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Messages - John Grossbohlin

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Gear Talk / Re: Sources for Ultra Violent Protective Clothing
« on: March 10, 2017, 10:05:51 pm »
I'm looking for sources for cycling clothing which offers a UV rating. Any guidance will be appreciated.

I equipped my son and I with long sleeve U/A shirts with a rating of 50+ UPF for our last trip. For example Contrary to usual cycling practice the shirts were oversize so they fit loose. The loose fit made them very comfortable even in high humidity. We also wore Adventure Cycling Association Protech Caps. This made a huge difference for me as I burned pretty badly on prior long trips despite applying sunscreen repeatedly.

I'm now a firm believer in covering up as I had basil cell carcinoma (skin cancer) removed from my neck. My primary damaging exposure came from decades of cycling.  I also have a very close friend who is dealing with melanoma (bad skin cancer)... After the cancer was cut out of several locations on her body she was left with several hundred stitches and now has disfiguring scars. Thankfully she had bad chigger bites that led her to see a dermatologist. It was fortunate as the cancer had already progressed to at least stage 3 without her even knowing she had it. If it weren't for the chigger bites it may have killed her... She will have to undergo testing for cancer for the rest of her life not only to detect more skin cancer but to make sure it didn't spread to other organs.

Cover up...

New England / Re: Bicycling the Erie Canal
« on: March 05, 2017, 11:24:23 pm »
If Governor Cuomo's Empire State Trail proposal survives the Legislature the Erie Canalway trail will be completed and tie into other trails. It is great that the proposal for the Hudson Valley crosses Walkway Over the Hudson at Poughkeepsie and crosses again at the Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge taking the trail through Ulster County. Ulster County's trails were featured in the December 2016 National Geographic Magazine in a special pull out. Lots of good cycling in NY with more to come!

Gear Talk / Re: Long distance tour bike for small lady
« on: March 05, 2017, 11:18:01 pm »
Don't know if you found a bike yet. I'm touring on an extra small Surly Troll. It fits better than my gen 1 Salsa Fargo size small. I don't think it carries a very heavy load very well. Bit that's OK, my kit gets lighter all the time. "Fit" is some what subjective. The guy who resonded about stand over clearance not being as important for females is pretty typical. For me, fit is about comfort AND my sense of safety. The industry is a little slow to catch on. Women's bikes don't need to just be smaller. There is a whole different geometry to consider. Terry has the right idea but I found the guage of the tubing made for a flimsy feeling bike. I got the sense that her bikes are designed for credit card touring or organized tours where they carry your gear. And that style of riding is fine. It's not my cup of tea. I'm off pavement these days, carrying everything. Would love to know how it works out.
It appears that Terry has touring bikes that are intended for carrying loads (Coto Doñana Tour) and bikes that are intended for general riding and perhaps credit card touring (Coto Doñana Vagabond)... lighter tubing on the later. Which model did you examine when you formed your opinion? 

I recall when Terry came on the scene back in the mid-80s... The women I met that had Terry bicycles all loved them.  RE her saddles, the whole notion that women's pelvic girdles are shaped differently from men's was missed by seemingly everyone else back then. From looking at current offerings Terry still has game. 

Gear Talk / Re: Trek 520
« on: March 04, 2017, 11:27:49 pm »
So I've gotten hooked reading about touring. I've a pretty avid hiker, and this appeals to me in so many ways. Well, my question is this...

I've been doing tons of research, and it seems that I'm leaning toward buying a Trek 520 for my first touring bike. I want to know why some of you think I "shouldn't" buy this bike. I keep reading great reviews, but I need the opinion of some vets to reassure me that I'm making the right decision.

Thanks in advance!
I bought a couple 520s, one for my son and one for myself. We rode them on the Erie Canalway route and through the Rockies from LaJunta, CO to Pasco, WA. In the Rockies we mostly used the TransAmerica and Lewis and Clark routes. The next year we needed another bike for my other son... unfortunately I didn't move fast enough that year and there were no 520s to be had and few LHTs. I ended up getting a slightly larger LHT for myself and put my son on my 520. We rode from FL to NY with them. 

Bottom line... it didn't really matter which bike I was on from a mechanical reliability, riding or comfort perspective... tires excepted. 

I put Brooks Flyer saddles on all of them from day one. Tires... In my opinion throw the stock tires away and put Schwalbe Marathon Plus on just before you start your trip. All of the Trek's Bontrager tires delaminated during the trip in the Rockies. I found a pair of 700x28 Schwalbe tires in Hamilton, MT and put them on my son's bike (at age 15 he was a lot lighter than I). The tires from his bike went on mine but they were completely shot by the time we were done... perhaps 2,000 miles on them. They were replaced by Schwalbe tires also. The Continentals on the LHT were showing cracks by the end of the trip... again about 2,000 miles. Plenty of flats with the OEM tires...

If the cosmetics are a deciding point I think the 520 probably wins. Otherwise... I don't see a practical difference.

My original touring bike back in the '80s was a Trek 850 (Trek's first mountain bike) that I set up for touring with road tires, racks, and extra bottle cages, Cannondale panniers, etc. There weren't too many "touring bike" options in those days (the Trek 520 and 620 being the notable exceptions) and I already had the 850 so that is what I went with. Other than the bars, from looking at photos of loaded bikes, I imagine my 850 touring rig wasn't much different from a LHT with 26" wheels. The photo shows the 850 the day after I finished the 3,142 mile '86 trip... the day I finished I rode from East Stoudsburg, PA north on Rte 209 in a light snow storm for about 80 miles and the last 35 on wet roads... everything was covered in grit including me. I look at it today and think that I was carrying way too much stuff! ::)

Gear Talk / 700X40 on LHT?
« on: March 04, 2017, 01:19:07 pm »
I'm looking at the Schwalbe MARATHON PLUS TOUR HS 404 size 42-622 (700 x 40C) for my LHT with fenders. Will this tire actually fit the LHT with fenders?

I anticipate a trip that includes on and off road sections. I rode my loaded Trek 520 with 700 X 35 road tires on much of the off-road section previously. The surface was sticky when wet/damp, i.e., you sank into it and it created a lot of drag. During the week or so I was on the route the path was only dry one day... Ugh.


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.

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