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Messages - staehpj1

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Gear Talk / Re: Gearing for Touring Bike Followup
« on: July 30, 2015, 09:35:20 am »
I have 52/11 and very often wish I had a higher gear, and I have never raced.
Really?  A 52/11 is 127 gear-inch and gives 38 mph at 100 rpm.  Can you really ride that fast except on a big downhill where you would go as fast or faster by just tucking in and coasting?  My problem with the excessive use of 11T cogs is that you give up a far more useful interior cog to get it.
Seems pretty extreme to me, but I can kind of understand.  I used to want a big gear, in part so I could pedal lightly against a little resistance on long down hills to keep my legs moving.

I have since gotten used to not having a big ring at all on some of my bikes.  I went with a big gear of 39/12 on the ST with an ultra compact double (39-26) made by taking the big ring off of a triple) and found that I really didn't miss the big gear.  It took a bit of a mental adjustment but wasn't really a handicap even though I was riding with a fast young rider.  I had no trouble staying with him on the flats, down hills, and rolling hills.  I did have trouble keeping up on the uphills for the first part of the tour, but that is an entirely different problem having more to do with inadequate training :)

General Discussion / Re: Bicycle tools for a cross country ride
« on: July 29, 2015, 10:58:15 am »
I have never broken a cable nor a chain or a spoke. Doing a cross country trip you will not need to adjust your brakes - if you ride during the summer. I believe if you use some Loctite 243 thread locker your screws and bolts will never unwind unless you did not clean the threads before application.

Never need to adjust your brakes?  I worn out brake pads that were new at the start in the middle of a long tour (TA) where there were quite a few mountain passes and I definitely needed to adjust them in between.  On the Sierra Cascades route I definitely needed to adjust the brakes even though I only went from San Diego to Reno.  On the flatter Southern Tier I think I managed to do the whole thing with no brake adjustments, but I wouldn't count on it even there.

I have gone coast to coast a couple times and done a bunch of other longish tours and I too have never broken a cable or chain, but I have used my chain tool to fix a companions bike on two occasions.  Even for a weight weenie like myself I can't see leaving the multi-tool with a chain breaker at home.  It weighs a about 3 ounces and fits all the bolts on my bike as well as having a chain breaker.

Cables on the other hand I can see leaving behind.  Unlike broken chains, broken cables won't leave you walking and breakage is unlikely if you keep an eye on them.

My Unior cassette cracker weighs less than an ounce so while I can see not taking one, there isn't much to save there.

Routes / Re: Idaho Hot Springs Parking
« on: July 28, 2015, 08:27:19 am »
When I was there Ketchum and Sun Valley were a complete mod scene.  It was hard to find a place to even park to ask questions.  I they were parking folks in a big  lot (at the ski resort I think) and busing them into town.  It was bad enough that I vowed to avoid driving to Ketchum again.

I drove to Featherville and the ranger there said you can park at any of the many pull outs on the USFS road.  There were also parking lots at the few businesses in town, but you'd have to have permission to park there long term.

If I was going again, I'd park in Featherville.  It is pretty off the beaten path so don't expect to find much more than a diner there.  You might check that there isn't anything special going on, they have a music festival near there July 31 through Aug. 2, 2015 and it might be a bad choice for parking at that time.

My memory is fuzzy on where we got water along that stretch, but I don't recall having to carry a lot of extra water there or having any trouble finding water frequently enough.  I think we found free camping that had water every overnight stop on that section as well as water in between the camping spots.  Stuff was pretty well covered on the AC maps for the section.

General Discussion / Re: Bicycle tools for a cross country ride
« on: July 27, 2015, 10:18:12 am »
The tools and spare parts you carry will depend on the remoteness and length of the journey. I carry two spare tires, 5 inner tubes,  and Park tire boots. I got about sixty miles on a new tire and ran over A glass bottle bottom at the bottom of a puddle and cut the tire rim to rim. Also after 3000 miles you'll need new tires.
I am curious where you tour that you feel the need to carry all of that.  Do you tour in some really remote places?

I have only toured on road in the lower 48, but have been in some fairly remote places.  How remote the trip is might make a difference how many spare parts you carry, but I figure that anywhere I have been on tour I wouldn't carry a spare tire let alone two.  I have found that a tire that is so bad that I can't boot it somehow and limp along is exceedingly rare (as in never in my something approaching 60 years of cycling).  In that exceedingly rare case, hitching a ride wouldn't be the end of the world, even on low traffic roads.  I have had to hitch now and then for other reasons as have some of my friends and a wait of less than 20 minutes is typical unless you are on roads where there is only a car every hour or two.  The good news on those is that almost every vehicle will stop for you.

As far as carrying tires because I might need them in 3000 miles I'll pass on that too.  I have had to settle for a different tire than I wanted sometimes, but when replacing tires mid tour I and always been able to find something available.  If not I'd order some to be next day shipped or have some one at home send me some.  It has never come to that though.

As far as tools go my suggestion is to take the tools that fit the stuff on your specific bike.  The list will vary with the bike.  I typically make it a point to do most of the set up and maintenance on my bikes at home with my touring tool set for that bike, that way I know that it works OK before I need to rely on it on a tour.

General Discussion / Re: Northern Tier or better idea?
« on: July 26, 2015, 09:24:02 am »
On our TA we flew in late, stayed in a Portland motel, then rode back to the airport, rented a car, spent the day driving and seeing the area (Multnomah Falls, etc.).  We then drove to Beverly Beach St Park, stayed in a Yurt, and dropped off the rental car in Newport.  The motel, rental car, and yurt wound up being reasonable since three of us split the cost.

I am sure there are lots of other good options though.

General Discussion / Re: TransAmerica bike tour- travel East or West?
« on: July 26, 2015, 09:15:24 am »
2. I found the Ozarks worse than the Appalchians. In the Appalachians I would have maybe 3 large hills/mountains a day but in the Ozarks I would have 20-30 extremely steep but short hills. Mentally it was unforgiving.
I wonder if direction of travel made a big difference on that.  I was going the opposite way, but while I found climbing out of river valley after river valley challenging I found the Appalachians much harder.

Then again one of my companions thought the Ozarks were harder.  She hated short frequent climbs though and settled into the long ones comfortably.  Basically she did the worst on rolling hills and did great on long steady climbs.  It probably made matters worse for her that the other two of us in the group loved rolling hills.

3. Before departure I thought that I would meet a lot of fellow cross country cyclists. It was a disappointing experience for me. I admit that I bike 125 mi/day but I only met about 15 groups or individuals. I even met the Adventure Cycling group in Eastern Colorado :-). Then again, out of the 15 I guess that 50% dont like to talk a lot and are somewhat loners. They like to stay alone in their tent and prepare their meals in solitude. But maybe they are just exhausted and need to relax - I dont really know. When I reach a private campground I always ask the owner if there are other cyclists and if I can have my tent spot next to them :-).

We met a number of folks and crossed paths paths with them again and again.  There were not large numbers of them, but we became pretty good friends with some of them.  I guess with the mileage you were doing you typically never saw the same people twice.  We didn't stay in private campgrounds much, preferring to stay in small town picnic areas, with hosts, at churches, or in national/state forests/parks.  We got a fair number of invites to stay in people's homes.  All that may have been a factor as well.

Of course there were three of us so we never had the opportunity to be lonely.  If anything we probably wished for more solitude at times.

Still even when I rode alone on routes where there were no there cyclists I always managed to meet local folks who wanted to talk and to hear about my trip.  So I never recall being very lonely on any of my tours.  I tend to eat lunch or breakfast in diners fairly often and sit at the communal table or counter when I can.  I find that I only need to be fairly open to meeting people and it will happen without making a big effort.

I definitely did not feel that the transam route was some sort of cross country bicycle highway - it was rather a lonely experience :-).
Yeah, it always baffles me when folks talk about how they don't want to ride a route like the TA because it is like some crowded bike highway.

General Discussion / Re: Northern Tier or better idea?
« on: July 24, 2015, 03:01:43 pm »
Maybe you should consider doing the Sierra Cascades route instead of the Pacific Coast route? When I did the Pacific Coast in 2000 it was not a weather-wise joy until I reached Santa Barbara and got rid of the misty fog.

Not sure about the northern half of the the Sierra Cascades, but I'd take the weather on the coast over the summer heat in the Sierras and the Mojave.  It can be brutal.  The SC is a very difficult route and if you have brutally hot weather it is even more so.  I'd say, expect to really suffer on the southern half of the SC in Summer.

General Discussion / Re: Northern Tier or better idea?
« on: July 23, 2015, 05:11:49 pm »
It's a personal call, but to me the notion of riding coast to coast would be greatly diminished if you break it down into a bunch of chunks.  If I wasn't doing it all in one go or maybe two, I'd be way more inclined to cherry pick a bit location-wise and just pick nice places to ride.

Again, a personal call, but I really liked the Pacific Coast a lot, especially Oregon and Northern California.  Enough so that I will do it again, probably more than once.  I was less crazy about Washington myself, but riding out of your home town would be nice.  I'd definitely choose the Pacific Coast over the section of the NT that you are considering unless going coast to coast is a really big deal for you even if done in a bunch of chunks.

I have not done the NT myself, since when I wanted to go coast to coast I chose the TA over the NT and later the ST (in the winter).

General Discussion / Re: Bicycle guidance
« on: July 21, 2015, 09:54:46 am »
With all due respect to Pete's point of view, I'd suggest first defining the load and then seeing if the current bike is sufficient.  If it isn't, then look for something better.  Not everyone tours with 15 pound loads, so the light bike that's OK for that may not be adequate for handling the final load.

My point was definitely NOT that he should pack super light.  It was that spending a lot for an expensive touring bike might be a bad idea until you know what your touring style will be not only now but a few years down the road, because you may well not know what you will eventually want especially when you are just starting out.

I am suggesting that the bike he has might be adequate (hard to tell since we don't really know what he plans to carry) and that if it isn't he may be wise not to go too crazy on the budget for the new bike if he decides he needs one.  There are new bikes in the $600-1000 range that are quite adequate and used ones even cheaper.  With a less expensive option you also get the benefit of not having to worry as much if it will be stolen because it is less likely to be and also less painful to replace if it does.

BTW, I agree on the notion that defining the load comes first.  Starting from scratch, I see the best decision order as, define load, choose baggage style that suits the load (trailer, panniers, bikepacking bags, stuff sacks), then choose the bike that suits the load and baggage style.  The thing is that if you already have the bike, luggage, and/or gear the order of decisions may be altered.

It would suck to have spent $5000 for the ultimate heavy touring bike and another $1000 on heavy duty racks and panniers only to find that you actually prefer to travel ultralight.

General Discussion / Re: Bicycle guidance
« on: July 20, 2015, 07:45:18 am »
Same here, you see a lot of beginners gett fully geared up with all the latest and most expensive gear, and then they realize after a while that they didn't like it as much as they thought. I recommend getting something cheaper to begin with and then upgrading if you really like it. A hybrid works absolutely fine.
Also after a while you may find that you have geared up with an expensive bike that was tailored to a different style of touring than you find you want to do.  I know that after a few years of touring on my heavy touring bike I have switched to a much lighter packing style that a much sportier bike seems like a better choice.  I still camp and cook, but with 9-15 pounds of gear.  My heavy touring bike just sits unused these days and I am glad it is an inexpensive bike.

I've know some people for whom more of the pleasure comes from obtaining and having a lot of fancy gear than from making the pedals go round.  I don't know how common that is, but having the stuff is what makes them happy.  I guess that if it makes them happy there is nothing wrong with that, but it is a shame when folks who are not so inclined get sucked into that mindset.

General Discussion / Re: Getting home from Yorktown in Sept.
« on: July 19, 2015, 08:15:53 am »
I can't recommend a particular bike shop, but will say that I have typically just found a bike shop in the town that I wanted to get rid of the bike.  In every case they were happy to pack and ship my bike.  I never even bother to plan ahead.

I find it easier than dealing with finding a box, packing up the bike and schlepping it to the airport in a strange town at the end of a tour.

I have generally paid $40-60 for the packing and $40-60 for the shipping.  The bike shop always got a much better shipping rate than a UPS or FedEx store quoted.  In general it seems to have always come in very close to $100 total, only once was it as high as $120 total.  It would still be worth it in at least some cases even if it was a bit more expensive.  To me at the end of a tour it is well worth it to just drop off the bike and not have to deal with it.

BTW, if you go with a rental car, I have found that if I walk up to the counter I am often told that they have no cars that they can let go out one way or am socked with a big charge for dropping off at another location.  When I book online I have never been refused a one way rental and am almost never charged a drop off fee.  I think it helps that I usually book airport to airport.  If I am flying I often book the car through my airline's web site.  If not I use a site (like expedia or kayak) that searches all of the rental companies.

General Discussion / Re: 12 days - NY to Norfolk
« on: July 17, 2015, 12:19:08 pm »
You might consider skipping New York City altogether.  It would save you some expensive meals and lodging.  If you don't already have a ticket, I'd choose an airport that allowed you to avoid NYC altogether unless seeing NYC important to you.

General Discussion / Re: Bicycle guidance
« on: July 17, 2015, 11:26:14 am »
that would not cost so much that I end up in the poor house?
FWIW, I don't think you ever need to spend a lot for a bike.  If you want to, great, but it isn't a necessity.  A bunch of multi week and multi month tours and never spent more that $1000 or so for a bike.  The bike I went coast to coast on was a new $599 delivered Windsor Touring.  That might be one choice especially if the tour is self supported, but your hybrid could work too.

For a supported tour I'd probably go with a sportier road bike.  Maybe one with a triple and or a wider range cluster if you will be in the mountains.

though just yesterday after about 2000 miles of bike touring I started having some chaff issues

I have found that zinc oxide based diaper cream (like Balmex) worn overnight works like magic on chafing.

I have also found that wearing shorts that fit really well with no bunching avoids almost all chafing.  Is it possible that your shorts don't fit as well as they did 2000 miles ago?  Both your body and your shorts can change a good bit during 2000 miles of touring.

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