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Messages - zzzz

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Gear Talk / Re: 11-32 vs 11-34
« on: April 17, 2014, 07:45:16 pm »
Hi George:

You haven't mentioned how much weight you're carrying and that has a significant affect on how low a gear you need.

22 up front and a 32 in back is an 18" gear, that's a really low gear. It's 1/2 the gear (38.4") that led mbattisti to walk his tandem up those hills. Frankly, if I had a low gear of 34/24 I probably would have been walking up that hill from Vesuvius to the Blue Ridge Parkway myself.

69 no longer counts as young but you've ridden a 1200 mile trip in the last 4 years, thats relatively recently so you got a pretty good idea of your abilities. If you're carrying under 40 lbs (a good ides anyway) I would think you'll be fine. Those hills are tough... but they're not that tough.


Routes / Re: From east to west starting June 2014
« on: April 10, 2014, 06:48:15 am »
I went thru Glacier last (early) September, the weather was perfect. I came in from the east side, hit Going to the Sun Rd a little after dawn and traffic was so light I don't think I got passed by a dozen cars on the way up. The top 100m of elevation was fogged in but it cleared up again almost as soon as I started the descent.

They had started some road work on the east side, 2 or 3 spots flag people were out and it was 1 lane, but as a cyclist they just waved me through. On the way down volume was building going in the other direction but over the 50± miles I never felt crowded by traffic a single time.


Routes / Re: Western Express vs. Trans-Am time and suggestions
« on: April 06, 2014, 05:46:38 pm »

Go to this web site :

Select state and then select city. It will give you average highs, average lows, average rainfall, and historic high & low temps for each month of the year.

If you are looking for the coldest temps it's possible you are likely to hit, look up Kirkwood Ca., Austin Nv., Rico Co., & Westcliffe Co. Those are all spots at pretty significant elevation on the route.


Gear Talk / Re: Handlebar bag alternative
« on: March 30, 2014, 06:33:05 pm »
Man... that is one ugly bag! Thats the cycling equivalent of the "dog cone of shame".

Maybe you can take one and split it between you and your 2 pals, 1 day on/ 2 days off, 1/3 the humiliation. One of them looks to be big enough to carry 3 peoples lunch & snacks and you only need 1 map displayed.

+1 that there's not a lot of turns on your route. After you drop down from Skyline drive and are heading into Charlottesville Va is the only place I can remember where the route was 1.3 miles make left, .7 miles make right, etc. And there the state of Va kindly put out "Bike Route 76" road signs at (almost) every turn.

That said, the little map case you linked to looks like a good thing to carry. I think I'm going to get me one.


Routes / Re: Western Express vs. Trans-Am time and suggestions
« on: March 29, 2014, 05:13:04 pm »
Glad you found the reply of use. I'll add two more things :

 "(or maybe i'll be so hooked to the touring scene i'll stick with that!)."

Be careful, that may just happen. My first trip (the one your looking at now) I didn't expect to enjoy. I did it as a challenge, and to break the monotany of how I spent my free time every year, and do a little sight seeing. It was a real surprise how much I liked it. This year I did another long trip. When I got back I talked it over with my boss and we agreed that from now on I'm on a 11 month work year, come September I'll be off on my bike. I don't like to sound melodramatic but for me it was life-changing.

If you haven't seen it already, the gentleman who wrote your first reply, Pete Staehling, has a great article over at Crazy Guy on a Bike about packing light. Especially as "roadies" you're going to notice every pound you're carrying. Do yourself a favor and keep your load under 20 lbs.


Routes / Re: Western Express vs. Trans-Am time and suggestions
« on: March 29, 2014, 03:24:09 pm »
If you're a Cat 2 & 3(and your Cat 4 is stuck there because of his lousy sprint) the WE will not be hard.

I haven't raced in 35 years, and I was a middlin' Cat 3 when I did.  2 years ago @ 55 I did the WE and a significant part of the Trans Am and and the WE wasn't even the most difficult part of the trip ,eastern Ky / southwest Va were definitly tougher.

The one difficult section is Hanksville to Blanding. Hite was closed so I routed through Bullfrog Marina. It was very memorable for me because the wind was way up & against me but even then, with 3 of you, you can maintain a pace line.

There are many, many beautiful things to see in this country but FWIW, I think the WE route goes thru the most visually stunning section.

A word of warning if you care about your speed, you will come back slower than when you left. Even though I haven't raced in a long time I still pay attention to my average speed on all my typical rides & push the pace to my (meager) ability. I was down 1 1/2 to 2 miles an hour across the board on all my typical rides when I got back from my trip. Riding all day at 15 - 16 mph makes you real good at riding all day at 15-16 mph. And nothing else.

I can't comment on your camping question as I was credit card touring.

I hope this helps,


Routes / Re: Western Express in July
« on: March 24, 2014, 09:52:19 am »
I want to add one more thing for your  group to consider.....

I have never been on the TransAM between Missoula & Astoria so I don't know what you'll be missing in Idaho & Oregon. But I have ridden it from Missoula to Colorado and while Yellowstone and the Tetons are something everyone should make it a point to see, what you will see on the WE in southern Utah between Hanksville and Cedar City is (IMO) the most spectacular stretch of scenery in the US.

Don't let the maps intimidate you about going through Nevada. It looks tougher than it is. With reasonable precautions it is NOT dangerous.


Routes / Re: Western Express in July
« on: March 21, 2014, 11:22:40 am »
I did this route a couple of years ago in the beginning of September, which is better than July, but it was still pretty warm.

Your toughest section is not in Nevada, it's going to be between Blanding and Hanksville in southern Utah. The WE route goes from Blanding to Hite Marina which is only sometimes open. Plowing all the way thru to Hanksville makes for a 135± day. Hite was closed when I came through so my alternate was to go through Bullfrog and then over to Blanding. Temps were 100°+ and wind was up, 95 miles between towns & nothing in between.

This is not to dissuade you from taking that route, it was one of the best things I've done in my life. You're leaving from the east so you'll be in great shape by the time you get there, just make sure you heed John's advice:

"Let me repeat. Don't take any risk of ever running out of water. Be very conservative on this."

I find these bags are handy for carrying lots of water and not taking up any space or weight when not in use:


General Discussion / Re: Bike Travel and Visiting Dress Up Sites
« on: March 10, 2014, 05:37:41 am »
If your clothes stink, these won't help, but if you stink, they're remarkably effective :

I have a 20 mile ride into work with about 1300' of climbing and when I get here I'm less then 100% fresh. During the summer, a lot less. No shower here so the action wipes are all I use to clean up. Primarily, I work in a office enviroment and I'm sure somebody would comment if it was an issue so I'm sure they work.


General Discussion / Re: Starting the TA in mid August...
« on: March 08, 2014, 12:55:56 pm »
I wasn't quite as comfortable w/ it as staehpj1 but of all the things to consider, the low morning sun is pretty low on the list. I took my sweet time in the morning, hit the road around 9±(depending on where in the time zone you are) and I felt safe with that.


Routes / Re: Allenstown / Bethlehem PA
« on: March 08, 2014, 12:40:21 pm »

I live in the Lehigh Valley (that includes Allentown & Bethlehem). Send me an email @ and include from where you want to pick up Atlantic Coast Route and where you want to get off Route L and I'll figure out a good way for you to get through.


General Discussion / Re: Starting the TA in mid August...
« on: March 06, 2014, 07:13:37 am »

+1 on changing your planned direction.

I did most of this same route starting in SF on September 1, 2012. By the time I hit Monarch Pass in Colorado on September 17 there was already snow on the ground.

Mid August may even be the ideal starting date for starting from the west. If the days are exceptionally hot out west you can get a early start. Once you get past mid September (say.... Missouri) you will be in the best weather window of the year, late summer/ early fall for the rest of the trip.


Routes / Re: Portland Maine to Portland Oregon
« on: March 01, 2014, 06:57:35 pm »
Hi Rebecca:

Strangely enough, even though I am not a woman and I have normal size feet, I have something for you.

The only bicycling related item I don't buy at my local bike store is shoes. The selection and size availability is alway pretty weak. I have bought a couple of pairs of shoes from Competitive Cyclist and was really happy with their service. I went online to see if they had any women's size "tiny" and they did :

They also have a NQA return policy. I once used it when some shoes I bought from them started bothering my feet 2 weeks after I got them. No problem w/ returning them.

Now, these are road shoes, but I think the majority of tourers use either touring shoes or MTB shoes. I got nothing for you on those. Also, make sure whatever shoe you buy works with whatever pedals you have (or intend to buy).

If you don't know the difference; road shoes have a very stiff sole and are pretty awkward to walk around in, they are for riding only. MTB shoes have some flexibility and a recessed cleat and touring shoes have more flexibility yet and are closest to a street shoe.

Even when I'm touring I still use road shoes, they provide the most efficient transfer of energy. Then when I get to the store / restaurant / hotel I keep a pair of running shoes handy & I put them on. I can then blend  inconspicuously with the locals....well, except for the lycra shorts.


Routes / Re: Finger Lakes Rides
« on: March 01, 2014, 05:58:11 pm »

This is the address of the Finger Lakes Cycling Clubs web page / maps:

I have only used their cue sheet for the ride around Seneca Lake :

I go up there a couple of times a year because I have a track car that I run at the racetrack. I usually go a day early with the bike and take this ride. I've probably done it 12-15 times and it never gets old. It's a very nice route and the easiest 85 mile ride you would ever do but if that's more milage than you want you can overnight in Geneva to make the ride two 40± days.

Dozens of other cue sheets on the FLCC site. Beautiful area, enjoy your time there.


Gear Talk / Re: (Cyclo)cross-country
« on: January 30, 2014, 08:57:32 am »
Hi Dave:

I didn't see anyone comment on your question about your CX tires so I will. There's no need for diffirent wheels but change out your tires and get rid of the knobbies unless you're planning on a significant amount of off road riding. They are a lot less efficient on the road and there is no point burning 10 or 15% more energy than you need to every mile of every day on a 7000 mile trip. I'd stick at or near your current size (32mm) but go with a specific touring tire.

Also, if you know how to work on your bike bring along an extra cable(s) for your shifter and brakes. If you don't, change them out before your trip prophylactically. I had a shifter cable that broke in the middle of Wy last year 100 miles from the nearest bike shop. It kinda sucked.

I think your gear spread should be fine if you're traveling light but you will know from the steep stuff near where you live. None of the climbs out west that I've run into are steep, it's just a long grind. 7 - 15 miles at 6 or 7% is like being on a Stairmaster for an hour or two. It's nothing like Mt. Washington, N.H.


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