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Messages - staehpj1

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General Discussion / Re: Bike security - Southern Tour camping trip
« on: February 08, 2017, 09:34:02 am »
I carried a minimal cable lock and used it only rarely.  In bigger more risky towns I took my bike inside. 

In some places where mountain passes have really deep snowpack they plow out only one lane and let the sun melt it out before reopening.
 My limited experience with snow on mountain roads that do get plowed each snowfall is that the don't plow the shoulders.  I have generally found the traffic light enough in those places that I didn't mind riding in the lane.

General Discussion / Re: Training program recommendations
« on: February 06, 2017, 07:13:11 am »
Another question - recognizing that saddle comfort is highly individual, can anyone point me to a saddle that you really love for a long tour (6 hrs per day on the bike)?
I really like the WTB Volt series of saddles.  That said I am not very fussy about saddles and would happily ride another coast to coast trip on any of the saddles that came with my bikes.  I used to like my Prologo Kappa the best, but find the Volt nicer.  I usually stick with the saddles that are on my bikes, but if I were to bother to switch saddles for a long tour, I'd put the Volt on.

I think that by allowing myself to do some long mileage on any saddle that I have on my bike I generally find that it is okay once I adjust to it.  I rode the Trans America with the cheap saddle that came with my Windsor Touring and was okay with it.  I thought it was terrible when I first tried it, but after a few hundred miles of adjustment period I decided I would stick with it and it has been fine.

On Brooks saddles...  The one B17 that I have owned was my least favorite saddle of any that I have owned.  It was just okay when new and got worse as it broke in.  It eventually got pretty uncomfortable when fully broken in.

Gear Talk / Re: 30 Day Tour Packing List? Hotel every 5 days'ish!
« on: February 02, 2017, 06:13:30 am »
I'd recommend that you pack about the same as you would for a backpacking trip, if any of your camping experience was backpacking.  I go really minimal, carrying as little as 9 pounds, but sometimes a bit more.  In the past I carried a heavier load, but found that I liked a minimalist approach.  How heavy or minimalist you go is personal preference, but I'd advise watching the ounces regardless of which way you go.

FWIW length of trip doesn't affect my packing list much if at all.  I carry the same for a few days as for crossing the continent.

Definitely buy food as you go with only a little extra carried for those times where you may wind up unable to stock up for a day or so.

Routes / Re: Can I Cycle the Sierra Cascades route in March?
« on: January 24, 2017, 05:28:25 pm »
The difference is that I recognize that some folks, including myself, have a very specific window that they can get away from job/family/whatever. I assumed what he had was March and that's what he wants to see. The SC is out but I'd do the WE in March if thats the only time I could get away.

Some of how well that works may have to do with how open ended the schedule is.  There may be fresh snow and a delay while snow melts or roads are cleared.

FWIW, the Southern Tier isn't my favorite route, but if I had to go in February or March, I'd most likely ride the ST again.  Even there there could be a delay if fresh snow falls, but the roads will typically be clear pretty soon.

Routes / Re: Can I Cycle the Sierra Cascades route in March?
« on: January 24, 2017, 06:53:35 am »
Tioga Pass would certainly be closed.  Large amounts of snow pack at higher elevations elsewhere are likely. Fresh snowfall is likely at higher elevations.  Camp grounds would be closed most places.  The year I did it the facilities in Yosemite, other than in the valley were all closed until July.  Tioga Pass opened in June that year, some year it opens a bit earlier or later.  I wouldn't try it in March unless it was a VERY low snowpack year and probably not even then.

I am less familiar with the WE, my guess is that it would have similar issues, but I think it does stay lower than the SC so may be passible earlier.  I doubt that it would be doable March.  Others with a better familiarity of the WE will hopefully speak up.

Routes / Re: Another way to cope with dogs
« on: January 17, 2017, 02:25:38 pm »
A good chunk of the TransAm lore would be lost if the Kentucky dogs were eliminated. Dogs can certainly be a problem, but it's another one of the exciting challenges of the TransAm. It's not an insurmountable problem. To me, Kentucky was an unfamiliar and mostly welcoming world, and I would not want to miss it.

I agree.  Besides they really weren't that bad.  Also I have been chased by dogs lots of other places as well including Oregon, California, Kansas, and quite a few other places not in the SE.

The worst most scary dog encounters for me were in the Central Valley of California.  That is the one and only place in all of my touring where I was actually scared that I might be seriously injured or worse by three dogs that caught up with me on an uphill.  That same day a few other apparently vicious dogs chased us.

Gear Talk / Re: Lightweight touring bike?
« on: January 10, 2017, 09:57:22 am »
Quote from: staehpj1
Just one data point.  I did the ST with a 25" low gear.  I was 60, not especially fit, and carrying 14 pounds of gear (base weight).  The 25" gear was okay.
Doesn't the ST route avoid the high mountains of the west and the steepest hills of the Appalachian/Blue ridge/Smokies if TN,KY and VA?
The ST avoids the Appalachians altogether and crosses the Western Mountains by what is probably the easiest route.  It does still cross the mountains, has some fairly long steep climbs, and tops out at a little over 8200'.

Given that the OP was asking about the Underground Railroad route, I am guessing that there was more climbing on the ST than what he is proposing doing, but I have not done the UGRR and have not looked at elevation profiles for it.  While it apparently crosses no mountain ranges it may have steep hills, so I have no idea how two compare the two.

FWIW, I did the Trans America some years earlier (when I was 56), carrying a fairly heavy load (about 50 pounds base gear weight), and using a low gear of almost 22".  It was OK, but I wouldn't have minded slightly lower gearing.

Gear Talk / Re: Lightweight touring bike?
« on: January 10, 2017, 07:15:54 am »
At what point of youth, fitness, and light load does a 27-30 gear inch low become a viable option for touring?
Just one data point.  I did the ST with a 25" low gear.  I was 60, not especially fit, and carrying 14 pounds of gear (base weight).  The 25" gear was okay.

Gear Talk / Re: Lightweight touring bike?
« on: January 10, 2017, 07:11:12 am »
If you don't mind my asking, which mountains?  I found the Rockies and Cascades much easier than the Ozarks and Appalachians.
That is true for the Trans America.  On the TA I found the Appalachians and Ozarks to be much harder than the Rockies and Cascades, but depending on your route that can be far from true.  For example I found the Sierra Cascades to be exceedingly difficult when we rode the Southern half of it.

Routes / Re: Place to finish WB Northern Tier ride
« on: January 10, 2017, 07:03:15 am »
Of course, you have to be a dedicated cycle tourist to think the Yorktown Monument is all that special at the eastern end of the TransAm.

I guess that means that I am a dedicated bicycle tourist :)
Actually I think that it is a stretch to consider Yorktown the coast, but it has a lot of tradition behind it since 1976 and Bikecentennial.  I think maybe Yorktown was special for me more because friends and family were there to greet us and throw us a picnic.

Still we went back later in the year and rode to the beach from there to make it more complete, so I guess it wasn't entirely satisfactory.

After the TA (my first tour) I really no longer care about the wheel dip or making it to the beach to complete the ride.

Gear Talk / Re: Camp Stove
« on: January 08, 2017, 08:02:49 am »
I use my pop can alcohol stove the majority of the time.  It is very light and uses readily available fuel (yellow bottle HEET).  I have never seen it get hot enough on the bottom to scorch a table.  The fact that the flame is hard to see is no big deal once you know that is the case.

Despite folks saying it is available at any walmart, I have not found canister fuel to be quite as widely available as claimed and have at times had trouble finding it.

I typically want to carry only a small amount of fuel so Coleman fuel is out since a gallon is about 10 times as much as I want to carry.  The 12 ounce bottle of Heet is about right.

If I wanted a liquid fuel stove other than alcohol I'd go with one that can burn gasoline.  You can dribble enough out of the hoses at a closed gas station to cook a few meals.  That or just carefully pump a few ounces.  It is a bit touchy but possible to fill a bottle with no spillage.

Gear Talk / Re: Lightweight touring bike?
« on: January 08, 2017, 07:49:30 am »
My light touring bike for my past tours bike was a little heavier than 20 pounds, but still fairly light.  I used my old 1990 race bike (a Cannondale Crit bike).  It wasn't too heavy and most of the extra weight was in areas like more substantial wheels so I felt like it was a good choice.  In fact I think it was pretty close to optimum for UL touring.

I don't think that at 18 pounds of gear weight (unless you are counting food and water) it makes sense to go too crazy cutting weight on the bike itself.  There is a good bit of room between a heavy touring bike and an ultralight racer.

Routes / Re: Northern Tier vs. TransAm
« on: January 04, 2017, 07:15:17 am »
If you are going to be self-contained and this is the first tour for most of you -
I would suggest either a shorter route or more time.
The timeframe is doable for a first timer, but I think it wise to have either an open ended schedule with some extra time built in or a flexible end point.  On a coast to coast trip the flexible end point may not make sense so allowing some extra time is more important.

Two things that can suck the joy out of a tour are a rigid schedule and a strict budget.  You don't need to take a long time or spend a lot, but should have enough extra time and money available that you don't need to worry too much about either.  If possible, I'd suggest having at least an extra week available over and above what you plan to need.

Routes / Re: Start date for NB Sierra Cascades route.
« on: December 21, 2016, 07:50:59 am »
How long is your GC hike?  March or April sound way too early for the SC to me. A May or even June start do not guarantee that Tioga Pass will be open.  This is a difficult trip to plan for decent weather.  It is possible to have freezing temperatures and extreme heat in close proximity to each other.  We had 110+ F (43+ C) heat and freezing temps at night within 48 hours of each other.

The opening of Tioga Pass is key and it varies widely from year to year depending on the snow pack.  The year we rode the southern half of the SC we started on June 4th and services in Yosemite were still not available anywhere except the Valley due to repairs from winter damage.  I think they were finally back to normal around July first, but we managed anyway.

That year it was already brutally hot for most of our ride despite the fairly early start.

My advice is to wait until the last minute to pick a start date and to go as soon as it looks like Tioga pass will be open.

Historic Tioga opening dates:

I think that there is usually a thread on Supertopo as Spring approaches that discusses likely opening dates for any given year:

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