxyClean or a similar laundry additive. I've also been seeing a lot of laundry scent boosters in the store but have never used them. Don't know if they remove or just cover up odours.

There is a product called MiraZyme Gear Deodorizer which I use on sandals and helmets when they get a funky smell. Works especially well for neoprene.

11
I tried doing a bit of work while I was on a six week tour last year and it wasn't easy. I had to take quite a bit of time off the bike to do the work, but luckily it was just one small project and had no critically urgent deadlines. If you are expecting to do a full job's worth of work and be responsive while touring, I think it would be a challenge to fit it in the daily routine of riding 50-60+ miles, setting up and taking down a tent, preparing meals and keeping up with the little things that living a nomadic lifestyle brings. I ended up spending a couple of days in a university residence to concentrate on finishing the job, and then went on the rest of my trip without having to think about work.

12
General Discussion / Re: trip from georgia to southern ontario
« on: July 13, 2014, 01:56:00 pm »
The folks at WaterfrontTrail.org have recently added the Erie shore to their route. You can download free maps from site which should get you to Port Bruce from either the Niagara or Windsor end of the lake.

13
General Discussion / Re: Fighting off boredom?
« on: July 13, 2014, 01:42:00 pm »
I've rarely gotten bored on a tour either. One thing I find I have to make time for is bike maintenance, and I literally have to force some downtime to do it. There will always be something to do, and in many ways you'll feel like you don't have enough time.

Personally, I can't read a long novel while I'm on an adventure. Somehow, I find it hard to immerse myself in someone else's story in bits and pieces whenever I have time. Even the incidental things I read along the way (magazines, brochures, panels, etc.) already tend to color my experiences, and adding a non-conextual story just confuses my imagination :) .

14
Thanks! Interestingly, I went with the stem shifters specifically for the aesthetic. I think it adds a bit of "steampunk" style along with the other vintage parts  :D .  I tried putting on brifters but they really don't work well with bullhorns which are my preferred style for handlebars over drops — the positioning of the brake levers give me so much more confidence since I control them with my stronger index and middle fingers instead of relying more on the weaker ring and pinky fingers that are more prone to cramping. Brifter cabling gets a bit messy on bullhorns, as on my Trek 520:



Another huge plus for me with bullhorns is the superior unobscured positioning of a mirror. Much of the highways in my area do not have shoulders, and being able to easily spot transport trucks behind when another is coming ahead greatly improves my personal feeling of security. After two decades of using drop bars, I havent come across a mirror that worked satisfactorily.

I will be using this bike for lighter tours, as canalligators correctly deduced!

15
Thanks for the advice, thought I'd post some pictures of what I've done to the bike and some of the decisions I made.

I still need new wheels but the old ones still look OK after 20 years. The paint is nice and bright now and I've cleaned and overhauled a few of the old components.


I decided to keep the obsolete 8 speed Campy derailleur because I like its sculpted looks:


Since I might get Shimano-based hubs when I buy new wheels, I went with Silver friction shifters mounted on the quill stem which I got through Rivendell. This will give me a wider choice of cassettes, over the 3 expensive and hard to get 8-speed Campy cassettes available.


I like the way this has simplified the cabling! I also kept the old center-pull cantilever brakes:


I bought a new Brooks saddle which I will have to ride a lot to break-in :

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