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Messages - John Grossbohlin

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Routes / Re: East Coast Greenway or Atlantic Route
« on: January 04, 2017, 12:00:35 am »
I am looking to do Georgia - Maine
I've ridden from FL to NY a couple times. In 2013 I used a combination of ECG and AC routes from FL to SC. However, due to very heavy traffic and problems with accommodations in mid-summer I went west toward Florence, SC and used the route I first used in 1986. On the '86 trip I pretty much used Routes 15 and 301 from GA to Emporia, VA and then went to Williamsburg, VA. You could pick up either ECG or AC near there. Routes 15 and 301 are pretty flat and being fairly close to I-95 services were not a problem. On both trips I went pretty far west from Williamsburg to go through PA Dutch country and then up Route 209. If you were careful to follow the rivers (e.g., Delaware) through NJ and PA it's not too hilly. If you did something like that you could pick up the ECG or AC near Walkway Over the Hudson in Poughkeepsie, NY.

Routes / Re: Help with route
« on: January 03, 2017, 11:04:45 pm »
In recent years when I bushwhacked my own route I often started with a Google Maps Bicycle route... from Ellington, Missouri to Athens, Georgia looks interesting in that it uses the Dorena - Hickman ferry to cross the Mississippi River. I also try to identify a few points of interest and modify the route to take those points into account.

This is a different experience from bushwhacking 30+ years ago when there were pretty much no mapped bicycle routes for much the U.S.  Back then I used AAA state maps to get around. Amusingly, the old paper maps probably had at least as many errors as the electronic maps of today so there are times when you find you cannot get there from here!  In 2013 I diverted from the the Atlantic Coast and East Coast Greenway routes between FL and NY and used much of the route from the NC/SC border to VA that I plotted in 1986. This as the traffic on the coast was horrific mid-summer... especially with all the road work we encountered.

Routes / Re: New York State Bike Route 5 versus Erie Canalway Trail
« on: January 03, 2017, 10:47:38 pm »
Thanks for the info regarding the Erie Canal book.  Our county library system doesn't carry it, so I think I'll purchase a copy. 

Does following the canalway slow you down much?    I typically ride at about 14 mph without gear on my bike.  Fully loaded with camping gear and with rest stops, I probably average 10 or 11 mph, but this is on paved highway surfaces.   Did this surface of the canalway slow you down much?
I found that when the Canalway is dry it doesn't matter... not much different from riding the road with the 700x38 tires on my bike. When it's wet, however, the Canalway is feels like it's sticky and it does slow you down. It isn't really sticky, it's soft which increases the rolling resistance. Net result of our experiences is that when it was raining we used 5 and when it wasn't we used the Canalway.

Sort of related to this post and while y'all are thinking about lights, I'm looking at options for mounting my front light. The bar bag obstructs a handlebar mount and the high-rise solutions are not something that I prefer. I have seen the custom mounts for the front of my Cosmos rack and that is under consideration (if I can make one elegant enough...) but what I think I would prefer is mounting the light to the head tube. That would enable me to reach the switch while riding and I think it would reduce the beating the light would take if mounted to the leading edge of the front rack.

I've thought a stainless pipe clamp with a "shop built"  ;) mounting bracket would work but I was wondering if any of you have every done something like that or have seen other solutions. Ideas?

I'm not sure I understand how mounting on the headtube gets around the problem of the bar bag???

I'd like to mount a light on the front Surely rack but behind the front edge of the rack so it doesn't get whacked... Fabrication would be OK but I'd rather find an off the shelf solution. This as on my first major trip (3,142 miles) I had a custom sized Silca frame pump and it cracked at the pump head. It was a real problem trying to replace it while on the road... that experience led me to stick with readily available accessories and components!

I've been trying to avoid the tinkering... While on the road for 7-15 weeks at a pop I generally only put the lights on the bike when I need them, otherwise they are stowed in a panier. I've found they are less prone to damage/corrosion by doing this.  As such being able to install/remove easily without tools is desirable.

As I was placing an REI order yesterday for wool hiking socks I checked on the Planet Bike mount. They do not carry that item... I'll check with my LBS as that mount looks like a viable solution.

As suggested by others, it would be really handy if there were a standard, or even two, for the rack hangers and lights!

Gear Talk / Lights that will attach to the light mounting holes on racks
« on: December 22, 2014, 01:56:50 pm »
I searched the forums for recent posts about LED battery lights that will attach to racks using the mounting holes on the racks. My sons and I have Surly front and rear racks on our Trek 520s and Surly LHT but I haven't found (yet?) front and rear lights that will mount on the rack. Does anyone know of any that are currently available?

Routes / Re: East Coast Greenway
« on: September 23, 2013, 09:34:06 am »
I rode a long stretch of US 15 years ago and it was good then. I'd assume it would still be pretty good as, like with US 301 in NC, I-95 takes most of the N/S traffic through that part of SC.

I'm not much of a fan of US 17 in SC... My son and I rode from Yamassee, SC to Charleston two months ago and took the section of 17 you are considering. It was not a very good ride at times... there was a section of road work 14 miles long. Both directions of travel ended up on what would normally be the southbound lanes. When we got to the rail trail going into Charleston the trail was closed due to construction. The section of 17 going into Charleston was a miserable piece of road. As I recall it was typically 6-7 lanes wide with curbs, no shoulder and a lot of traffic.
Perhaps the road work is done, and the rail trail should be reopened by now based on the signage, so perhaps it would be OK now.

One issue in that part of the SC is getting across the Edisto River. There are  not many crossings and if you are heading to the coast from Walterboro 17 is pretty much the option....

Another stretch of 17 heading into Savannah was a bit better and that route is used by the East Coast Greenway as the preferred route.

Phyl and her husband Neil, a couple we met in Williamsburg, VA who were southbound, didn't care much for the stretch of 17 they rode in northern SC either. They did however take it into Myrtle Beach, SC.

Routes / Re: East Coast Greenway
« on: August 16, 2013, 09:31:25 pm »
My desired path through PA has taken me much further west than either the ACA or ECG routes so I am afraid I can offer no first hand experience for more eastern alternatives.

On my first trip up from FL I went up the west side of the DWG on Route 209 from south of East Stroudsburg and I stayed on Route 209 all the way to Hurley, NY.

This time we are undecided about which side of the DWG we are going to use. We're in Gettysburg now and from here we will be heading east through Lancaster on our way to Valley Forge. From Valley Forge we are heading north up the west side of the Hudson River.

I think it is worth repeating that I've found the subscription version of Map My Ride to be a great planning tool. You can try routes out on the computer and do flyovers. Once you settle on a route you can then look at your route on your smartphone while you are traveling. If you use the GPS on the Map My Ride phone app you can also follow your progress. I've used the flyover feature to figure out if roads had bike lanes or trails or shoulders. 

Routes / Re: East Coast Greenway
« on: August 11, 2013, 09:13:27 pm »
I use the various mapped routes as a guide and am not afraid to deviate from them... from one section of a route to the next the routes may be great or they may be troublesome. In the more remote areas I've found that it is not uncommon for stores, campgrounds, etc. to have gone out of business or changed names. On the Transam where there are big gaps in services we had problems a couple times when sources of food or shelter were gone or temporarily closed and we had to improvise.  In more urban areas construction and traffic can change your route for you.

"It is what it is" is the mindset to take with you! What a local may consider to be a great route can be annoying to an outsider due to myriad turns that require constant referral to the maps. On the other hand, routes locals consider to be bad can sometimes be better for long distance cyclists who need services a local rider doesn't.

Also, you can almost never trust an auto driver whom doesn't cycle as they don't understand the needs of the cyclist nor do they really know the distance to anything. I recall talking to the mayor of a town who was also a real estate agent, i.e., someone who should known the area, and he was off on distance by a factor of 3. I rode through the Manassas battlefield at night on a new moon as a result... actually I walked as I couldn't see and I kept going off the road. I finally found a place with lights and waited until someone with a PU truck came along to give me a ride to a campground.

If you are not from the U.S. I'd suggest having all the routes and maps and get a feel for the various route conditions by using Google Earth or Map My Ride flyovers. I'd be prepared for hotels, motels, hostels, campgrounds, Warm Showers and stealth camping as the opportunities present themselves. Don't rule out invitations to stay in people's homes, churches, etc. as it has happened on my major trips a number of times. On the current trip we were invited to use a guest house and a vehicle so we could visit historical sites in a heavily congested urban area!

That said, we all can put up with just about anything for a few days until better conditions come along! Don't let a few stressful situations define your trip!

Routes / Re: East Coast Greenway
« on: August 08, 2013, 10:17:22 pm »
Well... In my experience, and from what I've heard from others, the ACA route along the east coast often takes you through rural areas and areas of nothingness with gaps in services.  The ECG, on the other hand, tends to run you through more urban areas using off-road and bike lane routes where possible.

If you are looking to do the trip in the summer months the coast is very busy... and expensive. I did some on-line checking of campgrounds and a KOA near Myrtle Beach was, as I recall, about $48/night for a tent site! If you hang near the coast try to make reservations as rooms and camp sites seem to be full, especially Thursday through Sunday. Compare that to a Motel 6 along I-95 for $35 with the AAA (or maybe it was AARP) discount. In Savannah if it were not for a road angel who let us use his guest house we would have been in trouble. This as every hotel/motel I checked was full and I didn't find any campgrounds.

My son and I found US 301 through NC to be a great route last week. The only area traffic was at all congested was near Wilson. Most of the way there were fine shoulders, no buzz bars and little traffic. Due to it's proximity to I-95 short detours from US 301 will take you to food and lodging with no problem if you happen to be in a lightly populated area along US 301. I noticed that access to services is better now than what I experienced in 1986 as I-95 has matured since then.

I've also noticed that between 1986 and now that there are a lot fewer campgrounds and many of those that exist don't have specific tent sites. Stealth camping along the coast would seem to be problematic due to the density of development... but I guess it depends upon how much nerve you have!

We have the ACA maps, the ECG maps via the web, and AAA state maps. The AAA maps seem to have had the most use as the rural vs urban issues, access to services, route interruptions, and the congestion issues we've faced drove us from the ACA and ECG routes. We used part of one ACA map thus far... and a section of the ECG route but have mostly used our own course north.

I think that the season you take your trip will influence your experience. In 1986 I started in FL in the winter and rode north into the spring. It was cold at times but the tourist areas were often empty and prices were cheap! On this trip a dive motel in a crap town about 50 miles from Myrtle Beach was $102 and the few chains in the town were a lot more expensive than that... no campgrounds were found.

In my opinion, the AAA state maps are about all you really need on the east coast if you learn to read them. The different types of road codes and the degree of meandering give you a very good idea of what you will encounter. Combined with a smartphone it's pretty easy to figure out what kinds of services will be available along the way too. But that's me... how comfortable you are with bushwhacking your own route should be a deciding factor here.

Also, along different segments of the coast one route may have advantages over the other. If money isn't a huge problem maybe study the ECG, ACA, and AAA maps and the fee version of Map My Ride and get a feel for the roads. With the Map My Ride fly over feature you can plot a route and then fly over it to see what the road is like... bike lanes, buzz bars, etc. can be seen on the fly overs.

Routes / Re: East Coast Greenway
« on: July 28, 2013, 09:45:42 pm »
I guess it depends upon how you define viable... the ECG maps and cue sheets are not packaged up as neat and tidy as the ACA map sets but the information is on the web for free and folks are working hard to keep the information current and refine the routes as off-road options are developed.

That said, I'd be inclined to pick up 301 and 15 and shadow I-95 down to Ridgeland. I rode that route on my FL to NY trip in the past and it was fine. The roads were lightly traveled as I-95 took most of the traffic and being close to I-95 you can find services.  In comparison, US 17 was pretty nasty in many areas due to construction.

If you happen to be riding the east coast in the summer beware of lodging prices and availability along the coast. Both are presenting enough issues that I'm moving towards 301 now to continue north and then cutting over to the Jamestown - Scotland Ferry to visit Jamestown / Williamsburg / Yorktown VA.  The ACA and ECG routes seem to be expensive ways to go in the summer tourist season!

Routes / East Coast Greenway
« on: July 25, 2013, 08:44:49 pm »
In the past couple of weeks I've reported a couple problems to the ECG trail coordinator. The first one involved the US 17 crossing of the St Marys River at the FL/GA border. They have published cue sheet and E-News items about this in recent days.

The second issue is that much of the West Ashley Greenway, which runs into Charleston, SC and parallels US 17 is torn up for water (or sewer??) work. US 17 is a nightmare in that area... 6-7 lanes wide, no shoulder and curbs along with heavy traffic. ECG advises that a detour will be worked out in coming days and cue sheets posted.

The trail is scheduled to reopen in a couple days but considering the torn up section is miles long, and they were digging with a large excavator as recently as yesterday, I doubt it will be rideable by then.

Gear Talk / Re: newbie saddle question
« on: June 25, 2013, 01:06:39 pm »
I put Brooks Flyer and Brooks Flyer Special saddles on our Trek 520s and Surly Long Haul Trucker. Those combined with Body Glide anti-chafe around the leg cuff and good padded road shorts haven't failed I nor my sons. The cost seems free compared to the physical grief saddle sores caused me on my 3,142 mile trip in '86...

Yes, the leather saddles do require some maintenance and rain covers but those are minor inconveniences. When I've encountered people on the road who were complaining about their Brooks it was obvious that they had not maintained the tension on the seat's leather... their seats were sagged so pressure was being exerted in places that it shouldn't have been.

Routes / Re: Lewis and Clark Route - Hwy 12 Lolo Pass Section
« on: June 09, 2013, 10:21:25 pm »
Do stop at Lochsa Lodge... and have a Moose Drool beer. Nice place... they have cabins if the weather is bad or you need a night on a mattress.

Gear Talk / Re: Bike Sizing
« on: May 05, 2013, 08:52:06 pm »
In addition to the top tube length the complete LHT 60 CM bike parts set includes a wider handlebar and longer stem than does the 58 CM. In combination the 60 may thus feel much larger than the small difference in standover height might suggest.

I made the mistake years ago, when faced with the same dilemma, of going to the larger frame when I really should have gone down to the smaller size. That was in the late '70s. It was a Motobecane Le Champion (Reynolds 531, Campagnolo, tubulars...) which was a large chunk of change at the time. I was never happy with the bike... 

Assuming you are looking for a complete bike that doesn't require parts swapping, I'd suggest trying both sizes out and if that isn't possible go with the 58. BTW, I do follow my own advice!  My current touring bike happens to be a 58 CM LHT... I am happy with it.

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