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Messages - zzzz

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Gear Talk / Re: Ultra light sleeping bag, tent and pad?
« on: Today at 04:28:34 pm »
Sure. Get out your checkbook.

ZPacks Solplex or Altaplex tents: 1lb± - $500.00
Katabatibc gear "Palisade" down quilt (30°): 1lb± - $450.00
Thermarest NeoAir: 12 oz - $120.00

I bought these 3 items 3 years ago in an attempt to go as light as I could go. They still appear to be the lightest things on the market. You can spend considerably less by carrying 3 more pounds.


Routes / Re: Another way to cope with dogs
« on: Today at 12:15:44 pm »
I'm all for more possible routes but I find all the concern about the dogs in Kentucky did not match my experience on route. Yes, I had 4 or 5 dogs come out for the chase but only one of them looked like he would like to bite me if he got the chance. I will admit that my sample size of 1 does not make me an expert but I wondered after riding it if the stories of dogs may be worse than then they actually are.

It felt to me like it was kind of a throw back to the "good(?) old days" when I started cycling in the 70's before the advent of "invisible fence". If you rode in rural (and especially poor) area's, you sometimes need to deal w dogs.

I live in Pennsylvania now, which would be a likely alternate to Kentucky, and when I'm out in the country, there's dogs here too.

I have the Zpacks solo +.

A couple of things. It's light but its not 300 grams light. It's right around a pound and that's w the Ti stakes. And Lachlan is correct, the fact that it's not freestanding and has to be staked can be a problem.  I have stayed pretty dry in it in a overnight rain but it doesn't have a fly so don't touch those sides. Also, it's pretty tough to get a taught pitch on the thing. And I'm sure you noticed the price tag is around twice what many other quality light weight tents cost.

I'm reading the paragraph above and thinking that's a pretty lousy sales pitch but overall I've been happy with it. There's going to be some trade-offs when you buy a tent 1/3 or  1/4 of the weight of what else is on the market.

Paradoxically, I bought it because I spend every night I can in a hotel. Whatever tent I got it was going to be for emergency use only & mostly dead weight so I wanted the lightest thing I could buy. I've taken 3 month long trips with it and I've slept in it a grand total of 5 nights.

I did notice that they have retrofited their Duplex tent so that for a $100 upcharge you can get it in a free standing configuration. And having the Duplex that has 2 doors and some more room would be nice, the one I have is pretty tight for space.


Gear Talk / Re: Lightweight touring bike?
« on: January 10, 2017, 01:37:32 pm »
I have used a road bike (Ti) on the 5 long tours I have taken. The first two I had a 32 in low gear (34/28)  and the last three a 28 inch low gear (34/32). I have carried between 15-20 lbs of gear. That said, I weigh 145 lbs and the one (and only) thing I've ever been exceptional about on a bike was going uphill.

I have a couple of observations on using a road bike.

1) My bike can only take a 25mm rear tire. If I was going to do it over again I would have made sure that the bike could take at least a 28mm. Most days on most roads the narrower tire is fine but then you will get on a road that is littered w cracks big enough to eat that skinny tire or you need to ride a few miles of gravel and you'll wish you had a bigger tire.

2) I think road bikes are susceptible to handling issues as you add weight and the more concentrated and higher it's placed the more likely it is to be problematic. My bike got funky going down the big passes out west where I was cold and at high speeds when I had more than 15 lbs all in my rear panniers with the short wheel base it has. On my last 2 trips I added a frame bag to my set-up to spread out the weight and the problem went away. Because I'm only 5'6 the frame is too small for the bag to add any volume capacity to speak of but I put in everything thats small and relatively heavy in there (tools, spares, toiletries bag) and it helped a lot.
3) I would recommend that you look past just this trip when considering what to buy. I believe the Underground RR route is relatively flat with a fairly narrow weather window but there will be (we hope) future trips. I got my bike thinking I was going to do one 30 day blitz across the country and never tour again and got a bike specifically for what I would need on that specific trip. Then I got the bug and I realize I should have gotten something a little different.

Russ Seaton said on a previous post that 18lbs is not considered lightweight touring. I actually don't know how you could get down to his noted 10-12 lbs w/o going REALLY spartan and knowing that your route was never going to go thru any cold weather. I have read with interest Pete's (staehpj1) article on CGOAB about lightweight touring multiple times trying all I could to get below 15 lbs and I haven't been able to do it. This years trip to Alaska w rain and cold weather gear I couldn't get below 20 lbs. Still, with my bike coming in at a svelte 17 lbs that still had me at a combined total weight of bike + gear at under 40 lbs total and it has never felt onerous to pedal.


I too missed the Round Rock house and didn't even recall the town name of Sonora which I thought would of stuck given the southwest name in the middle of Kentucky. I do see that it's very close to the park containing the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln and I remembered the sign for that.

I then clicked on Google images for a picture of the town and this came up :,+KY+42776/@37.5321558,-85.9033474,3a,75y,90t/data=!3m8!1e2!3m6!!2e7!3e27!!7i1024!8i768!4m5!3m4!1s0x8868950094f9f431:0xfb85a4001502df7f!8m2!3d37.524226!4d-85.8930192!6m1!1e1

There's something about this picture that speaks to me about so many of the little towns that this route passing thru, I can't even put my finger on it. Some version of "forgotten by time" or "passed by by time" or "preserved from time". The sentiments all a version of the same thing but differentiated by the attitude of the observer.

General Discussion / Re: How to transport bike box?
« on: December 25, 2016, 04:32:42 pm »
I think anybody reading this topic from the beginning will see that we have repeated all of our points several times over.

Some people, and I am one of them, prefer the additional assurance of packing our bikes in a hard shell case.

The original poster felt that way, Soulboy#1 feels that way.

If he ships the empty box from DC to SF using ShipBikes (who ships w FedEx ground) with door to door business pick-up service, their on-line calculator says $46.50. BikeFlights had a similar cost.

The #1 issue is the cordination involved, since he has someone already on the receiving end, and he can ship it there right away, he's more than 50% of the way there. He's going to have to email either some bike shops or hotels in Northern Virginia as a prospective customer -if-  they can do him the favor of hanging on to the box for 24-48 hours until it gets picked up. It has never been a problem for me to get someone to say yes to this request.

General Discussion / Re: How to transport bike box?
« on: December 25, 2016, 12:28:50 pm »
Are you actually riding out of Dulles airport directly from your flight? That seems like a pretty tough way to start. It's been years (like 40) since I lived in DC and I don't know if there are others roads out than the Dulles Access Rd but I hope you don't need to ride on that.

Since you have someplace to send it in SF and I presume you can ship it right away, you are not asking for much help.

Before you leave get in touch with either a local bike shop or a hotel if you want to get some sleep before you start and see if they will hold your box for 1 or 2 days. If I do some business w the bike shop they have been easy to get help from. Bclayden said he has gotten cooperation from Marriot hotels. Leave the airport for a taxi ride out of the immediate metroplex to your pre-arranged bike shop or hotel. Alternativly, maybe there's someone on Warmshowers that would hold it for you but I think pick up from a residence is harder than from a business.

Go thru either BikeFlights or ShipBikes to send the box to SF. They have to generate the shipping ticket within 3 days of shipping and on the forms you will fill in the space for a pick-up. Take care of this the day before you leave and print out the paperwork and take it with you. That should do it.


Routes / Re: Start date for NB Sierra Cascades route.
« on: December 21, 2016, 12:11:50 pm »
Hi John :

I did this route three years ago, north to south in September so I have no direct experience on your question. I will say that the route is quite tough. And while the the TransAM & the SC routes are quite different,  I'd compare the daily physical effort of the SC to what you hit in eastern Kentucky on your TransAm ride,but every day of the SC route is like that. This is not to scare you off, it's a great route but you want to start it in very good physical condition and that is tough to do when you live in a state with a real winter like NY. This is a round about way of saying starting in early or mid-May might be a good idea even if the passes are open early just to get additional miles in your legs. You don't want to start this ride w the intent of riding yourself into shape.

I'll comment also on the GC. I rode to both the north and south rim 2 years ago and hiked down to the bottom. I wanted to do a rim to rim hike but the logistics of leaving the bike on one side was more than I was able to work out. It is really crowded at the GCNP at the top. And while the crowds dissipate pretty quickly on the way down and you won't hit them again until 1/2 a mile or so from the top, when you're in them, it's ridiculous. It's like going to the mall at this time of year w much better scenery. I say this not to dissuade you from going, it's definitely worth doing but if your killing time in that area, Zion and Bryce and Canyonlands all offer great hikes and are a 1/2 days drive by car from GC or a couple days ride by bike and I enjoyed the hikes in those places as much or more than the GC hike.

Have a great time,


I use  the smallest size panniers Arkel makes (18L?) and a frame bag and a pair of fork mounted straps by Cleveland Mountaineering.

My first tour I only had the panniers and was packing 15 lbs. I decided I really needed to take a couple more things on my second tour so I just loaded them up on the rack but since my touring bike is just a regular road bike w eyelets, having the extra weight mounted high made the bikes handling kind of iffy.

I got the frame bag and the fork system just to spread out the weight. A ride in the desert means the fork bags are loaded w water. Going across BC/Yukon I had all my rain riding gear in one and my tent in the other.

I don't have a big frame (i'm 5'6") & the frame bag goes around a water bottle so it does not hold a lot but I put small stuff in there thats relatively heavy. The toiletries bag goes in, bike tools, maps.

All this leaves my panniers lighter and with some room left if I need to load up on food for a long stretch between towns.

This set-up has worked very well for me. The spread out load has made the bike handling issues go away. I'm still pretty minimal @ at less than 20lbs but I  have enough capacity to carry what I need. Walks in Trees was concerned about feeling a sail like effect, I have yet to hit a really bad cross wind on the 3 trips I've taken since I got this stuff but I have not noticed that being an issue to date.

I'll give a shout out to Jeremy Cleveland @ Cleveland Mountaineering. His "Everything Bags" for the forks is an excellent set-up and his frame bag fit perfectly, was reasonably priced, and done in short order. he is also a great guy to deal with.

And if you want to see my set-up, my bike is the bottom picture on this page, the light blue Spectrum.


General Discussion / Re: How to transport bike box?
« on: December 09, 2016, 02:59:42 pm »

I think the pricing that BikeFlights and ShipBikes give you is A LOT lower than you get even when you go to the shipping centers.

It was 5 years ago when I went on my first tour and drove my bike out out to our local UPS hub and shipped it to SF. I'm not much for keeping my paperwork but it was $250-300. I just typed my bike box size/weight/destination into BikeFlights' calculator and it was $47. This isn't 100% apples to apples, no insurance on the BikeFLights number and there would have been $5000 on the 5 year old walk in #. Since then I've used the 3rd party shippers and it's in the lower $100 range w the insurance.

When you walk in to the FedEx or UPS shipping center you will get some break for them not picking up the package but as far as they're concerned you're 1 guy, shipping 1 bike, 1 time. When you use BikeFlights or Shipbikes you're a customer who ships a 1,000('s?) bikes a year. They get much better prices and while I'm sure they tack on some overhead but you still come out way ahead

General Discussion / Re: How to transport bike box?
« on: December 08, 2016, 02:16:25 pm »
Because I should not assume people can read my mind...

The larger point I was getting at was if you want someone to do you a favor,in this case hold on to my bike box for 4 weeks and then work with me when its time to get it picked up by printing out the shipping ticket etc, it's good to develop a business relationship w them. I do this by becoming a customer when they put the bike back together for me or when they take it apart for shipping home. OP asked how other people handle it, this is how I do it.

I also had in mind but did not comment on in my post that the OP is from Hawaii which has to make shipping cost more.

I had forgotten that REI provides that service, that's a great way to go for towns w an REI. And I see there is a REI in Eugene.

General Discussion / Re: How to transport bike box?
« on: December 08, 2016, 08:46:09 am »
Infadybiz: I may not have been as clear as I should have been or maybe you miss-read my post. You are not throwing your money away by using the bike shipping services. They are a very good deal particularly compared to the $300 some airlines are charging as a carry on.

What does get expensive is the way I do it and described. Shipping your bike to a shop ($150 as I carry more insurance than you do), having the shop put it together (usually $75), if the shop hangs on to the box I normally give them $50 for their trouble, shipping the empty bike box to the new shop ($50), having the shop at the destination take apart my bike and pack it as the box will regularly arrive after I do and in anyway I usually have them clean it after the big trip so thats $75-100, and then ship it home is another $150.

So yeah, doing it the way I described is more money then most people spend.

General Discussion / Re: How to transport bike box?
« on: December 08, 2016, 07:11:56 am »
I have the answer you seek and that answer is ....... it depends.

I send my bike in a hard shell case as well. I ship it to a local bike shop (wherever that may be) so it arrives a week in advance of when I get there and I have them put it together for me. I alway ship using one of the bike shipping services, either Bike Flights or Ship Bikes. Bike Flights web site is better, I find I like doing business w Ship Bikes a little more. They are both substantially cheeper than walking into your UPS or Fedex office. btw : they both use FedEx Ground I believe every time.

As for what then happens to the bike box, the shops I shipped it to in Bellingham and in Spokane had lots of room and they just hung on to the case for the 25 days until I had it shipped to the bike shop at my final destination. Two of the other years I knew someone at or near where I was riding to and so I generated the paper work to have it shipped those folks from the bike shop so the bike shop only had the box an extra day or two and they were okay with that. And once I had it shipped to my daughter in Colorado so it would be in at least the right time zone.

One small complicating factor is that they have to generate the shipping ticket within 3 days of the item being shipped. So once I get to my final destination's bike shop and drop off the bike I'll ask them how long they need to pack it up and then I'll get the shipping paperwork made up and also arrange for the box to be picked up at the store.

As John mentioned, there is no way to make a economic argument for this. You're throwing a lot of money away to avoid the possibility of spending your precious days off waiting for new repair parts to come in or worse case scenario, shopping for a new bike. But it's been worth it to me.

Gear Talk / Re: Rain Jackets
« on: December 08, 2016, 06:45:40 am »
I got the men's version of the Elite 2.1, I'll assume thats close enough to give my opinion on.

I rode to Alaska this last year and before I left I hit the Showers Pass store pretty good. In addition to the Elite 2 I got their lighter weight & cheaper rain jacket, the pants, socks, and gloves. And while I got rained on a lot, mostly I just used the lighter rain coat. There was 1 day between Whitehorse and Haines Junction that it stayed around 40° all day and raining and I felt pretty comfortable in all my stuff.

So the bottom line is it works as advertised but it's a little bit overkill except in pretty nasty conditions. Of course being really cold and wet is pretty unpleasant and possibly dangerous so you need to evaluate what you may run into out there and decide if you need that much protection.

I will add, that despite it's weight it's not warm, so if thats your only jacket and you're going somewhere cold you should pair it with one of those really thin down vests.


General Discussion / Re: Lions and tigers and bears oh my!!!
« on: December 06, 2016, 01:07:13 pm »
At the risk of Soleboyy#1 cancelling his plane ticket, John makes a really good point. While it's easy and understandable to get caught up worrying about charismatic fauna like bears or lions or wolves or even poisonous snakes taking you out, something like a tick is a lot more likely to leave you with a lasting memory from your trip thats not a pleasant one.

In particular, here on the east coast we have something called "Lyme Disease" which is tick borne. And not just any tick, only deer ticks carry it and they are hardly bigger than a freckle. I live in a heavily wooded lot and I have had the misfortune of having it twice. So when you cross to the east side of the Mississippi start being careful for them, use the DEET as John suggests if you want to be extra cautious, I think they even make DEET infused socks you could use around the campground. And if you feel a tick that's dug in (it will be quite sore to the touch and a little rough bump like a small mole got torn free) look to see if a bullseye rash develops over the next couple of days. Even if a rash doesn't show, IF a tick gets bored in (it takes 24 hrs for it to transmit) go see a doc and get tested at the end of your trip. I don't think Lyme exists in England so if you started to develop symptoms when you got home they wouldn't know to look for it.


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