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Messages - staehpj1

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1
General Discussion / Re: Lions and tigers and bears oh my!!!
« on: December 06, 2016, 07:01:47 am »
Use good practices with regard to food, toiletries, and other scented stuff and having problems with bears will be very unlikely.  If something bad is going to happen it is far more likely to be in the form of a vehicular accident.  Ride safely, camp safely, and enjoy your trip.

You will be lucky if you even get to see a bear at all.  I know we didn't see any on the Trans America or the Southern Tier.  I did see a number of them when I did the southern half of the Sierra Cascades route.

Dogs can be an annoyance on the TA especially in Kentucky and Missouri, but they are not that big of a deal.

2
Gear Talk / Re: trailers vs panniers
« on: November 29, 2016, 12:14:05 pm »
Thanks, everybody, for trying, but not not much help. I've done tons of research, but was hoping my fellow ACA folks could be more specific/aggressive in their advice.
So, sigh, I'll go to trial and error.
OK then, so here is my "more specific/aggressive advice"...  Unless you have specific requirements or preferences for using one forget the trailer.  Far more people tour with panniers many are heavier than you and carry fairly heavy loads.

There is nothing about your weight that makes a trailer an especially good option unless there are particular reasons that you prefer a trailer.  People tour on tandem bikes and there are not many tandem teams that don't weigh more than you.  So I advise packing reasonably light and using panniers.  If you are a  minimalist ultralight packer, then even the panniers could possibly be overkill.

Consider the need to ship or fly with your trailer to and from your tour start or finish.  For me that is a fiarly significant reason not to use one.

OTOH, there actually are a few special reasons why you might go to a trailer...  Travelling with a lot of heavy and or bulky gear.  Riding a very lightly built bike with more load than you want to carry on it.  Riding a mountain bike and wanting to be able to unhook the load quickly to go trail riding unladen.

Bottom line most folks use panniers and are better off for it.

3
General Discussion / Re: Trangia Stove / Meths
« on: November 09, 2016, 06:47:45 am »
the one at the Nez Perce* reservation in Idaho is superb.
I second that.  It was a very interesting stop.

4
Gear Talk / Re: Shifters-integrated vs bar-end
« on: November 08, 2016, 06:50:12 am »
I actually went with a 39/26 with a 12-28 (7 speed) on a coast to coast tour and was pretty happy with it.  That works out to a range of 25.1 to 87.8 with the wheels and tires I was using.

When I wanted to go faster down hills, I just spun up a quick burst at the top of the descent to get my speed up and then coasted.  That quick burst was often way above any cadence I could maintain for any distance.

The 25.1 might be kind of high for those who want really low gears and pack heavier, but I found it just fine for me on that trip.

Some of the newer Sram MTB drive trains have a 10-42 cassette and I have seen conversions that allow a 9 tooth cog so you can have a very wide range even with a 11X1.  I have found the gaps between gears to be acceptably close, but YMMV.  I think that if I were specing a loaded touring bike from scratch I'd probably use an 10X1 or 11X1 Sram MTB drive train with Sram road shifters.  That probably won't happen though since I have too many bikes already.

5
Gear Talk / Re: Shifters-integrated vs bar-end
« on: November 07, 2016, 02:32:40 pm »
Most touring bikes have triple cranksets.
True, but the new MTB group sets have wider range rear clusters and are fine for touring with double.  Some folks might even opt for a 1X10 or 1X11.

6
General Discussion / Re: Trangia Stove / Meths
« on: November 07, 2016, 06:17:43 am »
Alcohol stoves are very appealing as a light and simple piece of gear and I know they have many fans.  But with BTU output at around half that of a butane or white gas stove I just never could justify taking one on a trip of any length.  Butane canisters are readily available as is white gas, and many gas stoves (my favorite is the MSR Whisperlite Internationale) also burn unleaded auto fuel which is super available.  Gas stoves lose out on the weight and simplicity factor, and cartridge stoves leave you with canisters to dispose of that never seem to get entirely empty, but they are good options for half the cooking time and half the fuel weight that you'll pack along.
And with all that, I do appreciate that sticking with what you know and are used to is of value as well.
I find the btu output, while less to be just fine.  When cooking for a group I prefer the extra output of butane.  Also if backpacking and melting snow for water extra output is nice.

I have found butane canisters less available than alcohol and have sometimes gone considerable distances without seeing any for sale.  White gas is almost never available in small quantities.  Often there are only gallons and if you are lucky quarts.  On a bike tour I'd rather not carry that much since you can restock more frequently to keep the load light.  The 12 ounce Yellow Heet bottles are just about right for me.

Butane and white gas both have higher btu per weight than alcohol, but that doesn't offset the extra weight of the stove unless you are carrying fuel for longer distances between restocking points.

BTW, Probably the most widely available fuel is gasoline.  It is very energy dense and can be either cheap or free if you just get the little bits of gas that comes out of the hose when the pumps are not turned on.  It does stink if you spill any on your gear or clothing and require a similar stove to a white gas stove.

For me the alcohol stove wins out on most tour where I am cooking for one and butane for group tours (for two people I consider it a tossup) or long backpacking trips.

BTW, my go to alcohol stove is a sub half ounce pop can burner.  With pot stand and wind screen it is still under an ounce.


7
General Discussion / Re: Trangia Stove / Meths
« on: November 04, 2016, 07:23:07 pm »
I use yellow bottle Heet and have generally had an easy time finding it, but if you have trouble ask for "denatured alcohol" at a hardware or paint store.

Some also use "grain alcohol"  or "Everclear" which is sold for drinking.
If HEET is denatured alcohol (Ethanol) it is not methanol.  Methanol is "wood alcohol" and is a different chemical.  It is also rather toxic.

"Everclear" is 190 proof Ethanol and is potable if diluted sufficiently.  It is also extremely expensive since it is taxed as an alcoholic beverage.  There are a lot better things to burn in your stove.
Yellow Heet, my first choice, is 99% Methanol.

SLX Denatured Alcohol by Klean Strip is 45-50% ethanol, 50-55% methanol, 1-4% Methyl isobutyl ketone.

Other denature alcohol that I have seen typically contains similar amounts of ethanol and methanol.

In my experience, yellow heet and the denatured alcohol I have tried all burn fine in my stove.  The get to a rolling boil in a reasonable time and burn cleanly.

8
General Discussion / Re: Trangia Stove / Meths
« on: November 04, 2016, 05:27:11 pm »
I use yellow bottle Heet and have generally had an easy time finding it, but if you have trouble ask for "denatured alcohol" at a hardware or paint store.

Some also use "grain alcohol"  or "Everclear" which is sold for drinking.

9
General Discussion / Re: summer sleeping
« on: November 04, 2016, 07:02:54 am »
I have a down sleeping bag rated for about 45 degrees.  It weighs 1 pound.  Same or less than your quilt or blanket.  Ideal for summer camping.  And you can always put on extra clothes/socks at night to sleep.  Carry a balaclava or beanie to use at night.  Its lightweight.
I have never been on an extended tour where I didn't want to climb in the bag at least some nights.  Even on tours where the heat was the biggest complaint there always seems to be a few chilly or even cold nights.  This may be less true on the Atlantic coast route since it doesn't get very high, but any time you are out for a multi week or multi month tour it seems likely to have a cool night or two.

I too have a warm weather down bag and love it.  At about a pound my bag is quite light for the warmth it offers.  I sleep really warm so I use the same bag even for trips with a few sub freezing nights.  I have done okay down to 18 F with it and some extra clothes.  FWIW my bag is a Mountain Hardwear Phantom 45.  I like that it has a DWR coating.  Mine is an older one so it doesn't have the Q.Shield™ DOWN like the newer version.

10
Gear Talk / Re: Shifters-integrated vs bar-end
« on: November 03, 2016, 07:06:40 am »
This choice is pretty much all personal preference.

I found that I really didn't like bar end shifters.  In addition to the fact that I just didn't care for the location, I tended to bump them with a knee and they tended to get bumped out of gear when the bike was leaned against stuff.  Fortunately I like down tube shifters just fine so I use them if I tour on a bike that doesn't have integrated shifters.

Much of that preference is probably because I rode with down tube shifters for 50 years or so and am just super acclimated to them.

Lots of people prefer bar ends, especially for touring bikes, so don't let my preference weigh too heavily in the decision.

11
Gear Talk / Re: trailers vs panniers
« on: November 03, 2016, 06:56:30 am »
There are a number of factors including what bike you ride, how much you pack, your personal preference to name a few.

That said if you either pack light or have a reasonable bike with fairly high spoke count wheels I'd go with panniers, but some of that is personal preference as either can work fine.  If I was going to pack really heavy (like over 60 pounds) I'd start thinking trailer.

12
Since you said Pacific Route, I assume you will be riding near the coast.  If so the temperatures will be moderate.  More inland heat is a bigger issue but on the coast not so much, so temperatures are not likely to be a major factor.

Use what you typically like elsewhere and you will be fine.

Personally I don't get why folks like to ride in boots or sandals when cranking out long miles, but I guess it is a matter of personal preference.  I much prefer a pair of bike shoes with plenty of mesh for good ventilation, drying, and drainage.

13
My preference is to use clipless pedals any time I am riding any substantial distance.   So for me on tour I wear Sidi Giau shoes and use an SPD on both sides pedal.

That said I do use a set of Shimano PD-M324 SPD pedals on my beater around town errand bike.  They have a cage on one side and SPD on the other.  I typically wear trail running shoes (Brooks Cascadia) if i don't want to bother with bike shoes.  I can see a cage pedal and trail running shoe working out well for those who don't want to go clipless.  Still I'll stick to using SPDs for touring and any other longish riding.

14
Yes July is a nice time for the coast and it is a reasonably safe ride.  Along the coast the ocean moderates the temperatures nicely so It probably won't be uncomfortably hot.

Not sure about the cost of lodging since I camp when I ride there, but I suspect rooms will be pretty expensive for some portions of the tour.  The camping is great in Oregon and California.  Hiker biker sites are very inexpensive and you will camp with other cyclists most nights if you decide to camp.  Typically you can fall in with a group of riders and camp with them every night if that is appealing to you.  I know that I made some good friends on that route an really enjoyed their company.  I recommend that if you ever camp on a bike tour this is one where you should consider it.

15
I used to insist on having a big top gear and a low enough low to make it up the climbs.  These days I have found that I don't care so much about the high gear being all that high.  I have also begun to care less about super low gears, but that is because I have started to practice a very minimalist and light packing style.

My last long paved road tour (Southern Tier) I went with a 39/26 and a 12-28 (a range of about 25-48 gear inches) carrying 14 pounds base gear weight and was very happy with the choice.  The 39/26 was a triple with the big ring left off. 

Since then I have spent quite a bit of time on a 2x10 mountain bike and based on my experience with that setup I might go with either a 1x10 or a 2x10 if I were setting up a touring bike from scratch.  I think I'd actually favor the 1X10 (or maybe even a 1x11)

Some of the new MTB clusters are really super wide range.  Enough so that a 1x10 really can work fine for just about any road conditions.  I think that if I were starting from scratch I'd consider a 1x10 with an 11-42 MTB cluster and what ever ring gave me the low gear I wanted.

All that said...  In your case I'd probably just go to a MTB double and stick with the 12-32 unless your current crank can take appropriate sized rings.  I'd err on the side of closer spaced rings and accept a lower high gear.  How low would depend on the load and the terrain.  At 60 pounds of gear, in the mountains you will likely need to go lower than I normally would with my lighter load.

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