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Messages - wanderingwheel

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1
Routes / Re: Western Express late June
« on: August 11, 2009, 10:11:56 am »
It's certainly doable, especially with a support vehicle to carry extra water, but you may see some uncomfortably hot weather.  From San Francisco, you'll be fine for the first day or so until you reach the Central Valley around Davis and Sacramento.  While briefly in the Central Valley, temperatures can easily soar well above 100 along with moderate humidity.  The weather should become much more comfortable as you climb into and over the Sierras.  Expect the hot weather to return with a vengence as you enter Nevada, but this time with very low humidity.   Consider planning long rest breaks during the middle of the day to avoid the worst of the heat.  I'd also suggest looking into atypical cycling clothes, such as light, loose-fitting jerserys.

This weather should stay with you all the way across Nevada, but will likely become a little milder as you enter Utah.  In Utah and Colorado, the weather will be very dependent on the altitude: hotter at lower elevations and cooler at higher elevations.

Sean

2
Routes / Re: Seattle to San Francisco Aug/Sept
« on: May 31, 2009, 08:58:04 am »
Depending on your fitness, 50-60 miles per day should be very reasonable.  The route is hilly with the occasional longer climb.  A triple crank, or a compact crank with a larger cassette is usually low enough for most people.  Generally, you can expect a nice tailwind for much of your trip. 

For most of the route there are hiker/biker camp sites at state parks and national forests.  Bears are not an issue anywhere along the route.  If you are lucky enough to see one, it will likely be on the Olympic Penninsula in Washington or along the Oregon coast.  If the campground has a bear box to store food in, please use it, but you still are not likely to see a bear.

Enjoy the trip
Sean

3
General Discussion / Re: Shorts recommendation?
« on: May 26, 2009, 10:45:05 am »
One more vote for Performance for good value shorts.  The mtb shorts is a great suggestion, too.  Another option is to get padded liners and wear normal shorts over them (but jean shorts with large rivets aren't a great idea, don't ask how I know).  The padded liners go for about $20, Andiamo is usually the easiest brand to find. 

In general, I don't think the padding itself is as important as the lack of possible points of irritiation, especially for young riders.

Sean

4
General Discussion / Re: Camping Cost!?
« on: May 24, 2009, 05:37:14 pm »
That's pretty typical for a car camping site, and may even be cheap if it has full RV hook-ups.  Of course, this isn't what you are looking for, but that's all they list online in most cases.  Along popular cycling routes, many local and state parks offer hiker/biker campsites for a nominal fee ($1 to $5).  These sites are usually just an open field that all the cyclists who showed up that night share.  They can't be reserved and nobody is ever turned away.  When there aren't official hiker/biker sites, often the campground will find a spot for you at a reduced price since you're not dragging a car along.  Where are you looking?  There are probably many additional campgrounds or campsites that aren't listed in ReserveAmerica.

Sean

5
Gear Talk / Re: Help on choosing rain gear
« on: May 23, 2009, 02:56:26 pm »
The first important thing in the rain is to stay warm, not to stay dry.  If you are riding vigorously, and true waterproof jacket will do little good since you will end up just as wet as if you weren't wearing it in the first place.  At a more leisurely pace a waterproof jacket may be reasonable.  Also, consider the weather that you will likely encounter.  An afternoon thundershower in the middle of summer in the deep south is far different than a gusty, winter rainstorm further north.  For the first, you probably don't need anything special, regardless of how you are riding.  For the second, you will need much more than a simple rain jacket if you aren't working very hard.

For my own jacket, it first must be windproof.  The wind will cool you off much faster than the rain, and remember that it includes the apparent wind due to your forward speed.  Next, ventilation options like double zippers and pit zips are important so that I can keep the jacket on in many different conditions without getting overheated.  I don't use hoods or pockets, so no need for those.  Beyond that, I like simple, durable, non-bulky jackets.  Some jackets have reinforced shoulders and waists for backpacks, and I highly recommend those if you will be riding with a backpack.

If I am touring in constant rain, I like to use rainpants and waterproof (non-insulated) shoe covers.  This keeps my legs and feet comfortable and dry.  I'll add leg warmers and thick wool socks as the temperature dictates.  For short storms I don't do anything special for my legs and feet.  In cooler or freezing weather I'll use booties and tights primarily to keep warm and don't need the rainpants and shoe covers.

Sean

6
General Discussion / Re: "Support vehicle"
« on: May 23, 2009, 02:18:20 pm »
There are a few different ways to utilize a support vehicle while on tour.  It sounds like you are thinking of "direct follow support" where the vehicle drives directly behind the rider.  This is used in ultra-races such as the Race Across America (RAAM) in order to give the rider easy access to required food and water, to provide music, directions, and moral support for the rider, to carefully watch the rider's physical and mental condition, to provide lighting at night, and to have spare wheels and bikes ready for the rider.  For touring, however, I think this type of support is inappropriate.  The goal of the direct follow is to keep the racer on the road as much as possible, but the true joy of touring comes from stopping.  Also, it requires a very dedicated person driving behind you and is very stressful on the driver and anyone else in the car, so it takes a very special person to be able to perfrom this type of support well.

Another ultra-race style of support is "leapfrog support."  In this, the support vehicle frequently stops at the side of the road and waits for the racer to pass, again supplying anything they need to keep them on the bike.  After the rider passes, the vehicle drives up the road at the normal speed of traffic, passes the rider, stops again, and repeats.  In a racing context, the real trick to these is for the support vehicle to wait long enough at each stop after the rider passes so that the support vehicle keeps the rider mostly in front of them, it does no good if the rider has an issue while they are behind the vehicle.  Again I think this style is inappropriate for touring, especially the racing oriented quick leapfrogs where the support vehicle tries to leapfrog the rider at least every 15 minutes.

Tour groups that have a dedicated support vehicle most often use them to carry the riders' luggage, to set up lunch and water stops, and to generally keep tabs on the riders so that no one gets too far off course or has a serious mechanical issue without support.  Again, the real trick for the driver is to keep most of the riders ahead except when setting up the rest stops.

If you have friends or family who are interested in making the same trip that you are by bike, they may be willing to carry your luggage and meet you each night at the hotel or campground.  This gives them the freedom to explore and do other things during the day rather than looking at the rider's backside, and lets you enjoy the ride with less gear and without worrying about the people in the support vehicle.  Maybe you can meet for lunch as well, or carry an overnight bag and meet the following day.  Remember, the tour should be enjoyable for everyone, the riders and the support crew.

Sean

7
Routes / Re: About the Pacific Coast Route
« on: May 11, 2009, 11:30:08 am »
Aside from the wind, I'd have no concerns about going up the coast.  If you want an alternative and don't mind mountains, consider something like the upcoming Sierra-Cascades route.  That route is my first choice for a north-bound tour.

Sean

8
Routes / Re: New York City to Boston
« on: May 11, 2009, 11:22:51 am »
I've ridden between New York and Boston by a few different routes.  Usually, I was actually starting in Glen Cove on Long Island, so I had slightly different options than leaving from New York itself.  The few times that I did go through Manhattan, I always headed up 9W to Poughkeepsie and then more-or-less along the Atlantic Coast Route -- just as you are considering.  It's a nice trip, and it always surprised me how rural the hills in Connecticut felt after leaving New York.

Starting from Long Island, I actually preferred to ride out along the north shore and then catch a ferry across the sound.  Riding out each of the necks on Long Island will add lots of time, but it was usually worth it for me.  Given the choice, I would prefer to ride all the out to Orient Point and take the ferry to New London rather than take the Port Jefferson - Bridgeport ferry and ride along coastal Connecticut.  The north shore of Long Island was a much nicer bike ride to me than the coast of Connecticut until you reach New London.  If you're headed out Long Island to begin with, you could also consider going to Montauk and then going through Block Island.  Again, my choice for this route would be along the north shore and across Shelter Island rather than through the Hamptons.  If leaving from Manhattan, I'd take the LIRR to Great Neck or Roslyn to skip the more urban areas.

Sean

9
General Discussion / Re: Furthest Distance
« on: May 11, 2009, 10:14:05 am »
Longest nearly continuous ride (not touring) was 750 miles on the Gold Rush Randonee.  Furthest non-stop ride in 24 hours was about 320 at the start of the Gold Rush.  Most miles in a day was around 250.  Longest day while touring was about 150. 

Of course, these fast rides pale in comparison to a nice, leisurely tour at a moderate pace.

Sean

10
Routes / Re: Chose my next bike route!!!!
« on: May 06, 2009, 02:20:39 pm »
Wanderingwheel. I appreciate the idea. How is the terrain in that area?  I thought I remember the blue ridge parkway being extremely hilly.  Maybe I'm wrong.  Have you done this route before?

Oops, you're right, it is very hilly.  I skimmed over your first message too quick.  I have done parts of the route, but not the whole thing in a single trip.

Sean

11
Routes / Re: Chose my next bike route!!!!
« on: May 05, 2009, 10:00:28 am »
How about riding up the BlueRidge Parkway and Skyline Drive, and then back down the Atlantic coast?  It would be a great ride fairly close to you, and you could adjust it to fit your schedule and pace by setting an appropriate starting point and turn-around.  I think the weather and scenery would cooperate nicely, but I'm not sure since I'm more familiar with regions further north at that time of year.

Sean

12
Routes / Re: los angeles to sequoia national park
« on: April 22, 2009, 12:24:21 pm »
I've never tried that specific ride, but there are a number of connecing rides that I've done that will get you to Visalia (assuming that's where you plan to enter Sequoia).  Probably the easiest would be tow make your way to Ojai, either up the coast from Santa Monica and Malibu or down the Santa Paula Valley from Santa Clarita, and then follow 33 north into the Central Valley.  Some sections of 33 can get very narrow, but it generally isn't too bad. 

Another fun option is to follow the old Ridge Route (also called The Old Road) up from Santa Clarita to Gorman and Lebec.  Ths more or less parallels I-5, but I can't think of a good way down the Grapevine.  Most likely you would have to either head west from Lebec over Frazier Mountain and towards 33, or east from Gorman towards Lancaster and Mojave.  You can also take one of the numerous routes over the Sierra Madre range such as Angeles Crest in order to get to Lancaster.  Once you're in the high desert, the only route that I've personally ridden is to continue north towards Ridgecrest and then back over Walker Pass and by Lake Isabella to Bakersfield.  There probably is a way to shortcut that by going directly from Mojave to Bakersfield through Tehachapi, but I don't know it.

Regardless of how you get there, once in the Central Valley, I'd take any north-south road and work my way towards Visalia.  They are probably all equally in poor condition, and equally boring, hot, desolate, and flat.  Personally I would prefer to hug the foothills of the Sierras -- there are some very nice roads leading north from Lake Isabella -- but it will be a much more strenuous trip.

Good Luck
Sean

13
Gear Talk / Re: Does anybody bring a cooler on the tour?
« on: April 17, 2009, 10:18:48 am »
Sure, I sometimes bring a small, soft cooler, I think it's sized to fit a six-pack.  I use it when I pickup my dinner groceries early and want to keep them cool and protected.  It's not really any extra weight, and can be crushed down when not in use so it doesn't take much space.  Those insulated lunch bags can work, too.

Sean

14
Routes / Re: Sierra Nevada Pass Options
« on: April 09, 2009, 07:57:23 am »
Carson Pass has a significant amount of traffic, but the road is in good condition and there is a very wide shoulder.  It's a decent ride, but it pales in comparison to the other passes.  There will be may more services along 88, if that matters.  Highway 50 will have even more traffic because it goes by the south shore of Lake Tahoe.  It will aso eventually turn into a limited-access highway on the way into Sacramento, but I believe there are side roads if you decide to go that route.  Of the two, I'd take 88 unless you really want to go by Tahoe.

Sean

15
Routes / Re: Sierra Nevada Pass Options
« on: April 08, 2009, 04:05:57 pm »

And... you didn't hear this from me, but you can usually get through a few days before they open it to cars, and if you can ride it then, it's unreal.   Just you and the marmots. 

That's a really great suggestion.  I too have been up on the closed passes, and it is just amazing.  Sometimes you have to hike-a-bike for a little bit, but it is more than worth it. 

One more thing to keep in mind: last year the Park Service and Caltrans was very happy to open the passes a few weeks early, but then a very late snowstorm blew in over Memorial Day weekend and closed them again.  I was touring along Highway 49 that weekend, and lots of people were turned around. Bikes could probably have made it through, but it would have been a fairly miserable journey until the weather broke.

Sean

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